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Starfield’s biggest update yet fixes its rubbish maps, adds custom difficulty and expands ship decoration

In beta now ahead of a May 15th release

The player character in Starfield looks around after the game's May 2024 update, showing points of interest markers on the updated HUD
Image credit: Bethesda

Starfield’s biggest update since the Bethesda space game came out last year (remember that?) is arriving in a couple of weeks - with its Steam beta already live now, if you’re interested in poking around. The chunky patch finally tidies up the game’s oft-complained about surface maps to make them easier to navigate, as well as introducing new difficulty options, a decoration mode for the inside of ships and a bunch of other tweaks and fixes.

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Todd Howard very recently teased the incoming mega-update, which has now been given a proper overview video and rundown over on Bethesda’s blog. The headline change is updated surface maps - for which Bethesda euphemistically said community feedback had been a “huge source of inspiration” (in other words, lots of people whinged about the quite rubbish city maps included at launch). The new maps swap out the original surface dots for clearer terrain markings and make it easier to see points of interest while on foot, with new markers to flag vendors - which also double as handy fast-travel points.

Elsewhere, the game will let you play around with a bunch of difficulty sliders to set the level of challenge you’d like, getting as granular as allowing you to access your ship cargo through your normal inventory, bump up your carry capacity, restock the credits that vendors carry and change how much you have to depend on food to survive during your space adventures. The wider survival and convenience options combine with the ability to tweak combat settings, letting you adjust the challenge of space and planetary encounter separately.

If you’d rather not fuss around with the details, there’ll simply be a new Extreme difficulty as a step up from previous top level Very Hard, and upping the challenge - either by tweaking around or jumping up a level - with award bonus experience accordingly. If you’re starting a New Game Plus run, you’ll now be able to change your appearance and respec traits when you enter the Unity, too.

The improved surface map in Starfield introduced with its May 2024 update, showing points of interest and terrain markers
Image credit: Bethesda

On the cozier end of things, ship customisation is being expanded to let you decorate the inside of your ship with a wider level of options, closer to the current outpost customisation. That includes being able to mess around with the layout of your ship with more doorways and the chance to add empty hab modules to make your own.

Along with the big additions, there’ll be some smaller quality-of-life polishing, including the option to switch off the dialogue camera for a custom viewpoint and extra tabs in the Container and Barter menus to make it easier to navigate through the menus.

The latest update is already live via Starfield’s Steam beta, ahead of a full release on May 15th. Bethesda have continued to tease more for the future after this big update drops, too, with a land vehicle and mod support still on the cards, alongside full expansion Shattered Space later in the year.

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