It’s no secret that modern games are intensive with resources due to the growing number of special effects and demands on things such as shadows, reflection quality, grass quality, etc. Most developers combat this by rendering certain objects and/or people at closer distances rather than making the system render everything at once. MMOs, for instance, tend to be more CPU-intensive than GPU-intensive for this reason. It’s an eternal struggle to balance graphics with smooth gameplay, especially with newer tech being released every year.
This is definitely a problem that Bethesda is facing with its enormous open worlds and hundreds, if not thousands, of characters. With the release of Starfield, they’ve finally found a setting that gives them the canvas to populate the world with a never-ending stream of NPCs, objects, and glitches. With that, they seem to have found an answer to the increasing load of baggage that plagues the newer game’s performances. We did some investigating, and that question seems to have different answers for different locations.
Related: Starfield: How to Complete Sabotage
It’s What’s Inside That Counts
According to a Reddit user who goes by the name of Pigeondarkness, it seems like Bethesda is using a lower-quality model for NPCs that populate the larger cities. Meanwhile, the people we encounter indoors are more detailed, most likely due to players having more options to interact with them via dialogue trees and missions.
This makes sense since the majority of NPCs in the outside hub are not really interactable outside of a few throwaway lines and eavesdropping opportunities. It definitely seems like some citizens are there for decoration; therefore, the scripts running them are probably different from the average person you’ll run across in a scripted event. While this may be a bit controversial for some, it’s most likely not something we’d consider lazy programming from the dev team. They were most likely aiming to have a smooth experience for players when traversing the open world.
There’s a lot working under the hood in open-world games, especially the worlds that Bethesda created in their many years of AAA game development. It can’t be easy trying to store hundreds of sandwiches or spoons in one room. Hopefully, the world will continue to be built upon in upcoming expansions and smaller DLCs. In the meantime, we’ll be busy trying to get Andreja and Barrett to settle down with us at our outpost in Zamka.