Starfield's Procedural Planets Are Empty & Boring By Design

"The intention of Starfield's exploration is to evoke a feeling of smallness in players."

Image Credit: Bethesda, Starfield

Upon its release, Bethesda's new space-themed sci-fi RPG Starfield faced swift and widespread criticism from both newcomers and die-hard Bethesda fans, getting backlash for its treatment of the main storyline and quest design, lackluster NPCs and companions, unexciting gunplay, a broken economy, repetitive space battles, unnecessary perks and gameplay mechanics, and monotonous procedurally generated environments, even becoming the studio's worst-rated game on Steam.

Among the game's critics was a Steam user named "soso," who had devoted nearly 100 hours to the game. In October, soso posted a detailed review on Steam, describing Starfield as "a major step back" and providing a thorough explanation of why potential buyers should think twice before making a purchase.

In their review, soso particularly took issue with Bethesda's approach to Starfield's game world, saying that the game's planets, including major ones, felt boring and empty and offered very little in terms of meaningful points of interest.

Image Credit: Bethesda, Starfield

The review in question proved to be influential enough to capture the attention of Bethesda itself. A few days ago, a verified Steam user, "Bethesda_FalcoYamaoka", responded to the review and defended Starfield's procedurally generated planets by explaining that they were intentionally designed to be empty. According to FalcoYamaoka, the studio's aim was to create a sense of smallness in players and evoke a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Additionally, the developer quoted Bethesda's Managing Director, Ashley Cheng, who had stirred controversy among fans back in September by likening Starfield's desolate spaces to the experiences of the first astronauts on the Moon. In their response, FalcoYamaoka wrote, "When the astronauts went to the Moon, there was nothing there. They certainly weren't bored."

Furthermore, the developer suggested experimenting with ship construction and elevating the difficulty level at which soso plays in order to extract more enjoyment from Starfield. They emphasized that it's a completely different experience "playing a fast ship that can dodge projectiles vs. a slow tank of a ship that is shooting at enemies in a shield depletion race".

Image Credit: Bethesda, Starfield

Unsurprisingly, the community did not warmly embrace the response, with gamers characterizing it as "hilarious" and highlighting the absurdity of comparing the initial lunar landing to uninspiring in-game settings. You can read the full developer response and see the community's comments on it by checking out the original review on Steam.

Image Credit: Bethesda, Starfield

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