May 23, 2022

Creation Engine Overhaul Confirmed for Starfield, Bethesda Reveal

In an interview yesterday, Tod Howard confirmed that both Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI will use an overhauled version of the Creation Engine


“Massive Overhaul” and Bethesda’s “Creation Engine” are two phrases met with some trepidation when acquainted in a single sentence. Yet, if we are to believe Bethesda’s own Tom Howard, this is exactly what is in store for upcoming releases Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI. This is the first confirmation of the assumed approach following the Microsoft acquisition back in September.

This was revealed by Howard in interview with GameIndustry’s James Batchelor in interview at the recent Develop:Brighton Digital conference. Anticipation for the developer’s next big hit has been increasingly high. Particularly following the disappointment felt by many from the commercially disastrous Fallout 76. But lest we forget, this is not the first time Tod has promised the sky. Or to be more precise “God Rays” following updates made to the engine for Fallout 4. Harking back to Tod’s own words at the time,

“When a rain storm rolls in, our new material system allows the surfaces of the world to get wet, and a new cloth simulation system makes cloth, hair, and vegetation blow in the wind.”

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Toda Howard reveals all in recent interview

Whilst some graphical updates were certainly visible, at its core the engine was as janky as ever. It predictably came under considerable criticism for its innumerable bugs and glitches. Fallout 4 was generally received well. But this reliance on a clearly outdated engine led to GameSpot’s Peter Brown claiming this was an “argument for substance over style”. And with Fallout 76’s story not hitting the highs of old, reliance on Bethesda’s fabled substance has been recently lacking. Suffice to say, the joke is wearing a little thin at this point.

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But in the interview, head-strong Tod presses forward. He claims that, “The overhaul on our engine is probably the largest we’ve ever had, maybe even larger than Morrowind to Oblivion,”

Bethesda will be using procedural generation for Starfield, as well as The Elder Scroll’s VI, which is an indication that the maps for each will be of ambitious proportion. As an indication of scale, Starfield has around five times as many developers working on it than Skyrim and Fallout 4 had. Howard continues,

 “There are things we do that we still like, the way we build our worlds, the way people can mod it — these are things I think are fundamentally good about our tech stack. But from rendering to animation to pathing to procedural generation… I don’t want to say everything, but it’s a significant overhaul. It’s taken us longer than we would have liked, but it’s going to power everything we’re doing with Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6. When people see the results, they’ll hopefully be as happy as we are with what’s on the screen and also how we can go about making our games.”

Bethesda’s front man confirmed that we may still have a long wait in store before we see anything from Starfield. And perhaps that’s a good thing. Particularly considering the promises now made on graphical fidelity they are no doubt delicately coaxing out a very tired engine.

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But is it the right decision? Given the recent acquisition some had speculated that a complete platform overhaul may not have gone far enough. Given the inability of the Creation Engine to please the more graphically minded, would re-homing Bethesda’s unrivalled story telling on, say Unreal Engine not have at least come up in discussion at Microsoft HQ?

Well for the first time since the takeover it seems we have our answer. Howard’s comments certainly seem to have cleared that up at least. Time will tell if the changes planned will go far enough to satiate a ray-tracing hungry demographic. Both Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield will not see retail shelves until well into the next-gen life cycle. At that point, even a satin-laced story weaved with Bethesda’s intricate precision may not be enough to to hold back criticism of last-gen graphics.

Source; VG247

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