If you played any game in The Witcher series, you most likely heard Doug Cockle voice quite a bit. The American actor is best known as the distinct voice for Geralt of Rivia, The White Wolf, but most recently he also lends his voice to another demon hunter, Victor Vran. The action RPG from Haemimont Games will be coming out on Nintendo Switch at August 28th, after a PC release in 2015, and a PS4 and Xbox One release in 2017, and publisher Wired Productions were kind enough to arrange an interview with Doug Cockle as transcribed below.
Gamereactor: Victor Vran is coming to Nintendo Switch soon. What can players expect from this new version?
Doug Cockle: Well, you will be getting the full Victor Vran game, plus the two PC expansions, Motorhead: Through The Ages and Fractured Worlds, and you will be able to play Victor Vran as local two-player co-op, or four player online co-op. Another great thing about the Switch version is the portability, and so you can take Victor Vran with you.
What did you bring to the character of Victor Vran? Did you have any say in shaping him?
Only in the sense of how his voice informs the character. I never actually talked with Wired Productions about this, but I assumed, to a certain extent, that they were after the same quality of voice for Victor that I bring to other characters I voice, notably Geralt, the reluctant anti-hero type character. When we first recorded Victor Vran, I wanted to make him a little different from other characters that I played, and he is. If you hear them side-by-side, you will notice Victor is a little different from Geralt, and about what I brought to the character... this will sound cliché... but I brought a little bit of myself.
As an actor I believe in using yourself, what you know, what you experienced in life, the books you read, other characters you played, things you've seen... everything I experienced goes into how I voice a character. And then of course you have the script, and interpreting what was written about the character. Other then that, is putting myself in the characters shoes. What I would do if I were Victor Vran, if I were a part demon, demon-slayer, basically.
Yes, Victor Vran and Geralt are somewhat similar. So... who would win in a fight?
First of all, I think it would be an epic fight. It wouldn't be like watching England vs Panama (6-1), where you could see pretty early on where it was going. With Geralt and Victor, I think there would be some wins on both sides. Who would actually be the victor (no pun intend!), I don't really know. I do think they would get along, sit around and have hale while comparing war stories.
The Motorhead expansion is a very peculiar one, as a real band informed the gameplay and the content. How did that partnership came to be?
Tom Sargent from Wired stepped in: So, the game's producer, Achim Heidelauf, was friends with Lemmy, and knew the band for many years. The producers were looking for music to put into Victor, and Motorhead seemed to fit the theme. Achim reached out to Lemmy and asked permission, and Lemmy asked if they could go even further. In the original concept, Lemmy would have a much larger role in the expansion, but we obviously lost him towards the end of 2015, and Through the Ages ended up being more of a tribute.
Both Victor Vran and The Witcher are very dark and gritty worlds. Is this the kind of worlds that appeal the most to you, or is it mostly a coincidence?
I think it's mostly a coincidence, mostly because I seem to have a flair for the gruff anti-hero, and they tend to live in very similar worlds, or at least, very similar circumstances. So, yeah, Dark, Post-Punk, Post-Gothic, Medieval... however you want to describe it, they end up living in very similar situations. In terms of my own preferences, I always loved fantasy. I practically grew up on the Hobbit and The Lords of the Rings, and I always loved worlds like that. I also grew up watching Conan: The Barbarian, The Beast Master... so I always loved those sorcery and swords kind of worlds.
While The Witcher is a massive RPG, with a strong focus on story, Victor Vran is more of an action RPG, with a stronger focus on instant gameplay. How did that affect the recording process and your approach?
The process itself is basically the same - standing in front of a mic saying lines -, but the scripts however were very different. The Witcher has a very strong narrative, and a very strong character journey where the player goes along. The gameplay in the Witcher is very much about the story, Geralt's journey, and the people around him, while in Victor Vran, the gameplay itself is mostly the point, and the story is there - and that's my opinion - to mantain the player's interest. If all you did was going around and killing things... as human beings we tend to get bored of repetitive behavior, but the story in Victor Vran prevents the game from becoming repetitive, as you get different goals, meet different characters, and have reasons for being where you are doing what you're doing. Even something like the early Mario has something of a story in there, even if it's just to save the princess.
Will you ever reprise the role of Victor again?
I hope so! I hope Haemimont Games and Wired Productions choose to continue the saga, even if I'm not sure how they will top Motorhead: Through the Ages, and although that's part of the cannon, it gets out of the cannon enough to not influence the story moving forward.
Tom Through the Ages is like Victor being called to help a friend on a Tuesday, and it's a massive expansion where all three worlds are heavily inspired by the band, but it's his own story.
You also voiced Geralt for Soul Calibur VI. How was that process?
What was kind fun about voicing it in Soul Calibur VI, and unique, when I went to record, we had me here in the UK studios, a director and translator in LA, and the Japanese developers somewhere in Japan. That was a bit crazy, having a director here in London, another director in LA, and the Japanese developers chipping in. That was quite a bit different from how I usually record, with perhaps maybe ten people participating in that session, all in different time-zones. It actually went very smoothly, but it could have gone horribly wrong, but that didn't happen.
Too bad Victor isn't in Soul Calibur VI, we could have that Geralt vs Victor fight...
I think Victor would make a great Soul Calibur character! I love both characters, but while Geralt lives in a world where he only has the medieval type weapons, Victor has access to a lot more stuff, like grenade launchers (they don't call it that), lighting guns, swords, big hammers, all kinds of things. I love that he has a bigger choice of weapons to use.
Do you think you will be voicing Geralt again?
If you're leading into The Witcher 4, I can only say I have no idea, although I think it will be. This is my own opinion, and CD Projekt Red knows what they are doing, and I have no idea what the plan is, but... If I was CD Projekt Red, I would make The Witcher 4, but I would be focusing on Ciri. In The Witcher 3 she hints at visiting other worlds (including Cyberpunk 2077!), and I think a game around her visiting those different worlds would be a cool Witcher 4.
You said you've played Victor Vran and The Witcher... how is it hearing your own voice while playing?
It's a bit weird... especially since I tend to critique my own performance. I'm now playing Victor Vran, and sometimes we will talk, and I think 'I could have done that better!'. That doesn't happen all the time, only occasionally, and because I'm quite critical of my own work. Fortunately, most of the time I'm immersed in the story or the gameplay and I get lost in it.
You can hear Doug Cockle next in Victor Vran: Overkill Edition, coming to Switch on August 28, with the full game and the two expansions, Victor Vran: Motorheard Through the Ages and Fractured Worlds.