Here’s What You’ll Find On Starfield’s 1,000 Procedural Planets

When Bethesda revealed that Starfield would have over 1,000 planets, it sounded both impressive and like a potential nightmare. What if instead of a dozen bespoke locations, the open world sci-fi RPG was scattered across hundreds of lifeless rocks filled with the same old stuff. Director Todd Howard suggests it’s somewhere in the middle.

Addressing the topic in a new interview with Kinda Funny Xcast, the Bethesda veteran said Starfield planets would serve lots of different roles. Many will have resources but be pretty barren, while about 10 percent might fit in the “Goldilocks” sweet spot that’s capable of sustaining lots of varied life. Instead of every planet feeling the same, the differences are meant to encourage players to keep exploring.

“We wanted to do the planets because we like to give you that choice—where do you wanna go, cause we feel like you want that choice in a game like this,” Howard said, noting that the team struggled with the challenge of including 1,000 planets. “Now obviously it’s procedural, there’s no way we’re gonna go and handcraft an entire planet.”

Howard said that there’s a “suite” of individual locations made by the team, and those will be “generated or placed” when players land on a given planet depending on what type it is. When players first approach a specific solar system, they’ll be making choices about where to go based on what they’re looking to find. And some planets will be lifeless, but that’s kind of the point.

Read More: Starfield Sounds Way Too Big

“I think it is a moment when you land on some of these barren planets, and again we will generate certain things for you to find on them, but if you look at a planet you see the resources, it has things you want there is—I love the Buzz Aldrin quote, “the magnificent desolation”—I think there’s a certain beauty to landing on those and feeling I’m one of the only people or the only person to ever visit this planet,” Howard said.

The director said he thinks most players will land at a particular spot, explore around their ship, and then leave to go somewhere else, rather than spending hours canvassing every corner of one random planet. There won’t be any land vehicle or mounts, but booster packs with dedicated skill tree upgrades will help players move around faster. And sometimes players might just visit a location to scan it and take the survey data back to sell somewhere else in the galaxy.

“It’s a difficult design thing,” Howard said regarding getting the balance of stuff to nothingness in a space exploration game. “If you add too many things, if it’s generating too many abandoned bases or towers or things to find it starts feeling too game-y in some of those locations so I think we’ve dialed that in pretty well depending on the planet that you’re on.”

Starfield is out on Xbox Series X/S and PC on September 6, with early access for deluxe edition owners beginning on September 1.

          

Starfield’s New Exclusive Partnership Just Made PC Gamers Angry

Starfield could be the biggest PC game of the year. It also might be heading for a lot of unnecessary annoyances on that platform. Bethesda revealed an exclusive PC partnership with card maker AMD, causing a mini-revolt among PC gamers in the process over concerns the massive open world RPG will face stuttering issues and not support competing features like DLSS and XeSS as a result.

“We’ve built all new technology for [Starfield] with Creation Engine 2 and working with AMD on that to make it look great and run great has been really really special, “ director Todd Howard said in a promotional video for the collaboration posted on YouTube. “We have AMD engineers in our code base working on FSR2 upscaling and image processing and it looks incredible.” Weirdly, the announcement was light on specifics, including framerate targets on PC and details about ray-tracing support.

The response was swift and mostly unanimous. The video has 2k downvotes on YouTube, about twice the number of positive reactions. Why is everyone so down on the announcement? Historically, exclusive deals like this have locked games out of support for competing features like Nvidia’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) and Intel’s XeSS (Xe Super Sampling). Both technologies render games at lower resolutions and then use machine learning to upscale them. This then frees up resources to improve performance in other areas, like framerate.

Both are largely considered to be better than the AMD version, called FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution), providing better overall image quality, especially at lower resolutions. But the bigger issue is players with the wrong GPUs missing out on these upscaling tools altogether. Some games support all three, letting players choose what they use based on what their PC builds, but an exclusivity deal with AMD has generally meant that only FSR is supported.

We don’t yet know if that’s the case here, but that’s what most players are assuming, alongside broader worries that this means performance won’t be optimized across as many builds. It’s the PC gaming version of games optimized for one console over another, with makers like AMD hoping the exclusivity partnerships will make it easier to cash in on players looking to upgrade ahead of a big new release like Starfield.

“DLSS is massively superior to FSR 2, so I don’t understand why Microsoft / Bethesda would sign a deal that will lock DLSS out of Starfield,” The Verge’s Tom Warren tweeted. “These deals are simply anti consumer and won’t help AMD sell GPUs. Build a better product instead.”

