‘We can’t lock content that way’: Bethesda dev compares Starfield’s design to Baldur’s Gate 3

‘We can’t lock content that way’: Bethesda dev compares Starfield’s design to Baldur’s Gate 3

This year has been most kind to RPG fans. With Bethesda’s latest star-faring blockbuster, Starfield, and Larian Studios’ groundbreaking Baldur’s Gate 3, you could argue that RPGs haven’t been this trendy since the old BioWare days. But, according to Starfield designer Bruce Nesmith, the two couldn’t be more different despite both carrying the title of role-playing game.

In an interview with MinnMax on Oct. 24, Nesmith claimed Bethesda’s approach to making an RPG is vastly different from Larian Studios. He said Bethesda is broadly focused on bringing players a massive game with no inherent limits. Players can deal with every faction and do every questline, and nothing gets locked away or disabled through decisions or playstyles.

“At Bethesda, the games we make are so big we had to take the approach of ‘well, everybody is got to be able to do this at some point. We can’t lock off content that way. And you can see it in our games; we don’t. You can get to be the head of all the guilds; you can be the friends of all the companions; you can go to all the places. Nothing is off limits,” he said.

Compared to Bethesda, Nesmith claims Larian Studios takes a drastic approach, where every decision carries a lot of meaning and can even lead to players being locked away from content altogether.

“They’ve [Larian Studios] come out and said quite bluntly, ‘We don’t care if only one percent of the players will ever see this. Those one percent that do are going to be happy, and they will tell the other 99 percent, who will then be happy the option existed,” he said.

Nesmith highlighted that Bethesda’s goal in creating games is to have a title where people can invest hundreds of hours. Through Larian’s philosophy, players may be locked out of content and end up experiencing less of the game. But that carries its own benefits, Nesmith claims, as every decision a player makes carries weight and feels meaningful.

“Every decision feels highly meaningful. Whereas very few of the decisions in a Bethesda game feels highly meaningful. You maybe get to make three or four of those, and we try to make them feel really big and important,” he said.

These differences in design philosophies between Bethesda and Larian speak of the range the RPG genre, and gaming in general, has. While one tries to give everyone a massive scope, near-infinite (or literally infinite) content, and stories that just keep going, the other takes a step back and brings the whole experience down to Earth.

Bethesda wants everyone to come and see what it’s made and Larian wants each individual player to have their own experience with the game and share it with the rest of the world. And it’s clear that each has their own community that enjoys RPGs differently.

About the author

Andrej Barovic

Gaming since childhood, Andrej spends most of his time ranting on how games used to be. He’s been a writer for over two years, combining his love for literature and passion for video games. He’s usually around after dark, grinding his way through the latest FromSoftware release or losing his mind on Summoner’s Rift.

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