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The Big Difference Between Starfield And No Man's Sky

Every year, a new batch of open-universe exploration games is released, with "The Outer Worlds," "Everspace," and "Astroneer" being just a few notable examples. But of course, nobody can forget the game that really launched this space exploration trend off the ground, 2016's "No Man's Sky." The concept of "No Man's Sky" was a breath of fresh air for many players at the time, with players able to explore a massive universe with few restrictions. But, as many remember, the game didn't deliver everything fans hoped for (per The Guardian). It took a few years — and lots of expansions — before players and critics were ready to give positive reviews to "No Man's Sky." Now that Bethesda is developing a similarly ambitious title, many are worried it will share the same fate.

Bethesda's "Starfield" has been in development alongside the highly anticipated "Elder Scrolls 6" for some time now. "Starfield" promises to let players travel across a massive universe and explore planets of their own free will, similar to "No Man's Sky." However, at the Xbox and Bethesda 2022 showcase, a big difference between "No Man's Sky" and "Starfield" was revealed.

No seamless transition between space and planets

During a discussion with IGN following the "Starfield" gameplay reveal, Bethesda director Todd Howard detailed a major difference between "No Man's Sky" and "Starfield." When asked if players could fly their ship straight into a planet and manually perform a landing, Howard simply replied, "No." 

Howard elaborated, "We decided early in the project that the on-surface is one reality, and then when you're in space it's another reality," Howard explained. Many remember that "No Man's Sky" allows players to ability to seamlessly transition from flying a spaceship in the void of space to entering a planet's atmosphere and touching down as a big selling point for the game. Hence, it comes as a surprise to many that "Starfield" isn't attempting something similar.

Instead, in Starfield, it seems players will see a loading screen or cutscene before planting their boots on the ground. This might become frustrating for some, as the novelty of a landing cutscene can wear off fast in such a long game like "Starfield." In his explanation, Howard said that the team wanted to work separately on the ship gameplay and the surface gameplay to make them as good as possible. 

"If you try to really spend a lot of time engineering the in-between, like that segue, you're just spending a lot of time [on something] that's really just not that important to the player," Howard concluded. What this "segue" between ship and surface gameplay will be in "Starfield" hasn't been revealed yet. But, considering the impressive speeds of the Xbox Series X, if the segue is a loading screen, it shouldn't be a very long wait.