“If anyone at Bethesda is watching, please ensure that DLSS and XeSS are supported,” tweeted Digital Foundry’s John Linneman. “Don’t make this another one of those AMD games with lacking features.” Fans on the Starfield subreddit were similarly perplexed, and even AMD’s own post about the partnership was filled with naysayers in the comments.

Really, what’s the point of spending $1500 on a gaming PC vs. just $500 on a console if you aren’t getting every bell and whistle when it comes to a 1,000 planet-spanning adventure like Starfield?

            

Fan Uncovers Starfield’s Full Skill Trees Ahead Of Release

As the next Big Game™ on the near horizon, you might have a lot of questions about Starfield. We know that the game will have an enormous amount of explorable planets, but other specifics are still somewhat of an unknown—until now, that is. One fan has spent hundreds of hours compiling all known information about Starfield’s character skill system, and the results are yours to peruse.

As a Bethesda-style RPG, Starfield will feature a set of skills you can invest in on top of its exploration and combat. If you’ve played Skyrim or recent Fallout games, you’ll likely know what to expect. But for a game generating as much interest as Starfield, there’s still so much more to learn ahead of its September 6 release. In an attempt to help on that front, one Redditor has compiled what appears to be the game’s entire set of player-earnable skills. Keep in mind however, that while impressive, this information has been pulled from pre-release footage, and so may not be entirely representative of the final game. Still, this is an impressive feat of aggregation, and taking a peek is a decent way to pass the time until the game finally launches.

Pre-order Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop 

In a Reddit thread titled “After almost 200 hours of research, here is the complete skill system used in Starfield,” user asd8dhd shows off their impressive body of work in a 44-page document.

While it bears repeating that this is all based on pre-release footage and some specifics are expected to differ in the final build of the game, the document reveals that Starfield is likely to break up its skills into the following categories:

  • Physical Skills (such as boosts to damage resistance, increases in health, resistance to infection and addiction, and melee combat)
  • Social Skills (such as persuasion, diplomacy, and bargaining)
  • Combat Skills (seems specific to certain weapon types like lasers, pistols, shotguns, rifles, etc.)
  • Science Skills (features different schools of study like geology, medicine, xenobiology, and astrophysics among others)
  • Tech Skills (focuses on robotics, ship piloting, and ship weaponry)

The document outlines five different skill trees across Novice, Advanced, Expert, and Master. And while certain skills might not be present in the final game, it stands to reason that the final version of Starfield will hew very closely to what’s in this document. You can view all the screenshots the information was pulled from here.

Oh, and if you’re interested in checking out all the star systems that’ve been seen in trailers thus far, check out this page by yet another intrepid pre-release Starfield investigator.

This research is an impressive effort, having taken literally hundreds of hours. It puts my failed attempt to review every chicken parm sandwich in my area to shame.

Starfield’s Shipbuilding Seems Frustrating

Starfield has at least partially fulfilled its galaxy-sized ambition, some initial reviews suggest, but its shipbuilding is holding it back.

Though personal spaceships aren’t quite as flashy as the game’s 250,000 dialogue lines or 1,000-ish procedurally generated planets, developer Bethesda initially suggested its robust shipbuilding system made the approximately 40-hour trip toward the end of the game more worth it.

It’s a “very deep system,” Bethesda and game director Todd Howard said in a June interview with Kinda Funny Games. “It’s not like you start the game, and you’re gonna get right into shipbuilding. It costs a lot of credits, it is—in a good way—a very complicated system, and […] more of a longer term thing in the game.”

During a 2022 Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, Howard revealed Starfield’s many ship customization options, which allow you to control your ship’s configuration, color scheme, and more minute details. These options appear in the game as promised, but reviewers found them, along with ships themselves, annoyingly hard to operate.

Read More: Early Starfield Reviews Are Generally Positive, From Mild Disappointment To Glowing Praise

Starfield’s spaceships are difficult

“Ship upgrades and the Ship Builder tool that opens up late in the game are […] frustrating,” Paste says. “Very little about either process is effectively communicated through the game, and it was basically through trial and error that I figured out how to tweak and enhance my ships. And you ultimately do have to make upgrades, as certain must-visit locations late in the game can’t be reached unless you install new equipment or buy a prohibitively expensive new ship.”

Once you manage to scrape some cash together and patch a ship you like, there are additional hurdles to deciding what you can do with it.

