The long journey to Pluto: Starfield’s impact on space exploration in gaming

Bethesda /

The gaming world was taken by storm with the release of Bethesda’s epic space RPG, Starfield. However, a particular controversy emerged surrounding the game’s approach to interplanetary travel, raising questions about the need for fast travel within its vast universe. Streamer and game developer Alanah Pearce took it upon herself to settle the debate by embarking on a daring seven-hour journey from Earth to the distant dwarf planet, Pluto.

Starfield initially disappointed players by requiring the use of fast travel to move between planets and solar systems. Many had hoped for a more immersive experience, allowing them to navigate space freely. Some speculated that the game used skyboxes, rendering planets as mere decorations on the walls of a solar system. To uncover the truth, Alanah Pearce, a renowned explorer, podcaster, and writer at Santo Monica Studios, decided to put Starfield to the test.

Pearce’s ambitious plan involved pointing her spaceship towards a distant location within the Milky Way and leaving the game running while she slept. However, the challenge arose in choosing a suitable destination. Initially aiming for Earth, Pearce realized that Starfield’s ultra-realistic planetary orbits made precise targeting unrealistic. After careful consideration, she decided to set her course just to the right of Pluto.

The journey, however, was far from straightforward. Whenever Pearce’s Xbox controller went to sleep, the game paused, resulting in periods of inactivity throughout the night. Nonetheless, after seven hours, she unequivocally demonstrated that Starfield does not rely on skyboxes. The depicted solar systems on the enormous space map are authentic, featuring vast stretches of empty space similar to reality. She found herself a mere 47 kilometers from Pluto.

As Pearce ventured closer, textures became blurred, indicating that Bethesda had not intended players to embark on such a journey. Upon reaching the dwarf planet, Pearce’s ship seemingly passed through its surface, revealing the surrounding space. Exiting the other side, however, proved to be a lengthy endeavor due to Pluto’s considerable diameter of 2,376 kilometers.

In a testament to scientific curiosity, Pearce persisted, even though her journey took an additional five hours. Remarkably, during her attempt, she became so exhausted that she fainted upon returning to bed, hitting her head in the process. Nevertheless, her mission was accomplished in the name of science, shedding light on the intricacies of Starfield’s interplanetary travel mechanics.

Alanah Pearce’s remarkable journey to Pluto within Starfield’s virtual universe showcased the game’s dedication to realism and the vastness of its cosmic landscapes. While players initially questioned the necessity of fast travel, Pearce’s adventure revealed that Starfield’s solar systems are not mere illusions but genuine, sprawling spaces.

This escapade highlights the gaming industry’s commitment to pushing boundaries and creating ever more immersive experiences. Starfield’s ambition to recreate the enormity and realism of space is a testament to the industry’s continuous pursuit of innovation. Players can now appreciate the scale of the universe in a way that was previously unimaginable.

Pearce’s dedication to exploring the unknown for the sake of gaming science exemplifies the enthusiasm and curiosity that gamers bring to virtual worlds. It’s a testament to the power of games to spark curiosity, foster exploration, and inspire players to embark on epic journeys.

As Starfield continues to captivate players with its vast universe and realistic depictions of space, it sets a new standard for space exploration in gaming. The game’s commitment to authenticity and its expansive virtual cosmos offer players a unique opportunity to experience the wonders and challenges of space travel from the comfort of their gaming chairs.

Alanah Pearce’s extraordinary expedition to Pluto in Starfield not only settled the debate surrounding the game’s fast travel mechanics but also showcased the gaming industry’s commitment to creating immersive and realistic virtual worlds. Starfield’s ambitious portrayal of space sets a new benchmark for the genre, inviting players to explore the cosmos like never before. It’s a testament to the power of gaming to inspire curiosity and adventure, even in the farthest reaches of the universe.