Starfield’s Lead Quest Designer Gives Details on Factions, Quests, and Companions

Starfield fans received some interesting details on quests and factions thanks to a ‘Constellation Questions’ interview with the game’s lead quest designer, Will Shen. In this short video, Shen gives insight into the types of random encounters we can expect in Starfield, the start of the main quest, the nature of faction quests, and even how companions will support the character in the game. Digging through some of the specifics of what he says reveals key elements of the game and how it’s different to past Bethesda installments.

The biggest difference that our interviewee describes about random encounters in Starfield, as opposed to past games, is that the scale of the game will change how we discover these quests. Instead of a singular large map that the player peruses, there are multiple planets. Shen says that there won’t be a focus on encountering random people on these planets, but rather the player will interact with people at settlements or locations that need help.

It appears that some of the randomness in chance encounters will be gone, and instead the mystery will come from what quests will be available at particular outposts or colonies. This philosophy hearkens back more to Fallout 4 than Elder Scrolls, the latter’s questing being much more reliant on chance encounters with individuals.

starfield quest designer interview spaceship and planet
Random encounters in Starfield will revolve around outposts on different planets

Something really interesting that Shen divulges is that the start of the game’s main quest will be set in “the Old Neighborhood”, our very own Sol (Earth’s solar system). This makes a lot of sense, as it will provide the character with a lot of exposition on the lore of Starfield. It will likely tell us the how and why humans left the solar system and started exploring/colonizing. The main hub here will be the Martian city of Cydonia. The lead designer mentions later in the video that the main quest will lead the player gallivanting around the Settled Systems, which is how they will first approach the different factions.

starfield quest designer interview the old neighborhood
Interesting that there are other locations between Sol and Alpha Centauri, since the Alpha Centauri systems are the closest solar systems to Sol…

This is probably the meatiest topic that they dove into during the interview. The question posed to Shen were about faction quest lines and whether they will lock the player out of other factions like in Fallout 4. He says that the studio talked about this at the beginning and decided it was best if the player was able to experience all the factions and quests independent of one another, more like in Skyrim. He described their intention with wanting to make the faction quest lines “personal” to the player, and have all the original hallmarks of Bethesda quests: player choice, consequences, and multiple endings.

Another huge announcement made here is that he reveals that “[the player] doesn’t necessarily end up as the head of every single faction in the game.” This tells us a couple of things: one, we will probably become the head of at least some factions in the game, and two, instances where we don’t become faction leaders is probably due to companions or important NPCs taking that role.

At the end of the interview, he adds one little tidbit that there will be faction quest lines where we choose the fates of NPCs. This seems pretty standard for Bethesda, but he made the stakes seem higher when he said, “[the player will decide] who ends up with you at the end.” This is complete speculation, but the way he frames this makes it seem like there will be a penultimate ending to the main quest that includes the factions and NPCs, like in the Mass Effect series or Cyberpunk 2077.

starfield quest designer interview faction quests picture
The Freestar Collective is one of the factions the player will join in Starfield. Perhaps ‘The Rock’ is the name of their headquarters

The one noteworthy takeaway from this small section of the interview is that the player’s companions will be members of the player’s spaceship crew. This is much different from past Bethesda games, when companions were usually only tied to certain quest lines or areas. They never cohabitated in a space that the player took to different areas. This creates an environment more akin to The Normandy from Mass Effect, where companions could interact with one another and flesh out their relationships. Shen also said that companions will be opinionated and participate in dialogue.

starfield quest designer interview interviewee talking companions
Will Shen discussing companions in Starfield.

All of these answers seem to imply some changes to the formula that the renowned studio has mastered over the decades. Hopefully, news for the upcoming game will start ramping up and more players’ questions on the anticipated title will be answered. The only release date that Bethesda has released for Starfield is 2023, let’s hope that tentative date isn’t pushed back.

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Kelson H.
Kelson H.

Kelson is a spud head from out west. He is most happy when holding a milky tea with too much honey and playing a sprawling role playing game or reading a fantasy novel. His video game tastes vary but his main genres are looter shooters, RPGs, and real time strategy games.

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