After a seemingly endless procession of dimly lit Starfield promos where its developers talk about the soundtrack, we finally have some substantial information on Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi RPG. Speaking with IGN, Bethesda mainstay and Starfield project lead Todd Howard provided some interesting context for the game’s scale and development: it will have four major cities (opens in a new tab) with Constellation hub New Atlantis claimed to be the largest Bethesda ever created, and the game’s procedurally generated star systems will feature “more craft content (opens in a new tab)“than any previous Bethesda game.
The cities part is of special importance to me because I am a fan of RPG cities. (opens in a new tab), and Bethesda used to be one of the best in gaming: Morrowind’s Vivec and Oblivion’s Imperial City are especially iconic fantasy locations. Bethesda’s most recent single-player RPG, 2015’s Fallout 4, really dropped the ball in this regard. Their main settlement, Diamond City, had a unique look, but it was downright puny compared to the second order settlements of Oblivion or Skyrim.
At their best, Bethesda’s towns and cities are a dense feast of quests and side stories, combining flashy aesthetics, memorable designs, and characters interesting enough to trick your mind into believing that these settlements, in fact, are quite small, they are real places where people live. After exploring the expanse of Starfield’s procedural space, I want to get out of the cold and get lost in a sci-fi city like I did with Mass Effect’s Citadel in 2007.
Howard’s feedback on custom content gives me hope that these places are interesting enough to grab my attention and maybe fill those 1,000 explorable planets. (opens in a new tab). Fallout 4’s over-reliance on procedurally generated “radiant” quests really annoyed me with that game – nothing felt worse than picking up a new Railroad faction quest and having it prompt me to grab a macguffin that spawns in a dungeon. that I already cleared.
Prior to Fallout 4, Bethesda had a history of excellent side quests rounding out its open worlds, with Oblivion’s A Brush With Death and Skyrim’s A Night to Remember immediately springing to mind as examples of the studio’s ability to surprise and delight. I want to show up in one of these four towns in Starfield and immediately get involved in a murder investigation, the best kind of secondary RPG.
With all that in mind, I find myself fantasizing about the potential of Starfield. golden road (opens in a new tab): Bethesda Classic Quest, The Enhanced, Gunplay reported by id Software (opens in a new tab) from Fallout 4 and 1000 Deliciously Bleak (opens in a new tab) planets anchored by four dense and distinctive urban centers. An RPG fan can certainly dream, at least, and the occasionally ridiculed notion of “Skyrim in space” certainly appeals to me more than the idea of yet another radiant quest purgatory like Fallout 4.