Todd Howard Says Starfield’s “Really Stupid” Ship Combat AI Was Intentional: “They Did an Incredible Job”

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Image: Bethesda Game Studios

Why does the Crimson Fleet and other enemy vessels in Starfield tend to fly mindlessly as players melt their armor away with particle weapons? Probably because the game was intentionally designed that way, according to director Todd Howard, who told Insomniac Games’ Ted Price during a new Game Maker’s Notebook podcast this week that the team had wrestled with the game’s difficulty and ultimately decided to make the AI “really stupid” on purpose for a more enjoyable experience. Howard’s speech seems to regard space battles, mainly, but the rest of Starfield can also be very easy, with weapons like the explosive Laredo shotgun allowing players to blow up level-75 enemies with one or two hits even at lower levels.

…I played a lot where the pace of combat is a little bit more, is a little slower, and you’re looking at systems and power allocations, but in a way that people could understand where we’re not having to pause the game in space, so that part worked out pretty well.

But you mix all that, then, the AI became a thing…it’s very easy when you get into outer space, particularly with certain types of physics, to make the enemies really, really smart, or, end up in the situation where you’re…forever, we were just jousting. And it turns out, you have to make the AI really stupid. …basically, like, hey player, why don’t you just shoot me for a while.

…I could grab the folks who worked on it; they did, I think, they did an incredible job, and that’s an area I will say this, where the people who worked on that, I can’t say enough about them in terms of getting feedback and being willing to completely change it and that kept it moving forward.

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Tsing Mui
Tsing has been writing the news for over 5 years, first at [H]ard|OCP and now at The FPS Review. He has a background in journalism and makes sure to give his readers the relevant context to why each news post matters.

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