Bethesda Game Studios, the developer behind The Elder Scrolls, Starfield, and modern Fallout, is “absolutely” still committed to single player games, according to creative director Todd Howard – but that doesn’t mean it won’t experiment with adding social elements to solo experiences.
Speaking during an episode of IGN Unfiltered covering Skyrim’s 10th anniversary, Starfield, The Elder Scrolls 6, and more, Howard was asked if – after making the massively multiplayer Fallout 76 – the studio was still focused on making single-player games.
Howard replied, “Absolutely,” adding later that “It’s part of who we are, it’s what we love about games.” From the little we know of each project, BGS’ next two games, Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, will likely both be broadly single player games in the vein of the developer’s best-loved work.
Howard pointed to the fact that even the studio’s big multiplayer experiment added an expansion that facilitated more single-player play: “With Fallout 76, once we added Wastelanders and that kind of questing stuff, the amount of people that want to play it as a solo experience is very, very strong.” Wastelanders was a free update that added human NPCs, a new storyline, and more that we said made the game begin to “feel like a true Fallout game.”
However, Howard clearly sees opportunities to allow for interaction of a kind between players within the margins of a traditional single player game. “There are various ways you can talk about adding social elements to a game that I don’t think take away from [the solo experience],” he added. “We’ve dabbled with some of that and not put it out, or things on paper, things we’d like to try in our games. So I don’t want to rule that out.”
Howard didn’t go into detail on what those social elements might be, but you could look to the likes of Death Stranding for how social elements can affect a single-player open world. Hideo Kojima’s game saw players collaborating to build structures and provide hints for others as they travelled alone through its world. It’s possible Starfield or The Elder Scrolls 6 could similarly reflect the effect of many players adventuring alone.
That said, it seems that for the moment, Howard and his team are ready to move back into more familair waters with its next games. “Fallout 76 has really ended up being a great experience for us, and a great learning one,” he explained, “but our passion is behind, ‘Who are you going to be? This world is for you, go make it your own.'”
Howard talked about much, much more in his IGN Unfiltered interview – including why Starfield was a “now or never” project, and about the fact that an idea for Fallout 5 exists, but likely won’t become reality for many years yet.