Bethesda announced The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield, a new IP, at E3 2018. Both games are still a long time away, but thanks to Executive Producer Todd Howard, we now have a few details on the next generation of the company’s blockbuster franchises.
Howard gave a keynote interview as part of the Develop: Brighton Digital 2020 conference and, among other topics, touched upon the current state of both games while being careful not to promise too much at this stage.
“It’s gonna be a while until people hear about [Starfield] and really, really see it,” Howard said. “A lot of us say, ‘we should just start showing stuff.’ But then you worry about showing some things, and then people get really excited, and the next question’s, ‘when’s it coming out?’ And you’re like, ‘just wait.’ Or then it gets delayed, you know, et cetera, et cetera.
“We like to, as much as possible, when we show it, really be able to show what the final product feels like, looks like, and we’re closer to release so that we’re one hundred percent confident. Here it is, here’s what it does, and here’s when you can play it.”
Howard did, however, give a few tidbits on the projects in development, mentioning both will be added to Game Pass on day one and feature mod support.
Bethesda’s signature Creation Engine — which previously powered successes like Skyrim and Fallout 4 — is receiving a massive overhaul. Howard teased that the jump from Bethesda’s most recent titles to Starfield will be more pronounced than the jump from Morrowind to Oblivion. “From rendering to animation to pathing to procedural generation to — I don’t want to say every thing, but it’s a significant, significant overhaul,” he said. “It’s taken us longer than we would have liked but […] when people see the results they’ll be hopefully as happy as we are with what’s on the screen, but also how we can go about making our games.”
Procedural generation will be utilized for both Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI, but not in the way people might think. The term was popularized by No Man’s Sky, which used it to create randomly generated maps. Instead, Bethesda is utilizing procedural generation to create enormous land masses, surpassing even Fallout 76‘s world.
In regards to preferring handcrafted versus procedurally generated worlds and quests, Howard claimed “I think a mix is good.” Procedurally generated content “keep[s] it fresh” and creates some “everlasting” gameplay elements, allowing the team to focus on handcrafting more important areas and elements.
At this point it will likely be at least a year or two before either game reaches gamers’ hands, but the substantial upgrades under the hood sound very promising.