Starfield's random encounters will sometimes take you through entire procedural mini-quests with multiple locations, characters, and storylines.
In a new video from Bethesda (opens in new tab), Starfield lead quest designer Will Shen was asked to explain how the upcoming RPG tackles random encounters, and he revealed that new tech is allowing the developers to evolve and expand this particular system. In previous Bethesda games, random encounters were limited to procedurally placed enemies, but in Starfield they'll look more like fully fledged side-quests.
"This time around we have entire planets that we have to populate, so we actually have new tech to take whole locations we built and put them on the planets," said Shen. "Now you could say, maybe you're going to an outpost and you actually discover there's a whole group of people there with a particular problem. Whereas before it might be just a person coming up to you on the road, now it's an actual whole location that can be put there.
"And maybe they have a problem like, 'one of our members has been kidnapped by some pirates, and we think they're over there' - we actually are placing a whole other location with that person in it and enemies around it, so it's a dynamically placed settlement that is taking you to a dynamically placed dungeon as you're walking through the planet."
Shen follows up by teasing that Bethesda is "just scratching the surface of what that tech can do," which definitely opens up questions about how the studio's future games, including Elder Scrolls 6, might innovate on random encounters and procedural generation more broadly.
Starfield is one of the most hotly anticipated games of next year, but there are plenty more new games of 2023 to be excited for.