I do believe that a contingent of players would speak out against it no matter how well it was implemented—RE4’s segments with Ashley were among the best of “protect this character” gameplay ever, but you’ll still see people complain about it. I agree with you about keeping it from being an escort mission in that it can’t be perceived that way. The typical “guide this target to safety before their health bar runs out” approach couldn’t be taken.
The contagious effect of a verbal warning sounds like a really good idea though, and would help make developing a “civilian group management” mechanic more feasible. In this theoretical superhero game, you could get an upgrade (maybe as a result of your character’s increasing fame) that makes civilians trust your warning more, or your character’s heroism inspires them to get others to safety.
I still want those moments of saving an individual without it being a fully scripted affair. Even if that’s relegated to specific scenarios rather than being fully systemic, i’d greatly appreciate them.