“Outer space actually feels kind of tiny when all interplanetary transit is done via fast travel,” explains Mashable. “There’s no real way or reason to aimlessly fly your ship around, appreciating the grandiosity of space. […] The ship only exists for dogfights that aren’t particularly fun, at least until you play for dozens of hours and get enough money for a badass ship.”

And even then—“Ship combat can be frustrating at times, and having to manually allocate a pool of resources to specific functions of your ship on the fly—like engine speed, weapon power, and shield potency—takes some getting used to,” said GameSpot. So Starfield could be a space exploration game without any great spaceships to explore it with. That’s disappointing.

At least there’s plenty of time to practice fast travel—Starfield is out in Early Access from August 31 at 8 p.m. Eastern, and it’s officially out September 6.

 

Starfield’s Controversial Missing PC Feature Already Modded In

A space ship goes into hyper drive.

Image: Bethesda

Starfield is out on PC as part of its Deluxe Edition September 1 early access perk, and players have confirmed that it doesn’t support Nvidia’s DLSS upscaling technology for better resolution and performance. Many had suspected as much when Bethesda announced an exclusive partnership with rival chip maker AMD, but thankfully DLSS support has already been modded into the game.

Buy Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

As IGN noticed, the open-world RPG’s settings menu currently only supports the latest iteration of AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution feature, FSR2, meaning players with Intel or Nvidia graphics cards that use different machine learning upscaling algorithms are out of luck. AMD gaming chief Frank Azor wouldn’t confirm if that was a requirement for its partnership with Bethesda, but recently told The Verge the studio could support DLSS if it wanted. “If they want to do DLSS, they have AMD’s full support,” he said.

The good news is that a “Starfield Upscaler” which allows players to replace FSR2 with DLSS or XESS was one of the first mods uploaded to the NexusMods website after the game went live. It’s not bug free and some PC players are still reporting issues getting their preferred upscaling tech to work, but it’s a start and will no doubt continue to get refined in the days ahead.

Bethesda’s exclusive partnership with AMD caused a big controversy when it was announced earlier this summer precisely because of the chip company’s pattern of locking out competitors’ features. The whole point of PC gaming is that it’s supposed to give players freedom to pick and choose their preferred builds, unlike on consoles where fans are locked into the manufacturer’s ecosystem.

Fortunately, the modding community still exists, and DLSS support for Starfield is just the start. If years of Skyrim and Fallout 4 mods are any indication, the sky, or in this case the galaxy, is the limit.

Starfield’s Most Popular Mod Sparks Paywall Controversy

Starfield’s upscaling controversy on PC continues. The person responsible for the open-world sci-fi RPG’s most popular mod offering DLSS2 support has now created one for DLSS3 as well. It’s locked behind a Patreon paywall though, angering some in the mod community and leading a few to circumvent the project’s DRM and pirate it for free instead.

If all that sounds like a confusing mess, that’s because it is. To briefly recap: Bethesda Game Studios and AMD announced an exclusive partnership for Starfield. This meant it would only support AMD’s upscaling technology for better resolution and framerate performance, FSR2, rather than competing tools like Nvidia’s DLSS2 and Intel’s XeSS. AMD claimed nothing was stopping Bethesda from supporting the rival upscaling technologies. Nevertheless, Starfield launched without options to turn them on in the settings menu.

Enter modder PureDark and “Starfield Upscaler,” which is currently the most popular mod for Starfield on NexusMods and replaces FSR2 support with DLSS and XeSS. It’s free and has been downloaded by over 150,000 players so far, improving their experience with the game thanks to PureDark’s simple workarounds. “Yep, DLSS2 was too easy, Bethesda exported all the FSR2 functions,” they wrote. “It’s like I can just reuse 95% of the code from Elden Ring or Jedi Survivor.”

That would have been the end of the story, except that PureDark proceeded to release a test build of a second mod on September 2 that supports DLSS3, the latest version of the tool for improved framerates released by Nvidia in September 2022 (via The Verge). Instead of being free, that mod was locked behind PureDark’s paywall, reigniting an age-old debate about the ethics of profiting off mods vs. giving them away. The kicker was that PureDark even added DRM to the mod in the form of an authenticator to prevent players from accessing the tool without a one-time, active $5 Patreon subscription.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some in the PC gaming community responded by “cracking” the mod just like they would a new release in order to pirate it. “STARFIELD DLSS 3 FG Mod by PureDark Has Been CRACKED Already,” tweeted the account PC_Focus on September 3 (via IGN). “Paid mods get what deserved [sic] for having DRM implemented.”

