In an interview last month with Lex Fridman, Todd Howard revealed that the star systems in Starfield will have level recommendations. This has many implications for how the game will be structured; and also, reveals a departure from long-standing mechanics in recent Bethesda (the studio making Starfield) titles. On the topic, he said, “We do level the systems. When you go to a system, you’ll see, oh this is a level 40 system; and us being able to at least control that scale is how we kind of ended up with the 100-ish systems we have.” He clarifies that the levels are meant to designate where players should go and correspond to the level of the player.
This revelation also helps clear up some questions that popped up from the gameplay showcase we received back in June. During the video, we saw that the Alpha Centauri system was a “level 1” system. In a different interview with Starfield’s lead quest designer, it was revealed that the game’s starting system would be our very own Sol (the system with our sun). Since Alpha Centauri and Sol are relatively close and both “level 1” systems, we can assume that similarly-leveled systems are next to one another.
That is exciting because it suggests that proximity and distance from the player’s starting point will govern the level recommended for a system. For example, the further away from Sol the player travels, the harder things will become. This theory is further supported by the stats that players can improve on their ships.
We saw that ‘jump range’ is going to be a trait on every player’s ship. This will likely be part of how Starfield keeps its players from jumping all over the galaxy too quickly. It’s also possible that Bethesda will scale the spaceship fights to become harder and require better parts, which leads us to our big question. How will Bethesda scale the enemies in different star systems?
The obvious answer is that the game will just keep enemies around the same level that is recommended for entering a system. However, this would be a massive change in how Bethesda has structured their games in the past. In most of their recent titles, enemies have (more or less) scaled with the player. We need to keep in mind though that having recommended areas for the player is in itself a drastic change in Bethesda’s formula. Normally, players are thrown into an open world whose only borders are at the edge of the map. Seeing as how they have already deviated on this key concept, it isn’t a stretch that they might rework how the enemies scale in relation to player level as well.
What do you think? Is this change to the game welcome, or will it mess with the secret sauce of Bethesda’s role playing game formula? Let us know in the comments. Starfield is slated to release in the first half of 2023.
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Kelson is a spud head from out west. He is most happy when holding a milky tea with too much honey and playing a sprawling role playing game or reading a fantasy novel. His video game tastes vary but his main genres are looter shooters, RPGs, and real time strategy games.