It looks like Starfield will include the most essential feature of interstellar science fiction: faster-than-light travel.
Briefly shown during footage of the Starfield game revealed during the Xbox and Bethesda showcase, and seen by an observant fan at reddit (opens in new tab), the upcoming sci-fi RPG seems to include some sort of hyperspace travel. At the very least, enemy ships seem to be able to warp in their vicinity.
At two points during the game’s preview, enemy ships seemingly appear out of nowhere after a bright white light flashes on the screen. One of them immediately turns its cannons at the player’s ship, suggesting that these are enemy ships coming to wreak havoc. Watch the clips for yourself below.
A galaxy to explore
Given the size of Starfield, we’d expect FTL travel to appear somewhere in the game. With over 1,000 planets to explore, you’ll need to hit pretty high speeds if you don’t want to spend all your time traveling.
But a larger question remains about how exactly this will happen. This clip appears to show that it will be used as an enemy spawning mechanism, perhaps when ships from rival factions jump out of other systems to chase you through the void of space.
There are no details yet, however, on how FTL travel will work on the player’s side. Will you be able to activate your hyperdrive at any time to enlarge the universe as the stars pass you by? Or will it work like Starfield’s fast travel mechanic as you select a space system to jump and face a loading screen as your ship travels along a hyperspace lane?
Knowledge buffs will also be wondering what Starfield’s semi-scientific explanation of faster-than-light travel is. Star Trek has enveloped its spaceships in space-time warping bubbles; Interstellar used wormholes to explain how ships could take shortcuts across the universe; and Warhammer 40K shatters reality itself to open a portal to the hell of psychic space.
Hopefully Bethesda has come up with a more reasoned explanation given Starfield’s attempt to present a realistic version of humanity’s space future.
We’ll likely get more details on Starfield’s take on FTL travel in the months closer to its release. If the small print on Xbox Game Pass is any basis, that could be early 2023.