Starfield Creation Engine 2 – what is it and how it works

Starfield Creation Engine 2 – what is it and how it works
Alex Raisbeck Updated on by

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Wondering what the Starfield Creation Engine 2 is and what it means for you? Starfield marks a new era for Bethesda Game Studios and its fans, and a major part of that is the game being the first developed to run on Creation Engine 2. This means a series of major improvements that would never have been possible before and will ensure that the space RPG is as good as possible from launch. Nevertheless, even if you’re familiar with game engines, this might all just sound like meaningless buzzwords.

If you want to get ready to jump into the game as soon as possible, you’ll want to check out the Starfield character creator to get planning. And if you’re wondering who you’ll have joining you on your adventure, take a look at all the available Starfield companions. With that, let’s take a look at what you need to know about Starfield Creation Engine 2.

Starfield Creation Engine 2: A player walking through Akila City.

What is Creation Engine 2?

Creation Engine 2 is the new engine being used by Bethesda, and is a direct successor to the studio’s original Creation Engine. If you don’t know what a game engine is, it’s basically a framework inside which a game is built, which essentially determines the rules of what can and can’t be done in the game, and Starfield is set to be the launch point to showcase this new engine.

For example, if you want players to be able to fire guns, you need an engine tha allows the systems and physics required for gunplay. As a successor to the Creation Engine that was used for Bethesda games like Skyrim and Fallout 4, Creation Engine 2 comes with a host of improvements, allowing developers to do far more than previously. A major benefit of this is that it will supposedly allow Bethesda to more effectively roll out bug fixes, hopefully drastically reducing the number of bugs that Bethesda games have become somewhat infamous for.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Starfield Game Director Todd Howard spoke about Creation Engine 2, saying that it’s “like a new tech base” built for the development of Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, adding that “every game will have some new suites of technology so Elder Scrolls 6 will have some additions on to Creation Engine 2 that that game is going to require.”

It will also let players to manipulate their own game through the use of console commands, letting you teleport yourself to sepcific places, give yourself specific items, make yourself invincible, give yourself double walking speed and more. Basically anything coded into the parameters of the game, Creation Engine 2 will let you alter it (if you’re on PC, sorry console players).

Starfield Creation Engine 2: Three armoured people sat at a bar. The middle person is passed out.

What is new in Creation Engine 2?

One of the biggest areas getting an upgrade with Creation Engine 2 is the graphics and visuals. Creation Engine 2 uses the Havok engine for character animations, and will have much more lifelike animations than those seen in games made using the original Creation Engine, while real-time global illumination and volumetric lighting make the game look incredible.

There have also been major improvements to the AI, with Bethesda looking to create more dynamic environments, especially when it comes to making cities feel real and lived-in. While the original Creation Engine did this successfully, NPCs could often feel a bit lifeless, so the new changes seek to make NPCs feel like a much bigger part of the world they exist in.

While these changes are significant, we still haven’t touched on perhaps the largest improvement of all, which is how Creation Engine 2 allows the creation of procedurally generated content, which will be key to in-game exploration. Major cities and planets in Starfield are fully handcrafted, but with 1,000 explorable planets to visit, procedural generation plays a massive role in creating the majority of the open-world locations in the game, with locations, missions and quests, NPCs and more needing to be made. This even stretches as far as procedural lip-syncing while talking with NPCs.

Starfield Creation Engine 2: An astronaut sitting on a rocky moon with a ringed planet in the sky in the background.

Lead Quest Designer Will Shen said in an interview that “we actually have new tech to take whole locations that we’ve built and put them on the planets”, adding that “whereas before, it might just be a person coming up to you along the road, now it’s an actual whole location that can be put there.”

As well as all of this, it’s good news for PC players with AMD hardware as Creation Engine 2 has been optimised for it. Todd Howard mentioned in an interview with AMD, “We have AMD engineers in our code base working on FSR 2 image processing and upscaling and it looks incredible”. While this is big for AMD users, we’re sure this won’t cause too much issue for anyone rocking an Intel processor and Nvidia graphics card, and you’ll still have a great experience with the game.

But if you’re not playing on PC, then don’t worry, as the game is set to run perfectly on console, too. While the majority of the game’s development has been covered by Bethesda themselves, Microsoft’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG) has been helping out with console optimisation, making sure that the enhanced game engine works just as well on Xbox Series X/S as it does on PC.

Starfield Creation Engine 2: The player's ship flying in orbit around Alpha Centauri.

How will Creation Engine 2 affect modding?

One of the biggest reasons for the continued popularity of Bethesda’s games is the thriving modding scene, which has kept people playing games all the way back to the likes of Morrowind and Oblivion. Luckily, Bethesda knows this, and Creation Engine 2 is made to encourage modding, with new tools provided to make the process even easier than before. 

Some of the biggest names in Bethesda modding have suggested that a new version of the Creation Kit, Bethesda’s community modding tool, is on the way, and will bring a host of new options for things like animations, voice acting, interior design, lighting and more. Naturally, it will probably take a while for the modding scene for Starfield to really ramp up to the level of games like Skyrim, but with the improvements that Creation Engine 2 provides, there are bound to be mods popping up within weeks of release.

That’s everything you need to know about the Starfield Creation Engine 2. If you’re wanting to get yourself more immersed in the game’s world, check out our Starfield planets guide. And if you’re wondering if you’ll be able to play with friends, our is Starfield multiplayer guide has you covered.