Starfield’s game engine will be a leap forward, Bethesda says

Starfield, Bethesda Softworks’ next big role-playing game, will be powered by an overhauled Creation Engine whose capabilities will be a larger leap forward than the one seen from 2002’s The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind on Xbox to 2006’s The Elder Scrolls 3: Oblivion on the Xbox 360, according to Bethesda Game Studios creative director Todd Howard.

In a keynote appearance for the Develop: Brighton online conference, Howard added that the sci-fi RPG will rely more on procedural generation than past Bethesda titles did. (He begins talking about Starfield at the 50:38 point or so.)

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“From rendering to animation to pathing to procedural generation […] I don’t want to say ‘everything,’ but it’s a significant overhaul,” Howard told host James Batchelor of GamesIndustry.biz. “It’s taken us longer than we would have liked, but it’s going to power everything we’re doing with Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6. When people see the results, they’ll hopefully be as happy as we are with what’s on the screen and also how we can go about making our games.”

Both Starfield and the untitled next chapter of The Elder Scrolls were announced during Bethesda’s E3 2018 showcase. Development on both is still in the “don’t hold your breath waiting” stage, with the publisher saying most recently that The Elder Scrolls 6 will follow Starfield, and that it will come “years from now.”

Howard held to that forecast, or the lack of one, in the keynote with Develop: Brighton. “We’d like to, as much as possible when we show it, really be able to show what the final product feels like, looks like, and we’re closer to release, so that we’re 100% confident: Here it is, here’s what it does, and here’s when you can play it,” Howard said. Bethesda Game Studios has held its cards closely on big announcements going back to 2016’s Fallout 4, which was first revealed just five months before its launch.

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Generally speaking, though, Howard said that the engine advancements will give nonplayer characters a greater role in future Bethesda Game Studios titles, significantly increasing the size of their worlds’ cities as a result. The studio will also maintain its commitment to mod support, and both games (Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6) will launch on Xbox Game Pass, thanks to Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Howard’s company.

In his hourlong appearance, Howard also spoke expansively about the rise of The Elder Scrolls franchise, the expectations facing Fallout 76, and the repairs of that game undertaken over the past two years.

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