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

A spacesuit for every occasion

Supervisor Lin welcomes the player back to Vectera in Starfield.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

If you land and go exploring on one of Starfield's many planets, you might become afflicted with a status effect. It won't bother you too much, though, and you can cure the effect with an item or a quick trip to a doctor.

It wasn't always so easy. In an interview with Game Maker's Notebook, Todd Howard says that environmental damage was initially "punitive", until they "nerfed the hell out of it."

In answering a question about prioritisation in game development at the 46m 24s mark in the full interview, Howard says it's about the "straightest line fix: it's not always cut something. We have this phrase, 'Take it out of the spotlight.'" He goes on to give an example.

"The way the environmental damage works in the game on planets and on your suit, you have resistances and certain kinds atmosphere effects, whether that's radiation or thermal, etc. That's pretty complex system and it was very punitive. So we kept trying where you get these afflictions, we kept trying to tune it. We get to a point where we're tuning it, and you're having to heal those things," says Howard.

"And 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 flavour. The affliction you get is more annoying knowing you have it, than the game result.

"We had originally wanted where, OK, I have multiple space suits, I have one for high radiation planets, one for really cold planets, one for these environments, and I'm saying it now that people are playing the game, you don't think about it that much. [That] might be something we address going forward," added Howard.

Conversely, Howard goes on to explain that gunplay was a system which they deemed important enough where, anytime there was feedback, it caused them to put it more in the spotlight. "We're really happy where that ended up, the game in your hand. What's the response time when I pull the trigger to the screen reacting? Every frame matters for how the game feels in something you're going to be doing all the time," says Howard.

Game Maker's Notebook is a podcast and video series run by the Academy Of Interactive Arts & Sciences, in which one game developer interviews another about their work. Their full episode archive is worth exploring.

If you're still having trouble even after the system has been turned into flavour, we've got a guide for all Starfield's status effects and how to cure them.

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Graham Smith

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Rock Paper Shotgun's former editor-in-chief and current corporate dad. Also, he continues to write evening news posts for some reason.