Starfield Will Have "Classic Bethesda-Style Dialogue" Options, Todd Howard Says

In a new interview, Starfield director Todd Howard named the inspirations behind the upcoming sci-fi RPG and detailed its new persuasion system.


Starfield, developer Bethesda Softwork's highly anticipated sci-fi RPG, will feature what game director Todd Howard described in a new interview as "classic Bethesda-style dialogue" options.

The interview comes directly from Bethesda itself, where community director Jess Finster asked Howard about various topics of interest to the game's community. When asked about how dialogue and speech checks will work in Starfield, Howard compared it to older Bethesda RPGs.

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"We've done a lot of different dialogue systems," Howard said. "We've gone back to, I'll call it a classic Bethesda-style dialogue. You're looking at the character and how they emote, and you have a series of choices there," Howard said.

Howard then described how the game's new persuasion system will work. Players will have a specific number of turns and persuasion points to select various dialogue options in an attempt to convince the NPC to give in to the player's demands.

"It feels like it's part of the dialogue, but you're spending points to persuade them," Howard said. "It feels natural, not like I entered some other mode where I'm not doing regular dialogue. I'm in this mode of persuading you to get what I want."

Earlier in the interview, Howard revealed that players will be able to embark on quests to remove traits from their character. Traits have both positive and negative effects and are selected at the start of the game when creating a character. Allowing players the means to remove traits over the course of the game prevents players from having to create an entirely new character, should they decide some of the traits they selected at the start of the game are no longer worth it.

The interview also dives into some of the inspirations behind Starfield and the debate on whether or not Starfield could be considered "hard sci-fi." Howard named two specific influences: the 1984 sci-fi space sim Sundog and pen-and-paper sci-fi RPG Traveler.

"Those are the big ones, harkening back to those old role-playing games that we loved and 'Hey, can we pull off something like this today with today's computers and consoles, etcetera?" Howard said.

As for whether or not Howard considers Starfield to be "hard sci-fi" (aka science fiction that aims to be scientifically accurate), he said the development team considers it to be, but that it's a bit of a trick question as it depends on how the person asking the question defines the term.

"A hard science-fiction video game, you die in space cold," Howard said. As a result, some liberties have been taken to ensure Starfield is still fun to play, with Howard using an example involving fuel. In an earlier build, players would run out of fuel for their spaceship and essentially be stuck. A more recent change makes it so fuel does limit how far players can go at once, but won't ever run out completely and leave players stranded.

Fans got their first look at Starfield gameplay as part of Xbox and Bethesda's summer games showcase earlier this year, where it was revealed the upcoming RPG will have thousands of planets to explore, customizable spaceships, and more. Originally slated for a November 2022 release, Starfield is now scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2023.

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