The Starfield 30 FPS Outcry Is Overblown — Here’s Why
“We don't want to sacrifice any of it.”
Starfield, Bethesda’s upcoming space RPG had a massive showing at the Xbox Games Showcase, which gave players an in-depth look at its gameplay, systems, and mechanics. Later, director Todd Howard confirmed that Starfield is locked to 30 frames per second on Xbox consoles, which lead to some grumbling among gaming fans.
High frame rate matters in competitive games that rely on pinpoint accurate reflexes (like fast-paced shooters, music-rhythm, or fighting games). But Starfield is an offline, single-player RPG with an emphasis on exploration and discovery. Sure, it does feature real-time combat, but it seems fluid enough, even at 30 FPS.
“I think it'll come as no surprise, given our previous games, what we go for,” Howard told IGN after the June 11 showcase. “Always these huge, open worlds, fully dynamic, hyper detail where anything can happen. And we do want to do that. It's 4K in the X. It's 1440 on the 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.”
The thing is, Starfield’s gameplay doesn’t need to run at 60 FPS to be enjoyable. Just look at something like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which launched to critical acclaim — and also runs at 30 FPS.
In Starfield, gunplay isn’t the only central mechanic. Players explore, fly ships, interact with NPCs, and navigate menus. These situations do not require a high frame rate to work well. The game will also offer a wide variety of ways to engage with combat.
You can use alien mind control to influence enemies, which will slow the pacing of fights significantly. Jetpacks will allow you to take to the skies to rain down explosives. Judging from the latest footage, sealth can work well in many situations, too. In some cases, simply talking to foes can get you out of trouble.
Essentially, 30 FPS likely won’t make or break the game’s combat; you’ll have plenty of wiggle room in terms of how you choose to approach your foes. Sometimes, it makes sense to want the highest frame rates possible, but Starfield isn’t a game that needs it. Is the game fun? Is the story engaging? We don’t have to wait much longer to find out.
Starfield will launch for Xbox Series X|S and PC on September 6, 2023. It will also be available on Game Pass.