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Starfield map could be massive, as Bethesda learns from No Man's Sky

Starfield
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Bethesda's upcoming space RPG Starfield is going to use procedural generation for its map, which is promising to be "much larger" than anything seen in previous Bethesda games.

This information comes from a new interview with Bethesda exec Todd Howard. Speaking at the Develop: Brighton conference, he gave a few new tidbits regarding Starfield, the company's next big game, expected to release before the Elder Scrolls 6.

With the news of a procedurally generated map, people might begin to draw comparisons to No Man's Sky, which used the same method to create a procedurally generated universe – and will no doubt be a boon to devs trying to create a believable galaxy at scale.

Obviously, at the moment, we don't know enough about Starfield to say if it will play or explore anything like No Man's Sky.

Howard was quick to mention that Starfield is still many light years away from us, but this update is a ray of hope for fans who have gone a long time without anything substantial on this game.

Reach for the stars

What is procedural generation?

Put simply, it means that the game's world is built by a randomised algorithm as opposed to devs having to manually curate every area. If you've played No Man's Sky – which procedurally generates entire planets as well as species – you'll have a good idea of what this means.

The most interesting part of this hour-long interview is undoubtedly the procedurally-generated map. Howard specifically mentions that it isn't being used to create randomized terrain so much as increase the scale of the overall map.

With this in mind, Starfield is promising to be far bigger than the world of Fallot 76, which itself is roughly four times as large as the world of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. In the interview Howard specifically mentioned cities, stating that they are going to be much larger than anything we've seen in a past Bethesda game.

He also talked about the overhauling of Bethesda's Creation Engine, which is what has been used to create a huge number of the company's RPGs. We knew that the engine was getting an overhaul for Starfield and, by extension, Elder Scrolls 6, but it's still reassuring to hear that Howard is expecting people to be pleased with the new engine.

Howard again stated that Starfield would launch immediately on Xbox Game Pass (thanks to Microsoft's acquisition of Zenimax) but there was no confirmation on if the title would be an Xbox Series X / Xbox Series S exclusive game.

The one thing we can be sure of is that Starfield is going to be an extremely large game – and we know we won't be hearing about a release date for a while yet.

Howard reiterated this during the conference, saying that "It's going to be a while until people hear about it," and that Bethesda doesn't want to show previews until it's a lot closer to launch and they can show off something substantial.