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This Feature Has Big Implications For The Elder Scrolls 6

The Elder Scrolls 6 was officially announced way back in 2018, and there hasn't been much news since then. However, fans may be interested to learn that Bethesda director Todd Howard recently dropped a bombshell regarding the sheer size of The Elder Scrolls 6.

Bethesda apparently had to completely rethink its game engine to accommodate the scope of both The Elder Scrolls 6 and Bethesda's science fiction epic, Starfield. In a recent blog post, Todd Howard explained that Bethesda has been working on making huge changes to its game engine. Howard said that the new console cycle had "led to our largest engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls 6."

During an interview with James Batchelor of GamesIndustry.biz, Todd Howard explained a bit about how both Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 are being designed. According to Howard, both games will be utilizing procedural generation in a big way. Procedural generation is a process in which computers create a large amount of content instantaneously, resulting in randomized maps and the like. 

What is unclear here is exactly how these games will utilize procedural generation. As pointed out by Todd Howard, Bethesda has used procedural generation to create the maps for several of its games. Afterwards, the dev team went over these randomly generated maps to sort of smooth them out into what better fit their vision. It's possible that Bethesda is leaning on this practice again, allowing for much larger maps to be created at random. 

Howard explained, "We want to spend our time handcrafting the things that you can tell are handcrafted whereas nature — computers can do a good job at putting trees and rocks and making landscape around that you can massage."

Roguelike games such as Dead Cells and Darkest Dungeons have sent users into one procedurally-generated dungeon after another, giving every player a different experience. It's not hard to imagine how this could be used to keep certain quests interesting in The Elder Scrolls 6. Though details concerning Starfield are still scarce, it is exciting to imagine that Bethesda could be taking a cue from something like No Man's Sky, allowing players to travel to different worlds and encounter new challenges. Procedurally generated planets and dungeons could encourage gamers to spend hours on end exploring the universe of Starfield and the vast countrysides of The Elder Scrolls 6.

It's also worth noting that previous Bethesda titles like Skyrim and Fallout 4 have featured NPCs capable of randomly generating side-quests for the player to complete. These are usually simple tasks like sending the player to go kill a certain enemy or to gather up a particular plant. These kinds of random missions could be used to stretch the playtime of Bethesda's games a considerable amount, particularly if they're being utilized at a higher rate than before. This tactic would fit Howard's stated goal of making these games feel "everlasting."

Howard didn't want to spoil any major surprises, but he told Batchelor, "We like to experiment each game with somewhat procedural stuff, and then when it's not working out, we go in and touch it, [but] we're pushing procedural generation further than we have in a very, very long time with the stuff that's coming up." This certainly makes it sound like Bethesda is once again letting the computers lay the groundwork before the dev team tweaks the game to their liking. This could result in some truly massive maps for Bethesda's upcoming titles.

While it's exciting to imagine what procedural generation may bring to the table for Bethesda's upcoming games, it is still unclear how many people will actually be able to play these game when they are released. The gaming world was shocked when Microsoft recently announced its acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. This especially led to people wondering what this meant for the future of the Elder Scrolls franchise. Todd Howard recently weighed in on the exclusivity of the Elder Scrolls series, and the answers he provided were more than a little vague. It remains to be seen whether or not The Elder Scrolls 6 will be available on any non-Microsoft platforms. 

Unfortunately, it sounds as though Bethesda may keep fans in the dark for a good bit longer. Towards the end of the conversation with Batchelor, Todd Howard remarked that he wants to make sure Bethesda's next reveals are more substantial. Howard said that he doesn't want to reveal anything and then have the game be delayed. Howard added, "I just don't want to string [fans] along too long. You get kind of fatigued ... Also it takes time, to be frank. Preparing trailers, demos and assets, they take time away from development ... I'd rather just spend all that time focusing on the game and prepare, kind of, one big demo."