Starfield's fast travel and loading screen-heavy approach to space exploration has become something of a thorny subject—PC Gamer's own Morgan Park felt the sting of the game's boundaries recently, with some players upset they're getting something closer to Mass Effect than No Man's Sky.
Pre-release, Todd Howard spoke with IGN about Bethesda's decision to keep surface and space separate, explaining that "the on-surface is one reality, and then when you’re in space it’s another reality." When it comes to zipping around in-game, unless you're grav-jumping your ship isn't fast enough to get much of anywhere. It's mainly there for ship-to-ship interaction, dogfighting, and getting prank called.
Undeterred, games writer and streamer Alanah Pearce (charalanahzard on Twitch) tested those boundaries herself on her stream over the weekend. "So, I'm going to bed," Pearce states at the top of the stream, before deliberating over which celestial body to fly towards—she chooses the dwarf planet Pluto. It has a slow orbit, making it the least likely to drift away while she leaves the game to idle.
She finds the ideal flight direction, directs all power to her engine, and goes to sleep—with a regular alarm for her to make tweaks to her trajectory from her bed. Seven hours later, Pearce hops back into the pilot's seat as her ship nears a cursed, pixelated mass that looks like a low-res screen grab from Google maps.
"Okay, we are approximately 57 kilometres from the surface of Pluto," The dwarf planet looms nearer, the pixels get more stretched—like some Interstellar-style folding of spacetime. A prompt to open the planet map flashes below her vessel, which at this point feels like a warning from the game itself. "I'm amazed that we got here at all."
Those pixels turn into a grey, endless void. The destination marker counts to 0, and at around seven hours 34 minutes, the darkness of Pluto gives way to space as she phases right through it.
That's to be expected—we all know that the planets and moons of Todd Howard's space reality are basically cardboard cut-outs in a very pretty skybox. But we now know that you can definitely reach one, pierce through its stretched-out textures, and find a secret orb of space to hide in—now if only you could use it to stash your ill-gotten goods.