Todd Howard Gives More Details on Main Quest & Space Combat in Starfield Interview

Thanks to an IGN Summer of Gaming interview with Todd Howard, new details have emerged regarding Bethesda’s upcoming Sci-Fi RPG Starfield. Yesterday’s Starfield segment in the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase for 2022 showed off quite a bit of gameplay, but fans were left with many unanswered questions — some of which were answered by Howard in today’s interview.

One of the more attention-grabbing snippets from the games showcase reveal was the “1,000 planets” figure; many people were understandably skeptical that you could generate a thousand planets and have them be interesting to explore. However, Howard pointed out that while yes, the planets are procedurally generated, they’ve always used procedural generation to create terrain in Bethesda games. As he put it, once you have an effective system in place, making a thousand planets isn’t that much harder than making one.

He also acknowledged that, as in real life, there are plenty of barren, lifeless worlds you can find in the galaxy, and “It’s OK if it isn’t [fun to explore them].” That being said, there will be procedurally generated content on the planets, so whether you want to hunt monsters or just create a base, you should be able to find something to do anywhere you land.

starfield ice planet
No flora, no fauna, no fun…?

We also learned that there are only four main cities in the game, with New Atlantis being the biggest in the game (as well as the biggest they’ve made yet in any of their games). This city will serve a key role in the game’s story: New Atlantis is where Constellation — the faction you’ll join as part of the main quest — is headquartered. Howard described Constellation as “NASA meets Indiana Jones meets the League of Extraordinary Gentleman”. They are the last space explorers, spending their time collecting artifacts; some mysterious artifacts they’ve discovered will serve as the jumping-off point for the game’s plot.

starfield artifacts todd howard interview
When stuff floats, you know it’s mysterious — unless it’s just in zero-G

“How long is it?” is a popular question, and Howard addressed it today, stating that the game was about 20% longer than Skyrim or Fallout 4, and that the main story might be 30-40 hours, rather than the 25 hours of previous titles’ main quests. Speaking of Fallout, we also learned in the interview that Elder Scrolls 6 was next on Bethesda’s to-do list, followed by Fallout 5. While both projects have been confirmed, it was probably still a relief for fans of both series to get more concrete info about what Bethesda’s plans for the future are.

Space combat was also touched on in the interview, with Howard pointing to MechWarrior as a source of inspiration for the dogfighting in Starfield. While Starfield will be faster-paced than MechWarrior, the overall more methodical style and emphasis on managing systems is something Bethesda is making a key part of the game’s space combat. Howard also mentioned FTL when talking about how balancing weapons, shields, and the grav drive will play a role in the game’s space combat.

starfield space combat
There’s no VATS, but space combat is looking far from twitch style gameplay

While nothing was promised, Howard did suggest that there would likely be Starfield deep dives in the near future that go into more detail about the game’s various systems. With any luck, those of you who can’t get enough Starfield info should have more to dig into soon enough!

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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.

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