Bethesda On Starfield’s Big, Empty Planets: Not Every Location “Is Supposed To Be Disney World”

The galaxy is a big place in Starfield, and with hundreds of planets to explore, players can tour an ambitious recreation of the cosmos. While Starfield is off to an impressive start–230,000 players on Steam alone during the early access phase–some people are discovering that not every planet is created equally in Starfield, a design choice that Bethesda Game Studios says is a reflection of reality and humanity’s place in the vastness of space.

According to Bethesda’s managing director Ashley Cheng, Starfield’s more barren planets came about from the studio needing to walk a fine line between enjoyment and authenticity. Not every planet “is supposed to be Disney World,” Cheng said to the New York Times. The other reason for some of the desolate worlds that you’ll encounter is that it helps keep expectations in check, emphasizes the vastness of space, and is designed to make you feel small against this backdrop of the infinite expanse of space.

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“The point of the vastness of space is you should feel small. It should feel overwhelming,” Cheng said. “Everyone’s concerned that empty planets are going to be boring. But when the astronauts went to the moon, there was nothing there. They certainly weren’t bored.”

While Starfield does have dozens of planets that can provide a meditative experience as you contemplate your place in the universe, the game also has a number of populated planets where you can take on missions and other activities, which you can read up on in GameSpot’s Starfield guides hub. You can even visit Earth in Starfield, but the planet has seen better days.

“Starfield is undoubtedly impressive in scale, from the sheer number of star systems and planets you can explore to the multitude of gameplay mechanics that tie the experience together,” Michael Higham wrote in GameSpot’s Starfield review. “But once you start to see how all these big ideas are interconnected from a narrative perspective and technical standpoint, the illusion of a grand cosmic voyage shatters and the veneer starts to wear thin.”

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