Starfield Doesn’t Require Fast Travel After All…Sort Of

Pluto isn’t a planet. That really shouldn’t be a controversial statement any more, but it regains new contentiousness with the release of epic space RPG, Starfield. Developer and streamer Alanah Pearce wanted to find out if Bethesda’s epic space RPG really does require fast travel for all interplanetary travel, by setting off on the seven hour trip from Earth to the dwarf planet.

Starfield intends players to use fast travel to move between planets and solar systems. Disappointing many, who had hoped for a more natural ability to fly from orb to orb, it was widely speculated that the game was instead beaming players into bordered skyboxes within a solar system, with the uninhabited planets just decorations on the walls. Brave explorer, podcaster, and Santo Monica Studios writer, Alanah Pearce, decided to find out the truth.

Approaching Pluto in Starfield.

Screenshot: Alanah Pearce / Bethesda / Twitch / Kotaku

Pearce’s plan was to fly within the familiar trails of the Milky Way to discover if those extra worlds could be reached under a player’s own space-steam. To do this, the plan was to point toward a location, then leave the game running while she slept. However, Pearce’s first problem was where to head. Initially trying to aim for Earth, it turned out that the game’s ultra-realistic planetary orbits would have made it unrealistic to accurately aim before heading to bed. Instead, after much deliberation, the decision was made to point the ship to the right of Pluto.

Read More: 17 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Playing Starfield
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It turns out it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. Every time Pearce’s Xbox controller fell asleep, the game paused, meaning there were stretches of the night where no progress was made until the streamer woke up to hit A, then went back to sleep.

On waking seven hours later, what Pearce unequivocally proved is that the game isn’t using skyboxes. The solar systems depicted in the enormous space map are for real, and like the real thing, mostly made of terrifyingly vast stretches of absolutely nothing. And now she was 47 kilometers from the dwarf body.

By this point, the textures were heavily blurred, suggesting Bethesda had not intended anyone to do this. Rather confirming that, on actually reaching the non-planet, Pearce flew straight through the skin of Pluto’s surface, on some level going “inside” it, whereupon the trans-Neptunian object became invisible showing the rest of space around her ship.

Getting out the other side proved somewhat trickier. Because, even though Pluto is endlessly demeaned for its diminutive size, it still has a diameter of 2,376km. And travelling at these subspace speeds meant that would take hours itself. So, you know, Alanah Pearce went back to bed.

After another five hours, the ship was outside of the planet again. Astonishingly, in the process, Pearce reports that she was so tired that she’d fainted on her return to bed and smacked her head. But it was for Science.


Spider-Man 2 Fast Travel Is So Quick It’s Blowing Players Minds

Gif: Insomniac Games / Sony / Kotaku

Spider-Man 2 is full of impressive technical achievements, but the one that’s currently blowing everyone’s minds is just how quick fast travel is. The PlayStation 5 exclusive lets you travel from one end of its sprawling map to the other in just a couple of seconds. It’s so good players thought Insomniac Games must be hiding something.

A clip that recently went viral on social media ahead of Spider-Man 2‘s October 20 launch had players marveling at the feature’s elegance and speed in the new blockbuster. “The fact that you can travel to any location, even the opposite corner of the map, with ZERO loading is absolutely mind-boggling,” tweeted user Okami13. “Definitely the most seamless fast-travel system I’ve seen.”

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In a thread on ResetEra discussing the fast travel system (via Gamesradar), users debated if there might be a mini-loading screen hidden in the button press required to initiate it. When you fast travel in Spider-Man 2, you have to hold down the triangle button for a second or two overtop of the location you want to move to. The fast travel it triggers is so speedy, some players assumed Insomniac must be using this delayed input to mask the map loading in the background.

Not so according to Mike Fitzgerald, Insomniac’s director of core technologies. “That’s a hold-to-confirm prompt, not hiding a load,” he wrote on ResetEra. “If anyone wants to check, they can look at how late it’s possible to cancel it out when they’re playing.” In fact, the studio even debated removing it at one point to make fast travel even faster.

“Last month I brought up whether we should remove the hold-to-confirm, mostly to address that accusation we were seeing,” Fitgerald wrote. “But it was correctly pointed out to me that having a confirmation window was important for player usability, which at the end of the day is far more important than Internet cred points (even though we love our Internet cred points).”

Having played Spider-Man 2, I definitely agree that the “hold-to-confirm” requirement is a nicer experience. In addition to the satisfying haptic feedback from the button press, it also prevents you from accidently initiating fast travel to somewhere you didn’t mean to go or while trying to check map icons for information about new activities. But it’s still wild to think that Spider-Man 2 could actually support almost instantaneous fast travel across its sprawling version of New York City if the feature was turned off.

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