Todd Howard Explains How Starfield Will Use Procedural Generation

Starfield sounds massive—the campaign is 20 percent larger than Skyrim and Fallout 4's while it boasts 1,000 planets to explore. Most of these will be procedurally generated, though, and that's caused a stir. But Todd Howard has clarified in-depth what this will mean when playing.

"We've always done [procedural generation]," Howard told IGN. "It's a big part of Skyrim in terms of questing and some other things we do. We generate landscape using procedural systems, so we've always kind of worked on it. [The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall is] one we look at a lot in terms of game flow."

Daggerfall is similarly massive, but a lot of that is also procedurally generated, making Starfield an intriguing repeat of Bethesda's own history. It has a map size of 161,600 kilometres, spanning all of Tamriel, but the cities are very similar in design and the in-between locations are procedurally generated. However, technology has come a long way since then, and Starfield's building of a giant map is a bonus, not the main content.

There's a main path through Starfield that is more akin to Bethesda's other RPGs such as Skyrim, with handcrafted cities and detailed worlds to explore: "I should also add that we have done more handcrafting in this game, content-wise, than any game we've done," Howard said. "We're [at] over 200,000 lines of dialogue, so we still do a lot of handcrafting and if people just want to do what they're used to in our games, and follow a main quest, and do the questlines, you're gonna see what you'd expect from us.

"But then you have this whole other part of, 'Well, I'm just going to wander this planet, and it's going to provide some gameplay, and some random content, and those kinds of things.' Kind of like Daggerfall would if you go way back."

So if you want the traditional RPG, you can get stuck in, but if you fancy charting the 100 solar systems and building bases on all 1,000 planets, you can get lost to your heart's content.

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