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With Fallout 5 Coming, Bethesda Boss Explains Why Its Games Take So Long To Make

"We can't do everything at once."


Bethesda Game Studios is planning to make Fallout 5 after it releases The Elder Scrolls VI, and as such, the next Fallout game is no doubt a long time off. Bethesda's Emil Pagliarulo, a veteran who has been with the company since 2002, discussed some of the factors that go into the development of a new Bethesda Game Studios title and why the process can take a while.

Responding to a fan on social media, Pagliarulo said--without being specific about any past or future game--that "development times can vary for a variety of reasons." As an example, he said Bethesda spent a good amount of time on Starfield "updating and developing" the underlying technology for the sci-fi game.

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He also said Bethesda paused development on Starfield for a period of time to "assist with Fallout 76." As many will recall, the game had a rocky launch in 2018, and it sounds like Bethesda diverted some studio resources to that game to help get it back in shape.

But in general, Pagliarulo said a game's development timeline always comes down to the "most important resource of all," and that's the people making the game.

"As with any dev team, we have talented folks who need time to make great stuff. So we can't do everything at once," he said.

Pagliarulo also mentioned how it can take a while to create the "next-gen goodness" for any given title, and that could be lighting effects, 3D models, and quest-scriping, among other things.

"More time than it used to, for sure. And bigger teams = additional management overhead," he said.

Going further, Pagliarulo said the COVID pandemic "really affected development for every studio" in ways that no one could have predicted. "Transitioning to fully remote during the pandemic took time to adjust to, for sure. So games developed during that time tended to take longer anyway," he said.

Pagliarulo was Starfield's lead designer and is Bethesda's overall design director. He's been at Bethesda since 2002 and he was previously lead designer and writer on Fallout 2 and Fallout 3.

Fallout 5 is in the works at Bethesda, but as mentioned, it won't be here until after The Elder Scrolls VI, and that game could still be many years off. As such, Bethesda is not interested in talking about release dates yet.

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