Troy Baker, the celebrated voice actor behind The Last of Us' Joel and Far Cry 4's Pagan Min, is not set to reprise his role as Atlas CEO Rhys in Borderlands 3, despite the fact that neither he nor Gearbox Software seem to know why. Introduced as an original character in Telltale's Tales from the Borderlands before the developer went under, Rhys was present in Borderlands 3's reveal trailer at PAX 2019, but fans have since been left to wonder how large of a role the character will play and how strange it may be to hear a different voice coming from his mouth.
Rhys is one of two player-controlled protagonists from the uproarious Tales from the Borderlands, Telltale's episodic story-based take on the Borderlands series. Considering the irreverent, absurdist humor that Gearbox has injected into their sci-fi loot shooter from the start, it was a match made in heaven, and Tales from the Borderlands quickly grew into a fan favorite. Unfortunately, when Telltale suddenly went belly-up last year, fans of the spin-off were left worrying over whether or not anything from the game would remain canonical in the main series and if the new characters would ever return. These fears were slightly allayed when a mustachioed Rhys was briefly shown off during Borderland 3's unveiling last month, but it seems unlikely that it will be the same Rhys that players know and love.
Mild controversy was sparked when redditor Josh_J_Anderson posted a video taken at a Supanova Comic Con & Gaming panel featuring Troy Baker, who had been asked if he would return to voice Rhys in Borderlands 3. "I'm sorry to break it to y'all, that isn't me," was his answer, stating that he wasn't fully aware of the character's return in the upcoming mainline sequel. Baker also said that he's still fully open to reprising the role if Gearbox will have him despite the fact that he "doesn't agree with how they're handling" the situation, but Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford seems to believe that Baker has it backwards. Claiming in a tweet that Baker turned down the role when approached by Borderlands 3's audio director, Pitchford answered a fan's question as to why Baker would not be returning with, "You'll have to ask Troy."
You’ll have to ask Troy. I was told by the audio director that he turned it down. Fortunately, with how Rhys appears in the game, I don’t think it actually matters at all. You’ll see for yourself when the game comes out and you may disagree with me on that or not.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) April 10, 2019
Pitchford, who's no stranger to controversy, went on to proclaim that Baker's absence won't majorly impact the character's feel "with how Rhys appears in the game." Though he admits players "may disagree" when the game releases in September, it's fairly likely that Pitchford is alluding to the widely speculated possibility that Borderlands 2 antagonist Handsome Jack has fully overtaken Rhys' consciousness in Borderlands 3, with a digital backup of Jack's mind having more or less possessed Rhys during the events of Tales from the Borderlands. It could also just be that Rhys has somehow lost his voice (or maybe just gets straight-up murdered before getting a chance to speak), but the prevailing Handsome Jack theory is by far the most compelling considering that Telltale placed the setup directly into Gearbox's lap.
No matter the ultimate outcome, Pitchford is right when he says that Borderlands fans will just have to discover Rhys' fate themselves when the game comes out. With Gearbox having already incited strong backlash among potential PC players after announcing that Borderlands 3 will be an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC, though, upsetting Tales from the Borderlands fans is surely the last thing the developer would want at this point.