What We Know So Far About Starfield's Exploration
Everything that we currently know about the open world exploration in Starfield, and space travel between worlds.
The gameplay reveal earlier this year gave us our first real picture of how the exploration in Starfield will look, so this article will be a summary of everything currently known about this side of the game, including exploration on both planets and through space.
Players in Starfield will have their own customizable starship that allows them to navigate across star systems and visit the many different planets in the game.
As for the planets themselves, according to the gameplay reveal presented by Todd Howard, there are going to be over 1,000 of them to explore. You will be able to explore the entirety of every planet in the game, not just set locations such as cities. This makes the "world" size of Starfield huge, far larger than anything Bethesda has done before.
So how are they going to achieve this? It appears that they have taken some inspiration from No Mans Sky's procedural generation technology - that game apparently contains 18 quintillion unique planets (we haven't counted them). However it has to be said that after a landing on about a dozen planets in No Man's Sky, some of them start to feel rather similar.
By reducing the scope of the game to "only" 1,000 planets, Bethesda perhaps hopes to avoid this problem.
One small caveat though - according to IGN, Todd Howard said after the gameplay reveal that Starfield will not feature a seamless transition from space to planet and vice versa, but these two parts of the game will instead form two different "realities". This might imply loading screens during the process of landing on a planet, as opposed to the No Man's Sky experience where players can seamlessly descend through the atmosphere and land in any spot they want.
Planets in Starfield will have a variety of different climates, with several examples shown in the gameplay trailer. Some will be habitable worlds in the Goldilocks Zone of their star system, populated by flora and fauna. There will also be worlds with much harsher climates, such as frozen but resource-rich worlds, and barren, cratered planets.
Some, if not all, of the planets will be populated by enemies, sometimes they will be human and sometimes they will be aggressive creatures that call the planet home. We don't know yet if the enemies will be procedurally generated.
Another similarity to No Man's Sky will be the ability to mine various resources from planets. Players will be able to use these resources to research new technology, build weapon upgrades, components for outposts (fully customizable bases that you can build on any planet) and more.
It remains to be seen how Bethesda will go about populating such a large playable area with quests and other things to do. Some kind of "Radiant" quest system, as seen in Skyrim, seems likely, alongside the normal main storyline and side quests that are typical in RPGs.