“Space exploration in Starfield isn’t what people thought.”
Many believed their ship would be limited by small sky-boxes or invisible boundaries when traveling through space in Starfield. That actually isn’t the case. But you can’t directly take off, fly, and land on planets. So has Todd Howard been lying to us? Not really.
Alanah Pearce, game dev and former games journalist streamed seven hours flying her ship to Pluto. She used a base ship and one engine upgrade with roughly four thousand people watching. The former planet was growing larger on screen, and the number of kilometers was shrinking slowly.
She planned to go bed, set an alarm, and wake up on Pluto. However, it was shifting out of frame. Instead, she set an alarm every thirty minutes to readjust her flight path. To do so, she streamed from her bedroom, adjusting to “maximum latency” due to delay. Alanah didn’t expect to have “one of the worst sleeps [she] ever had”, but the flight was “extremely calming” with only a crew member occasionally coughing.
As she approached, everyone noticed how low-res Pluto was. For a brief moment you can see the ship’s headlights reflected on its surface. And that’s when she entered.
The moment her ship’s headlights reflected on the surface.
“Did I get to Pluto? Technically yes. Did I really get to Pluto? No?”
What’s inside Pluto? More space. You can see right through, as if it was never there. Her distance indicator displayed zero. She just clipped through it.
We can assume the rest of the celestial bodies are hollow and spaced even farther apart. We also assume flying between systems is even less functional. It could take up to hundreds of thousands of hours. Alanah explains having hollow spheres seen from far, far away is “actually not intensive for a video game.”
She spawned outside of Pluto’s orbit and flew directly to it. We don’t know if you can spawn and then fly to other individual planets. But we assume so.
Looking out from inside Pluto.
Remember when she had to readjust her flight path every half hour? Starfield actually tracks the orbit of the planets accurately. She claims when you stand on a planet without light pollution, you can see the planets “actually moving around in their correct patterns.”
She initially chose Earth, but its orbit was way too fast. It would “disappear from view… super quickly.” Pluto only floated offscreen every hour or so.
When she was inside, she turned around to exit. It could take another seven hours; her distance toward Pluto was equal to exiting it. However, she hooked a left against the orbit to reduce the time. When she finally left, it actually “tucked” under her ship. Not only was Pluto orbiting, it bobbed as well.
In her opinion, “the purpose is not to visit these planets… [it’s] when you’re on a planet to see the other planets moving in space.” It makes her rethink Todd Howard explaining how the moon is “actually there.”
According to Alanah, Starfield isn’t actually a space exploration game; “it’s an RPG and it’s about talking to people.” However, I think we can all agree: spending seven hours to test in-game space travel functionality is true game’s journalism. Update: you can follow her journey to the sun here.
Starfield is available now on PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox Game Pass.