Originally meant to release this year, Bethesda’s Starfield is out in the first half of 2023. It’s one of the more anticipated titles, especially given the sheer scale, with 1,000 planets to explore and more freedom to role-play. Speaking to PCGamesN, former artist Nate Purkeypile (who left to form his studio, Just Purkey Games) offered some more details on the scale.
Purkeypile has worked at Bethesda for 14 years, from Fallout 3 to Starfield. Some details couldn’t be revealed, but he did confirm about 500 developers on the project.
“The scope of that project is the main thing that’s different, because, you know, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4, that was all one team. Fallout 76, was two mostly, we had a little bit of help from Montreal, but it was mostly the Austin and Maryland [Bethesda] studios working together. But yeah, Starfield is a much bigger project, it’s like 500 people or something on the team, whereas I think [Fallout] 76 was maybe 200, tops.”
While many things could have changed since his departure, Purkeypile noted that the biggest challenge was the sheer amount of work and details a new fictional universe requires.
“There’s not always solved problems for how things should look. Which can be so many particular things, like what shape are the metal panels? How do they bolt things together? What colors do you use? What materials do they have? How do you make a difference between all these different areas? So that’s much harder versus if you asked me like, hey, make another follow-up game.
“You have to figure out everything, and there’s all this extrapolative fiction to figure out too. You’d be shocked at how many metal panels they did in concept.”
Procedural generation has been used to create the 1000 planets players will explore in-game. Purkeypile couldn’t go into the tech details but did offer some interesting points on how Bethesda would have had to approach the situation. “The map of [Fallout] 76 is like, almost two times the size of Skyrim or so, and that was a lot of work for people to do, but yeah, it doesn’t scale. Even if you wanted to hire outsourcing, you’d have to hire, like, a country. Realistically, it’s a fraction of that team actually [working] on planets.”
Time will tell how fresh each planet feels to explore, but it’s confirmed that there are also four major cities to explore (with one being larger than any city in previous titles). It also sports the most hand-crafted content in a Bethesda Game Studios title, with the main quest taking 30 to 40 hours to complete.
Starfield will launch for Xbox Series X/S and PC along with Game Pass. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.