Bethesda's sci-fi RPG Starfield promises to be a big, sprawling sci-fi romp—”like Skyrim in space,” creative director Todd Howard said earlier this year. But it definitely won't be all action. Howard told an audience at the Tokyo Game Show earlier today (via Nibellion on Twitter) that the game will contain more than 150,000 lines of dialog.
By way of comparison, that's more lines of chit-chat than Fallout 4, and more than double the verbosity of Skyrim:
Todd Howards appeared on stream to announce that Starfield will have a complete Japanese localization (just like Redfall) and mentioned that the game has over 150,000 lines of dialogue apparently #TGS2021 (Fallout 4 had 111,000 lines, Skyrim 60,000) pic.twitter.com/0PzvVtojyjSeptember 30, 2021
Word and line counts are sometimes held up as a quantifier of depth and complexity in “serious” RPGs. The same year that Bethesda boasted about Skyrim's 60,000 lines, for instance, BioWare trumpeted Mass Effect 3 as having 40,000 lines of dialog, double the amount of the first game. A year later, Beamdog co-founder Trent Oster said Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition has “close to a million words of dialog,” which is different than lines but still an awful lot of talk. Somewhat more recently, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt had a script of 450,000 words, Obsidian's Tyranny claimed more than 600,000, and Disco Elysium's narrator alone had to talk his way through 350,000 words.
Not everyone buys into the “more is better” attitude to word counts in videogames. Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software, who knows a thing or two about storytelling in RPGs, was critical—harshly at times, but mostly on-point—of that approach in a couple of 2017 blog posts.
“The ultimate goal of writing in a game: Have it be good enough that getting past the gameplay to reach the writing is your goal,” he wrote in one. “Your writing should be the REWARD. If your writing is something the player has to slog through to get to the game play, there is too much writing.”
Still, in a very general sense Howard's statement indicates that Starfield is going to be big, and that's what hopeful Bethesda fans—myself included—really want: A gigantic open world (or galaxy) to explore, one hopefully interesting enough to keep us engaged for, oh, a couple hundred hours or so. That's a fair ask, right?
Starfield is scheduled to launch on November 11, 2022. In case you hadn't heard, it will have a pleasure dome where you can get super-high on alien fish.