It’s hard to overstate the extent of Baldur’s Gate 3’s success. The fantasy role-playing game (RPG) from Larian Studios has been exceptionally well received by fans and critics alike. Uplifted by its imaginative mechanics and exceptional character performances, it has already earned a place in gaming history among the best RPGs ever made.
However, for those who portrayed the game’s characters, it’s been a wild ride as they’ve found themselves rapidly thrust into the limelight that is gaming fandom. TechRadar Gaming sat down with three of the game’s voice actors to get to the bottom of what this was like.
“It’s been crazy, honestly,” said Amelia Tyler, the voice of Baldur’s Gate 3’s narrator. “I wasn’t expecting to get noticed [...] it’s been amazing and lovely to have found a community that was so supportive.”
The stars of the RPG have suddenly found themselves “very connected” to the game’s community “through Twitter, TikTok, or whatever”, said Devora Wilde, the voice of sullen yet lovable companion character Lae’zel.
In practice, this has meant that these actors now have to engage with large swathes of people as a matter of course, not only on the internet but in-person at conventions too.
“It’s beautiful”, remarked Jennifer English, the voice behind brooding Cleric Shadowheart. “The cosplays are so good [...] there was an army of Shadowhearts.”
English went on to describe the move from the “small fry” early access version of the game to its current blockbuster form. “It’s entered the general population, like, if ever I’m in a group setting and we talk about it for the first time, there will be at least one or two people in that group who have heard about it.”
As you might expect, being catapulted to video game stardom came with more than a few sources of anxiety. “I’ve been bracing myself for the worst,” said Tyler, “because, you know, women in a position of power do not often get a positive response [...] I was expecting there to be a backlash and there just wasn’t one. All of the players [...] have been so incredibly supportive and welcoming into this space.”
Despite these rapid changes, the actors seem to be adjusting well. “It’s just brilliant,” concluded Wilde. “It’s still building up, honestly.”
The real deal
For Tyler, when it comes to the root of these successful performances, it’s all about “being authentic.”
“What we honed in on is authenticity above all other things. I’ve had a life where I’ve not been able to be honest about who I am. I did what somebody else told me to do for the majority of my life, and I don’t want to be that anymore.”
Opening up about her past, Tyler made it clear that her performance was informed by her own struggles. “My mum was very controlling [...] and she put that on me.” However, by accessing and responding to this trauma, Tyler was able to deliver a performance that wasn’t excessively “judgemental,” informing players while never undermining their agency.
“I wanted this voice to be kind of like a chin on your shoulder just whispering in your ear: ‘Yeah, I’m with you’.”
In the same way, English used Shadowheart’s own story of self-acceptance as a vehicle to explore her own thoughts and feelings about identities “within the queer space.”
“There’s been talk a lot about the trans allegory of Shadowheart which I was certainly aware of in recording and really wanted to honor [...] it’s not something I shoehorned in.”
This authenticity led to a “giant” fan response for English, as cosplays and tributes have become commonplace. “The messages and letters from people I’ve spoken to [come] from many factors. There are a lot of people that resonate with religious trauma. There’s a huge amount of that. And, obviously, the queerness and also things like PTSD [... and] chronic pain.”
The sincerity of not only the performances offered by these three actors but by the wider cast, too, has allowed fans to resonate with the game in a big way.
“I think everyone has their own special character in this game, and they really connect with them,” said Wilde.
“People can take such different things from it,” added English, ”if you want to resonate with a certain character [...] you will find your story there.”
“This game is yours,” she concluded, “and whatever you want to get from it is your own.”
Tyler described this personal element as “invaluable”, going on to add: “That’s why it appeals to people who have felt outside of the norm - people who are trying to figure themselves out or feel unheard or feel different. This creates an amazing playground for people to just explore, with no consequences. That’s very rare in life. Usually, there is a consequence for exploring an aspect of yourself that you haven’t before. I’ve heard a lot of people realizing things about themselves [...] realizing that they’re ADHD [or] examining their sexuality or their gender identity.”
According to Wilde, this personal dimension does a great deal to inform her relationship with the fan base. “Meeting people at Comic-Con sort of brought it home for me, because a lot of people came up to me quite emotional about this character, and that made me realize: ‘Wow, this character has had a huge impact’.”
This is why this game is so “huge and powerful and brilliant,” remarked English. For her and her colleagues, it’s this subtle combination of authenticity and scale that gives Baldur’s Gate 3 its unique appeal. The game is open enough to allow people to leave their own mark on the world while never compromising on the sincerity of its characters and narrative themes.
“You can see if someone’s genuinely connecting or if they’re trying to manipulate people into seeing them a certain way,” observed Tyler. For her, this is the foundation of how she interacts with the community. “What is the point of all this attention if I can’t use it for something good?”
It’s been a long, strange journey for Wilde, English, Tyler and co. From bold early access experiment to becoming the TechRadar choice Awards’ Game of the Year, Baldur’s Gate 3 has spread its wings; held aloft by unfettered creativity, dazzling performances, and the love of the fans.
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Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.
Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure.
Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.