Among the most interesting revelations that Bethesda and Microsoft made about their future space exploration game ‘Starfield’, there was one figure that stood out: the game would have a whopping thousand planets to explore, each with its own physical characteristics, fauna and flora. Bethesda, a company that has franchises of the magnitude of ‘The Elder Scrolls’ and ‘Falout’ in its portfolio, knows what it is to face huge worlds… but until now they had been restricted to a single planet.
Of course, Bethesda isn’t going to program each place where the ‘Starfield’ player can land one by one. In an interview with IGN, the game’s director, Todd Howard, has explained how this spectacular feature of the title will work. The key, although it has its nuances, as many players can assume, is in the procedural generation, a procedure that he has already put into practice with ‘Skyrim’.
However, Howard also comments that not all planets have the same amount of content, and there will be some that are more populated and have more missions to accomplish on them. What Todd Howard does say is that it will be an experience only partially dominated by procedural generation, since ‘Starfield’ is the game with the most “handmade” content that they have embarked on so far: It has 200,000 lines of dialogue and a good part of design done in a traditional way.
Here’s how Howard explains the scope of the procedural question, lest anyone be fooled: “There are a lot of ice balls in space, so one of our big design considerations in this game is, ‘What’s the fun in an ice ball? of ice?’ And sometimes it’s okay that ice balls aren’t fun. They are what they are. But we’d rather have them be there and say, ‘Hey, you can land on this if you want.’ We give you the resources, you can spend ten minutes there and say, ‘ Well, now I’m going to go back to the other planet that has all this other content, and I’m going to go on this other mission.'”
Namely, it seems to be more or less clear that although the thousand planets can be visited, their real interest will vary from one to another. Still, Bethesda’s promise of plenty of traditionally designed content ensures we don’t run into the problems that plagued the launch of games like No Man’s Sky. For now, Bethesda promises more details soon about what will be one of the big games of 2023.