Bethesda confirms fully-explorable planets for Starfield

Bethesda confirms fully-explorable planets for Starfield

In a vast sea of stars and a galaxy teeming with over 1,000 planets, the highly-anticipated RPG, Starfield, from Bethesda Game Studios, has promised an experience unlike any other.

Don’t expect each world in Starfield to be brimming with life but at least over a hundred of them probably will be.

As the game prepares for its launch, there’s much debate about its scope, the intricacies of procedural generation, and what players should realistically expect.

According to Bethesda‘s Head of Publishing, Pete Hines, players are free to roam the surface of any planet they’ll come across – assuming, of course, it’s not a hazardous gas giant. Brave adventurers are encouraged to explore, or as Hines puts it, “Walk on, brave explorer”. But here’s the catch: While exploration is encouraged, don’t expect a rover or a mech to ease your journey. There will be no ground vehicles. With approximately only 10% of planets showing signs of life, Howard’s revelation indicates the quiet majesty of space, a vastness both breathtaking and sometimes hauntingly empty.

Yup, if you want.

Walk on, brave explorer.

— Pete Hines (@DCDeacon) August 22, 2023

While the vast universe’s size is awe-inspiring, a looming question for many is the application of procedural generation.

Bethesda isn’t a newcomer to this tech, having previously experimented with it in The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall. While the game boasted thousands of cities and dungeons, many players felt that these procedurally generated locations lacked depth and intrigue.

Given today’s technology, one would hope that the procedural generation in Starfield is more sophisticated. The game operates on 1 km tiles, generating terrains and features that players will encounter. As players journey through this new universe, will the system be smart enough to ensure that terrains match the predetermined layouts, or will it randomly produce tiles indefinitely? Today’s tech has the capability to align what players see from space with what they’re going to experience on the ground. The only question is, will Bethesda’s strategy reflect its ambition? If nothing else, something tells us it will.

After seemingly doing everything wrong about Starfield last year, Bethesda can do no wrong this time around.

The main allure, however, isn’t exclusively the expansive universe, but how Bethesda populated it. By using procedural generation, it has developed an algorithm that places “terrain chunks” in a manner that builds entire planets. This even factors in variables such as temperature to modify assets used on specific worlds. The result? Even though there exists over 1,000 planets created using procedural generation, each playthrough will be distinctive. Two planets might resemble each other, but the events or quests on them may differ, making each player’s journey truly unique.

Ultimately, what Hines is probably trying to say is this – Starfield is massive

In a recent interview with IGN at this year’s Gamescom, where, among other things, a live-action trailer for Starfield wowed audiences followed by a fan screaming about GTA 6, Hines couldn’t quite find the words to describe the game. He claims to have spent over 100 hours already and, more importantly, he’s struggling to compare it to any game. In a genre with marquee names like No Man’s Sky and Elite Dangerous, Hines’ words suggests that Starfield, although not the biggest, will be deeper than both.

If everything that you just heard about Starfield isn’t enough to make you pre-order it, we don’t know what will.

Of course, it’s essential to approach this with realistic expectations. Bethesda’s gargantuan undertaking does not mean each of these procedurally generated worlds will be brimming with unique content. Some planets will indeed be more empty, offering only resources or the peace of untouched nature. Fans should celebrate the vastness but also appreciate the pockets of hand-crafted content Bethesda has interspersed throughout. These include large cities, dungeons, and space stations – areas where the developers’ personal touch ensures a richness of detail and storytelling.

Starfield aims to redefine open-world gaming, pushing the boundaries of exploration and what players can expect from procedurally generated content.

As we gear up for its release, only time will tell if it lives up to the colossal expectations it has set.

Starfield has yet to reveal the pre-order numbers for Starfield but we’re sure that it’s big.

For now, those looking to have a laugh or to be inspired can check out the first-ever Starfield review or a certain Netflix documentary that carries Hines’ recommendation.

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