Baldur’s Gate 3 Dark Urge actor Neil Roberts: ‘It’s quite Shakespeare’

Neil Roberts: The Man Behind the Voices in Baldur’s Gate 3

Neil Roberts has had a rich and varied career in the world of acting over the past three decades. From his soap opera work in the U.K. to his role as a villain in the classic series Charmed, and his appearances in radio dramas and stage acting, Roberts has certainly left his mark. Surprisingly, he is also a voice actor in video games, including the popular Baldur’s Gate 3. His custom voices for character creation, notably Tav 5 and the tortured Dark Urge, have left a lasting impression on players.

Roberts’ journey into voice acting for video games wasn’t a huge leap, considering his experience in radio plays for the BBC. He honed his skills in acting and reading lines on the spot during his time with the BBC, which provided a solid foundation for his work in the video game industry.

Reflecting on his early experiences, Roberts shared that he did over 100 radio plays in a year, which helped him refine his acting abilities. The isolation of recording in front of a microphone initially posed a challenge, but it ultimately contributed to his growth as an actor.

In adapting to video game voice acting, Roberts’ ability to read and act more or less on the spot garnered from his radio days became a valuable skill. This skill was particularly evident in Baldur’s Gate 3, where he effectively portrayed three characters, including the various iterations of Tav.

The character creator menu in Baldur’s Gate 3, showing a Blue Dragonborn selecting a subclass.

The imaginative demands of voicing Tav resonated with Roberts, as Tav’s character development relies heavily on the players’ choices. Furthermore, his portrayal of Tav required recording multiple versions of lines and performing motion capture for each iteration.

During our conversation, Roberts revealed that he has ADHD, and while he hadn’t delved into how it affected his performance, he acknowledged its potential impact on his portrayal of the character with three distinct states of being.

Unlike the visual considerations often made when choosing a voice for a character, the Tav actors were guided by the essence of the character they were portraying, unmentioned within the game itself. In Roberts’ case, his essence was that of a rogue, adding depth to his portrayal of Tav.

Roberts’ essence as a rogue aligns with his role as the default voice for the customizable origin character, the Dark Urge. His portrayal of this character and the monologue delivered during character creation have left a profound impact on players, with many considering the Dark Urge as the canonical choice in the game.

Baudelaire Welch, a senior narrative designer at Larian Studios, intentionally chose Roberts for the default voice of the Dark Urge. This decision signifies the substantial influence and significance of Roberts’ role in Baldur’s Gate 3, especially evident in the additional scenes and interactions available for the Dark Urge character.

Dragonborn and base player model for The Dark Urge in the Nautiloid in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Surprised by the overwhelming positive fan reactions to his character, Roberts expressed his delight in being a part of such an impactful game. He emphasized the significance of the Dark Urge’s monologue and its Shakespearean qualities, indicating the immersive and emotional depth of his portrayal.

In reflecting on the nature of the Dark Urge, Roberts highlighted the opportunity for players to explore and express various human emotions within the confines of the game. His portrayal of this character has resonated deeply with players, having a profound impact on their gaming experience.

Roberts’ work in Baldur’s Gate 3 speaks volumes about the substantial influence of voice actors in the gaming industry, demonstrating the intricate art of storytelling and character portrayal in video games.