Starfield game director wants players to avoid dying in space

Starfield's makers are doing everything in their power for a smooth gaming franchise entry.

The highly anticipated space exploration game was supposed to debut on Nov. 11, but Starfield's gaming director Todd Howard said the company is busy fielding feedback from Twitter, Reddit and Discord for an expected first half of 2023 release for PC, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox Game Pass.

Bethesda Networks has been taking its time getting Starfield ready, especially in the wake of stuttering, crashes and near-incompatibility for older Xbox consoles that marred the release of another big title of recent years: 2020's Cyberpunk 2077, starring actor Keanu Reeves. 

Starfield, by contrast, is going through a community feedback process during development. In a recent YouTube Q&A, Starfield's Howard emphasized the new space exploration game is not leaning too heavily on hard science fiction to avoid frustration, so that players would not too easily "die in space."

Related: Everything we know about Starfield: Release window, platforms, gameplay, trailers

An example was the gravity drive, which is a sort of warp drive popularized by movies like 1997's Event Horizon. "I'm reading papers on quantum physics and you know, bending space in front of you," Howard said of the research process.

"We were playing that and it became very punitive to the player," he explained. "Your ship would run out of fuel, and the game would just stop. You just want to get back to what you're doing. So we've recently changed that."

Dialog is also front of mind for Bethesda, who is known for offering fairly flexible character choices in franchises like the Elder Scrolls (aka Skyrim) and Fallout. 

"The amount of content we're making is a bit more than we've done before in terms of quests," Howard said, noting dialog has passed 250,000 lines already. That is more than a third longer than Skyrim and Fallout 4's dialog combined, according to VG247.

Related: Dive deep into 'Starfield' with these making-of videos for Bethesda's new space game epic

Starfield includes some elements of hard science fiction. (Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

The epic game will bring players across hundreds of star systems in a hunt for rare alien artifacts. Set in the year 2330, gamers will be joining up with the Constellation group of space explorers that are trying to learn more about the universe's history.

Hints of the games grand scale have been coming through numerous trailers, bringing us through the worlds Neon, New Atlantis, and Akila City, walking players through the game's setting and factions, introducing us to a robot companion named Vasco, and giving us some behind-the-scenes look at the art of Starfield and the game's role-playing elements.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: