Starfield, Bethesda's next big RPG, has survival elements without all the stress

Starfield, Bethesda’s next big RPG, has survival elements without all the stress

A spaceship flies into space.

Drawing: Bethesda

With so many planets in star field, Bethesda’s next space sim game, there’s plenty of room for speculation ahead of its release on Xbox and PC next year. But the time for guesswork is coming to an end. Inspired by fictional themes and “tone” more than hardcore realism, the game aims to preserve the fun while delivering a compelling simulation of space exploration, based on recent commentary from director and executive producer Todd Howard.

star fieldthe next major open-world Bethesda jam is slated for 2023. Although we know the game will be consistent with the studio’s previous work, with “classic Bethesda-style dialogue“which features many different outcomes and a vast and ambitious open world where space travel is dangerous, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Director and executive producer Todd Howard recently gave an interview to Lex Fridman to discuss Howard’s career and a variety of mechanics, concepts and ideas about the development process of star field. Check out the full nearly three-hour interview here:

Lex Fridman

According to Howard, one should not expect star field to be a robust space sim where the player has to track a whole bunch of resources or else risk getting stuck in space. “There’s some work to be done,” Howard said, referring to the challenge of managing your resources and exposure to environmental risks, but it’s not hard. The scope of survival and challenge was changed and “recalled” during development, which began right after the release of Fallout 4—a development process that he said was more focused on its console exclusivity on Xbox.

“[Running out of fuel in a spaceship] just stop your game, we found. You’re going to play the game and “I ran out of fuel, okay, I guess I’m just going to wander around these planets trying to mine fuel so I can get back to what I was doing”. It’s just, you know, it’s a fun killer.

Howard speculates that a hardcore mode might be in store for the game in the future, but for now you can expect some fairly common challenges like needing to monitor your spacesuit for environmental hazards in space. or on the planets, but not a No Man’s Sky level to ensure that all of your vessel’s systems are fully fueled and operational.

star fieldplanets and star systems, which Howard describes as a balance between “handcrafted content [and] an open procedural planet experience” were built using “realistic looking” sets of tiles that are then processed to wrap around an entire planet, a development practice not too uncommon for Bethesda games.

Bringing space to life, Howard said, was a question of how Bethesda could “have a system to generate these planets and make them look like […] reasonable, unlike […] fractally goop”, referring to rendering and modeling techniques that are much more random and have less intentional artistic design. This may be partly in response to the lingering concern that [TK about the 1k planets or w/e that we wrote about.] Planets and systems themselves, Howard continued, will also be leveled with a number, indicating the scale of difficulty one might expect in a certain region of space.

The interview covers a slew of sci-fi and “tone” topics, broadly described as how the game immerses you in its world, its overall vibe, and how that expectation guides the various systems developed by the studio. You’ll have to endure listening to a whole interview with Lex Fridman, a man known for his rig fanatics like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson, and the shallow praise of characters like Elon Musk (who is mentioned in Howard’s interview ), but at least there are some interesting video game trivia and ideas from Howard.

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