Mr. Skyrim himself Todd Howard explained that the upcoming sci-fi game Starfield will offer a more complex approach to in-game romance.
Character romance has become a staple of the RPG genre, popularized in games like Dragon Age, Rune Factory, and more.
However this romance is largely one-dimensional with an NPC either liking, or not liking your player character. Howard said in a recent interview that romancing will be more complex in the game.
“So we have a number of companions, but for them we go… I won’t say super-complex-romantic, but more complex than we’ve had in terms of not just some, you know, state of they like you or they don’t like you,” Howard said to Lex Fridman.
He added, “We wanted one [a relationship mechanic] where we can be in a relationship, we’ve committed to each other, but I just did something that really made you angry.”
Traditionally, romance in RPGs has been more akin to a dating sim than an actual relationship. Players will say the right things, give the right gifts, and maximize some unseen relationship score that triggers romantic events.
It sounds like the goal in Starfield is to create something more nebulous and realistic; to create a relationship where characters who love each other may not always agree at all times.
The ability to bounce back from a conflicted choice is a far cry from having to always side with your lover in these games, lest you be locked out of their route.
Starfield is planned for release in 2023 on both PC and a console exclusive for Xbox Series X|S.