Thanks to some eagle-eyed viewers’ keen dissection of Starfield’s gameplay trailer, it looks like we’ve found another potential feature of Bethesda’s sci-fi RPG adventure game that could change the lives of those obsessed with loot.
The release window for Starfield is getting closer and closer as it's hopefully set to go live sometime in early 2023. In this space-raiding sci-fi adventure, you can expect to scour the deep galactic cosmos, join factions, and customize spaceships.
While we wait for the inevitable release let's take a closer look at the Gameplay trailer (opens in new tab). If you look closely, you’ll see a small but crucial detail pop up around 11:43 and 11:45. In the chaos of a space battle where one ship is gunning down another, sparks and ship parts fly into the dark abyss of space. During this sequence, you can see a small diamond ‘loot chest’ icon appear for a short few seconds; it’s best to slow down the playback speed on YouTube if you want a better look.
There hasn’t been much information in the way of spaceship looting as of yet. However, this icon hints at some enticing possibilities. You could approach the lifeless spacecraft and pick out certain items in a similar way to other Bethesda games, like Fallout 4’s system that lets you take only the finest bottle caps from a worn-down chest of draws. Or if Bethesda wants to treat us, looting dead ships could be as easy as pushing a button when you get close enough. While this wouldn’t have the realism that some may want from Starfield, it would make life much easier.
Creative director Todd Howard has previously expressed his intentions to keep Starfield as realistic as possible while keeping the game fun. In a Q&A YouTube video (opens in new tab), Howard said, “Starfield is more hard science-fiction to us”, implying that the sci-fi explorer will try to stay within the limits of science and reality.
However, sometimes reality simply isn’t that enjoyable. Howard discussed original ideas to make spaceships break down mid-flight when they run out of fuel or complex gravity drives that were scientifically accurate. But as the devs progressed with these ideas, they realized how “punitive they were for the player”, Howard said.
Instead of having to endure the breakdown of your ship thanks to a lack of fuel, you'll be limited in how far you can go before being redirected to the nearest refueling station, making the game less realistic but more enjoyable. Hopefully, this rhetoric will hold true when it comes to the game’s looting system during space battles. While it could be fun to have the option to scrap the ships for parts realistically, a quick press of a button to take all the trinkets on board could keep the game quick and entertaining.
While I love looting and scrapping debris for parts as much as the next intergalactic explorer, I feel that doing an extensive search of a ship every time I destroyed one could get tiring quickly.
In a world as big as Starfield, I don’t doubt there’ll be plenty to keep me occupied. This means that an excess of nitty-gritty tasks baked into the game in the name of ‘realism’ might well seem superfluous and serve only to bog down the experience. While it could be fun occasionally, a forced, hard sci-fi life doesn’t sound very appealing.
Perhaps all this means is that I’m an impatient fool who doesn’t appreciate the wondrous world of hard science-fiction gaming. Nevertheless, I’m still hoping for a quick and easy spaceship looting button, so I can get all the trinkets my heart desires at no extra time cost.