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Cyberpunk 2077 developer defends “outdated” Starfield animations

A Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 developer responds to criticisms of Starfield, as animation in the Bethesda RPG are compared unfavorably to the work of CDPR.

Cyberpunk 2077 Starfield comparison: A man with long hair, Johnny Silverhand from CP2077, played by Keanu Reeves

One CDPR developer whose credits include quest design on Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 defends the animations, character behaviors, and way dialogue sequences are presented in Starfield, following critical comparisons between the Bethesda RPG and CP2077. Following the release of Phantom Liberty, players are returning to Night City for the next chapter in the tale of V and Johnny Silverhand. One Cyberpunk player outlines their issues with Starfield when compared to the CD Projekt Red game, calling Bethesda’s dialogue animations and its in-house Creation Engine “outdated.” A CDPR dev responds, outlining the differences between Starfield and Cyberpunk in terms of game-making ambition.

Cyberpunk 2077 is enjoying a renaissance right now, thanks to both the Phantom Liberty DLC and the release of the CP2077 2.0 update. Of course, you can always make Night City look even better with the best Cyberpunk 2077 mods, but the RPG game has come a long way since its troubled 2020 release. Arriving not longer after Starfield, Phantom Liberty and the big overhaul in 2.0 have prompted comparisons to Bethesda’s work, and one CDPR dev offers a considered response to criticisms that Starfield, owing to the Creation Engine, looks occasionally “outdated” and “lackluster.”

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“As much as I like Starfield, Creation Engine needs to go,” Twitter user ‘Synth Potato writes, in a post that has been shared more than 1,500 times. “Going back to Cyberpunk puts into perspective just how outdated Starfield’s dialogue animations are and it is staggering. Regressing to a rigid camera angle that was left behind in 2006 with Oblivion and entirely eliminating body language is one of the most stunningly stupid decisions I’ve seen designers make.

“I’ve been really feeling more and more critical of Starfield after going back to Cyberpunk, with the constant load screens, awful dialogue camera, and lackluster animations. It really upsets me how Bethesda refuses to move on from that garbage engine that was already outdated by 2015 with Fallout 4 and is an absolute joke in 2023.”

Cyberpunk 2077 Starfield comparison: V from CP2077 leans against a car in Night City

Patrick K. Mills, a CD Projekt Red developer who has served as a quest designer on both Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3, offers a reply. Mills says that Bethesda’s attention is towards other aspects of Starfield, and that the practicalities of game-making, as well as the contrast in style and approach between Bethesda’s game and CP2077, create a different player experience.

“I like Starfield a lot,” Mills writes, “so I’m not getting involved in the core criticism here, but I will say that the way they handle cinematics versus [Cyberpunk] 2077 is not down to engine so much as it is tools and design.

“It’s not a focus for them [Bethesda] for a lot of reasons, and the necessarily high level of player freedom is actually as big a deal as the tools. They [Bethesda] do some scenes that are staged in a more refined way, like meeting Constellation for the first time, some quest sequences etc, but they [Bethesda] have vastly more scenes with a revolving cast of characters and a mind-boggling number of possible locations.

“Every major scene in [Cyberpunk] 2077 took literal years to make,” Mills continues. “In Starfield, I can propose to like ten different NPCs and I can do it on any of a thousand different planets. You can’t do elaborate scene design like that. You’d be making the game forever. Instead BGS puts their resources into giving maximum levels of player freedom. They are just doing something different with their time and that’s cool. You can want their [Bethesda’s] scenes to be more cinematic or whatever, and that’s fair, but it comes at a cost.”

Cyberpunk 2077 Starfield comparison: A tweet from a CDPR and Cyberpunk 2077 developer about Starfield

Mills says that “not every game can do everything,” and that “you can’t make a game that has every feature executed to the same level as the best in that field.” According to Mills, this has “little to do” with a game engine. The developer says that Bethesda is “doing what they are known for and very good at.”

Following the release of Phantom Liberty and the 2.0 update, Cyberpunk 2077 is enjoying a resurgence on Steam, where it currently sits at number five on the most-played chart, and number seven among the top sellers. Starfield is at number 15.

As you head back into Night City, get tooled up with the best Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 builds. You can also check our full Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty review if you want a full and detailed analysis before you buy.