Starfield, the highly anticipated sci-fi RPG from Bethesda, will be locked to 30 frames per second (FPS) on both Xbox Series X|S and PC, according to the game’s director Todd Howard. In a recent interview with IGN, Howard explained the reasons behind this decision and how it affects the game’s performance and visual quality.
A Creative Choice
Howard said that Bethesda chose to lock Starfield at 30 FPS on consoles because the studio wanted to preserve the game’s fidelity and detail, without having to sacrifice any part of its graphics. He also said that the game will run at 4K resolution on Xbox Series X and 1440p on Xbox Series S.
“We do lock it at 30, because we want that fidelity, we want all that stuff. We don’t want to sacrifice any of it,” Howard said. “Fortunately in this one, we’ve got it running great. It’s often running way above that. Sometimes it’s 60. But on the consoles, we do lock it because we prefer the consistency, where you’re not even thinking about it.”
Howard also mentioned that the 30 FPS lock gives Bethesda “headroom” in case something intensive happens in-game that would cause inconsistent framerates with a higher cap.
This decision was also backed by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, who said that the game’s 30 FPS cap was “a creative choice” and not a platform issue.
“It’s a creative choice. We obviously have games that are running at 4K/60 on the platform,” Spencer said. “It’s not a platform issue, it’s a creative decision.”
A Trade-Off for Some Fans
While some fans may be fine with the 30 FPS lock on consoles, as long as they can enjoy Starfield’s gorgeous visuals and immersive gameplay, others may be disappointed that there is no option to play the game at a smoother framerate, even at the cost of some graphical quality.
This was also the case with Redfall, another Bethesda title that was announced at E3 2023, which will also be locked to 30 FPS on Xbox Series X|S at launch. However, unlike Starfield, Redfall will receive a performance mode update sometime in the future.
Some fans may also be worried about Starfield’s performance on PC, especially since Howard said that the game only runs at 60 FPS “sometimes” on that platform. This could suggest that the game may have some optimization issues or bugs at launch, which is not uncommon for Bethesda games like Skyrim and Fallout 4.
However, Howard also said that Starfield is “the best engine overhaul” since Oblivion, and that the game has been built with next-gen hardware in mind. He also said that Starfield is “very scalable” and that PC players will have a lot of options to tweak their settings.
A Long Wait for Starfield
Starfield is slated to launch on September 6, 2023 on Xbox Series X|S, PC, and Game Pass. It will be Bethesda’s first new IP in 25 years, and it will feature a vast open world set in space, where players can explore different planets, factions, and cultures.
Starfield has been in development for over a decade, and it has been one of the most anticipated games in recent years. The game was finally revealed with a cinematic trailer at E3 2023, followed by a gameplay showcase at Starfield Direct.
Starfield will be an Xbox console exclusive, meaning that it will not be available on PlayStation platforms. This is due to Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media in 2020.
Starfield is expected to be one of the biggest games of 2023, and it will likely set new standards for sci-fi RPGs. However, fans who want to play the game on consoles will have to accept the trade-off of playing at 30 FPS instead of 60 FPS or higher.
According to Todd Howard, the game’s director, Starfield is locked to 30 FPS on consoles because Bethesda wanted to maintain the game’s visual quality and detail, without having to sacrifice any part of its graphics. He also said that the 30 FPS lock provides consistency and headroom for the game’s performance.