Todd Howard, creative overlord of upcoming space-based sandwich-theft sim Starfield, sat down with IGN in the aftermath of last Sunday's Starfield Direct to chat about the game ahead of its September 6 release date. The key takeaway? Space is still big in Starfield, but it's not entirely down to procedural generation.
Asked about the ratio of handcrafted to procgen content in the game, Howard said that, of Starfield's 1000 planets, "The landscape's pretty much all procedural. We kind of make these large ... kilometre-sized tiles we've generated" which then get "wrapped around the planet" to create the game's 1000+ procgen wonderlands.
But fret not, because Howard was quick to add that Starfield still has more "handcrafted content … than any game we've done". He didn't give out hard numbers, but Starfield apparently has more handcrafted content "than Skyrim and Fallout 4 combined just in dialogue".
"As we get into the locations and art and everything," continued Howard, "we've done more of it than we've ever done". Well, that's encouraging. Certain members of the PCG staff—myself included—are more than a little worried that Starfield's long, wide roster of planets might be, uh, a bit dull. Procgen is a great way to achieve width, but not depth, and I can't say the thought of a thousand planets really appeals if there's nothing interesting on their surface. That's what I think, anyway. Some sickos disagree.
So while it's not surprising to hear that Bethesda is hard at work making handcrafted content—it is quite a well-resourced studio, after all—it's still good to hear Howard emphasise that there'll be a lot of manmade stuff (like sandwiches) to sink our teeth into when the game hits.
Oh, and if that dialogue comparison sounds familiar, it's because Howard loves making it. Back before Fallout 4 released, Howard was out there talking about how that game had more dialogue than Fallout 3 and Skyrim combined. Skyrim, if you've somehow forgotten, had around 60,000 lines of dialogue in its base version, while Fallout 4 had 111,000.
Back in 2021 Howard talked about Starfield having over 150,000 lines of dialogue, rather than the 171K+ it would need to beat both games combined. I guess Bethesda's writers have been doing some scribbling in the last couple of years.