Starfield's exploration would be so much better if I could hop on a Star Wars-style speeder

(Image credit: Bethesda)

If you'd have told me a month ago that stepping into Starfield would actually make me pine for the Mako in Mass Effect, I wouldn't have believed you. In fact, I'd have said you needed to make like Garrus and do some more calibrations. And yet, this has become my new reality. The planets in Starfield are home to a number of random locations, and since a lot of exploration hinges on having your scanner open, the only means of reaching them is on foot. As a result, there have been several occasions where I've been entirely put off by the idea of reaching a point of interest because of how far away it is from my landing spot. 

It was during one particularly long excursion to reach an outpost that I unexpectedly caught myself wistfully thinking about the Mako. BioWare's notorious six-wheeler may have had its flaws when it came to handling in the original release, but holy Shepard did it get you from point A to B on planets in a relatively quick fashion in Mass Effect Legendary Edition. In the absence of any sort of on-ground vehicles in Bethesda's space-faring RPG, I have to rely on my jetpack and my own two legs, and the thought of jogging all the way over to a cave that's miles away can often feel too laborious. If Starfield were to give me some kind of improved Mako-equivalent, a Star Wars-like speeder, or its own take on the Lunar Rover to zip around the surface, you can bet I'd spend a lot more time making the effort to explore every inch of a planet.

Mako-it better

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

(Image credit: EA)

It's only been a little over a month since Starfield launched, but planetary vehicles are easily one of the most requested features I've seen the Starfield community call for. And from my own experience, it's easy to understand why. While I quite like the laid-back feel of surveying work, it can feel like more of an ordeal when you're having to run across vast distances to reach more points of interest, or resources to scan. Whenever I get stuck into some exploration, I wish that vehicles were a part of the adventure from the get go, just as horses are available early on in Skyrim. 

As Todd Howard explained in an interview with Bloomberg, though, the decision to omit vehicles was a deliberate design choice: 

"It's something that we consider, we're going to do outer space, we're going to do planets," Howard begins when asked about land vehicles. "Once you do vehicles, it does change the gameplay. So by focusing, once you land in your ship, that you're on foot, it lets us for the players make it an experience where we know how fast they're seeing things. In one sense you do have a vehicle which is obviously your spaceship, you can go around in space. But on the surface you do have a jetpack which you can upgrade, which is super fun, a new experience for us. And obviously, planets have different levels of gravity which make that unique for many planets." 

Still, I hope vehicles are introduced at some point down the line, especially with DLC in the pipeline. After all, your Starfield boostpack requires some time to rank up and feels most useful when you're trying to reach areas that are high up as opposed to crossing vast distances. Try as I might, it doesn't quite fuel my desire to reach a faraway point of interest. 

Star Wars Outlaws trailer shots

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Lately, my desire to have something to zoom around on has only intensified after re-watching trailers for Star Wars: Outlaws. The most recent gameplay footage that released this summer shows protagonist Kay Vess exploring on a speeder – just imagine having something like that to jettison yourself across the vast landscapes of Starfield's planets to reach a distant outpost, or some abandoned location. With Bethesda's RPG adopting a "NASA-punk" aesthetic, I've even started daydreaming about what land vehicles might look like. It might be too much to expect full customization, but I could see vehicles looking quite similar in style to the parts of a spacecraft. 

Starfield has been getting some early updates to iron out aspects of the experience, with the most recent 1.7.36 patch also bringing in requested options such as a FOV slider. Given that it's by design, it's difficult to speculate on the likelihood that land vehicles will be added in an official capacity, be it in a DLC or an expansive update – although I'd bank on the former. Of course, modders have also been quick on the scene to play around with this idea, and with official modding support said to be coming next year, it'll be interesting to see what else pops up in the future.

For now, though, I'll just have to see how far my captain's legs can carry me as I explore the cosmos. And if Starfield has left me with anything, it's a renewed appreciation for Mass Effect's clunky, tanky vehicle. Here's to you, Mako M35. 

Starfield is bigger and more ambitious than Skyrim, but will it stand the test of time in the same way? 

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.