More than three years after it was announced at E3 2018, Bethesda is finally lifting the lid on its mysterious new project Starfield with the first in what promises to be a series of behind-the-scenes looks at the sci-fi game’s creation.
The first “Into the Starfield” dev diary sees Starfield game director Todd Howard, art director Matt Carofano, and Bethesda studio director Angela Browder discussing the developer’s history in creating epic RPGs in different genres, and how that influences the upcoming game.
After discussing tackling fantasy with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and dystopian apocalyptica with Fallout, Howard says that tackling science fiction as a genre was “right behind”, with the appeal being “going to space, I think there’s a magic in just defying gravity and taking off from the planet. Like, that’s an extremely difficult human endeavour.”
“A lot of our games are about exploration and that’s sort of like, that’s the ultimate exploration,” added Carafano. “‘What’s out there?’, ‘What’s past earth?’, right? It’s incredibly exciting for us to work on something like that.”
Carafano added that “every time we come to a game, we’re starting fresh”, and that Starfield has “a more realistic science-based backing to it, whereas Skyrim is sort of an epic fantasy. This is a more grounded game and a grounded setting about exploration. So I think that gives us a different take on how we make everything. So, that’s sort of the thing you latch on to when we’re making new areas, making environments, making characters.”
Howard also touched on immersion being central to Bethesda’s games, saying “we like playing first person, we like having all the coffee cups, like being able to touch everything”, adding that “those moments make make the whole thing believeable.”
Talking on the harder, cleaner science fiction aesthetic of Starfield, Browder said that “because it’s based in a more realistic atmosphere […] a lot of people on our team who are super into certain things like robotics or engineering, and they can use this lifetime of knowledge they have gathered and then use it in their work.”
The trio say Bethesda has looked at every tiny thing that goes into building a believeable world for Starfield, from material aspects such as spacesuit design, rocks, and station clutter to cultural elements. Howard says that the team has developed concepts for “everything they eat, the toys the children play with” and asked questions such as “what are their bedtime stories? What is their art? What is their history? What is their entertainment?”
“It is a universe, not just a game,” Howard adds.
While the panel doesn’t really give anything away about the game itself, Howard does provide one tease. Talking about how Bethesda games typically have a “stepping out” moment – think leaving the vault in Fallout or escaping prison at the start of The Elder Scrolls – Howard says “I like to say that Starfield has two step out moments,” before admitting “It’s cryptic.”
In other news, Gary Napper – the former lead designer of Alien Isolation – has joined Rare as the design director on the upcoming and seemingly nature-focused game Everwild.