Bethesda’s spacefaring RPG Starfield is great, by all accounts. But like pretty much every big, open-world game Bethesda makes, it’s launched with some bugs and performance issues. What should you do if you’re running into issues? According to the game’s director Todd Howard, “…You may need to upgrade your PC for this game.”
That was in reply to a pointed question, “Why did you not optimize this game for PC?” from Bloomberg Technology (though to be fair, the interviewer says he’s taking the question from audience suggestions). Howard’s full reply is as follows:
“Um, we did. It’s running great. It is a next-gen PC game, we really do push the technology, so you may need to upgrade your PC for this game. But it’s got a lot of great stuff going on in it, and the fans are responding awesome.”
“Great” is, perhaps, a relative term. As PCGamer notes, Starfield has no shortage of the launch bugginess for which Bethesda RPGs are infamous. And though it is a fairly heavy game in terms of visual fidelity, it’s not as demanding as many recent AAA releases, possibly because it’s running on a variation of the same Creation game engine that’s been powering Bethesda open world games since Skyrim way back in 2011.
Even so, plenty of gamers are having problems, to the point of finding solutions in a “potato mod” that turns down the visual fidelity. Starfield also requires an SSD, a first for a modern triple-A PC game. As it happens, right now is a really good time to upgrade a gaming PC. There are new budget and competitive mid-range GPUs around, flash storage and RAM prices are crazy low, and there are some really exciting trends right now, like “the War on Cables.”
Still, all of that is small comfort if you’re not in a position to drop a few hundred dollars on an upgrade, or four figures on a brand new machine. It’s possible that the question of optimization is a little more warranted than Howard was willing to admit. It’s almost certain that Starfield will get performance improvements as it enters full launch, and updated GPU drivers (like a quick Intel Arc update that made the game actually boot) will help too.