Elder Scrolls 6 And Starfield To Mark Bethesda's "Largest Engine Overhaul Since Oblivion"

Todd Howard says its next two big games will show a big improvement over its current tech.

49 Comments

Microsoft recently announced a big acquisition of Bethesda, the company behind storied franchises like Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Doom. That means Bethesda's library of games, including upcoming Bethesda Game Studios projects like Starfield, will be available on Xbox Game Pass. One that note, Bethesda's Todd Howard promises that BGS' upcoming projects will be getting a big upgrade with a revamped engine.

In Howard's statement on the acquisition, he walks through how working hand-in-hand with Microsoft has led the company to make technical leaps for its new games.

"With each new console cycle, we evolved together. From bringing mods to consoles with Fallout 4, now over a billion downloads, to the latest technologies fueling Xbox Series X/S," Howard said. "These new systems are optimized for the vast worlds we love to create, with generational leaps not just in graphics, but CPU and data streaming as well. It's led to our largest engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls VI."

Oblivion released in 2006 and represented a huge shift from previous games in the series. Since then, though, Bethesda has often been criticized for its engine showing its age, especially with regard to strange bugs in its open worlds. Howard didn't mention the focus of these overhauls, but his comment suggests we'll be able to tell the difference when Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 debut. Though Skyrim has seen releases on modern consoles that improve the visuals, the differences aren't all that huge.

Given the comments from Howard, the engine overhaul would appear to be aimed at those two games that he's producing. The Bethesda acquisition actually encompasses a lot more games besides those, including several that don't use the Elder Scrolls and Fallout engine at all. Id Software, for instance, uses its own technology. MachineGames makes use of this, and it's unlikely the games would unify under one engine going forward. EA has experienced issues attempting to do this, using Frostbite for shooters as well as racing games and sports games.

The acquisition also comes as Bethesda has plans to release some PS5 exclusives, Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo. Xbox head Phil Spencer told Bloomberg that those games will still see their arrangements honored. It remains to be seen if other games will come to multiple platforms. Microsoft is going to approach them on a case-by-case basis.

The acquisition was announced just one day before preorders went live for Xbox Series X and Series S. For more details, check out our Xbox Series X and Series S preorder guide. Right now, the system isn't particularly easy to find. However, there is a chance you'll be able to get one on launch day if you can't snag a preorder.

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Litchie

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So they'll just update their Morrowind engine again, just like always. In other words, it'll look better, but still be complete shit. Awesome.

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Crazy_sahara

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Edited By Crazy_sahara

Ah that's cool, Skyrim in the Northern region, and oblivion in the south region in one map... Not bad, sadly the graphics are showing their age.

Let's just hope these modders turn out like new Vegas, more developers the better.

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Erroneous_Snake

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So basically 30 years of gamebryo, fantastic.

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jenovaschilld

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I would be fine with a delay in game releases if it was built on a newer game engine. Better physics, smarter enemy AI, and more on a faster leaner engine would be great.

I miss John Carmack who seemed to pump out new game engines ever other year.

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tyruduvu

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An overhaul is a good thing. Yet, it's treated in post after post here like putting patches on the knees of your old jeans. One does not want to reinvent the wheel with every new project; build upon the successes while changing the pain points.

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Kunakai

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Fairly confident many commenting don't understand that many games are built on overhauled engines. Unreal, Quake and Source are all examples.

While I'm not holding out hope that ES6 or Starfield will revolutionise anything any more than previous Bethesda games have I'd be apprehensive to make any claims as to what and will be based on this story.

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Rekonym

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Ok, so it's an overhaul of their current engine.

Note how he's not saying it's a different engine, nor a new engine.

It's an overhaul, and it can only be an overhaul of their current engine (because obviously, you don't overhaul a "new" engine). So it's basically confirming that Starfield and ES6 will run on an "overhauled" version of their "Creation Engine", which itself was an overhaul of GameBryo (which was running Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3; then became Creation Engine with Skyrim and Fallout 4).

