Opinions on Starfield are all over the place, but two criticisms are pretty widely shared: One, the maps aren’t very good, and two, it’s a bit disappointing that there aren’t any ground vehicles to explore planets with.
In an interview with Bloomberg this week, Todd Howard responded to a question about that absence of ground vehicles, saying that the idea was considered, but that the dev team preferred knowing “how fast [players] are seeing things” on planets through on-foot exploration. He also pointed out that, hey: you can fly.
“In one sense, you do have a vehicle, which is you obviously have your spaceship, you can go around in space,” added Howard. “But then on the surface you do have a jetpack which you can upgrade, which is super fun, new experience for us. And obviously planets have different levels of gravity which make that unique for many planets.”
Jetpacks do have a storied and important history in videogames. Tribes, Titanfall, Star Wars Battlefront. 1991’s classic Super Nintendo game, the Rocketeer. Destroy all Humans. Giants: Citizen Kabuto, you get the point. And some folks have turned the Starfield jetpack into an unparalleled implement of war, using it to turn themselves into invisible flying ghost snipers.
Buggies aren’t always a delight, either. Every time I’ve played through Mass Effect I’ve gnashed my teeth at having to spend any more time driving the godsforsaken Mako around, and there’s something to be said for hitting a planet and being stuck on your own two dusty feet. But it’s hard to see wide open terrain and not want to do at least a little ATVing. It is telling that one of the first things we humans actually did when we finally hit another celestial body was try to figure out how to drive a car on it.
I could see vehicles being expansion content. Maybe they’ll have a sequence with a monster truck rally on a low-grav planet, with Truckasaurus flying around and breathing cosmic fire on everyone. Or they could lean into the Western motif and have a roving band of space cowboys with cyber horses. Whatever Starfield has in store for the future, one thing is for certain: The mod community for Bethesda games is unparalleled, and the clarion call for space cars has been sounded.
Nothing that complex has shown up on mod sites yet, of course, but here are the best Starfield mods so far.