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Todd Howard Talks Fallout, Starfield, And New Bethesda Projects

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A piece of concept art for Fallout 4 showing off the retrofuturistic/American style of the series against the detonation of the nukes.

Image: Bethesda Softworks

Bethesda Softworks executive producer Todd Howard has been making the rounds conducting interviews since the release of Amazon’s adaptation of Fallout, one of the series he’s helped direct in his time there.

There’s few higher authorities on matters at Bethesda greater than Howard, which made his recent interview with Kinda Funny an interesting one to listen to. Throughout the hour-long chat, Howard spoke about Amazon’s hit new Fallout show, some of the studio’s core philosophies, the updates coming to the team’s latest game, and even provided some teases about what’s to come.

Here’s just some of the insights Howard shared during his interview:

Howard on all things Fallout

  • When Howard and Fallout’s executive producer Jonathan Nolan were wondering how faithfully the Fallout television show would adapt the sights and sounds of the series, “there was a conversation about all of it.” As much as Howard obviously wanted to make the show “authentic,” he and Bethesda also gave the creators and writers of the show the room to create something new without having them “nitpicking.” Importantly, Howard stressed to the show’s creators that they “change things every game also,” citing the difference between Power Armor between Fallout 3 and 4 as an example of how a new take on the property had room to improvise and change things around. According to Howard though, everyone from the cast, showrunners, and even Amazon was apparently adamant about remaining faithful to the games.
  • Howard shared that the show’s crew had fans of the games who’d signed onto the project because of their love for the series.
  • When asked whether the team wanted to have a game ready for the show’s launch or not, Howard said that it didn’t, especially since Fallout 76 has been an ongoing game in that franchise that people have quietly enjoyed for years, and has found renewed success since the show popped off.
  • Even though other Fallout spinoffs like the Obsidian-developed New Vegas, haven’t yet materialized, Howard stresses that the team has always been open to those conversations.
  • While discussing the ways in which Bethesda supported the release of the show with new content in its existing games, Howard seemed to tease a few Fallout-related projects that are currently in the works. He specifically said, “We look at what we’re doing with the franchise and then we say, ‘Do we still feel good about—I can’t reveal it now—but here’s our runway for Fallout as a franchise…[Fallout] season two is happening, what are we doing with mobile, what are we doing in [Fallout] 76, what are we doing with this thing, what are we doing with this other thing, and when are these things landing’.“
  • Bethesda is mindful of folks’ desire for crossplay and cross-progression in Fallout 76, but the way the game was built makes these things a bit difficult. While the studio would like to feature both, it seems like Bethesda’s more invested in the latter.
  • Howard shared that as the Fallout show moves into the same territory as New Vegas, he and the team are being careful to canonize some of the game’s events due to its multiple endings, preferring to “avoid it” and not refute player’s specific stories by sidestepping and being ambiguous about certain elements of the narrative.
  • When asked about possible locales of the Fallout series, which has darted all around the US so far, Howard suggested that Bethesda wasn’t likely to ever move the games outside of America. He shared that, “My view is part of the Fallout schtick is on the ‘americana’ naivete…And so you know for us right now it’s okay to sort of acknowledge some of those other areas but our plans is to predominantly keep it in the US.” This answer comes in light of the heavy role that other countries, such as Canada, play in the history of the world of Fallout and non-canonical explorations such as the fan-developed mod Fallout: London. Howard likened some players’ desire to see more parts of the Fallout world to the curiosity of the Elder Scrolls fanbase, which often asks to see many of the more mysterious parts of the world the developers have yet to explore. Howard’s response to them, and by proxy the Fallout fanbase, is, “The worst thing you can do to a mysterious land is remove the mystery.”

Starfield, Bethesda’s philosophy, and the future

  • As the conversation gradually shifted to Starfield, Howard did confirm that a significant update to the game, which has since been announced and released, would be arriving soon.. The focus of the update seems to be on shipbuilding, specifically the decoration of ships’ interiors, but there are also some quality-of-life updates, including a reworked map system that now features city maps, which the game didn’t launch with.
  • Howard also confirmed that Starfield’s first major expansion, Shattered Space, is launching later this fall, but didn’t offer more information.
  • Howard doesn’t ever “want to stop” working on games. Despite saying that Elder Scrolls VI could be his last game, and stating that Bethesda’s games admittedly take a lot of time to develop, he said he’s having “too much fun” making them, and has no “plans of retiring.” Howard also said that while he and his team are working on delivering stuff of the highest quality, they’re also focused on “finding ways to increase our output,” since they know the wait for their games can be a bit of a killer.
  • Interestingly, Howard shared that Bethesda will lean more towards allowing a visual hiccup to exist in the game if it isn’t a serious bug and doesn’t interfere with the player’s ability to continue having fun.
  • Howard also revealed that Bethesda Softworks is split into roughly five teams working on various projects, including Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Starfield, mobile games, and a team that works on “external projects and co-developments” like “backports” of existing titles that still enjoy a degree of popularity.
  • Bethesda is seeing the same info we’ve seen about how many players are spending more time in the same old games than playing new ones, and is conscious of that when making their own games, which have traditionally enjoyed lengthy tails.
  • Starfield’s Creation Kit, which will give players modding tools for Bethesda’s latest game, has been delivered to creators and we should be hearing about it “soon.” Additionally, Bethesda are still planning on supporting Starfield mods on console.

So there you have it folks. It seems like the future of the Fallout series is bright as hell, and likely filled with a lot of surprises between now and the release of Fallout 5 god knows when. Just don’t expect that game to take place outside the US is all. In the meantime, Bethesda is also working on repairing Starfield’s reputation and putting out more updates for it, including expansions and mod tools that seem to be on the horizon. No matter how you slice it, Bethesda’s got a lot going for it right now.

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