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Starfield’s final quest was a last-minute, “panic button” addition

Wrapping up Starfield’s epic main quest line wasn’t exactly easy, as ex-Bethesda dev Will Shen reveals the pressure to deliver a satisfying ending.

Starfield GDC 2024: An image of a Starborn in Starfield.

For all of its bugs and frustrations, Starfield’s story is definitely the high point of Bethesda’s enormous space RPG. But before the Fallout and Skyrim developer could warp your minds, crafting the main quest line’s ending took everything the studio had, and was surprisingly last-minute. Speaking about the journey to get the Xbox hit over the finish line, Starfield’s lead quest designer Will Shen reveals the high pressure race to wrap up the game’s narrative. 

Delivering one of the best RPG games of this console generation was never going to be easy, even for Bethesda. Shen knows that all too well, as he reveals during a talk at GDC 2024 that “it became very clear that we were missing the large final location that was going to tie the story together and have a satisfying, action-filled payoff.” If you never made it to the end of Starfield’s story, then you won’t have experienced its large-scale space dogfight that transitions into a multidimensional skirmish on the Starfield planet Masada 3. All the marks of an ambitious Bethesda narrative are there, but it almost didn’t come to pass.

Shen, as transcribed by PC Gamer, says he had “absolutely no time” to spare, as each Bethesda department was “scrambling for resources and saying ‘no’ to collaboration requests.” In a move that ultimately saved the game’s finale, Shen expresses admiration for senior level designer Steve Cornett, who was effectively the game’s “panic button.” Instead of crafting specific locations for the game’s multi-verse hopping finale, Cornett’s efforts helped Shen and his quest team lean on the open world game aspects of Starfield by throwing players into locations they’ve visited before.

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It’s certainly surprising to hear that such a pivotal moment in Starfield’s story was actually a chaotic, last-minute addition – who knows how the main questline would’ve ended without this final battle.

Whether the eventual ending impressed Xbox players on the whole is debatable, but we’d argue that Starfield new game plus is where the Xbox RPG game’s heart comes to light. There’s an infectious optimism that burns bright in Starfield’s story, and helps galvanize the goals of exploration group Constellation beyond just a thirst for knowledge.

It also helps that you can actually complete the story properly now, as over 501 fixes have been deployed in the latest Starfield update – though there is sadly still no sign of Starfield Xbox mods. At this rate, we’ll be getting a Starfield PS5 release before mods arrive!

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In the meantime, if you’re looking for another RPG to explore, then Dragon’s Dogma 2 could be for you. The Capcom sequel is already earning rave reviews, and you can make your character in-game right now.