The much-anticipated game Starfield has finally arrived, but it has left some players puzzled and disappointed with its space travel mechanics.
Contrary to what many hoped for, the game doesn’t allow for seamless travel from space to planet surfaces. Instead, it employs a fast-travel system.
Why did Bethesda make this design choice? Let’s explore.
Bethesda’s Design Philosophy
Todd Howard, the game’s director, clarified in an interview with IGN that the decision to omit seamless space-to-planet travel was deliberate.
According to Howard, the feature was “really just not that important to the player.” The development team chose to focus on enhancing the on-surface and in-space experiences.
Howard explained, “If you try to really spend a lot of time engineering the in-between, like that segue, you’re just spending a lot of time [on something] that’s really just not that important to the player.”
A Glimmer of Possibility
However, a recent experiment by streamer and Sony Santa Monica writer Alanah Pearce suggests that it’s not entirely impossible to travel from space to a planet—it’s just incredibly time-consuming and ultimately unrewarding.
Pearce spent seven hours directing her ship toward Starfield’s version of Pluto. The result? A pixelated, blocky representation of the dwarf planet that she eventually passed through, revealing that the planet was nothing more than an illusion in the game’s universe.
The Fast-Travel Frustration
Armed with this knowledge, it’s easier to understand why some players feel let down. Many have taken to Reddit and other social media platforms to voice their disappointment.
As one player said, “There’s no feeling of exploring—or traveling for that matter. I would love at least the ability to manually travel to other planets and moons.”
The sentiment is shared by many who feel that the fast-travel system severely limits the sense of exploration and freedom that a space game should offer.
Comparisons to Other Games
The community was quick to draw comparisons between Starfield and other space exploration games like No Man’s Sky and even Lego Star Wars. Despite being a Lego game, the latter offers a more immersive travel experience, allowing players to manually fly between planets.
Another player pointed out, “The space part of this game is disappointing. It’s almost entirely menus and fast travel.”
Workarounds and Future Updates
Despite the disappointment, some players have found workarounds or are hopeful for future updates. One Reddit user discovered that by powering up the ship’s gravitation drive, you can travel without a menu between systems, although the screen still goes black for a bit.
While Starfield has much to offer in terms of exploration and gameplay, the absence of seamless planet landings has proven to be a sticking point.
Bethesda’s design philosophy prioritizes other aspects of the game over seamless travel, leaving players to make do with the fast-travel system. Whether or not this will change in future updates remains to be seen.