A new Starfield developer video was released yesterday.
It was joined by game director Todd Howard, design director Emil Pagliarulo, art director Istvan Pely, and lead quest designer Will Shen.
A lot of info was revealed in the video so let’s take a look.
The first companion character in the game was revealed and it looks like it’s going to be a robot called VASCO.
Todd Howard said, “No matter what story we write, the one the players tell themselves is the one they think about and love the most – and the companions.”
The video showed a in-game shot of VASCO which was then followed by saying, “Hello, Captain. How may I be of assistance?”.
According to IGN, “VASCO is presumably named after Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, given that Bethesda is aiming for “grounded exploration” in a more realistic universe, and describes its game as NASA-Punk.”
The developers also explained how companions were improved for the game. Howard summed everything by saying, “Something we really leaned into on this game [is] how those other characters felt about you.”
Lead artist Istvan Pely added, “That’s probably my favourite part, like when you’re exploring and then your companion makes some comment off the cuff about something that you’re checking out or something that just happened. That just feels so perfect for immersion. It’s just so believable, you think it’s a real person.”
“We’ve always allowed the player to create really interesting, unique characters,” said Pely. “This game we’ve definitely, severely leveled up. The tech is based on scanning of real world models, similar to the photogrammetry we do in our landscapes. We’re kind of applying the same thing to our people as well. Because it’s not just the appearance of your player and all that, but we want all the personal interactions with NPCs, other characters in the game to be as impactful as possible. And for that you have to believe these are real people, you’re a real person, and you’re interacting with real people.”
Oblivion’s mechanic is coming back
The developer diary also revealed that the Oblivion’s persuasion mini-game has been updated and included in Starfield’s dialogue systems.
There were no footage shown in the video regarding the mechanic but the but lead quest designer Will Shen did explain the thinking behind it. “We sat down, and it was funny [because] we didn’t start with ‘let’s look back at the old Oblivion system’, but there are a couple of beats there. You have to think about, ‘What’s my risk here? Which one do I want to choose?’ We didn’t want it to be a system where there was definitely the right thing to say.”
“It feels like you’re having a conversation where you’re actually trying to persuade somebody of something,” said game director Todd Howard. “As far as new systems dialogue, I think it’s definitely one of the most successful ones that we’ve had.”
For the uninitiated, Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion featured a mini-game during some dialogue sequences that was used to persuade an NPC.
It used a wheel cut into pie-like segments that represented actions such as admire, joke, boast, and coerce. Over a series of rounds, you were able to manipulate a character’s disposition, something made easier through high speechcraft stats or by using a bribe.
It’s not clear what elements of this system are reflected in Starfield’s version, but it certainly seems there will be a way to engage in conversations beyond just picking dialogue options.
It was also revealed that you are able to join multiple faction, which also includes the bad guys. Yep, you did read it correctly.
Lead Quest designer Will Shen revealed three of the main factions that will be available to join.
“One of the big choices is, ‘Which part of the game world am I going to engage in?’” he said. “We always make a bunch of different groups that represent some of the major factions in every game. And in this one we’ve got the United Colonies, that represents the future of space republic idealized. You also have the Freestar Collective, which is the space western fantasy, people that are out there on the frontier. We’ve got Ryujin Industries which represents corporate life.”
He also believes Ryujin Industries has “one of the best starts of any of the factions.” This storyline will apparently start with you being hired by the megacorporation and having to prove you can live up to their expectations.
There is also the Crimson Fleet; a pirate raiders faction that seems to be the de facto choice for anyone looking to do an evil playthrough of Starfield.
You can be a pirate and be a bad guy? Count me in.
All four factions have the potential to offer very different kinds of quests, but there’s an even more interesting potential route for players to take.
You can join up with the Crimson Fleet while also working with more benevolent factions. This creates a sort of undercover espionage role play scenario. You can now be able live your dream as 007.
“The cool thing about Crimson Fleet is what if you’re a good person and you want to be a good player? And you don’t want to play as a bad guy?” asked design director Emil Pagliarulo. “You can side with pirates, or you can report back to your superiors and be this space cop type of thing. So it lets you be a good person and still play with the bad guys.”
Bethesda also revealed that character creation will be more detailed this time around. Todd Howard mentioned that you will be able to choose a background for your character and traits that will define them, akin to more hardcore RPGs such as Pillars of Eternity. It’s unclear from the conversation if factions and backgrounds will link together; could we opt to be affiliated with Crimson Fleet or United Colonies from the start of the game? And will that alter the opening, akin to Cyberpunk 2077’s prologues? We’ll have to wait and see.
New concept art was also revealed. Here’s a gallery of them for your viewing pleasure.
The game is currently scheduled to be released on November 11, 2022.