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What Starfield Could Mean For Bethesda's Future

As Bethesda's first original IP in 25 years, the upcoming open-world space RPG Starfield has the potential to be a fundamental shift for the revered developer. While there are few details about how the game will differentiate itself from past projects, a recent interview with executive producer Todd Howard at Develop:Brighton Digital 2020 has shed some light on Starfield and its role in Bethesda's future.

The world first learned about Starfield in 2018, when a brief teaser hinted at its interstellar setting and introduced the game's title. Beyond that, the company has been tight-lipped, declining to show any progress at E3 2019 and asking that fans be patient on both Starfield's progress and the highly anticipated Elder Scrolls 6. Outside of a few bizarrely confirmed leaked screenshots, that's as much as anyone got.

Thankfully, a wide-ranging interview between Todd Howard and GameIndustry.biz hosted by the Develop:Brighton Digital 2020 conference has given the gaming community a better idea of what Starfield will look like when it arrives. In those remarks, key takeaways from which were summed up by GameIndustry.biz's James Batchelor, Howard outlined some critical design decisions that can help us understand how they will shape Bethesda in the coming years.

To begin with, Howard confirmed that Starfield would be an entirely single-player experience with no multiplayer components. This should come as a relief to fans who feared that the major bomb that was Fallout 76 indicated the company was planning on prioritizing online, subscription-based games instead of their meticulously crafted single-player titles.

Also discussed was the scope of the Starfield world. The game is comprised of multiple planets, and those planets, Howard said, feature procedurally generated environments. However, just because the developers construct those areas using procedural tools does not mean that they are different for each player. Instead, procedural generation allows Bethesda to build far larger with less developer labor and fine-tune them for optimal player experience.

The use of a procedurally generated landscape doesn't imply that the Bethesda team has reduced in size. In fact, Bethesda is undergoing its largest technology overhaul ever as it rebuilds the Creation Engine and is employing five times the amount of staff than they have for any previous rebuild.

The interview also touched on Bethesda's new relationship with Microsoft. While it didn't offer any further information on whether Starfield or Elder Scrolls 6 would be exclusive for the Series X or the Xbox One, it did confirm that they would be available for the Xbox Game Pass on day one.

While the interview did shed some light on Starfield, it also left a lot of questions unanswered. However, it appears that the new property is a chance for Bethesda to perfect its technology and broaden its horizon before it releases its next high profile release in the Elder Scrolls universe.