Starfield NPCs have "fake smiles" and it's actually really creepy

(Image credit: Bethesda)

A Starfield fan has figured out what's off about the game's NPCs, and it comes down to their "fake smiles."

Twitter user Delaney King, who also happens to be a character artist on Dragon Age, has pointed out what it is that makes Starfield's NPCs seem a little… off. In a thread, King explains that the Bethesda characters have an issue with their smile, more specifically, with "the orbicularis oculi muscle not contracting," which gives humans (and characters) a 'Duchenne smile.' 

As King explains, characters such as Sarah Morgan and The Adoring Fan only use the bottom half of their face to smile, meaning their eyes don't really change when their mouths do. "When you smile and this muscle doesn't contract," King adds, "you get a 'fake smile' or a 'liar's smile'." In the thread, the developer shares several examples, including a photo of András Arató, aka the Hide the Pain Harold meme, and The Boys actor Antony Starr. 

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"This muscle here has to contract for a smile to read as a genuine smile. The cheek apples should also rise, otherwise, you look like you are actively resisting the smile, giving a constipated look," King says, using a photo of Sarah Morgan. The Twitter user then moves on to Adoring Fan adding: "This smile probably bugs you for some reason you can't put your finger on as well [...] This is the zygomaticus major muscle. It contracts when you smile, pulling the corners of the mouth up towards the Zygomatic process. But here it isn't."

Although incredibly insightful, this Twitter thread has now made me incredibly suspicious of Starfield's NPCs. What are they hiding? Why can't they fully commit to smiling? Are they okay? 

It's not just the smiles either, King has also pointed out various issues with Starfield NPCs' eyes, which could also give you an unsettling feeling. Since it's still early days, there's always a chance Bethesda could fix these kinds of details on its characters. Until then, I'm keeping my wits about me around Adoring Fan…

Find out everything you need to know about your crewmates with our Starfield companions guide. 

Hope Bellingham
News Writer

After studying Film Studies and Creative Writing at university, I was lucky enough to land a job as an intern at Player Two PR where I helped to release a number of indie titles. I then got even luckier when I became a Trainee News Writer at GamesRadar+ before being promoted to a fully-fledged News Writer after a year and a half of training.  My expertise lies in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, cozy indies, and The Last of Us, but especially in the Kingdom Hearts series. I'm also known to write about the odd Korean drama for the Entertainment team every now and then.