Starfield Quest Design Bethesda has been returning to its old-school RPG roots, says lead quest designer

Starfield may not have appeared at The Game Awards 2022, much to the disappointment of Bethesda and Xbox fans alike, but BGS Lead Quest Designer Will Shen (best known for his work on the acclaimed Fallout 4 Far Harbor DLC) has now appeared in official interviews across the site and YouTube.

The blog post posted on Bethesda’s official website had Shen discussing returning to the studio’s old RPG roots (it was previously alluded to by Todd Howard himself).

I think a lot of the mission design for Starfield was going back to our old-school RPG roots: lots of dialogue options, references to the player’s skills and background, a variety of combat and non-combat activities, highlighting our brand-new mode in a way that indicates where you’re at. You should go for it and what kind of stories you want to experience. We really tried to build on all of our previous titles to build the missions we were really excited about.

Later in this interview, Shane teased the things he’s excited about in Starfield missions, whether he’s working on them personally or others do.

I can’t wait for people to play the main quest and meet all the members of the Constellation group, the main faction of the story. We really wanted to capture that shared sense of adventure and optimism that was part of early space exploration and going back to the moon landings and the Apollo missions.

I have a few favorites about the main mission, but there are plenty of spoilers in there. I love the beginning of Ryujin Industries’ mission. The task designer responsible for that story did a great job of turning a seemingly mundane activity (a job interview) into an unforgettable moment.

As mentioned earlier, Sheen also appeared in the final episode of Bethesda’s video series “Constellation Questions”. Here, Shen went in-depth about a few of Starfield’s systems, like the upgraded random encounter system.

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Will: Exciting. This time, we have entire planets to fill. We actually have new technology to take entire sites that we’ve built and put them on planets. Now, you can say maybe you’re going to an outpost, and you actually find out there’s a whole bunch of people with a certain problem, whereas before, it might just be someone coming to you along the way. Now it is a real complete website that can be put out there. And maybe there, they have an issue like, “One of our members has been kidnapped. They’ve been kidnapped by some hackers. We think they’re out there.” The player is actually placed in a whole other setting with that person in it and the enemies all around them. Therefore, it is a dynamically located settlement that takes you to a dynamically placed dungeon as you walk across the planet.

Jess: It is amazing. Basically, at any time on a planet, you can experience a random encounter anywhere?

Will: Yes, exactly. And I think we’re really just scratching the surface of what this technology can do.

One of the many questions Starfield fans have about the game, the role of Earth and its solar system, was also touched upon. BGS Lead Quest Designer stated that players will actually be sent back to the Solar System (which the game’s characters call Old Neighborhood), and more specifically to Mars, by the Constellation faction. On the Red Planet, they will get to explore one of the first settlements that humanity established when it left Earth: Cydonia. The video also provides a brief glimpse of the city, which appears to be mostly underground.

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Speaking of factions, Will Shen mentioned that Starfield will allow players to play across all faction lines independently of each other, just like in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and unlike Fallout 4, which automatically excluded players from certain factions once they joined others.

The reason Shen gave was that the stories would be more personal this time around and players wouldn’t necessarily end up in command of each faction, making it less problematic to keep the stories threading together.

Finally, the designer of Starfield Lead Quest said that the companions will provide a lot of opinions and perspectives on the different missions that players take on. In some cases, the developers have also added an option for the player character to allow companions to speak for them, with potential unintended consequences resulting from this. The companions will also crew the player’s spaceship.

Originally scheduled for release on November 11, 2022, the 11th anniversary of Skyrim’s release, Starfield has been pushed back to the first half of 2023 along with Arkane’s Redfall. We haven’t heard any updated release dates for either game, but you can check out all the previous Starfield info we’ve collected on the dedicated product page.

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