Starfield Trailer Reveals Fascinating New Tech

A step towards the next generation thanks to Starfield, but what about performance?

Arguably, Starfield is one of the most anticipated games and it’s not hard to see why. Bethesda, for all its flaws, has built an empire with large-scale open-world RPGs. There’s a reason games like Skyrim remain popular even today – the meticulously crafted world and sense of freedom that captures the imagination. On paper, Starfield feels like the logical conclusion. A game that extends beyond a single planet through space. I thought it would be fun to dive into Bethesda’s presentation and see what we could glean about the game – basics like image quality, but also, the overall approach to technology and design.

Let’s start with resolution rendering. The trailer is presented in 4K, but the shots vary in clarity. Curiously, gameplay footage appears to be devoid of any form of anti-aliasing, so there are very sharp edges with visible aliasing throughout. Conversely, cutscene blueprints use TAA in a manner similar to Fallout 4, which should be more in line with what we’ll see in the final product.

Beyond a simple resolution, we can get an idea of ​​the development team’s design goals by observing how Starfield handles the wide open spaces on the planet, interior spaces, character rendering, and ultimately the space. For example, in an outdoor scene, we can see that the game has shadows at long distances, which is crucial for having distance details. This is one of the key issues that was identified in Halo Infinite and it’s good to see that Starfield has addressed it.

Starfield also appears to have a system that displays localized fog volume in valley crevices, which is great. In general, the atmospheric render looks reasonably robust from what we can see in the video. Where we are still unclear is the sky system. It looks really promising, but due to the low bitrate of the trailer footage, it’s hard to tell if we’re dealing with a true volumetric sky system or just a simple sky dome. Anyway, this system gives attractive results. We’ll just need to see his dynamics in the final game.

Everything is tied together by the terrain system. It’s likely that planet surfaces and structures are built using a combination of procedural generation and hand-placed assets, which is a common approach these days. Terrain rendering resembles previous Bethesda games, but pop-in is kept to a minimum and details are clear in the distance. While attractive, the rendering features don’t really push the envelope – which is understandable given the game’s large scale and long development time.

Indoors, things are different: large-scale shadows, which were low resolutions and grainy outdoors are sharply defined indoors. This section conjures up a vibe that’s not like Doom 3, with direct lights piercing the darkness and specular highlights playing across surfaces. Compared to Fallout 4, the jump in fidelity is significant, as this game features rudimentary interior lighting and a noticeable lack of detail on textures and objects.

This brings up an interesting omission: the lack of reflections. In the original trailer, we noted almost RT-like reflections – like reflections, but in all gameplay footage there’s no evidence of reflections in screen space, and again less RT reflections. At best, we’ve seen basic cube maps. For a decor filled with metal surfaces, this seemed a little strange to us. Reflections in screen space would go a long way to improving the overall cohesion of the image.

There are a lot of positives here too. The weapons, for example, look fantastic. Starfield features weapons that look sleek and powerful. Enemy animation is also generally much better. As an RPG, it still feels like draining a life bar more than directly inflicting damage, but the reactions are greatly improved. The only thing missing is movement by object on weapons and enemies.

Fallout_4_Starfield

The characters in Fallout 4 are surprisingly similar to those in Starfield.

Character rendering has also improved significantly since Fallout 4, especially looking beyond the character creation screens to focus on how they actually look in-game. absent from all scenes, could make things even better, accurately rendering how light interacts with the surface of the skin. It is present on the ears in the images we have seen, but it is not applicable on the rest of the skin, which accentuates the normal shots too much. Likewise, the geometry is a little too shiny to a point where it seems to shine. Beyond those minor points, there’s a big improvement in animation quality. Conversations in Fallout 4 feature stiff and naughty animations while Starfield looks much sleeker in comparison.

Starfield’s final major setting is outer space, and while we only got a brief glimpse of it, the effects, such as laser blasts and explosions, are promising. There is definitely an improvement over low resolution smoke when landing on a planet. The big question about space travel is less about visual effects and more about possibilities. Ship management should be integrated into travel. Imagine rising from the captain’s chair to explore the ship, while managing resources and systems. This could make traveling between planets more engaging and challenging. We do not know if this is an option or if the player is only a spectator of the ship during the trip.

There are many other technical criticisms worth mentioning, including the game’s indirect lighting. This has become a major focus in recent years, it’s key to realistic rendering. This involves simulating the phenomenon of photons bouncing off a surface and indirectly illuminating another area. The problem now is that those areas that aren’t directly lit in Starfield show a greyish color that doesn’t match the light results we were expecting. Ray-tracing global illumination would work here, but comes at a high performance cost. A ready-made offline solution using probes could also work, but with so many planets, the IG data would probably be too large. This is a difficult problem to solve when building a game on this scale.

Starfield

The game’s interiors offer a marked improvement over Bethesda’s previous games, but could still benefit from an improvement in GI and reflections.

Then there is performance. The trailer footage we have has been encoded in a 30fps container, which limits the amount of analysis we can undertake. However, there are still some issues worth noting. All footage in the game has performance hitches and regularly drops below 30fps. That’s not unusual in a game like this at this stage of development, but Bethesda’s track record of wildly variable launch performance on consoles is sobering. It’s the presentation’s most visible flaw and we’re hoping for a performance boost at launch, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The other aspect where we are curious concerns the cities. In previous Bethesda releases, large cities were usually divided by loading screens while smaller cities were seamless. So can you land on a planet and get us to a big city without a loading screen? We hope to find out soon.

Starfield is shaping up to be Bethesda’s most engaging game yet, despite the flaws. Many of the ugliest elements of Fallout 4 and 76 are stripped away here and we’re left with some gorgeous environments to explore. Starfield also features different structures and scales than we’ve seen in the past. The idea of ​​”1000 planets” seemed ridiculous at first, but you can imagine that the key planets were carefully constructed and designed while they can rely more on procedural generation to handle the rest. If the gameplay structure supports this properly, it could be fascinating.

All this to say that Starfield will be a strong game to analyze when it comes out next year.

Translation – EuroGamer

Win your games for free

by taking advantage of the contest organized by our partner Instant-Gaming. Choose from the video games of your choice, prepaid cards (PS+; PSN; Xbox Live; Switch; FIFA Credits, etc.), DLCs and even V-Bucks.
The contest is free!

Leave a Comment