Romance has never been Bethesda's strong suit, from Skyrim's barebones marriage system to Fallout 4's bonus-XP-granting fade-to-black cutscenes. Starfield will be a little more nuanced than that, suggests executive producer Todd Howard, offering more complex romance options than Fallout's.
That's just one detail from a nearly 3 hour-long interview Howard gave on the Lex Fridman podcast, where he also talks scrapping space strandings, and (gasp) why he prefers to play on consoles to PC.
The bit about videogame relationships starts around 52:06. It is sweet to hear Howard talk about how invested he's gotten in chatting up characters from other people's games, bless him:
"I find those moments pretty impactful, emotionally. It's one of the things we've pushed with Starfield. We have a number of companions, but four of them... we go, I won't say super complex, but more complex than we have. There isn't just some state of 'they like you or they don't like you': they can be in love with you but dislike something you did, and be pissed at you but then come back to loving you. "
"Instead of just drifting out of a relation status", he says, you'll have to deal with a "temporary 'I don't like what you did' state". He doesn't mention if that will come with some kind of debuff, but I wouldn't put it past him.
On a less romantic front, Howard mentions they've binned spaceship fuel requirements because it turned out to be a "fun killer". It used to be that running out of fuel meant you had to turn a distress beacon on and await the whim of whoever came calling, which sounds tense and interesting but in practice just lead to players avoiding that in favour of tedious mining expeditions on nearby planets.
He also alludes to a lack of area level-scaling, with different systems instead labelled on the map as suitable for certain levels. There's loads more I haven't mentioned, obviously, because that video is three goddamn hours long. Here's a Reddit post with the highlights.
He prefers playing on consoles, he says, because the PC is where he works all day. Relatable, if cowardly.