Starfield having only four romanceable NPCs is 'a good thing', says Dragon Age veteran

A still from a Starfield trailer where a companion NPC - a cowboy - lovingly confesses his affection to the main protagonist.
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield will have over 1,000 planets to explore but only four souls to romance. Harvey noted this amusing discrepancy last week, following Todd Howard's announcement that only the four main Constellation companions—basically the optional sidekicks in Starfield who will presumably fight alongside you but, more importantly, carry your excess loot—will be romanceable. 

This, alongside Baldur's Gate 3's extremely long runtime, has triggered another round of discourse about "quality versus quantity". One qualified voice to join that discussion is David Gaider, a former BioWare narrative designer who has worked on the Dragon Age and Baldur's Gate series, as well as Knights of the Old Republic. He's especially reputable, given how romance-heavy Dragon Age is, for example, and how fondly the series' bonds are remembered.

"I'd say this is a good thing," Gaider tweeted, referring to the four romance options, "and hopefully speaks of a 'quality over quantity' mindset, at least on the narrative side." He was replying to a tweet of our own, which pointed out the whole 1,000 planets with four romances contrast.

He went on: "Unless a meaningful romance arc is the kind of thing one imagines an AI could whip up... in which case, ew."

AI-powered romance probably isn't what many players want, despite humankind's general appetite for lots rather than not much. There's also the small fact of there being multiple trillion planets in our real universe, and yet oh so many lonely souls on Earth. Seen from this point of view, perhaps Howard and co are being… generous?

When another Twitter user claimed that Bethesda is promising "endless, authored content", Gaider remained diplomatic. "My impression is that they've been hedging their bets, promising quality on both fronts... but, yes, anyone who's played their games probably knows what to expect. Again, we'll have to see which fronts they've pushed on. The idea they could push on all fronts is... dicey."

Starfield releases on September 6, meaning you'll need to spend at least two and a half hours a day playing Baldur's Gate 3 from its August 3 release date, if you want to wrap it up—critical path only!—before Bethesda's game unlocks. Which actually seems…. doable? 

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.