Besides other things, the latest Starfield update 1.8.86 has given players the option to eat food items placed in the world. Prior to this update, you would have to pick up the item, go into your inventory menu, and only then you could consume the food you picked up. This is a welcome change, but as you might have guessed from the title, it serves no significant purpose.
Food items in Starfield, for all intents and purposes, have been a joke. Even though you come across their pretty models wherever you go in the game’s gigantic universe, they barely serve any gameplay purpose. Roleplaying, yes; gameplay, no. They heal too little to be even worth their carry weight.
As showcased by Reddit user Joshohoho in the Starfield subreddit, they had to munch on 100+ steaks to get to full HP from approximately one-third HP that they started the experiment with. This can look a tiny bit better with the ‘Nutrition’ skill that boosts the HP gained from food and drinks by 50%.
But even at that point, its function (and the effectiveness of this Starfield update) is questionable. Imagine having to eat 50 steaks back-to-back to get your health back to full!
There’s no point in sugarcoating; It’s just bad gameplay design.
Now, the question remains: How did this come to be?
Food items are something where a lot of development resources went, at least from the looks of it. The well-crafted in-game models, placing them strategically across levels, and their association with the in-game food corps (yes, Chunks is the best) certainly make it seem that way.
However, with no implication on gameplay, we can only assume it to be a cut feature as they rolled back some hardcore survival aspects from Starfield. As intimated by Todd Howard in Lex Fridman’s podcast, they cut a handful of features from the game later on in the development cycle as they turned out to be “fun killer.”
Fuel consumption and mandatory outpost building were directly referenced as things that ended up on the cutting room floor. But it’s not hard to join the dots that hunger, thirst, and sleep mechanics could have also met the same fate.
As a silver lining, the last two single-player Bethesda RPGs Skyrim and Fallout 4 got survival mode additions as post-launch updates. We can only hope Bethesda does the same with Starfield.
Starfield Could Incorporate More Physics-Based Puzzles
Circling back to Joshohoho’s video, we can see them levitating in a zero-g environment while gobbling up steaks left and right. Keeping aside the sheer hilarity and potential Homer references, one thing that bugs me (and a whole lot of Starfield players in general) is the lack of physics-based puzzles in Starfield.
The physics engine in Starfield is a carry-over from previous Bethesda titles. And it is more than capable of supporting physics-based puzzles, the likes of which we have seen in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
To their credit, Bethesda has preserved the core functionality of Creation Engine that lets players do all kinds of weird experiments with in-game objects. The sandbox nature is surely a draw for long-time Bethesda fans. But as any of them would agree, it is underutilized and screams of missed opportunity.
Imagine a good chunk of quests involving physics-based puzzles in zero-g environments! Not that it would solve other, more deep-rooted issues with the game, but it will at least make some quests feel fun and unique.
However, as is the tradition with Bethesda RPGs, Starfield mods can employ some of these impressive functionalities. But that will have to wait for the official modding support, with Creation Kit scheduled to arrive next year.
As of now, you can read the detailed patch notes of Starfield’s 1.8.86 update here.