We all know what an "overhaul" of GameBryo looks like, it's nothing amazing. The difference between Morrowind and Oblivion was pretty decent, especially for the time, it seemed to be modern enough of a leap for the year (around 2005 or 2006 period, it was fine). The difference between Oblivion and Skyrim was also sort of decent, but not as big as Morrowind Vs Oblivion. And the difference between Skyrim and Fallout 4 was about as "ok" as Oblivion Vs Skyrim, I.E. nothing too crazy either. It's basically been like giving diminishing returns as the years and generations pass.

Then came Fallout 76, supposed to be representing the "latest" in a revised version of their Fallout 4 build... aaaaaaand yeah, we know how that one turned out like.

So there you go people, Elder Scrolls 6 will STILL run on GameBryo / Creation Engine, whichever name you prefer to give it. It will most likely have stiff animations again, terrible facial expressions, horrible first-person models and animations for character arms and hands (and atrocious first-person combat), very sensible game physics that overreact to the slightest touch and the same console commands we've known since Morrowind (because same freakin' engine).

I would NOT be surprised if ES6 will still run on the same 'grid' pattern where the engine has to load 6 exterior Cells (by default, but can be modified in the .INI files) around the player, and necessitating loading screens for almost every interiors you enter (Caves, Forts, Houses, Castles, etc).

Don't get me wrong, I WANT them to do good with ES6, and I want that game to be amazing. But I'm absolutely not expecting anything out of it. Coming from Bethesda, "overhaul" doesn't mean amazing.

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Yams1980

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Edited By Yams1980

its likely fine if they can work out all the bugs from the old engine.. its not like you want to rebuild everything from scratch... ancient engines can still work if they adapt them to use new technologies.

Just look at the game Ion Fury, the gameplay is fast as hell and works as good as any modern FPS game yet is using some of the code from the ancient Duke Nukem 3d engine from over 20 years ago... so you don't have to start completely over if you can fix what was broken.

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SebB

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@rekonym: Hopefully the overhaul fixes everything that is broken in the engine and adds additional features and re-designs of the architecture of the engine to take it to modern standards. No need to fix what is not broken or does not need to be improved. It would be a waste of time.

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esqueejy

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Edited By esqueejy

I was honestly pretty happy with Skyrim other than combat and inventory management for the most part. If they haven't managed to fix that part, it will be seriously disappointing.

Also, I hope they cut off the exploitability too hehe. Dragon armor enchanted to reduce spell cost to zero was fun for about 2 hours and then pretty much reduced the game to boring lol

I'm sure it will "just work" though...

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Jjenslyn

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Will never, ever, waste my time one minute on that trash bugged out engine again

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pharoe777

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@jjenslyn: half the reason people (including me) enjoy these games and still play them, is because of the buggy engine

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DEVILTAZ35

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Edited By DEVILTAZ35

Is anyone surprised? Oblivion is held together by masking tape. Yet it is still my favourite Bethesda RPG besides Morrowind.

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L0RDProphet

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16 times the overhaul maybe?

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faithxvoid

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Pretty sure some people either don't remember or never saw how big the difference in the engine was from Morrowind to Oblivion.

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Lach0121

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@faithxvoid: I sure do. Although to be fair I am not much of an Elder Scrolls fan these days, but I definitely remember the difference.

I am very much looking forward to Starfield though.

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JustTheTip

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So, their new engine will be brought up to 2013 then? Lol.

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DEVILTAZ35

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@justthetip: Well they can use Unreal Engine 5 if they wanted to :)

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5tu88sy

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They should just purchase the Frostbite engine... this thing kicks some serious ass.

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hardwenzen

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And this is supposed to tell us a lot? All their last games were 10 years behind in graphics AND optimization. And i bet you its MS that forces them to work for once πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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esqueejy

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@hardwenzen: Forces them to work AND provides them the resources to get it done right.

