Starfield has FTL and MechWarrior-inspired combat, but planet life will be separate

Starfield screenshot
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield takes its space combat inspirations from games like FTL and MechWarrior, though you won't have to worry about landing your ship on a nearby planet once the fighting is done. 

Speaking to IGN, Starfield director Todd Howard explains that the team wanted to put its own spin on all the space sims and galactic shooters they were inspired by. For example, choosing where to reroute your ship's power is inspired by moments spent in FTL deciding whether to power your engines to flee or your weapons to fight.

"Your ship has various power systems," Howard says. "[There's a] little bit of FTL there in terms of putting how much power into three different weapon systems, then your engines, and shields, and the grav drive is what lets you jump, and sort of get out of some situations that you have to put power to." It'll be interesting to see how Starfield crafting and research will affect your capabilities, not to how you customise Starfield ships while you play.

Howard also says that MechWarrior is an unlikely inspiration for the pace of dogfighting. While he recognizes the game feels a "little bit slower" when it comes to systems, powers, and being able to line things up, it's still swifter than a "twitchy dogfighter". 

Howard shares that you'll be able to board enemy ships and steal them, visit stations, and live the life of a humble smuggler, offering variation to your space-faring routines. 

While it looks like there are heaps to do among the stars, Bethesda is looking to keep space and planet life separate. As such, you won't have to worry about landing your battered ship on a nearby planet once a fight ends. 

"People have asked, 'Can you fly the ship straight down to the planet?' No," he tells IGN. "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 explains that spending time engineering the in-between of planet and space would mean losing time on something that's "really just not that important to the player". 

Following Starfield's reveal at the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase 2022, Howard has also clarified that Starfield has more handcrafted content than any previous Bethesda game, despite "a lot of procedural generation" that helps it have over 1,000 worlds to explore. 

Just because Starfield has 1,000 planets doesn't mean it'll have 1,000 planets worth of content.

Deputy News Editor

Iain joins the GamesRadar team as Deputy News Editor following stints at PCGamesN and PocketGamer.Biz, with some freelance for Kotaku UK, RockPaperShotgun, and VG24/7 thrown in for good measure. When not helping Ali run the news team, he can be found digging into communities for stories – the sillier the better. When he isn’t pillaging the depths of Final Fantasy 14 for a swanky new hat, you’ll find him amassing an army of Pokemon plushies.