If I could open up this article with just a video of me clutching my forehead in frustration, I would. That’s how I feel about the recent debates to find fault with Starfield on technical grounds, based on what we know about the game’s release.
Microsoft’s huge Starfield showcase resulted in a lot of overwhelmingly positive impressions, based on the depth and complexity and size of what was shown off there. Even a general Xbox skeptic like myself couldn’t help but be impressed by what was shown. But this is the gaming industry, and God himself could descend and hand people a video game and people would still find something to nitpick about it (is this too holy?).
So, what’s happening with Starfield is a rabbit hole of complaints, starting with the focus on FPS. The game is running at 30 fps, instead of 60 fps, which has led to a lot of complaints that Xbox promised a 60 fps standard and other games have 60 fps so why can’t Starfield?
The answer is…games are different than other games. Not every game has the same technical demands, nor the same goals they are trying to achieve. By sticking with 30 FPS that lets Starfield have more visual fidelity to work with, and better capabilities for its vast planets and cityscapes. It can also be a creative decision.
Starfield is also clearly enormous. A thousand planets. Individually tracked objects like a cargo hold full of sandwiches. Thousands of NPCs and enemies and creatures. Sprawling cities. So yes, we do have to have to take into consideration the sheer size of this world. Even a “big” open world like a Horizon Forbidden West is going to be small compared to Starfield, and that’s a game that can focus more on higher performance and graphical boundary-pushing as a result.
The other side of the conversation also comes up. Why was everyone giving Redfall such a hard time for being 30 FPS while Starfield gets a pass for the same framerate? Again, different games and different. Redfall was a single, not terribly graphically intensive, not terribly well-populated map. Its much smaller scale and relative lack of complexity made the idea that it could not hit 60 FPS at launch feel very strange indeed. It is possible, but Arkane had to promise they would add it later.
A lesser conversation is about the game’s graphics, namely its NPCs. I too think Bethesda’s NPC modeling is not amazing. Many characters look a bit plastic and the hair and beard textures shown off in the preview were a bit off-putting. But again, it’s a sacrifice for the larger whole. And the kinds of comparisons I’m seeing are ridiculous.
Yes, here we have a promo screenshot from The Order 1886 on PlayStation from eight years ago, compared to a paused compressed YouTube video of a character purposefully designed to look goofy (Adoring Fan). The Order 1886 was probably about as big as one wing of one building inside one of Starfield’s main cities. It was above all else meant to be a graphical showcase at the time, a decent enough game but a very tiny, very short one. Not comparable to Starfield’s monstrous size and scope, even eight years later. The comparison is absurd.
This is not to say there is nothing to criticize or be skeptical about with Starfield. I have my concerns about performance issues and bugs at launch, as is the case with any AAA game, but any Bethesda game especially. I do wish the beards looked better. But these points of comparison to other, completely dissimilar games demonstrate a wild lack of industry and game development knowledge that goes above and beyond the usual, stupid debates we see. Just…come on, guys. Use your heads.
Follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to my free weekly content round-up newsletter, God Rolls.
Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.
Read the full article here