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Starfield planets got nerfed by Bethesda, Todd Howard explains why

Starfield director Todd Howard explains why the depth of planetary afflictions was cut from the game, and how Bethesda goes about choosing what to focus on.

Starfield cut content: a man with combed brown hair speaks directly to the camera

Starfield is the biggest Bethesda RPG to date, so of course features, mechanics, and ideas either got cut, reduced, or changed during development. This natural part of the development has been highlighted by Starfield director Todd Howard, who’s explained why a more in-depth planetary affliction system was cut down in favor of other mechanics.

Howard was talking with Insomniac Games founder and CEO Ted Price for Game Maker’s Notebook, and the two got to discussing prioritization in game development. Starfield planets came up in the discussion, as Bethesda’s newest RPG game went through some ideas that were changed or cut in favor of changing the player experience.

Howard says Bethesda doesn’t always fix in-game problems by removing the issue completely but instead doing what he calls taking it “out of the spotlight,” using the environmental damage on Starfield planets as an example, which we’ve transcribed for you below.

“The way the environmental damage in the game works on planets and your suit, and you have resistances to certain types of atmosphere effects like radiation and thermal, that was a pretty complex system, it was very punitive,” Howard says.

“What we did at the end of the day, and it was a complicated system for players to understand, is we just nerfed the hell out of it. It matters more in flavor. The affliction you get is more annoying knowing you have it, than the game result,” Howard continues, clarifying that he’s generalizing the feature of planet afflictions on Starfield when saying this.

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From Howard’s description, the original idea was for afflictions to be less about flavor and more about mechanics, with players needing to have multiple spacesuits for different planetary atmospheres, similar to the radiation mechanic in the Fallout games, which can be counteracted with specific suits or medicines.

Howard goes on to talk about how decisions to cut or minimize features like this let the team focus on other things. “Particularly gunplay,” Howard tells Price. “The minute-to-minute experience in your hand, we really need to dial this in better and better. We’re really happy where that ended up.”

Bethesda’s work on all the Starfield weapons and guns might also be some of the best the studio has ever done, seeing the team come a long way from the likes of Fallout 3. Considering each can also be expanded by the plethora of Starfield weapons mods, there’s a lot that went into the space game’s gunplay.

With Bethesda’s newest game a roaring success, you’ll want to further expand your experience with the best Starfield mods currently available, and make sure your rig can handle the demanding game with the ideal Starfield settings for your PC.

Still looking for more? While a good Starfield wiki can be a handy source of information, our new Starfield Database goes further, offering you daily news, searchable databanks, and even interactive tools.