Starfield Originally Had More “Complex” And “Punitive” Punishing System In Place, Todd Howard Reveals

But instead they opted to dial it down for the convenience of the players.

Story Highlights

  • Talking in the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science Gamer’s Notebook Podcast, Bethesda CEO Todd Howard revealed that Starfield had a much more complex and ruthless punishing system for Planets.
  • He was talking to Ted Price, Insomniac Games founder and CEO, in the podcast.
  • According to Todd, these cuts were made after a thorough and brutal internal done by the studio.
  • Despite Todd not clearly stating the motive behind the omission, some have speculated that this was done to attract a broader audience to the game.

Starfield launched to a flurry of mixed reviews at the end of the first week of this month on September 6. The space game has been criticised for being bland in its depiction of space travel for the repetitive nature of the planets and because of the randomness of the ailments on different planets. Now Bethesda CEO Todd Howard has revealed that Starfield planets were actually more harsh and difficult than in the final cut of the game.

Todd was talking to Ted Price, the founder and CEO of Insomniac Games, in the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science Gamer’s Notebook Podcast. He said that the originally intended system was punitive in nature and had many complex aspects. According to him, the studio kept trying different things to balance it out. He talks about it at the timestamp of 48:39.

YouTube video

In the end, they thought that it would be “a complicated system” and the players would find it difficult to understand. So in the end they just decided to keep it simple and “nerfed” everything. In the podcast he said,

[So] the way the environmental damage works in the game on planets and on your suit and you know you have resistances to certain types of atmosphere effects whether that’s radiation or thermal etc. And that was a pretty complex system. Actually, it was very punitive so we kept trying where you get these afflictions. We kept trying to tune it. We get a point where we’re tuning it and you’re having to heal those things and what we did at the end of the day, and it was a complicated system for players to understand, [was] we just nerfed the hell out of it.”

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The ailments, or afflictions as Todd called them, were originally planned to be a bit complex too. They might have added more variety to the game. Bethesda thought of different ways to help the players counter that, one solution they came up with was to have multiple suits each one specially made for a particular environment. But the internal review thought differently and it was all “dialed down.” Todd Howard further said, 

It matters but only a little bit it matters more in flavour like the affliction you get is more annoying knowing you have it than the game result usually. I’m generalizing so it was let’s just dial it down because if we dial it way back it becomes more flavour on the screen than it does a gameplay system. We had originally wanted where okay I have multiple spacesuits. I have one for high-radiation planets. I have one for really cold planets.”

Even though Todd Howard did not state a clear reason behind the motivation to cut that feature and lessen the complexity of the planetary system, some have speculated that was probably driven by the aim to attract broader audiences, not just Bethesda enthusiasts. Some fans hope that these things will be included in the prospective future survival mode for the game.  

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Jawad is a News writer at eXputer with a lifelong interest in video games and industry journalism. He is dedicated to delivering engaging, unbiased, and well-informed gaming news. Jawad has one year of experience in gaming journalism and is currently pursuing an MBBS degree.

Experience: 1+ Year || Covers News Stories on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery.

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