Todd Howard says Starfield is next-gen but it could "exist on the current systems as well"

An image illustration of Bethesda's Todd Howard before the Starfield.

Bethesda Game Studios boss Todd Howard introduced Starfield as a "next-generation, single-player game," but you may not actually need a next-gen system to play it. In an interview with Eurogamer, Howard offered up some of the first official details about Starfield since its debut at E3 2018, including what exactly he meant by calling it next-gen. That means new hardware, new software, and thinking about what "the next-generation of single player RPGs" feels like, Howard explained, and it doesn't rule out supporting older hardware.

"What systems we put it out on - what's the hardware requirements - is still to be determined," Howard said. "We're pushing it; we're thinking very, very far in the future so we're building something that will handle next-generation hardware. That's what we're building on right now, that's where our mind is, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't exist on the current systems as well."

Howard isn't explicitly saying Starfield will be a cross-generation game, just that it could be. He may only be hedging his bets here, but it does help fill in our understanding of Starfield (which is so far very limited) to know that Howard thinks it could conceivably be published on current generation systems - and the game is playable internally at Bethesda right now, so he's not just talking about concepts and theories.

So that's the technical end. What about the game itself - will it not only look like a generational leap but feel like one, too? In other words, how reductive and inaccurate will the inevitable "Skyrim in space" shouts be when people compare Starfield to the overall Bethesda Game Studios portfolio?

"It's different, but if you sit down and play it you would recognise it as something we made if that makes sense? It has our DNA in it. It has things that we like," Howard said. "But it has a lot of new systems we've been thinking about for a while that fit that kind of game really well. We'll talk about it in the future. See, now I wish I hadn't announced it!"

Tantalizing yet vague, just like when Todd Howard teased more Elder Scrolls 6 details. By "new systems" does he mean stuff like another totally reworked advancement system, or vehicle-based space exploration, or both, or neither? Even if we'll be able to play Starfield on the machines we have right now, we'll still have to wait at least until the next generation of consoles arrives to play Starfield and find out for ourselves.

While you're waiting for Starfield to arrive, fill your time with our picks of the best RPG games.