HomeTechnologyStarfield Trailer Reveals Fascinating New Technology - And Age-Old Concerns

Starfield Trailer Reveals Fascinating New Technology – And Age-Old Concerns

It’s fair to say that Starfield is one of the most anticipated games around and it’s not hard to see why – Bethesda, for all its flaws, has built its empire with large-scale open-world RPGs. There’s a reason games like Skyrim remain popular to this day – the meticulously crafted worlds and sense of freedom capture the imagination. On paper, Starfield looks like the logical conclusion, a game that stretches beyond a single planet through the far reaches of space. I thought it would be fun to dive into Bethesda’s presentation and see what we can glean about the game – from the basics like image quality and performance to the overall approach to technology and design. .

Let’s start with the rendering resolution – the trailer is presented in native 4K but the shots vary in clarity. Interestingly, gameplay footage appears to be devoid of any sort of anti-aliasing, so you get razor-sharp edges with visible aliasing throughout. Conversely, the most cinematic shots use TAA in a similar way to Fallout 4, which should be more in line with what we’ll see in the final product.

Beyond just solving, we can get a sense of the development team’s design goals by looking at how Starfield handles large open spaces on the planet, interior spaces, character rendering, and finally outer space. -atmospheric. For example, in an exterior scene, we can see that the game has a long distance shadow, which is crucial for maintaining distant details. This is one of the key issues we’ve identified with Halo Infinite and it’s great to see that Starfield has a solution in place.

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Starfield also appears to have a system that displays localized fog volume in valley crevices, which looks great. In general, the atmospheric rendering looks reasonably robust from what we can see in this demo. What I’m still not clear on is the sky system – it looks very promising, but due to the low bitrate of the trailer footage we had to watch, it’s hard to say if we consider a suitable volumetric sky system or a simple sky dome. Either way, it produces attractive results – we just need to see how dynamic it is in the final game.

Everything is then tied together by the terrain system – it’s likely that planet surfaces and structures are built using a combination of procedural generation and hand-placed assets, which is a common approach these days. The rendering of the terrain itself resembles previous Bethesda games, but pop-in is kept to a minimum and detail is evident in the distance. While attractive, the rendering features push no boundaries – which is understandable given the game’s large scale and long development time.

Indoors things are different – large scale shadows, which were low resolution and grainy outdoors, become sharp internally. This section evokes a vibe not unlike Doom 3, with direct lights piercing the darkness as specular highlights play across the surfaces. Compared to Fallout 4, the jump in fidelity is significant, as this game features rudimentary interior lighting and a noticeable lack of texture and object detail.

This brings up an interesting omission – the lack of reflections. In the original trailer, we noted almost RT-like reflections, but in every gameplay footage, there is no evidence of screen-space reflections, let alone RT reflections. At best, we see basic cubic maps. For a flush setting on metal surfaces, this seems a little odd to me, and the screen space reflections would go a long way to improving the overall cohesion of the image.

There are a lot of positives here too. The weapons, for example, are fantastic. I’ve never been a fan of Fallout 4’s designs – the modeling and animation work left me cold – but Starfield presents weapons that look both sleek and powerful. Enemy animation is generally much better as well. As an RPG, it still feels like you’re draining a lifebar more than directly dealing damage, but the reactions are greatly improved. The only thing missing is per-object motion blur on weapons and enemies.

The Fallout 4 characters in the creation screen look surprisingly similar to those in Starfield.

Character rendering has also improved significantly since Fallout 4, especially when looking past the character creation screens and instead focusing on how the game actually looks. all scenes, could make things even better, by accurately rendering how light interacts with the surface of the skin. It’s present on the ears in the images we’ve seen, but it’s not applicable to the rest of the skin, which accentuates the normal maps too much. Additionally, the tear duct geometry is a little too bright, catching the lights to the point where it almost seems to glow. Beyond those minor points, there’s a big boost to animation quality. Conversations in Fallout 4 featured stiff and even ugly animations, while Starfield looks much sleeker in comparison.

Starfield’s latest major setting is outer space and although we only get a brief glimpse, effects such as explosions and laser blasts are promising – definitely a step up from low smoke resolution when landing on a planet. The big question I have about space travel is less about the visuals and more about the possibilities – I’d like to see ship management play a part in travel. Imagine getting up from the captain’s chair to explore the ship, while managing resources and systems. I think it could make traveling between planets more engaging and challenging. However, it is unclear if this is an option or if the player simply “become” the ship by flying.

There are a few other technical criticisms worth mentioning, namely the game’s indirect lighting. This has become a major focus in recent years and is key to realistic rendering – simulating the phenomenon of photons bouncing off a surface and illuminating, indirectly, another area. The current issue is that areas not directly lit in Starfield show a uniform grayish color that doesn’t match the lighting results you expect. Ray-traced global illumination would work well here, but comes at a high performance cost. An offline baked solution using probes could also work, but with so many planets the GI data would likely be far too large. This is a difficult problem to solve when building a game on this scale.

The game’s interiors offer a marked improvement over previous Bethesda games, but could still benefit from improved GI and highlights.

Then there is performance. The trailer frames we have have been encoded in a 30 fps container, which limits the amount of analysis we can undertake. However, there still seem to be some issues worth noting, which is that all gameplay footage has significant performance issues and regularly drops below 30fps. That’s not unusual for a game in this stage of development, but Bethesda’s track record of wildly variable console launch performance gives me pause. This is the presentation’s most noticeable flaw and hopefully performance will improve by launch, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The other thing I’m interested in is cities – in previous versions of Bethesda, large cities were usually divided by loading screens while smaller cities were transparent. So can you land on a planet and get to a big city without loading screens? I hope we will find out soon.

Still, while I have my tricks, Starfield is still shaping up to be Bethesda’s most engaging game to date – many of the ugliest bits that plagued Fallouts 4 and 76 have been scrapped and we’re left with some beautiful environments to explore instead. Starfield also features structures and scale unlike anything they’ve built in the past. The whole “1000 planets” feature seemed ridiculous at first, but you can imagine that the key planets have been carefully constructed and designed while they can rely more on procedural generation to handle the rest. If the gameplay structure supports it properly, it could be fascinating. Even though someone has largely exhausted themselves on open-world games, I’m very intrigued by Starfield.

All of this means that Starfield will be a tough game to analyze when it releases next year – but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

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