Starfield has more handcrafted content than any previous Bethesda game despite "a lot of procedural generation"

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Todd Howard has confirmed that Starfield's 1,000 planets will make use of procedural generation, but the game will still have more handcrafted content than any previous Bethesda game.

"We do a lot of procedural generation [in Starfield], but I would keep in mind that we’ve always done that," Howard tells 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."

Howard compares Starfield's procedural content to Daggerfall, the last Elder Scrolls game before Bethesda switched to handcrafted worlds in Morrowind, saying that Starfield will optionally provide that same sort of endless, sandbox quest experience.

And the game will make clear which of the planets are pure procedural areas. "One of our big design considerations on this game is, ‘What’s fun about an ice ball?’ And it’s OK sometimes if ice balls aren’t- it is what it is."

Howard suggests that the typical experience with those planets will be landing for ten minutes, grabbing some resources, and blasting off for more interesting frontiers, but given the choice between including them or not, the team wanted to give players more options.

But Howard also notes that "we have done more handcrafting in this game, content-wise, than any game we’ve done." There are 200,000 lines of dialog in the game, and Howard revealed that the main story is set to be a bit - about 20% - longer than previous Bethesda games. A straight run through the main quest "might be in the 30s, maybe 40" hours.

Today's interview also featured a casual confirmation of Fallout 5 coming after The Elder Scrolls 6.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.