With a significant portion of the Xbox user base rocking the cheap & cheerful Series S instead of its more powerful stablemate, it’s reasonable to assume that a big chunk of Starfield’s audience (perhaps even a majority, we have no idea how the numbers shake out) will be playing this current-gen showcase on a hairdryer. A piece of kit that costs less than a budget smartphone. One would rightly expect it to be compromised on Microsoft’s controversially underpowered machine, but one should also expect it to run at an acceptable standard, because it’s a product that’s being sold to people for money.
Well, both of those expectations are correct. Our guides editor James has sunk dozens of hours into Bethesda’s latest opus on Series S, and happily reports that “it’s fine”. Perfectly playable. There are some frame drops in the big cities, and the image quality isn’t always the sharpest, but as it stands the Series S runs Starfield at a perfectly acceptable level, with no major caveats, only some reasonable image quality concessions and a bit of choppiness here and there. Check out the video above that was 100% captured on Series S, featuring space flight gameplay, general mooching about in New Atlantis (the game’s largest settlement), and some planetary exploration, so you can see for yourself how it holds up.
Series X owners will of course have a more premium experience (check in on our sister publication Digital Foundry for a proper in-depth analysis), but we expect, for obvious reasons, that the definitive place to play will be on a nice, fast PC. Not only will PC be the only platform without that 30fps cap, but it will, if previous Bethesda games are anything to go by, be host to a prolific modding community that will spend the next ten to fifteen years producing everything from graphical enhancements, to additional quests, items, and, er, body parts. Xbox will very likely also have mod support, but as with previous games it probably won’t be quite as fully featured.
Regardless, this Series S footage shows us that the baseline Starfield experience is sufficiently good enough that wherever you play, you’ll be in for a good time. Unless you don’t like the game. Or you run it on the rubbish old PC your uncle built in 2006. Or you’re trying to play it in the middle of a prison riot. Look, we can’t account for every scenario, ok?