After a four-year wait, Bethesda has finally revealed gameplay and details for the highly-anticipated space RPG Starfield – but players are already jumping to conclusions about the game’s 1,000+ planets.
At the end of the 15-minute gameplay showcase during the Xbox + Bethesda Games Show, Todd Howard revealed just how big Starfield is. The game boasts over 1,000 planets spread across 100 different systems that players can land on and freely explore.
Of course, hearing numbers of this magnitude may trigger some gamers’ announcement-PTSD. Bethesda has made habit of overpromising and underdelivering, and fans often call back to Howard’s infamous “see that mountain over there?” quote.
Others have drawn comparisons between Starfield and No Man’s Sky, predicting the vast majority of Starfield’s planets will be baren or uninteresting. But it’s ridiculous to hate on Starfield’s size based on what “could” happen… This much content is actually a good thing.
A lack of faith in Bethesda
Now, this article isn’t to persuade you Bethesda can do no wrong. They are notorious for shipping their massive RPGs unfinished, often riddled with bugs that take players out of what could have been an immersive experience.
Remember the quote from earlier? That’s one of Bethesda’s main issues when it comes to hyping up their games. They often oversell a game by saying “you can go anywhere” or “do anything” but that’s far from the truth.
So it’s not out of mob mentality that players are skeptical of Starfield. They’ve been let down too many times by the sweet lies of Todd Howard, and won’t let themselves be made the fool again.
That being said, the instant hate poured out for a massive galaxy of planets is ludicrous. We barely have any idea how these planets will look or function yet form opinions as if we’ve played the games for 100 hours.
The No Man’s Skyrim debate
It’s also impossible to touch on how the public currently views Starfield without talking about another space exploration game: No Man’s Sky. A game that was hyped up beyond what any developer could ever deliver was deemed a massive failure at launch.
As someone who has put a considerable number of hours into No Man’s Sky, the comparisons are justifiable. A lot of the mechanics shown during the gameplay preview were identical to No Man’s Sky. But it’s a game set in space about gathering resources to survive and thrive… how different could Bethesda really make mining for copper or flying a spaceship?
Nevertheless, the main comparison – or theory I should say – is between the games’ planets. No Man’s Sky has multiple near-infinite systems with a countless number of procedurally generated planets. There are no major cities, all spaceports look the same, and there are only a handful of things to do on every planet.
I might be alone here but my near-immediate reaction to “there are 1,000 planets!” is way more concern than hype. I’m excited to play Starfield for a bunch of reason, but 1,000 planets just makes me go ‘ok most of those must be very barren/uhh I don’t have time for that’.
— Alanah Pearce (@Charalanahzard) June 13, 2022
However, NMS is a fantastic game. What was released as a failure has been continuously updated over the last five years to become a brilliant game focused on space exploration. If you haven’t played it recently, you should definitely pick it back up before continuing to dogpile Starfield.
The one thing Bethesda gets right
Above all else, Bethesda games always deliver with their masterful world-building. The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises are perfect examples of how well Bethesda can craft a narrative and the world it takes place in.
Look at Fallout 4 for example. At least for me, the world was so dense and filled with interesting characters that it didn’t take me long to forget about my missing son. Stumbling across Ironsides and the Atom Cats felt like a gaming joyride, and members of the Church of the Children of Atom still give me the creeps.
Sure, these games aren’t polished and you can’t climb a mountain in Skyrim without a horse, but that hasn’t stopped Bethesda fans from sinking hundreds if not thousands of hours into these games.
Excitement builds for Starfield’s planets
Say out of the 1,000 planets in the game, 985 are procedurally generated with no massive cities. That still gives us 15 hand-crafted highly-populated civilizations to explore. And the ones we’ve seen in the trailers look incredible.
This is where the backlash gets confusing. Most complaints seem to imply that Todd Howard said most of the planets will have cities like New Atlantis or that they will all be worth exploring. Truth is, they won’t and that’s still okay.
Let’s compare Starfield to Minecraft. Oftentimes, after you’ve spent several months or even years in a single Minecraft world, it’s time for a reset. You can either start completely over in a new world, or you can pack your bags and fly thousands and thousands of blocks away to a new starting location. Starfield essentially allows players to do the same thing.
You can build a base on any planet and populate it with human and robot NPCs. Once you’re bored of the planet you’re on or get to a point you feel you’re finished, you can just hop on your ship and go to a brand new world ready for you to conquer.
Of course, how fun populating planets will depend on the mechanics at play and the playstyle you enjoy most. If you don’t like exploration and base building, you likely won’t find all 1,000 planets very amusing. And if base building and recruiting are difficult or unfinished, then it might be frustrating to attempt.
That being said, this rush to hate on Starfield’s number of planets is just plain stupid.
We know close to nothing about planet generation, the number of actual cities in-game, and what there is to do beyond exploration. To me, having 1,000 blank canvases to build cities on is a dream come true.
If you’re still full of doubt from drawing ill-made comparisons to other space exploration titles, well, you might need to take something for your No Man’s Sky syndrome.