Locking Starfield at 30 FPS on Xbox Consoles, is it a good thing?
The recent news that Starfield, Bethesda’s highly anticipated action role-playing game, will run at 30fps on Xbox Series X and Series S has caused quite a stir among fans. Many were disappointed, expecting the game to take full advantage of the next-gen consoles’ capabilities and offer a smoother gaming experience at 60fps. However, the decision to cap the framerate at 30fps has been defended by Starfield director Todd Howard and has led to speculation about the game’s performance and potential trade-offs.
According to Howard, the choice to lock the game at 30fps was made to prioritize visual fidelity and maintain a consistent performance. Bethesda has always aimed for large, open worlds with hyper-detail, and they wanted to ensure that Starfield delivered on that promise. By keeping the framerate at 30fps, the developers can focus on creating a visually stunning and immersive experience for players.
Some fans have expressed concern that the lower framerate might indicate that the game is unfinished or that there are technical limitations holding it back. However, industry experts and developers have chimed in to offer their perspectives on the matter. They argue that achieving a smooth 60fps on a game of Starfield’s scale and ambition would be challenging and could come at the cost of visual fidelity.
Digital Foundry analyst John Linneman points out that Starfield, like previous Bethesda games, tracks the location and position of arbitrary items in the world. This level of freedom and interaction can lead to a significant amount of complexity in the game’s systems, which could strain the CPU and make it difficult to maintain a consistent 60fps. Lowering the resolution would not solve this issue and would only impact the overall image quality.
Dannie Carlone, an artist on God of War Ragnarök, supports this view, stating that achieving 60fps on Starfield’s scale would require a large hit to visual fidelity. He suggests that Bethesda’s decision to lock the game at 30fps and focus on a seamless look and reduced “pop-in” is a deliberate trade-off to enhance image quality and maintain a high level of visual detail.
Ultimately, the choice between 30fps and 60fps comes down to the priorities of the developers and the type of gameplay experience they want to deliver. Starfield aims to be a more subdued, exploration-focused RPG, where players can immerse themselves in the richness of the game’s setting. While fast-paced action games benefit from higher framerates for responsive controls and animations, Starfield’s focus lies in its world-building, dialogue, and visuals. A consistent 30fps should be sufficient to provide a satisfying gameplay experience in the context of the game.
Moreover, a consistent 30fps is preferable to a choppy 60fps. A game that fluctuates between 60fps and lower framerates can be disruptive to gameplay and immersion. By locking the framerate at 30fps, Starfield can ensure a smooth and stable experience throughout its runtime, maintaining a consistent level of performance.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that Bethesda has promised that Starfield will be its least buggy game launch ever. With the team’s focus on delivering a polished and immersive experience, it’s likely that the decision to cap the framerate at 30fps was made to ensure a stable and reliable game.
The decision to run Starfield at 30fps on Xbox Series X and Series S was made to prioritize visual fidelity and maintain a consistent performance. Achieving a smooth 60fps on a game of Starfield’s scale and ambition would be challenging and could come at the cost of visual detail. By locking the game at 30fps, Bethesda can deliver a visually stunning and immersive experience without sacrificing stability. Ultimately, the choice between 30fps and 60fps depends on the priorities of the developers and the type of gameplay experience they want to create.