What you need to know
- Starfield is an Xbox and PC exclusive from Bethesda and Microsoft.
- It's a massive space RPG built using similar tools that made Skyrim and Fallout 4 possible.
- While impressive, it's not without its flaws. Its creepy NPC crowds being one of them.
- Be afraid, be very afraid.
Starfield is out now in early access and launches in full this week, and players around the world are discovering just how big and expansive this space RPG is.
Built by Todd Howard and the Bethesda Softworks team, Starfield takes the Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim formula and expands it to our entire galaxy, complete with space combat, zero-g firefights, and mountains of hand-crafted sci-fi content.
I reviewed Starfield, and I'd quite happily name it among my top Xbox Series X games of all time, having now sunk around 200 hours into the game across multiple saves. However, as I noted in our Starfield review, it's not without its flaws. Its deep, often creepy flaws.
*cue scary music*
Yo someone added horror music to Starfield NPCs 😂16 times the detail LMAOO pic.twitter.com/hWfkA56PkLSeptember 3, 2023
One of the weirdest and most uncanny aspects of Starfield is the game's odd ambient NPCs. I complained about the game's NPCs in our review, and while they can be ignored quite easily and don't detract from the overall experience, I'm not quite sure how they were allowed to go live like this.
Starfield's primary conversational NPCs are a little more detailed, but the game's bustling city-scapes have dozens of random roaming NPCs often simply called "citizen" or something basic, to denote to you that they're almost certainly not an important NPC. Aside from being random background ambiance, they also take a downgrade in general quality, resulting in these weird instances where their eyes follow you like a creepy mannequin doll from some 80s horror movie. Clearly, the internet agreed, resulting in some hilarious horror takes like the above video from @SKzzleAXE.
These NPCs stare at the player with their eyes locked, unblinking, regardless of the angles their heads take. It feels like their head wants to look in one direction, but their eyes remain transfixed on the player, resulting in some seriously terrifying, uncanny stares.
Another Starfield fan, @KJovian quipped "I'll admit these #Starfield NPCs are creepy lmao, but I love it," with the above gallery of horrors.
I want to believe that these creepy stares are the result of a bug and could be patched, but it may also be an engine-level issue Bethesda may simply decide to leave in place. The game's NPCs are generated using the same system we use to create our characters, and it could be that the thousands of NPCs used to make the game's cities feel alive and busy are simply fixed in an endless eternity of horrific staring.
In space, no one can hear you scream, at least — least of all an NPC. Right before they murder you.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!