Starfield's planets were initially much harsher, until Bethesda "nerfed the hell" out of status effects

Starfield’s Planets Were Initially More Challenging, Until Bethesda Significantly Reduced the Impact of Status Effects

1 min

If you decide to land on one of the many planets in Starfield and start exploring, there is a chance that you may encounter a status effect. However, you don’t need to worry too much as these effects can easily be cured with the help of an item or a visit to a doctor.

But it wasn’t always this simple. In an interview with Game Maker’s Notebook, Todd Howard revealed that the environmental damage caused by status effects used to be much more severe until they made significant changes to mitigate its impact.

During the interview, when asked about prioritization in game development, Howard explained that sometimes the solution is not necessarily removing or cutting something entirely. Instead, they follow a concept of “taking it out of the spotlight.” To illustrate this, he provided an example related to Starfield’s environmental damage system.

Howard described the complexities of the system, where players had resistances and were affected by various atmospheric conditions such as radiation or extreme temperatures. Initially, these effects were harsh and punishing. However, the team continuously tuned the system to make it more manageable. Eventually, they decided to significantly reduce the impact of the status effects while still maintaining their presence in the game.

Howard stated, “What we did at the end of the day – and it was a complicated system for players to understand – is, we just nerfed the hell out of it. Where it ends up being, it matters, but only a little bit. It matters more in flavor. The affliction you get is more annoying knowing you have it, than the game result.”

He also mentioned that originally, the team had envisioned a system where players would have different space suits for different environments, such as high radiation or extremely cold planets. However, they realized that players didn’t pay much attention to these details while playing the game. This might be something they address in future updates.

On the other hand, Howard emphasized the importance of gunplay and how they focused on responding to player feedback to improve it. They considered it a crucial aspect of the game and made sure that every frame counts to enhance the overall gameplay experience.

The Game Maker’s Notebook is a podcast and video series hosted by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, where game developers interview each other about their work. If you’re interested, you can check out their full episode archive here.

If you still find it challenging to deal with status effects even after they have been toned down, we have a guide available that provides information on all of Starfield’s status effects and how to cure them.