Others in the modding community, meanwhile, have attempted to release free mods that support DLSS3. One of them is by LukeFZ564. Uploaded to NexusMods, users initially reported a number of bugs and crashes with it, but some of those seem to be resolved. The latest comments are all thanking LukeFZ564 for the free alternative to paid mods.

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Starfield’s Xbox Exclusivity Made It ‘Better’

Starfield, Bethesda’s newest and biggest open-world RPG, is out now for everyone. Well, at least for everyone who owns an Xbox or a gaming PC. And according to Starfield director Todd Howard, the game’s no-show status on PlayStation is actually a good thing, as it made Starfield “a better product.”

After years of teasing and a week of early access for players willing to spend more on fancy special editions, Starfield is finally out in the wild. Players are already speedrunning and modding it as they dig through its hundreds of worlds, space stations, and quests. It’s a time of excitement for Bethesda RPG fans. Well, except for those who don’t own an Xbox or high-end PC. And while Bethesda has previously “apologized” about Starfield skipping PlayStation—as part of Microsoft’s acquisition of the company—now Howard is reminding folks that his game’s skipping over one of the most popular console platforms in the world is actually for the better. Really.

In a BBC interview published on September 5, Todd Howard talked about the just-released Starfield and how much work the team put into designing the massive game. He admitted that at times he and others at Bethesda thought, “Are we in over our heads?” However, what helped wrangle some of the chaos of game development was Starfield being exclusive to Xbox.

“When you’re making something exclusive, then the more you can focus,” said Howard.

He further elaborated that by being only on Xbox, Bethesda knew the hardware and what people were playing the game on. It could pour all of its resources and development time into the Xbox Series X/S versions of the game, and that kind of focus “always yields a better product,” according to Howard.

Starfield does run pretty well on Xbox

Early tech reviews of Starfield on Xbox seem to suggest this worked, as the game is the most stable console launch in the studio’s history. In my time with Starfield on Xbox Series X and S, it’s been mostly smooth sailing, with only two crashes in over 40 hours of gameplay.

Still, while it’s nice Starfield runs so well on Xbox, its console-exclusive status does mean many players won’t be able to play Bethesda’s latest RPG. Howard says that he does want more people to be able to play the game, but he thinks that being “with Xbox” gets the game on Game Pass and in front of more players than ever before. The famed game director also suggests that Starfield might end up like The Legend of Zelda, forever connected to its console platform in the minds of gamers.

“I do also think people attach brands to certain games,” said Howard. “When you think of Zelda you think of the Switch and I think there are times when that can be a real benefit.” Not a benefit to PS5 owners, but a benefit to someone for sure…

Bethesda Explains Starfield’s Complete Lack Of Ground Vehicles

Starfield, the latest and largest open-world RPG from Bethesda, is out now. The game contains all manner of spaceships, even letting you create your own custom vessel to explore the stars. But when you land on a planet, you don’t get any kind of ground-based vehicle to help you travel faster on the surface. Why? Well, Bethesda’s game director Todd Howard says it’s all about making planet exploration an “experience.”

Following a five-day paid early access period, Starfield is finally out for everyone and quickly became one of the biggest games of the year. According to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, the game is already Microsoft’s “most played, next-gen exclusive.” So a lot of people are hopping into Starfield’s digital galaxy to explore its hundreds of quests and planets. However, when they go exploring on the surface of these worlds they’ll have to do so on foot, as the game contains no speedy jet cars or hover bikes to aid exploration. Players online keep asking about it, with some wishing they were included in the massive space adventure.

Bloomberg

In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Todd Howard was asked about the lack of ground vehicles and said that while Bethesda did at one point consider including them in Starfield, they ultimately decided it would “change the gameplay” too much.

“Once you land in your ship, [and now] you’re on foot, it lets us really, for the players, make it an experience where we know how fast they’re seeing things,” said Howard.

Todd Howard reminds players they do have jetpacks, too

The famous game director behind Starfield and past Bethesda hits also pointed out that players do have access to a jetpack, which—once unlocked—they can use to move around planets at a quicker pace.

“In one sense, you do have a vehicle, you obviously have your spaceship so you can go around space, but then on the surface, you do have a jetpack which you can upgrade. Which is super fun—new experience for us. And obviously, planets have different levels of gravity, which makes that unique for many planets,” explained Howard.

While I can understand some player’s frustration over the lack of ground vehicles in Starfield, I’ve not been too bothered by it in my time with the game.

