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Starfield’s space combat is inspired by MechWarrior and FTL, says Todd Howard

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Upcoming Bethesda behemoth Starfield will feature space combat inspired primarily by the MechWarrior series, according to studio boss Todd Howard. That means power management and carefully lined-up shots “as opposed to a twitchy dogfighter.”

“We keep the pace fairly slow,” Howard said in an interview with IGN. “One of the games that I love that we sort of look at for pace is MechWarrior, believe it or not. Like, that’s probably a little bit slower but in terms of systems and power and being able to line things up, it’s a little bit faster than that, but you know what I mean.” 

Another space combat feature Howard called out was power management, a modern staple of the genre, but one that Howard said was specifically cribbed from FTL. 

“Your ship has various power systems,” Howard said. “Little bit of FTL there in terms of putting how much power into three different weapon systems, and then your engines, and shields, and the grav drive is what lets you jump, and sort of get out of some situations that you have to put power to.” 

A similar system also appears in space combat sims like Elite: Dangerous and Star Wars: Squadrons.

Howard says that space combat was one of the first things developers worked on when starting Starfield, alongside planet generation. (There are a thousand planets, by the way, and the PC Gamer team is deeply divided into pro-planetary-volume and anti-lots-of-planets factions.)

There’s also all kinds of other space stuff going on. For example, you can dock with another ship, kill the crew, and steal it. Starfield ships are all customizable, as well.

Starfield was originally meant to release this year, but got pushed back to 2023. We still got the big gameplay reveal during the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase last Sunday, though.

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