It’s widely known now that Starfield’s planets rely on procedural generation to populate worlds with locations to explore. This has proven to be an economical system that, in theory, creates an infinite amount of content to engage with. However, the experience of exploring a world has turned out to be rather lackluster and somewhat underdeveloped, making Starfield’s planets feel barren. Now, players are discovering some immersion-breaking limits to the procedural generation system.
Reddit user “Gregistopal” shared a puzzling Starfield experience. While exploring a world, they found a science outpost that was strangely close to one of the alien temples where players receive Starborn powers. Usually, the game populates the area surrounding these temples with other alien anomalies, so any other type of building is peculiar, to say the least. This user reasonably called into question the likelihood of anyone building an outpost in such close proximity to an unknown structure without studying it extensively.
It would make sense if the science outpost had logs or recordings indicating that its scientists were studying or running tests on the nearby temple, but this isn’t the case. It’s a science outpost similar to the ones players can find in planet regions nowhere near temples or anomalies. While players can try as they wish to jump through hoops attempting to justify this from a lore perspective, it’s clear that this is an example of the limitations of Bethesda’s procedural generation system.
It’s always jarring when the seams from development show, but it’s particularly disheartening in Starfield’s case because the planet exploration feature is rather disappointing. From traversing duplicate dungeons (on different planets, mind you), now to the narrative dissonance of a randomly generated outpost near an alien temple, the overall experience that was meant to convey the overwhelming size of outer space makes exploration feel small and tedious.
It results in a longing for the exploration experience in Bethesda’s previous games, especially Skyrim. Wandering in that game to find what the world had in store feels much more exciting, and the handcrafted nature of that design plays a massive role in its success. Starfield’s open world feels largely devoid of this design approach, and only more attention is drawn to this issue when oddities occur like the one Gregistopal experienced.
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