Todd Howard claims that Bethesda intentionally made the AI bad in Starfield in order to make the game accessible to players. In an interview with AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook Podcast, the Bethesda boss chatted specifically about the game’s space combat saying it wanted it to be satisfying and not tedious. As a result, the AI was dumbed down.
Todd claims that it would have been easy to make enemies very smart and create a system where players would spend quite a long time fighting them. He felt as if this did not work for the game and went with easier, simplistic space fights instead.
Howards followed up by saying that the space combat would sort of be clumsy if it was tougher. Players would have to deal with turning around and locking onto enemies while they did the same thing. Even though other games have delivered some excellent space combat including Everspace and Star Wars: Squadron, Starfield decided to not have this included.
“That part all worked out quite well, but then you have to mix it in with the AI. While higher difficulty is supposed to provide players with more challenge, in this situation, it just made the fighting much longer, and as a result, more tedious. And this is why Bethesda made the call to make the combat enemy AI to be quite obtuse. It’s very easy to make the enemies really, really smart or end up in the situation where you’re forever just jousting. It turns out you have to make the AI really stupid… they should fly, and then they need to turn, basically like, ‘Hey player, why don’t you just shoot me for a while.”
Starfield’s combat has been the subject of some nasty online criticism recently. Players believe it struggles to deliver any excitement to the game, which is already incredibly boring according to our review. Bethesda says they didn’t want combat to get in the way of immersion and I think they nailed that… That doesn’t mean it is a good thing.
Source: AIAS Podcast