Starfield roundtable discusses factions, companions and more

Bethesda released a new video today for Starfield where the developers discuss topics around the game’s factions, origins, companions and interestingly enough, the persuasion system from The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

The participants of the roundtable discussion were game director Todd Howard, design director Emil Pagliarulo, lead quest designer Will Shen and lead artist Istvan Pely. It started off with a discussion of immersing players into their games and moved on to emergent game mechanics as well leaning into player choice, even going so far as embracing the “Chaos.”

“A lot of us have been doing this for a long time together,” said Howard. “And it’s nice with Starfield to go back to some things we didn’t do. The backgrounds, the traits, the defining your character, all those stats. I think there’s so many games now that do those things that people are ready for something that does a lot of the things that older, hardcore RPGs, some that we used to do, doing those again in a new way.”

Factions were among the key topics in this developer talk. The team highlighted some of the groups that were already revealed in past teaser videos. There’s the United Colonies, who represent the future of a space republic idealized, the Freestar collective, which embodies a space western and frontier feel, and the mega corporate lifestyle of Ryujin Industries.

The Crimson Fleet is another faction that the player can join. They’re a group of space pirates that let the player to be “bad-guys.” They have the choice whether to just work for them, or be like a double agent and report them back to the space police. All of this works towards giving players the opportunity to make their own story from the people they encounter as well as the companions they venture with.

Also introduced was VASCO, a robot character who can serve as one of your companions in Starfield, in an eight second clip. The team highlighted how they want companions in Starfield to react and respond to your actions as you wander around. Maybe even throw some banter into the mix to make these people believable and feel like a real person. One of the key points brought up was the Persuasion system from The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and something similar is being sought for Starfield.

Starfield companions

“Yeah we sat down and… It was funny, we didn’t start with, ‘Let’s do an evolution of—let’s look back at the old Oblivion system, but there are a couple of beats there,” said Shen. “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.”

Todd Howard closes out the discussion by expressing what he wants to achieve for the players. “At the end of it we want the players to have told their own journey, but then look back at it and we’re asking the big questions. “Why are we all here?”, “Where is it leading?” and, “What’s next for humanity?”

We’ll find out when Starfield launches this year on November 11 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC. It’ll be also launching as a day one release on Game Pass. Its absence on PlayStation has managing editor Matthew Arcilla theorizing that it’s all part of Microsoft’s consolidation of the power of Game Pass.