- Starfield, the open-world game by Bethesda, lacks ground vehicles, relying solely on jetpacks for planet-side exploration.
- Bethesda's Todd Howard explained that this design choice allows players to experience the planet's exploration at a deliberate pace and ensures they see the game world in detail.
- While some players hope for future DLC that adds ground vehicles, the absence of vehicles may be related to Starfield's limited playable area and potential impact on exploration.
Most if not all open-world games have some sort of ground vehicle to help players move around the map. While The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim featured horses, Starfield only has jetpacks leading to some negative reviews.
If you've played a few hours of Starfield, the lack of ground vehicles may start to become evident. The game sometimes feels like a walking simulator when missions require you to move over a thousand meters from your landing spot. It becomes especially tedious when a player becomes encumbered, disabling fast travel.
When asked about the lack of vehicles in the game, Bethesda explains that it is a deliberate choice. In an interview with Bloomberg, game director Todd Howard said that they have considered adding vehicles to the game. However, the devs wanted players to use jetpacks to experience as much of the planet-side exploration.
"It's something we consider," Howard said. "Once you do vehicles it does change the gameplay. By focusing once you land on your ship that you're foot, it lets us really for the players make it an experience where we know how fast they're seeing things."
He adds, "And in one sense, you do have a vehicle. You have your spaceship, you can go around space. On the surface you have a jetpack you can upgrade which is super fun."
It is an interesting choice for Bethesda to omit ground vehicles from the game. Modern open-world games like Horizon Forbidden West and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom allowed for faster traversal by using vehicles. Players have hoped that Bethesda would do the same for Starfield given the open areas that players can explore. However, Bethesda may add vehicles in a future DLC similar to No Man's Sky.
The Hello Games space exploration sandbox, which has often been compared to Starfield, introduced ground vehicles half a year after the game was released. No Man's Sky features several different land vehicles including a massive hauler, a fast space buggy, a submarine, and even a mechanical walker called the Minotaur.
Over on social media, many gamers suspect that the lack of ground vehicles is likely related to Starfield not having true planetary exploration similar to No Man's Sky where players can circumnavigate a planet. Starfield's explorable area is limited in size and gamers will hit an invisible wall after about ten minutes of walking from the landing zone. Adding a vehicle would severely cut the exploration time and players would find themselves hitting the invisible barrier more often.
In comparison, it takes 30 minutes to walk from one end of Skyrim to the other. Horses travel 1.5x faster than characters on foot, so it is estimated that it will take just 20 minutes to get from one end to the other on horseback. If the same mechanic was introduced to Starfield, it would take just a little over 6 minutes to hit the wall, which isn't a long time. Constantly hitting an invisible wall would be bad for a game that promised "unrivaled exploration."
We don't really expect Bethesda to add vehicles anytime soon. However, modders may already be working on ground vehicles for the game as we speak. We will update you if we find a great vehicle mod for Starfield in the near future.