Starfield’s Cool New Settings And How They Can Make The Game Easier Or Harder, Explained

Screenshot: Bethesda / Claire Jackson / Kotaku
Screenshot: Bethesda / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

After a few rounds of updates, Starfield is slowly shifting into something quite different from what originally launched on September 4, 2023. And I’m not just talking about the cool new mods that are quick and easy to install now thanks to the Creations suite. As of May 2024, a bunch of new features have been added to Starfield’s settings menus that let you subtly and dramatically change how the game plays.

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These new options include adjustable difficulty levels across different kinds of damage types, survival mechanics, tweaks to environmental damage, and even one that I’d argue makes the game a little more immersive. Let’s start with that one: The new(ish) Dialogue Camera toggle.

The best new option: Dialogue Camera toggle

Tired of how Starfield zooms in and frames the NPC you’re talking to in a very rigid, tired sort of way? You can shut that off, and honestly, it’s kinda wild to me what a difference this makes. You’ll find this option in Settings > Accessibility > Dialogue Camera (on/off).

Gif: Bethesda / Claire Jackson / Kotaku
Gif: Bethesda / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

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When you shut the Dialogue Camera off, the result is a more seamless transition from gameplay/exploration to NPC chats. It also keeps your character visible in third-person mode during dialogue as well.

Environmental damage and survival mechanics

These options are likely to be a little divisive as survival mechanics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But hey, when nearly all of these darn planets are virtually empty, adding survival mechanics like hunger, thirst, and the effects of environmental hazards to basic traversal can be a fun way to challenge yourself as you chart out across the stars.

Screenshot: Bethesda / Claire Jackson / Kotaku
Screenshot: Bethesda / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

You’ll also earn more XP for the more challenging settings. And if you really don’t want any of these mechanics, even the ones that appeared in vanilla Starfield, you can also turn off environmental damage and afflictions entirely.


“Sustenance” is one of the new options and, as you might’ve guessed, it challenges you to maintain hunger and thirst levels in two different ways. In “Positive Only,” you won’t suffer for not eating or drinking, but doing so will still give you two new statuses, Fed and Hydrated. They work as follows:

  • Fed: Gained from eating food. Increases health by 30%, melee damage by 15%, and adds 25% additional carrying capacity.

  • Hydrated: Gained from drinking. Increases O2 recovery by 30%, sneak attack damage by 15%, and lets you reload guns 25% faster.

That’s not all Sustenance has to offer. If you want a greater challenge, you can also select “Positive & Negative” which will punish you for not consuming food and water. With this setting on, you’re at risk of the following:

  • Malnourished: Gained from not eating food. Decreases health by 30%, reduces melee damage by 15%, and docks your carrying capacity by 25%.

  • Dehydrated: Gained from not drinking. Decreases O2 recovery by 30%, lowers sneak attack damage by 15%, and reduces reload speed of guns by 25%.

Bethesda’s vanilla survival options via Sustenance are very simple. You can be in Fed and Hydrated status for just 30 minutes at a time. This means you’re likely to hit Malnourished and Dehydrated fairly often. I like mapping food and water to the left side of the Favorites quick menu to easily snack on something or grab a drink when needed, bypassing the need to dive into Starfield’s clunky menus.

Environmental damage and afflictions

Not only can you entirely shut off environmental damage in these settings, you can also make things a little harder for yourself. If you change Environmental Damage & Afflictions to Advanced, you’ll have to manage impacts to your health in addition to status afflictions. When you take on an affliction from the environment, you’ll also start losing health. A portion of your health meter will turn orange, blocking the amount of health you can heal up until your affliction is removed.

If you’re at all familiar with how radiation works in Fallout, this will sound very familiar.

There are also a collection of other affliction options that affect how treatment and prognosis works. You can disable whether or not you gain afflictions from combat and can adjust how easily they heal over time.

Other cool difficulty tweaks

Starfield now has four difficulty options, spread out across how much damage Enemies output on foot and on ship, and how much damage you output on foot and on ship. These options list how they modify the game in the Gameplay Options menu.

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But that’s not all. You can also tweak settings that influence your overall carry capacity, how you heal, and alterations to the in-game economy.

Carry capacity, vendor credits, healing, and more

While these settings can enhance a survival experience, they can also just amplify Starfield’s original gameplay loop (or, if you prefer, attenuate certain aspects of it).

Changes to item management, carrying capacity, and vendor credits.

There are two handy settings to change up how much you can carry and how best you can manage it. Carry Capacity (found under Gameplay Options) lets you either reduce how much you can carry or allow you far more room to spare (sadly, you cannot turn off limitations on carry capacity entirely from this setting, but there might be some mods to help you out with that).

Screenshot: Bethesda / Claire Jackson / Kotaku
Screenshot: Bethesda / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

You may also choose to switch on ammo weight. While this might seem like an unnecessary way to make the game harder, I have found it encourages me to pay more attention to the kinds of ammo my current guns take.

Read More: How To Install And Use Starfield’s Official And Fan-Made Mods

Cargo Access Distance (also under Gameplay Options) affords you more flexibility with your ship’s cargo, too. While your cargo capacity will still be limited by the size of your ship’s cargo hold, you can choose to restrict cargo access to only when you’re actively inside your ship, or allow unlimited access to your ship’s cargo no matter where you are. Another setting allows you cargo access only while in outposts in settlements.

In Gameplay Options, you’ll also find a setting to either increase or reduce the amount of credits that vendors have on hand.

Healing settings

Starfield now offers you influence over three sources of healing: Medical Items, Food, and Sleep. For the first two options, you can influence how much or how little Med Packs, other healing-specific items, and food heals you.

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You can also adjust how much sleeping restores your health, and base it on where you sleep. With Full Restore, you’ll get all your health back and all afflictions cured just by going for a snooze. Location Limited restricts healing by sleep to ships, outposts, and settlements. Finally, you can shut off sleep-healing entirely.

Whether or not Starfield will ever live up to the gargantuan hype that preceded its launch in 2023 remains to be seen. But, these new options are a great way to start tinkering with that massive galaxy. And maybe there’s a nice combination of settings and mods that’ll finally give you that game you were hoping Starfield would be.


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