Starfield’s been out for a few days now in its early access launch period, with the wider release right around the corner, which means that we’re finally getting the answers to a lot of questions around how a heap of its systems work.
One of those lines of questioning has been around space travel, planets, and whether players will be able to fly direct from planet-to-planet in their starship rather than navigate mostly using menus to choose and arrive at key destinations.
Thankfully, a brave interstellar explorer has done the work for us, with content creator and Santa Monica Studio developer Alanah Pearce having made the journey from just outside of Earth, all the way to bloody Pluto as part of a Twitch stream. The good news is, after a ridiculous seven-hour journey, Pearce made it to Pluto and proved that you can fly from planet-to-planet, at least within the same solar system (if you have 100+ hours to spare you can try going system-to-system yourself).
The less-exciting news is the effort has proved that you can’t physically land on a planet in Starfield once you take the time to reach it, the planets’ explorable surfaces are still separated by loading screens and a canned landing animation. Instead, by flying right up to it you’re be greeted by some very up-close textures and then clip through the planet’s outer shell and into… empty space.
Fun fact about this whole thing that I’ll cover in depth in a YouTube video tomorrow: I had to set a timer to wake up every 30 minutes in order to re-adjust because planets are in some sort of actual ORBIT??? Also had a day/night cycle based on sun position (obviously).
So yeah, the lesson here is don’t spend hours of your life manually flying between planets in Starfield. The menus are there for a reason, and we already know from Bethesda boss Todd Howard’s comments before release that the studio had always intended for the on-planet and outer space experiences to be two separate realities.
“People have asked, ‘Can you fly the ship straight down to the planet?’ No. We decided early in the project that the on-surface is one reality, and then when you’re in space it’s another reality,” Howard told IGN last year.
“If you try to really spend a lot of time engineering the in-between, like that segue, you’re just spending a lot of time [on something] that’s really just not that important to the player,” Howard reasoned. “So let’s make sure it’s awesome when you’re on the surface and awesome when you’re in space, and those realities look and play as good as they can be.”
Starfield is out now in its early access launch for those with the Constellation Edition or Digital Premium Edition and officially releases tomorrow, September 6th for Xbox Series X|S and PC for standard edition purchases and Xbox Game Pass.