Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi RPG Starfield is taking inspiration from the beloved FTL standalone spaceship simulator, and its in-game footage has given us a solid understanding of how exactly that happens.
Inspired by the indie game, Starfield’s space combat will involve redirecting energy to your ship’s various subsystems mid-flight. Game director Todd Howard said IGN (opens in new tab) in early June you will be switching power between various modules on your ship to keep your weapons and systems running.
“Your ship has several power systems,” Howard said.[There’s] a little bit of FTL in terms of putting how much power into three different weapon systems, then into their engines and shields, and the grav drive is what lets you jump in and out of some situations where you need to put power. ”
as seen in reddit (opens in new tab), the recent gameplay preview of Starfield shown during the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase of Summer Game Fest seems to demonstrate exactly how this power play works in-game. In the cockpit view, a panel on the left side of the screen displays what appears to be several ship modules, each with a power gauge.
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Motor, shield and grav drive power are displayed, along with three other modules: LAS, BAL and MSL. These can be lasers, ballistics and missiles. It looks like you’ll switch power between them using the D-pad and have room to maximize output to the modules or pump power to them in discrete units.
Power management mechanics have become commonplace in all space simulators. Elite: Dangerous has a similar control system that allows it to prioritize power output to specific ship modules, distributing it around damaged components and power outages. We are yet to see if Starfield will include such a reactive system.
Power management isn’t the only thing Starfield will have in common with FTL. You’ll also be able to board enemy ships, although the process is a little more hands-on than the indie game’s automated combat.
“You can dock with other ships, you can deactivate them, you can board [them],” Howard said. “Actually, there are some missions that involve this. You can steal the ship. There’s dialogue in space, there’s star stations you can visit, there’s smuggling. All the things we would like.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Howard said that Starfield’s space combat was also inspired by the robotic fighting game MechWarrior. He said the development team relied on that game’s slower pace when it came to designing power systems and being able to accurately line up shots, rather than taking inspiration from any “nervous hunter”.
Howard’s mention of a grav drive is also interesting. We already know that Starfield will include faster-than-light travel in some form, but the notion of powering up your ship’s unit suggests that you’ll be able to launch yourself into hyperspace mid-combat. You can be surfing at lightning speed whenever you want.