Bethesda claps back at ‘empty’ Starfield planet complaints

Bethesda claps back at ‘empty’ Starfield planet complaints
Images via Bethesda

Written by 

Tom Chapman


4th Sep 2023 13:37

Space (the final frontier) has been conquered many times before in video games, but when it comes to genre-defining outings, Bethesda is setting out its stall with Starfield. As the developer of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls games, Bethesda already has some Goliaths under its Orion's Belt.

Despite it being early days, the first reviews of Starfield have praised it as more than just a sci-fi reskin of Skyrim. Then again, critics have claimed it's exactly that, as a formulaic overhaul of other Bethesda titles. One of Starfield's USPs is its 1,000 planets, but even they have come under fire.

Bethesda claps back at Starfield's 'empty' planets

Long before Starfield released, we were told that only around 10% of its 1,000 planets would have life on them. Still, populating 100 planets is no small feat, which might explain why Starfield has been in the works for years and delayed several times so Bethesda could ensure it was releasing a product as fleshed out as it could.

Even though one rocky moon can look a little similar to another rocky moon, Bethesda's procedural generation opting for a more difficult approach than No Man's Sky means supporters are telling naysayers to cut the devs a little slack. Complaints about Starfield's "empty" planets are still rife, and now, Bethesda is clapping back.

In an interview with The New York Times, Bethesda Managing Director Ashley Cheng reiterated, not every planet "is supposed to be Disney World." Cheng continued, "The point of the vastness of space is you should feel small. It should feel overwhelming.

"Everyone's concerned that empty planets are going to be boring. But when the astronauts went to the moon, there was nothing there. They certainly weren't bored." It's clear that the team isn't afraid to tackle these complaints head-on in an attempt to defend the title. 

Cheng was backed up by Bethesda boss Todd Howard, who added, "We could have made a game where there are four cities and four planets...But that would not have the same feeling of being this explorer." Howard concluded that devs actively made some planets more barren so you "get some periods of loneliness."

Starfield caught in review drama

Starfield planet concept art
Click to enlarge

As seems a little too common in modern gaming, outlets and players alike are caught in review score scandals. IGN has been called out for giving Starfield an above-average 7/10, with critics claiming the site has a bias against Microsoft and Xbox.

Elsewhere, Eurogamer had a public rant that it hadn't received a code early enough, implying that Bethesda has a problem with the outlet. This is before you get to the players themselves, with a growing trend of them (including Dr Disrespect) calling out the spacefaring adventure for using pronouns.

Starfield is yet to launch fully, but already, it looks like it'll be one of the year's biggest games. Then again, with the Sony-exclusive Marvel's Spider-Man 2 also just around the corner, the console wars of 2023 are only just getting started. Either way, expect Bethesda to defend Starfield to the death.

Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.

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