- Bethesda scrapped Starfield’s realistic fuel system because it was considered a “fun killer” during testing.
- The ability to run out of ship fuel mid-flight could still make a return if the developer ever decides to add a “hardcore survival mode” to Starfield, Todd Howard previously said.
- In the meantime, some modders have already started experimenting with making Starfield’s gameplay more survival-like, but none have yet attempted to replicate the developer’s original vision for the game that included a realistic fuel system.
The original version of the Starfield fuel system could make a return if Bethesda were ever to add a survival mode to its hit game. While this possibility is by no means new information, its confirmation was seemingly lost in all the Starfield chatter over the past several years.
Having originally entered pre-production circa 2015, Starfield has marked by far the longest development cycle for any Bethesda game to date. While it’s unclear when exactly it entered active production, the studio itself confirmed that many of its features have changed significantly over the years, while others were scrapped. The game’s fuel system falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum; it was still present in the version of the RPG that went gold, but one of its major mechanics was cut. Specifically, by October 2022, Bethesda had decided that Starfield spaceships would not run out of fuel mid-flight.
Starfield Player Accidentally Makes Character That Looks Like Scully from X-Files, Bethesda Responds
A Starfield player accidentally makes an in-game recreation of Gillian Anderson’s Scully from X-Files that elicits a response from Bethesda.
What fuel mechanics remain today are merely a temporary impediment to one’s ability to perform Starfield Grav Jumps. Some players have previously criticized that feature as underbaked, while others pondered why Bethesda hasn’t at least made a more realistic fuel system optional instead of scrapping it altogether. The answer to some of those questions was recently dug up by Reddit user picabo123, who came across an old episode of the Lex Fridman Podcast in which Bethesda Executive Producer Todd Howard directly reflected on the company’s train of thought concerning the Starfield fuel system.
Bethesda Found Realistic Fuel Mechanics To Be a ‘Fun Killer’ in Starfield
Around the 1:04:45 mark, Howard recalled how an early version of the game made it possible for the player to run out of fuel and then get stranded on a planet. Mining for resources would have been one way to get out of such a predicament, while sending a distress beacon and hoping someone friendly responds would have been another. And while the idea sounded great “on paper,” Howard’s team concluded it was a “fun killer” in practice. The developers ultimately decided to revamp the Starfield ship fuel tanks to only affect a given spacecraft’s Grav Jump distance, essentially making them much less consequential.
Starfield’s Original Fuel System Could Still Return, If Paired with a Survival Mode
Be that as it may, Howard noted that a realistic fuel system would fit in a “hardcore survival mode.” The Bethesda official also left open the possibility of the studio revisiting that idea in the future.
If you had, like, a hardcore survival mode, [a realistic fuel system] is the kind of thing you would do. Maybe we’ll do it in the future.
While there has been no indication of that happening in the 15 months since Howard’s interview, Bethesda did repeatedly promise that its space-faring RPG would receive long-term support. A recent Starfield leak has also suggested the work on the game’s more hardcore aspects might have been more advanced than Howard initially implied; specifically, one dataminer has discovered many survival-like mechanics that were seemingly cut from the game ahead of release. But even if Bethesda itself never revisits this idea, some modders have already started experimenting with adding a hardcore mode to Starfield. However, none of those community projects have yet attempted to replicate the developer’s original vision for the game, realistic fuel mechanics included.
Developed by Bethesda Game Studios, Starfield is a sci-fi action role-playing game where players interact with multiple factions, engage in combat, customize their main character and ship, as well as explore a universe that features over 100 systems and 1,000 planets.
- September 6, 2023
- M For Mature 17+ Due To Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Drugs, Strong Language, Violence
- How Long To Beat
- 20 Hours
- X|S Enhanced
- File Size Xbox Series
- 101 GB (November 2023)