Over the weekend, I continued exploring the galaxy of Starfield, Bethesda’s recently released giant space RPG. I was looking for a new planet or moon to create an outpost on, but instead, I discovered that Starfield’s planets are often covered in dead aliens, their bodies usually gathered together near a big rock. This pattern repeated over and over, which was odd–and also an example of how Bethesda’s reliance on procedural-generated content has its limits.
Starfield, out now on Xbox Series X/S, PC, and Game Pass, is the Bethesda Games Studio’s latest open-world adventure, and it’s bigger than its past games (Fallout 4, Skyrim) in nearly every way, featuring hundreds of quests, spaceships, alien creatures, and planets to explore. But there is a catch, one which Bethesda admitted before the game’s launch: A lot of content in Starfield is procedurally generated and not crafted by hand.
Yet, I quickly started noticing piles of space giraffes and crabs. I wasn’t killing them—I mean, I was killing some of them, because I needed the XP—yet I continued to find piles of these alien creatures.
Weirdly, I would often find them near a large rock or formation of giant boulders. Soon my mission to find a suitable location for my next outpost drifted to the back of my mind. It was time to figure out why every planet I landed on (that had alien creatures) was covered in corpses. It didn’t take too long to discover what was happening.
Why planets in Starfield are covered with dead animals
In Starfield, many planets contain a few different alien creatures. These can vary a lot but often break down into five types: flying, swimming, herbivores, predators, and tiny ones (some of these aren’t scientific terms).
The problem is that herbivores in this game tend to be peaceful, letting you walk right next to them without attacking. And most of them aren’t very strong, making them easy to kill. However, most predators on these planets are hyper-aggressive, roam in packs, and can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. From what I can tell, this is the cause of all the piles of dead space aliens in Starfield.
I watched numerous times, across many different planets, as herds of weak herbivores were destroyed by one or two large space predators on a rampage. From a distance, I’d watch alien toad wolves and cosmic dinosaurs run around the surface of different planets endlessly killing everything. And because the peaceful herbivores don’t attack unless provoked, it often meant they’d get wiped out in seconds before any of them could fight back. Even when they did fight back, they couldn’t compete with the predators.
As I continued to document and investigate these attacks and the piles of dead space cows left behind, I also began to notice how often content in Starfield repeats.
Starfield’s galaxy is big, but filled with similar content
I saw the same space giraffe across three different planets. Yes, they had different markings and some were a bit bigger or smaller, but they were basically the same creature. The same was true of the murdering predator aliens.
As mentioned already, I would often find the bodies near large rocks. Turns out, this is because many herbivores across the dozen or more worlds I visited shared a similar behavioral pattern and would sleep or spawn next to these stones. And if they could barely put up a fight when they were walking around awake, you can imagine how quickly they died when the predator showed up and they were all asleep. (Spoilers: It didn’t go well.)
Ultimately, after this long detour, I found a nice planet with many resources and set up my outpost. But I also felt my desire to explore the worlds of Starfield evaporate a bit.
Hopping around a bunch of planets in a short amount of time to track down what was killing all these space cows quickly revealed Starfield has a lot of similar, repetitive content.
Not just a few plants or outposts, either. Creatures on planets are so similar in how they act that the same phenomenon can be found on dozens of worlds across the massive in-game galaxy. I’ll admit that after a few hours of this, I started to miss the smaller, but more unique open worlds of Fallout 3 and Skyrim. I even started missing Deathclaws.
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