Fallout 5 will follow Elder Scrolls VI, Starfield relies heavily on procedural generation

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It’s been a big week for Bethesda and Todd Howard as they finally lifted the curtain on their massive sci-fi RPG Starfield, but of course fans still have more questions. Fortunately, Howard has revealed more details about what’s in store for Bethesda Game Studios and what we can expect from Starfield. in a new interview with IGN.

Perhaps the biggest unique nugget revealed is that we now know Bethesda’s next two RPG projects after Starfield, with Howard bluntly stating “The Elder Scrolls VI is in pre-production and we’re going to do Fallout 5 after that.” So, given the pace at which Bethesda is working, get ready for more post-apocalyptic fun around 2029 (if we’re lucky).

Starfield Returns to Silent Protagonist After Fallout 4, Has 3.75x More Voice NPC Lines

Coming back to the subject of Starfield, one of the big headlines that stands out from the gameplay reveal is that it will feature 1000 explorable planets. Of course, that immediately raised the question: is Bethesda making these planets by hand? Or do they fall back on procedural generation, as would be obvious? It seems to be mainly the latter.

We do a lot of procedural generation [in Starfield], but I would keep in mind that we have always done this. It’s a big part of Skyrim in terms of questing and other things that we do. We generate landscapes using procedural systems, so we’ve always worked on them. […] Once you’re dealing with such scale and procedural systems, the difference between, say, one planet that has variations and a hundred planets, or a thousand planets, it’s actually not that big of a leap, if that logic – once you have good systems that work for it.

Howard bluntly admits that many of the procedurally generated planets in Starfield might not be particularly fun to explore, but they still wanted them to exist to create a sense of scope. And if you get bored wandering the far reaches of the galaxy, there’s still a meaty crafted base campaign to come back to. In fact, he said that Starfield has the most crafted content they’ve ever created, and it will be obvious which planet has crafted content and which is procedurally generated.

There are a lot of scoops of ice cream in space, so that was one of our big design considerations for this game: “What’s fun about a scoop of ice cream? And it’s okay sometimes if the scoops of ice cream aren’t [fun] — it’s like that. We’d rather have them and tell you yes, “Hey, you can land on that.” Here are the resources, you can study them, and then you can land and spend ten minutes there and say to yourself, “OK, now I’m going to leave and go back to the other planet that has all this content, and I’m going to follow this series of quests.

I should also add that we’ve done more tinkering with the content in this game than in any game we’ve done.

Howard also reveals that flying seamlessly from planet to planet and landing in games like No Man’s Sky isn’t a hallmark of Starfield. Flying around certain sections of space and exploring planets are largely separate experiences, as making things transparent was “just not that important” in Howard’s estimation.

Starfield will launch on PC and Xbox Series X/S in the first half of 2023.

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