How procedural generation works in Starfield

The Power of Procedural Generation in Starfield

If you’re going to embark on a journey through space with a game called Starfield, there are certain expectations that need to be met. The vastness of the game’s universe is crucial, with countless planets and spaces awaiting exploration. So, how does Starfield achieve this seemingly insurmountable task? The answer lies in the utilization of procedural generation.

The Concept of Procedural Generation

Procedural generation is not a new concept in the world of game development. It has been present for many years, steadily growing in complexity. At its core, it involves the creation of tools that automatically generate random terrain, allowing developers to populate vast areas of the game world quickly and cost-effectively, without relying on human labor.

Procedural Generation in Bethesda Games

Bethesda has a long history of successfully implementing procedural generation in their games. As far back as 1996, they used it to create The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall. Since then, it has been a staple in many of their titles, including the renowned Skyrim. Therefore, it is unsurprising that Starfield incorporates this technology as well.

In an interview with IGN, Bethesda Game Director Todd Howard reveals that Starfield boasts around 1,000 visitable planets, and procedural generation played a significant role in their creation. However, some players have expressed concerns over the reputation of procedural generation, often associated with generating monotonous and uninspiring landscapes.

Howard acknowledges this sentiment but argues that much of the universe is, in fact, like that. Starfield aims to provide players with freedom beyond the meticulously crafted experiences that Bethesda is known for.

Image via Bethesda Softworks

Diving into the Mechanics of Procedural Generation

In Starfield, procedural generation opens up a universe of possibilities for exploration and discovery. While some areas may serve as mere passageways to greater things, they still offer resources, opportunities for building homes and outposts, and hidden secrets. Additionally, each character’s experience of discovering new worlds is unique due to the personalized nature of procedural generation.

Furthermore, Starfield combines the benefits of procedural generation with hand-crafted elements. As a result, the game exhibits a rich environmental diversity, ensuring that there are engaging activities to be found in every biome. According to Howard, the game features over 200,000 lines of dialogue, surpassing the 60,000 in Skyrim and the 110,000 in Fallout 4. These numbers demonstrate the vastness of the game’s content and the necessity of procedural generation.

Understanding how procedural generation operates in Starfield allows players to focus on discovering the most intriguing locations rather than exhaustively exploring every nook and cranny. The immense universe of Starfield should not be seen as the primary focus, as Howard emphasizes that there are countless other activities to engage in beyond the main quests.

Embracing User-Generated Content and Beyond

Considering the thriving modding community surrounding Bethesda games, the inclusion of procedural generation in Starfield presents an opportunity for fans to contribute their own unique content to the game. Players who are skeptical of procedural generation can seek out mods that enhance specific planets with handcrafted beauty. This has been a popular practice in previous Bethesda titles, enabling players to transform their gaming experience into something entirely different.

Be sure to check back once Starfield launches in early access on September 1 and fully on September 6. We will provide comprehensive guides, including the best PC settings, and curated mods as fan-made content becomes available.