Todd Howard Says 'Starfield' Is a Realistic Extrapolation of Today's Cutting-Edge Space Exploration Technology

Bethesda executive producer Todd Howard provided more details about the setting and time period of the developer's upcoming science fiction game Starfield in conversation with Elon Musk at E3 2019 in Los Angeles. In a wide-ranging discussion about video games, simulation theory and driverless cars, Howard dropped a few hints about Starfield and how it relates to Musk's work with SpaceX.

Howard described Starfield as a realistic extrapolation of today's innovations in interstellar exploration. "As we look at Starfield, we look at, how are these things actually going to look in the future?" Howard said. "We went to SpaceX—that place is Avengers meets NASA, it's incredible."

Little more than a title has been revealed for Bethesda's upcoming next-gen game, "Starfield." Bethesda Softworks

Moderator Geoff Keighley managed to get a few more details out of Howard, who described Starfield as taking place in the early days of space exploration's future, when traveling beyond Earth is still a dangerous enterprise.

"It's a game, but it still has an authenticity—'Okay, this is could happen'—so we talked about what kind of fuel do the ships use? We're using Helium-3, which we can debate whether that's a good power source for spaceships. Or, how do the physics work in space? Gravity and those kind of things," Howard said. "We have to gamify it some, so it's not as punishing as actual space travel."

Helium-3 is an energy source, currently with limited applications, but with major potential for the future, especially since it's believed to be abundant on the Moon.

Musk agreed some concessions would be needed to make space travel exciting in a game. "Space is far," Musk said, "so you have to cut that short."

Todd Howard and Elon Musk at E3 2019. gameslice

Howard compared the setting of Starfield to the early days of aviation. "Travelling in space in our game is still like flight in the '40s—it's still dangerous, still dangerous to go and explore, but still, people do it."

Starfield was first unveiled at E3 in 2018, in a video that introduced a Starfield logo and depicted a space station in orbit. Howard described the game as a traditional single-player experience, coming to next-generation consoles.