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One of Starfield’s biggest development problems was natural selection

Finding alien life in Starfield isn't going to be easy, and Bethesda head Todd Howard has shared that natural selection was actually an issue for this Xbox RPG.

Starfield Alien creatures natural selection: an image of a woman mid-speech from the Xbox RPG

One thing we really can’t wait to start doing in Bethesda’s Starfield – when the release date rolls around, of course – is exploring all the strange and wonderful flora and fauna this galaxy of over 1,000 planets has to offer. With it looking like some of these alien lifeforms might actually play a key part in customizing your spacesuit in-game, seeking them out is going to be well-worth your time. However, actually finding these alien creatures might not be as easy as you might think in Starfield – and here’s why.

Answering an onslaught of questions from Mike Howard, Garry Whitta, and Parris Lilly during episode 143 of Kinda Funny Games’ Xcast podcast, Bethesda head Todd Howard has revealed that only 10% of Starfield’s planets will support life and, on those planets, the studio actually had a bit of a problem when it came to establishing the food chain. The circle of life can be a ruthless one, after all.

At around the 17:40 mark in the video below, Howard explains that “about 10% of those planets have life on them… We’re pushing it to the edge… What planets are in that Goldilocks zone”. If you’re wondering what that means, the “Goldilocks zone” is something of a colloquial term for the circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ) – which is the range at which a planet orbits around a star to support both liquid water and enough atmospheric pressure to support life. Earth, of course, is a fantastic example of a planet in the Goldilocks zone. However, using the Keplar Space Telescope, NASA has estimated that around 22% of solar-type stars in the Milky Way have Earth-sized planets in their CHZ.

So, while this isn’t exactly the same as what Starfield is planning to offer players, you have to remember that there are estimated to be at least 100 billion planets in the Milky Way. So, when you compare that to the claim that only 0.0003% of those actually have the right conditions for life – whether they’re in the CHZ or not – the 10% Starfield is offering is actually quite a high number.

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So, it sounds like roughly 100 planets will have alien life in Starfield. When you think about the fact that players are probably going to be taken to quite a few of these through quests and missions, it sounds like you’ll have quite a good shot at finding alien life. Right?

Well, maybe not. All of these complex systems, alien creatures included, didn’t necessarily fit seamlessly together in Starfield. Or, perhaps, they fit a little too seamlessly. It looks like Bethesda had some issues with natural selection and balancing the circle of life itself.

A little later in the Xcast podcast, at around the 22:30 mark in the video above, Howard also revealed that Bethesda had an issue with “the predator creatures going and killing all of the more peaceful creatures” on these planets with alien life.

He didn’t go into too much detail about the issue, but he did highlight that players will be able to make quite a few credits if they sell-off their scanned data. Exploring planets and taking note of everything on them is an important part of the game. So, it’s certainly not good news if some of those aliens are being eradicated before you’ve even acclimatized yourself.

Surveying a planet and documenting it’s life does sound like a nice way to spend your time, though. You might just need to make sure you’re hunting all the herbivores out first, as they might not last too long once you arrive. That being said, these non-aggressive alien creatures are probably just as useful as the aggressive ones when it comes to harvesting resources. So, hunting one with one of Starfield’s weapons might not be a bad idea in any case.

Starfield alien creatures natural selection shooting: an image of an alien chasing a player in the Xbox RPG

Of course, though, we would like to think Bethesda has fixed this problem – and Howard does say that the studio has spent “a lot of time balancing that”. So, we don’t think this will be a widespread issue come launch – even though, we do still think going after the ‘prey’ first will be better than hunting the ‘predator’. Either way, this is shaping up to be one of the best RPG games of all time and the fact something like a food chain and the circle of life can even become a problem in the first place is impressive when you think about the scope of Starfield.

From it’s incredible array of ship customization options to it’s already-wonderful characters, there’s going to be a lot to enjoy when it launches. So, checking out the Starfield pre-orders might not be such a bad idea. However, Howard did also confirm what we all feared about Starfield exploration. So, don’t expect this game to be perfect.

Still looking for more? While a good Starfield wiki can be a handy source of information, our new Starfield Database goes further, offering you daily news, searchable databanks, and even interactive tools.