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LordBeefJerky

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If ESVI and Starfield already now are confirmed to be on the same engine, chances are they won’t release too far apart. Starfield 2021 and ESVI 2022 or 2023 please =)

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JasperWest

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I hope that means a brand new engine and not the same one they've been using for 17 years...

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xboxps2cube

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Edited By xboxps2cube

So if Microsoft is playing the long term with gamepass, then how cheap it is definitely going up. On the other side of this, GameStop and other game retailers should be worried should Xbox succeed in this. Last but not least, gamers will lose in the end should physical game competition go away, almost guaranteeing a digital only future.

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Daian

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I'd like it if most people and critics alike would finally acknowledge how broken and buggy and stiff their games really are. They're a creative studio but the technical side of things never holds up.

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roktok9002

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Edited By roktok9002  Online

but can we "look forward to over 200 differentendings" ?!

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roktok9002

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roktok9002  Online

but is it "sixteen times the detail" ?!

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lionheartssj1

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Microsoft would be wise to keep Todd busy on something else for a while.

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Runeweaver

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The engine thats been upgraded and overhauled many times over the years and still has some of its original bugs and limitations, Now even under MS control Bugthesda are going to continue to release buggy games that crash and need tons of patches to fix.

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Gallowhand

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I've enjoyed all of Bethesda Game Studios' past games, despite their clunky engine. I avoided Fallout 76, mostly because I generally don't play multiplayer games.

Hopefully this engine 'overhaul' means Starfield will be less buggy, and the Microsoft acquisition will improve their QA department.

Unlike some other people, I'm not writing Bethesda off because they produced a poorly received game in Fallout 76. Every developer can drop the ball now and then. I also believe that Zenimax pushed them into making a multiplayer focused game, which has never been their strength.

Time will tell, of course, if Starfield can show a return to form.

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Slash_out

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@Gallowhand: That's something Ted Howard said. It means nothing. Who knows if there really was an overhaul. Ted most likely doesn't know and is lying by saying he does or he does and is still lying about it. As always.

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Gallowhand

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@Slash_out: Oh, I'm aware. I take everything Todd Howard says with a pinch of salt.

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Crazy_sahara

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I guess I can live in fallout 76 now, no timer or catalogue removal...

Dam I can become the person I always wanted, oh my gawd hope there no scalpers in that game.

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Ichirei

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Their engine is a buggy mess of outdated crap, there's no point in "overhauling", they need to throw it to the bin and build a new one or use an existing actually good one.

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BeefoTheBold

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"Todd Howard says"

This is the exact moment in time when I realized whatever was coming next was complete BS.

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subsided94

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PlayStation has definitely sucked when it comes to acquiring new studios, All they got recently was insomniac which already made PlayStation games

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subsided94

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I hope they actually put care into the game unlike with Fallout 4 which felt so stale and manufactured

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PrpleTrtleBuBum

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oblivion is in top 5 omg games besides crash bandicoot, halo 1, gta iii and gta iv so good news

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Zetler

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This is a better deal than TicToc for MS. It actually makes sense.

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djape_boss

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x16 times the detail, like bs FO76 :)

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Crazy_sahara

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@djape_boss: he probablyent in resolution on assets...

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mrbojangles25

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Edited By mrbojangles25

Good.

MSFS2020 shows what MS and their developers can do with game engines.

On the other hand, Halo: Infinite shows the opposite :P

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Barighm

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@mrbojangles25: Honestly, I believe that Infinite reveal was just a ploy by the devs to get more development time. There is no way they honestly believed revealing a modern AAA flagship title that looked worse than a 360 game was a good idea. Or maybe it was a publicity stunt.

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mrbojangles25

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@Barighm: Ah so they Sonic the Hedgehog movie'd themselves.

Smart move :D

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KusaWithGunz

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@mrbojangles25: wait for the new reveal! I saw on twitter someone working on the game saying the Retail version will blow us away due to changes they could make with the Delay

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guccisweatpants

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So they are still using the same crappy old engine what a let down.

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Barighm

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Meh. They said something like this before and it turned out not to be true. Maybe MS will make it true. We'll see.

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