Starfield won’t include life on every planet according to Bethesda. In an interview, Todd Howard detailed some of the gameplay mechanics in the upcoming space RPG saying that only 10% of all planets in the game include some sort of life on them. The rest are barren.
We know that Starfield will include 1000+ planets but only 10% means that a hundred or so will include active life. This was supposedly intentional. Howard claims that the team at Bethesda wanted to capture “the magnificent desolation” of the universe. As a result, Starfield includes very little life on remote planets to make it seem realistic.
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In the same interview, Todd Howard says that there was no way the team were going to sit down and handcraft each and every planet in the game. It wasn’t possible given the 1000+ planets available to explore.
As a result, Bethesda only crafted a handful of unique objects and locations on each planet. The rest of the assets were all procedurally generated and placed across the game. These unique items and locations are mainly cities and places related to active quests,
“Individual locations and some of those are placed specifically and then we have a suite of them that are generated or placed when you land depending on that planet”.
By the sound of things, the planet system in Starfield sounds like something from Mass Effect. The later games included hundreds of planets with only a handful of them having a spot to land and do stuff on.
Starfield wants to capture that feeling of being alone in the universe and that sense of discovery as you land on a planet not expecting anything. Most of the time that “anything” will be nothing at all. However, there will be the odd planet where stuff is actually happening.
“We will generate certain things for you to find on [barren planets],” said Howard, “but if you look at a planet … 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. We hope everybody enjoys it for what it is, but it is an exploration different than we’ve had”.
In the same interview, Todd Howard also confirmed that exploring planets might be quite a chore. The game doesn’t include any sort of rover to drive around with nor are there any mounts available to ride. However, players can make use of their Boost Pack which is a jetpack-like mode of transport. This pack can be upgraded.
“The Boost Pack is super fun. You can fly through [the environment], and then the low-gravity planets are just something really, really special in the game.”
Catch up on the gameplay deep dive for Starfield below. The game is launching on 6 September for Xbox Series X/S and PC.