This week Bethesda Softworks released their new video game Starfield. It’s an immersive role-playing game set in a science-fiction universe, and a successor in form to their classic Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. And just like those series, Starfield features the voice acting of beloved Capitals PA announcer Wes Johnson.
Johnson plays Ron Hope, CEO of HopeTech, a big industrial shipmaker in the world of Starfield, and an important character in players’ adventures.
“He’s an all-around ‘swell’ guy,” Wes tells RMNB, emphasizing the swell part without elaborating to spare me from spoilers. “He’s a fun character to play. He’s full of bravado. He’s a man who is at the top of the world, who has everything at the tips of his fingers. But games like this have secrets.”
— Jesse Gomez (@ItsJesseGomez) September 1, 2023
Hope is the latest in the pantheon of Johnson-voiced characters in Bethesda games. There’s the Daedric Prince of madness, Sheogorath, who fluctuates wildly between whimsy and malevolence – along with his accent.
There’s the Lovecraftian horror Hermaeus Mora, ponderous and all-knowing, whom Wes voiced earlier this summer in The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom.
There’s the radio-play pastiche of the Silver Shroud.
And many more, including the assassin Lucien Lachance, master thief Gray Fox, the super mutant Fawkes, the murderous baseball-themed merchant Moe Cronin, an uncountable number of imperial guards, and — of course — the Arena Announcer, a character who will feel very familiar to fans at Capital One Arena.
“For Bethesda to trust me with these wonderful characters that their writers and developers have spent years working on has been a huge honor,” Wes says.
An accomplished actor in film and TV as well, Johnson has honed his craft of embodying new characters. “You figure out the life, the world they live in, and they become personal to you. You have to bring a little bit of yourself, your life and emotion, into it.”
Although set in a science-fiction future, Starfield is a more grounded world than the edgy apocalyptic wasteland of Fallout or the swords-and-sorcery fantasy of Elder Scrolls. Ron Hope cannot (I assume) warp reality or explode Super Mutants, but he still has a tremendous amount of power – and with it appeal for Wes. “He’s such a cool character to be able to play,” Johnson says. “You take each character as they come. You get emotionally invested in each one. I was very invested in Ron. Hopefully people feel that in their dealings with him. Nothing is black and white. There’s so many levels of gray.”
That complexity is the hallmark of a Bethesda RPG. They are massive worlds with endless options for character creation, world exploration, and decision-making. It’s not uncommon for players to spend a hundred hours playing a campaign.
“It’s going to be a lot of time for some people,” Wes says, “but it’s going to be a delightful time. At every turn there are decisions, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s sneaky. You might think not much is happening, but then the next thing you know you’re so deep in the lore, you go to sleep at night and you feel like you’re still in the world.”
Starfield is out for Xbox and PC.
Headline image: Wes Johnson, Bethesda Softworks
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