Starfield caught in 30 FPS drama

Starfield caught in 30 FPS drama
Images via Bethesda

Written by 

Tom Chapman


12th Jun 2023 12:00

We're blasting off to a galaxy far, far away with Starfield, but as with any AAA gaming release these days, you can bet there's discourse surrounding it. This time, Bethesda's sci-fi behemoth is caught in the same frame rate scandal that has dogged RedfallGotham Knights, and more.

Considering Starfield is from the developer that brought you The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, you can imagine there's a lot of pressure on Bethesda for it to work. There have been numerous delays, but hoping we're not in a Cyberpunk 2077 situation of rushing a release, the team is clearly taking its time. So, why the 30 FPS?

Starfield slammed for 30 FPS restrictions

Alongside a first look at the new Fable, Starfield was easily one of the biggest talking points of the June 2023 Xbox showcase. Bethesda boss Todd Howard was there to explain where things are up to, confirming the surprise reveal of a 30 FPS on Xbox restriction to IGN

"I think it'll come as no surprise, given our previous games, what we go for," said Howard. "Always these huge, open worlds, fully dynamic, hyper detail where anything can happen. And we do want to do that. It's 4K in the X. It's 1440 on the S. We do lock it at 30, because we want that fidelity, we want all that stuff."

Saying, "We don't want to sacrifice any of it," Howard added, "Fortunately in this one, we've got it running great. It's often running way above that. Sometimes it's 60. But on the consoles, we do lock it because we prefer the consistency, where you're not even thinking about it."

As you can imagine, the news hasn't gone down well online. One critic fumed, "As an Xbox series x owner who fell for the 4K 60fps marketing, I feel betrayed by Xbox. I'm never buying an Xbox console again," while another added, "It's staggering the people defending 30 fps for Starfield. No Mans Sky is 60 fps..."

A third Starfield sceptic mused, "I don't understand this logic that Starfield is 30 FPS only because of it's scope.... Cyberpunk is also huge in scope and has a lot more going on on the screen at all times yet it's 60 FPS on Series X.... Huge scope should take a toll on the game size, not FPS."

What about Zelda?

It's true that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was also locked to 30 FPS, but alongside the Nintendo Switch's limitations, its cartoony style also lends itself to a reduced frame rate. Given that Starfield has hyped itself as a truly new-gen release, it's an interesting decision. 

Added to this, Todd Howard has promised that Starfield will be the next Skyrim and will hopefully run for a decade. If the game is locked to 30 FPS now, it'll likely age pretty quickly as the industry evolves. For some, the whole situation screams of a potential upgrade further down the line. 

Although there were a lot of complaints that Starfield should at least offer performance mode on Xbox, Microsoft's mind is made up. Then again, as someone rightly put it, "Same people loving Zelda at 30 FPS now hate Starfield at 30 FPS. 🤭" People just love something to complain about. 

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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