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Cyberpunk 2077 replaced a dead voice actor with AI to avoid recasting

Cyberpunk 2077 replaced a dead voice actor with AI to avoid recasting
Cyberpunk 2077 – Viktor Vektor’s Polish actor worked in the entertainment business for over 40 years (Picture: CD Projekt)

CD Projekt admits to using AI voicework in Cyberpunk 2077, describing it as a tribute to a prominent Polish actor who had died.

AI in video game development is a contentious topic, especially when it comes to AI generated art and voice acting . No artist or voice actor is thrilled at the idea of being replaced by a robot and even the slightest hint of its use in any sort of media prompts vicious backlash from critics. Just look at peoples’ reactions to Marvel’s Secret Invasion show using AI to make the opening credits .

So, some of you will immediately be incensed upon learning that CD Projekt used AI voice work in Cyberpunk 2077 , specifically to recreate the voice of an actor who died after the game’s launch.

No doubt aware that such information would prove controversial, CD Projekt stresses that this was because they wanted to ‘pay tribute’ to the actor’s performance and that they received permission from the actor’s family beforehand.

For context, the actor in question is Miłogost Reczek, who voiced Viktor Vektor (one of Cyberpunk 2077’s vendor characters) in the Polish dub.

While that name probably won’t be familiar to you, a quick look at his credits reveals he was a very prominent Polish actor, having done work across films, television, and games as far back as the 70s.

He worked with CD Projekt before on The Witcher games as the voice of Vesemer and was the Polish dub actor for Obi-Wan in the original Star Wars movies.

He died in December 2021 before he could reprise his role as Viktor for Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty DLC and as ‘one of the best Polish voice talents,’ localisation director Mikołaj Szwed admits in a statement to Bloomberg that they didn’t like the initial idea of simply recasting him and having a new actor re-record his lines from the base game.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty – is CD Projekt justified or is there no good reason to use AI for voicework? (Picture: CD Projekt)

That said, CD Projekt did hire a new actor to voice new lines for Viktor, but then used Ukraine-based voice-cloning software Respeecher to alter the recordings so they’d sound more like Reczek.

‘This way we could keep his performance in the game and pay tribute to his wonderful performance as Viktor Vektor,’ explains Szwed, adding that Reczek’s sons ‘were very supportive’ of the idea.

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It’s similar to how Darth Vader’s voice is achieved in Star Wars media, which manipulates original recordings made by James Earl Jones, now that he’s getting older and no longer sounds like he did.

It also recalls Peter Cushing’s role in Rogue One, which used a normal voice actor but recreated his appearance with CGI, after his family gave permission.

These are grey areas though and not primarily what video game voice actors are threatening to strike over . Instead, they are more concerned that in the future AI voices will be used from the start, with little or no involvement from human performers.

That or publishers will take a single initial performance and merely simulate that for all future games, with the actor receiving no additional recompense.

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MORE : Steam is banning games with AI generated art claims developer

MORE : AI has already changed video games forever – and not necessarily for the better

MORE : AI is terrible for society but great for video games – Reader’s Feature

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