Goodbye Dinklebot: Destiny Recasts Its Most Important Character With Nolan North
We recently visited Bungie for an in-depth look at Destiny: The Taken King, coming away with all sorts of details about the upcoming release. One of the most surprising changes is coming to what is arguably Destiny’s most central-voiced character: the Ghost. The tiny floating robotic being is the de facto narrator throughout the base game, and he assumes an even more important role in The Taken King. Playing that role moving forward is Nolan North, replacing Peter Dinklage in the name of a unified character voice throughout the entire game.
Players who are used to North’s work on games like Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed are likely to be surprised the first time they hear his latest role. In taking over the role of the Ghost, North echoes some of the cadences and quirks established by the character’s original voice actor, but his line delivery is hard to immediately connect to his familiar heroic tone. “I was really excited to do this role,” Nolan North tells us. “You want to give him as much personality as the world will allow, without making it unbelievable. There’s a fine line to walk there, and I think we found it.”
When asked about his understanding of Ghost, North offered his take on one of the most interesting aspects of the artificial intelligence. “It’s interesting, because at one point they find another Ghost that’s been killed,” North says. “A Ghost is not just something that can be turned back on. It has an idea of ending. It understands mortality. It has a vested interest in helping you succeed.”
Not only does Nolan North play Ghost in the new content in The Taken King, but Bungie also had North re-record all of the original dialogue to create a consistent storytelling experience from beginning to end. “We wanted Nolan North’s version of the Ghost to wake you up at the start of the journey at level one and follow you all the way to level forty,” says creative director Luke Smith. With this change, the Ghost’s script will remain the same, but Peter Dinklage’s voicing of those lines will not be present in the game.
“They really wanted me to put my stamp on it,” North says. “They let me bring what I wanted to the role. You have to give it your own spin. For that reason, I specifically said I didn’t want to hear anything that someone else had done, so that I didn’t have some preconceived notion of what it has to be. Instead, I just gave it my stamp, and let them direct me accordingly.”
As for the future, North told us of his enthusiasm for the ongoing role, and his hopes for how to continue to bring life to the character over time. “I’m hoping we’re doing this for years. If I get a chance to continue with the role, I think we can evolve Ghost as we move forward over the years. In the same way that the player learns about the game and the world, maybe the Ghost grows with them.”
We have additional details about the Ghost in this month’s cover story, including ways in which the character now presents a new optional avenue into learning about Destiny’s lore.
Longtime Destiny players know how odd it has been to not have the Ghost character included in the last two expansions. It’s great that the character is taking on a bigger role in September’s release. The original Ghost character was poorly received by many fans, but it’s hard to know whether it was Dinklage’s delivery, the writing, the directing, or the broader story that kept the character from its potential. Regardless, Nolan North comes to the role with a broad and ongoing connection to video game voice acting. While not all of his lines had been recorded and added into the game during our visit, the sections we did hear showed off a character who felt more emotionally engaged, and actively communicated with other main characters over the communications channel, helping the character to not exist in a conversational vacuum.