This locked pile of poo is everything wrong with Starfield

Starfield's scale and scope requires random generation and while this should be its biggest strength, it's just its biggest disappointment.

Starfield procedural generation dung pile locked: an image of Andreja frowning and the scene from Jurassic Park where Ian Malcom finds a big pile of dung

Bethesda’s Starfield is a good game, that much is obvious, but it’s not a great game – and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s never going to be a great game. It’s simply a flawed experience from start to finish and a collection of cool mechanics, like the detailed character creator and simple-yet-satisfying ship combat, can’t change that. This game’s biggest strength is its scale, without a doubt, but that is also its biggest weakness; this locked pile of alien poo proves that.

While you might just find yourself getting into an argument or two if you claim that Starfield is one of the best RPG games of all time, we think it’s fair to say that it’s one of the best Xbox RPG games in recent years and easily one of the best Xbox Game Pass games available on the service right now. However, as enjoyable as this game might be moment to moment, it’s a fundamentally flawed one; Bethesda’s over-ambitious approach to Starfield’s scope and scale, presenting players with over 1,000 Starfield planets to explore, has ultimately left the game itself feeling as empty and lifeless as grey pockmarked surface of Earth’s Moon and the vastness of the space it lingers in.

What has this got to do with a Dung Pile, though? Well, it’s not about the Dung Pile itself, which is an amusing instance of an experience where we’re not quite sure whether it’s a feature or a bug, but why the Dung Pile might be locked in the first place and the fact that it’s a perfect example of everything wrong with Starfield in a wider sense.

As you can see for yourself below, while not the most common occurence, Starfield player ‘Barabbas‘ has stumbled across a Dung Pile container with an Advanced security level – meaning you need a Digipick (or two) and Rank 1 Security to even attempt to access it. This is one of the more useful basic Starfield skills you can unlock and something everyone should look to acquiring, whether you plan to rummage around in Dung Piles or not.

I had to open a Dung Pile with a Digi-Pick, earlier. That’s some high-tech poop!
byu/Barabbas- inStarfield

While there’s certainly a separate debate to be had around whether using piles of alien poo to hide loot is even a good idea in the first place (because it’s gross), the fact that this particular pile of alien poo is locked like a storage locker or a weapons case – which is even more illogical than sticking your hand in some poop for a handful of credits – is a clear example of Starfield’s procedural generation and RNG failing. This just isn’t something that would happen (without a lore reason behind it, anyway) if this was a hand-crafted location with a developer (or two) creating it.

The more time you spend with Starfield, the more painfully obvious it becomes that so much of your experience outside of the main storylines is ‘random’. The POIs that you stumble across on an ininhabited planet aren’t predetermined, the stats of the loot you find in those POIs can change – even, in some cases, if you re-load a previous save game – and you’re very unlikely to come across the same terrain twice. Offering everyone a unique experience using procedural generation and RNGs is far from a bad thing, but it doesn’t take too long to realize that Bethesda has simply bit off more than they can chew with Starfield – and there’s a distinct lack of character because of that.

When you’re taking a break from one of the main Starfield missions and you’re out exploring the impressive galaxy waiting for you beyond detailed, hand-crafted locations like New Atlantis and Neon, you’re not going to find any dramatic hand-crafted dungeons hidden away and easy to miss – and you’re certainly unlikely to find any unique loot locked away behind a secret encounter. What you’re going to find, even after just a couple of hours, is yourself exploring the same set of POIs (with the same layouts, the same enemy spawns, and the same types of rewards) with the hope that the stats of anything you find makes it worthwile.

This near-unrivalled freedom to explore hundreds of planets at your will, which should be Starfield’s biggest strength, is Starfield’s biggest disappointment and the fact that Bethesda’s RPG is so randomized that a literal pile of poo can be a locked container – one of the most illogical things we’ve ever seen in Starfield – is the perfect example of a system that, while good in practice, ultimately fails.

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Bethesda’s RPGs are always so full of intentional detail and life, and it’s clear the studio has spent a lot of time creating a lived-in universe with hundreds of years of history to lean on and a complex web of relationships between the Starfield characters you come across and the Starfield factions you can join. However, the world these stories take place in, the world it wants you to spend countless hours exploring outside the rather hit-and-miss main story, is painfully lifeless. It’s an Icarus story, really; Bethesda flew too close to the sun with it’s grand vision for Starfield, and it’s being burned.

Of course, one way to solve this would be to have Bethesda do a full sweep of Starfield and give all these planets and POIs a little more love – a personal touch to make them more unique from one another and, ultimately, make exploration more worthwhile. That, and to make sure that the systems being used have limitations in place to stop illogical instances like a Dung Pile being a locked container from appearing. But, the time and effort that would require would be truly staggering and it isn’t something we expect to see; at this point, we’re not even sure it would be worthwhile, anyway.

So, while we’re all out there hunting for the best Starfield weapons and the best Starfield outpost locations to set up a base, we’re just going to have to put up with the fact that quite a lot of the content we come across will be the same as stuff we’ve seen before. It’s not the end of the world by any stretch, but it’s so disappointing when you think about what Starfield has the potential to be. Bethesda’s lead Todd Howards says Starfield “sticks” to the studio’s decade-old pitch, which is impressive by any account. However, maybe the studio should have thought a little more about quality over quantity and walked a little more before it tried to run.

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 like a New Atlantis map for exploration.