Starfield Fans Are Melting Down Over ‘Invisible Walls’ And The Possible Limits Of Exploration

Starfield Fans Are Melting Down Over ‘Invisible Walls’ And The Possible Limits Of Exploration

Starfield releases in just a few days, so naturally fans are spending the remaining hours picking apart every new leak. After copies of the game got into some players’ hands early, a steady trickle of screenshots, video clips, and first-hand accounts has people debating whether Starfield is keeping its promises before the game’s even out, and it’s absolute chaos.

It all began with an apparent leak on a Chinese forum that suggested Starfield will cut players off if they try to explore too far in any one direction after landing on a new planet. A screenshot showed a pop-up message telling the player “Boundary reached, open the map to explore another region or return to your ship.” Another seeming leak was posted on YouTube before it was removed following a copyright strike from Bethesda. It showed a 10-minute time lapse of a player walking through a desert until they eventually hit a similar “boundary” break.

Rumor spread fast of “invisible walls” that keep players from seamlessly exploring a planet’s surface indefinitely like in No Man’s Sky. Fans immediately started to debate the accuracy and merits of the leaks. Were they fake? Perhaps the boundary warnings were only for early sections and didn’t apply to the rest of the game?

“This is actually not entirely accurate,” tweeted Windows Central co-managing editor Jez Corden, who is currently playing the game, in response to the invisible wall discourse. “Can’t say more than that really. Wait for the review embargo to lift.” Forbes contributor Paul Tassi cautioned players with a similarly vague response. “Nobody knows what they’re talking about,” he tweeted. A Bethesda marketing rep later reminded reviewers with early access to the game to stop talking about it.

The alleged invisible boundary leak might not have sparked so much discussion if Bethesda head of publishing, Pete Hines, hadn’t implied a week ago that planetary exploration would be endless. “When I land on a planet…will I be able to explore that whole entire planet?” asked one fan on August 21. “Yup, if you want. Walk on, brave explorer,” Hines responded. “Starfield lead confirms full planetary exploration is possible after you’ve landed,” read the ensuing GamesRadar headline.

Some fans were disappointed this might not actually be the case and claimed to feel misled. Subsequent leaked footage appears to show that planet maps are made up of specific regions that you choose between before landing and exploring on foot. Other members in the pre-release Starfield community remain completely unphased. “This is such a non fucking issue, I don’t understand why people are so upset,” wrote one player on the Gaming Leaks and Rumors subreddit.

A number of players have pointed out that 40 minutes to reach the edge, if that is indeed the case, is already bigger than the entire Fallout 4 map, which only takes 35 minutes to reach the end of when starting from the center. Who needs hundreds of planets that function as endless treadmills continually populating the space in front of you with new randomly generated foliage, rocks, and monsters?

Starfield players, apparently. Or at least the few of them who hoped Bethesda’s first open-world RPG in eight years would be perfect, boundless, and completely unexpected. “The Cracks are starting to show,” reads one of the latest threads posted on the Starfield Steam discussion page as if predicting the world-historical fall of liberal democracy in the West. The first bullet point is about how, based on initial leaks at least, players can’t climb ladders without hitting a loading screen. The machines cooking up virtual fantasies in The Matrix would never.

I can’t remember the last time expectations felt this high for a new blockbuster. It doesn’t help that Bethesda keeps breathlessly touting the game’s massive size and scope, and the fact that you can apparently play for over 100 hours before even really getting started. Or that Xbox Series X/S owners are desperate for a Game of the Year contender on the level of God of War Ragnarök or The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom—anything to wash away the taste of Redfall really. I hope Starfield is good. I’m fairly confident it won’t be a disaster. I’m also 100 percent positive it won’t be as good as the perfect game some fans have spent the last five years turning Starfield into in their heads.

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