So much of Bethesda’s latest RPG feels disconnected thanks to all the fast traveling you do to get around. When I’m on a planet, exploring its caves and outposts, I feel like it’s one of the few times when the game feels expansive and reminds me of wandering the wasteland in Fallout 3. Being able to speedily zip across the planets and their various levels of gravity in a jet car might be cool, and modders might add that one day, but for now, I like the slower experience of exploration while on foot. Though I might change my tune in a few months and after 200 or so hours of playing Starfield. So, perhaps Bethesda can add some sick hoverboards or something eventually in any future DLC.

   .

Starfield’s Official Mod Tools Are Coming In 2024

Although thousands of fan-made Starfield mods are already available—such as an early inventory screen overhaul, and Hello Kitty gun skins—official supported modding tools aren’t planned to hit Bethesda Game Studios’ open-space RPG until next year, game director Todd Howard said in an interview.

Read More: Starfield Isn’t The Future Of Video Games, And That’s Okay
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Speaking to the Japanese publication Famitsu (and machine-translated by PCGamesN), Howard said mods are important to the studio. As such, Bethesda is working hard to ensure mod support functions without a hitch.

“When the mods are ready, you will be able to do almost anything as we have done in the past, and the mods will be supported next year, but we will do it in a big way because we love it too,” Howard said to questions about mods.

This release cadence mirrors what Bethesda Game Studios has done with its previous games, most notably Fallout 4, which saw official mod support come to the open-world post-apocalyptic shooter a year after it launched. Howard also confirmed that official mod support would hit Starfield in due time during a November 2021 Reddit AMA. So, the studio is making good on its promises.

“Our plan [is] have full mod support like our previous games,” Howard said in response to mod inquiries. “Our modding community has been with us for 20 years. We love what they do and hope to see more make a career out of it.”

Kotaku reached out to Bethesda for comment.

Read More: Todd Howard Tells Starfield Players To Upgrade Their PCs
Buy Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Starfield has been a massive success for Bethesda Game Studios and Microsoft since it officially launched on September 6 for PC and Xbox consoles. The game’s concurrent player count on Steam peaked at over 330K, which is well above The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s 287K concurrent player record, and overall the game has reportedly reached some six million players. While these are impressive figures, it’s worth noting that Starfield is available for “free” via Xbox Game Pass, so the numbers may not tell the whole story. Still, Starfield is doing very well thus far.

 

Starfield’s Free On Game Pass But Still Topping Sales Charts

Starfield is “the biggest Bethesda game launch of all time,” the developer announced on Twitter, with over 6 million players as of September 6, and its initial sales numbers appear to match its splashy reception. After releasing in Early Access beginning on August 31 and then launching globally on September 6, Starfield is topping digital and physical sales charts–despite being available for no cost to some as a free Game Pass title.

It’s currently maintaining its number-two position, which it first assumed in August, on Steam’s global top sales chart. The game is still unable to break Counter Strike: Global Offensive’s 11-year winning streak, but it sure is trying its best: now, it sits at around 200,000 concurrent players. While that’s barely a quarter of CS:GO’s million concurrent players, Starfield is beating other era-defining Bethesda RPGs Skyrim (approximately 20,000 concurrents), Fallout 4 (15,000 concurrents), and The Elder Scrolls Online (14,000 concurrents).

Then, Starfield dominated the UK’s physical sales chart last week, dethroning Hogwarts Legacy and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Starfield is No.1 in the UK boxed charts, which is impressive,” GamesIndustry.Biz head Christopher Dring wrote in a September 10 Twitter thread. “It’s not the biggest physical launch of 2022, […] but it’s almost identical to Diablo 4, and that’s significant because Diablo 4 was a major digital hit.”

“Throw in Game Pass,” Dring continued. “This might be the biggest launch of 2023. And that’s saying something.”

Buy Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop
Buy Game Pass Ultimate: Best Buy | GameStop

And, while both Xbox and PC owners with Game Pass subscriptions are able to play Starfield for free, some of these Bethesda devotees are choosing to give up $70 just to create an even more impressive launch for Starfield.

“I am on Game Pass, and I purchased the digital version,” one person said in Dring’s Twitter thread. “Three reasons: play [the Digital Premium Edition] early, support Xbox, support Bethesda Studios. It’s something I will be playing for years to come; the better it does, the more support and content the game will get going forward.”

Bethesda has not yet announced official Starfield sales numbers. Kotaku reached out to its parent company Microsoft for comment.

 

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