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Starfield's lead designer says the game covers ‘so much new ground’

Starfield’s lead designer and writer, Emil Pagliarulo, has said that the game covers “so much new ground” for the studio and that “players are going to lose their minds”.

Pagliarulo discussed the development team’s progress on Starfield in a recently published blog post on the official Bethesda site. The lead designer suggests that the game is coming along well in the interview, saying that while, early on in development, there can be moments where a game is “just kind of a mess”, eventually “you get to that point where systems really start to come online, and things start to work well, and gel, and you see everything forming into the vision you had when you first started on this crazy journey.” 

The Starfield team has, Pagliarulo reveals, gotten to that point. “When that first happened with Starfield," he says, "it really was an, ’Oh. Oh wow. Yeah. This is… something really special. Players are going to lose their minds.’” Pagliarulo adds, “It’s been so awe-inspiring watching Starfield morph into this amazing game, little by little, and with us covering SO much new ground.” 

With the game being in full production, Pagliarulo says that most of his time is spent “either meeting with the designers to help guide their work, or playtesting the game constantly to gauge our progress and see what might need to be adjusted.” This playtesting is key, he says, to “experiencing Starfield the way a player would, at every stage of development.” According to Pagliarulo, the development team is “brutally honest” with itself “about what is and isn’t fun, what does and doesn’t work.”

As for what games to which he looks for inspiration while working on Starfield, Pagliarulo says he plays games from “all different genres” but cites Thief as a personal “all time” favorite. 

“I really love playing games that just make me shake my head, like, ‘Wow. I know how they did that, and it is a crazy accomplishment.’,” he says. “The newest Spider-Man games have been like that for me. Or Cyberpunk. Man, to make a giant, open-ended environment like Night City? That is no easy feat. Seriously impressive.”

Starfield’s release date is drawing closer, with the game scheduled for November 11 this year. When Starfield releases, it'll be playable on PC and Xbox Series X, with a day one release on Xbox Game Pass.

Analysis: Detailing the new ground

As Starfield is Bethesda’s first new IP in twenty-five years, it’s not all that surprising that the development team is trying to push the envelope and cover “new ground”. 

As for what this “new ground” might involve, we can maybe look to Bethesda’s recently released “Made for Wanderers” behind-the-scenes video for some hints. Pagliarulo himself is in the video, alongside Game Director Todd Howard, Lead Quest Designer Will Shen and Lead Artist Istvan Pely.

In that discussion, Todd Howard touches on the team’s desire “to go back to do some things we didn't do”, mentioning “older hardcore RPGs” as part of that, and “doing those again in a new way."

Even aside from covering totally new ground in Starfield, that behind-the-scenes discussion hints at improving on old ground, with mentions of a “persuasion minigame” for interacting with characters in the game, which takes inspiration from the old Oblivion conversation system.

After a long period of quiet, Bethesda has been talking about Starfield a lot more recently, hyping up the game and increasing player anticipation. The next step feels like it ought to be seeing more from the game itself. In an AMA on Reddit, Todd Howard has previously highlighted summer as a key time to show Starfield, so it could be that we start to see how things are coming together for ourselves within a matter of months.

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