Todd Howard has struck again, this time upsetting expectant fans of Starfield by arguing that the game lacks the ability for ships to fly directly from a planet into space because the feature “is really just not that important to players”.
In an interview with IGN given following the release of new Starfield footage during Microsoft and Bethesda’s recent Games Showcase, Howard was asked by the outlet to elaborate on how his “We try to say yes as much as possible,” philosophy impacted the game’s development.
Noting that the philosophy was a main component behind many of the game’s design choices, Howard noted that though the studio attempted to follow it as much as possible, there were some ideas they willingly passed on.
One of these, revealed the director was the ability for players to, under their own power, take off into space from a planet’s surface and vice versa.
“People have asked, ‘Can you fly the ship straight down to the planet?'” recalled Howard to IGN. “No. We decided early in the project that the on-surface is one reality, and then when you’re in space it’s another reality.”
In response to that snippet of Howard’s interview being shared to Twitter by IGN, fans expressed their annoyance at this feature’s absence, many drawing comparisons to how it was included in No Man’s Sky even in its terrible initial launch state.
“I really feel like this is a huge miss,” @JoseSprays tweeted. “Landing seamlessly onto a planet in #NoMansSky is so smooth and it’s a huge experience for ‘space travelers’.”
@AlmightyEnder snarked, “In other words, our engine can’t handle it. This is turning more and more into off brand NMS without all the good stuff.”
Others still defended the choice, agreeing that it wasn’t a key feature and further arguing that in time, the process of traveling between the two areas would grow annoying.
“Fair enough,” said @jparkes1991. Big ask to implement that in a game, especially one so curated as this. People need to realise NMS is a game based on entirely different technology, and that has pros and cons for each game. Not all games have to have the same features after all.”
“Comments are just more proof fans can never be satisfied bro,” @JoshIsSantana mocked, “landing on planets in games is fun for all of 5 minutes till it’s irritating.”
“I’m fine with this,” noted TheNeutralGamer in the interview’s comment section on IGN’s website. “The key difference between this and No Man’s Sky is that No Man’s Sky doesn’t have quest hubs full of characters and story activity.”
“I can’t even imagine how they’d be able to program the player on to have the ability able to crash their spaceship right into the centre of a city full of NPCs and Quest Givers,” he added.
Pushing back against those drawing comparisons, rogueContinuum corrected, “I mean, I don’t mean this in a disagreement way, but just to amend out-of-date info: NMS does have quite a few quest hubs now, the notably big one with actual non-random characters being the Nexus where some story content weaves into it as well, but on planets there’s roaming NPCs too outside of the larger comm towers and trade centers.”
“You’re confusing story activity with scripted events, something that I agree, probably wouldn’t suit Bethesda’s style that well to be able to fly anywhere on the planet,” they said.
However, Howard’s statement may show a rare bit of growth and humility, as while Howard has been involved with a number of award-winning and highly praised games, he nonetheless has earned a reputation for exaggerating the features his upcoming games will contain, only for the final product to be janky and filled with bugs.
For example, during their respective development cycles, Howard claimed Skyrim would have infinite quests (technically true thanks to some sidequests you can replay over and over) and the ability to climb any mountain, and later said that Fallout 3 would have over 200 endings – all of which ultimately turned out to be untrue.
This particular incident even inspired a 15-minute musical number dedicated to Howard’s reputation entitled ‘It Just Works’ from video game-centric musical group The Chalkeaters.
Of course, this brief bit of possible humility doesn’t mean Howard’s penchant for promising grand results has worn off. Along with promising a 30 to 40 hour main story, Howard has also claimed that the game will feature “over 1,000 planets, all open for you to explore.”
Lead Artist Istvan Pely also stated in a dev diary that the way NPC companions will react and comment on what the player just did is ” just so believable, you think it’s a real person.”
What do you think? Is this a feature Starfield should have? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.