I won’t play Starfield on PC unless it gets this one crucial graphics setting

Starfield cockpit
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield is a big deal. Heck, it’s the biggest deal. Bethesda’s sci-fi epic is by far the most anticipated game of 2023, and I can’t wait to lose an embarrassing amount of hours exploring its colossal universe. 

Still, I’m a little worried about just how well Starfield is going to run on my gaming PC. My rig might be a beast, but with the announcement of the AMD and Bethesda deal that confirms the former as an ‘exclusive’ partner in the game's development, it doesn’t feel like a great time for Starfield fans with Nvidia GPUs. 

With AMD promising that the grand space adventure will take advantage of both Ryzen 7000 series processors and Radeon 7000 graphics, the company’s GPUs look well placed to run Starfield more optimally than Team Green’s cards. 

AMD's GPUs look well placed to run Starfield more optimally than Team Green’s cards.

And really, is this partnership with Bethesda really that much of a surprise? Let’s not forget AMD built the RDNA 2 GPU that lies at the heart of Xbox Series X.

On paper, my Nvidia Geforce RTX 4090 should be able to smash through Starfield with little effort. After all, the recommended PC specs are fairly modest. With Bethesda suggesting an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT or Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 should be able to get the job done, my 4090 should theoretically coast through the RPG.


Starfield discovery

Will Starfield get Nvidia DLSS features? This RTX 4090 owner is crossing his digits.  (Image credit: Bethesda)

And yet, I'm still sweating it. Sure, that's mostly down to a bout of unseasonable Scottish warmth. Yet I can't deny I'm also midly losing my shizzle at the thought of playing Starfield on my 4090 without Nvidia DLSS features. 

If you’re not familiar with the acronym, it stands for ‘Deep Learning Super Sampling’. In gaming terms, it’s an upscaling technique that can substantially boost fps performance compared to playing titles at your monitor’s native resolution. 

DLSS 3 is the latest version of the tech, and it features impressive new frame generation options to further boost performance, as well as Nvidia Reflex in order to reduce latency. 

I’ve had game-changingly good experiences with DLSS 3 with a number of titles, be it Cyberpunk 2077, Dying Light 2, Microsoft Flight Simulator or A Plague Tale: Requiem. Each time Nvidia’s upscaler has delivered image quality that my eyes find hard to tell apart from native res, all while delivering significant frame rate boosts. 

Scaled it 

Ray Tracing compared Cyberpunk

With DLSS 3 enabled, I can play Cyberpunk with its 'Overdrive' update's path tracing tech and still hit 90 fps at 4K.  (Image credit: Future)

Without DLSS 3 or other upscaling techniques, even my absurdly powerful GPU struggles to hit 60 fps at 4K resolution with full ray tracing features enabled in Cyberpunk.

So yes, I’m obviously desperate to see DLSS 3 in Starfield on PC. Legendary game director Todd Howard has already confirmed his gargantuan space quest will use AMD’s FSR image processing and upscaling – most likely AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution 2.0, to be precise. But whether Nvidia’s DLSS tech will be incorporated into the game at a future stage is entirely unknown.

Whether Nvidia’s DLSS tech will be incorporated into the game at a future stage is entirely unknown.

To be frank, Nvidia has me over a barrel. I own its most powerful consumer GPU and both my gaming displays are Nvidia G-Sync compatible. Wherever possible, I want to see my games take advantage of my RTX 40-series card’s best features, and DLSS 3 is at the top of the tree when it comes to said tech.

I hope Starfield will get DLSS support, so that both AMD and Nvidia users get the best experience possible, regardless of what brand of GPU they're playing on. 

I'm also hoping the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S versions run at a stable 30 fps when Starfield launches on September 6. Although come on, the Series X edition should surely be hitting 60, right?

As for the prospect of seeing DLSS support in Starfield? My glass of intergalactic orangeade is depressingly half full.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal. 

  • thecurto
    This is quite a dramatic stance to take.

    You mentioned that the requirements for the game are not that steep and you will still be able to turn on FSR like every other person playing the game (regardless of what GPU they are using). Plus you'll still likely have a better experience with a higher frame rate than anyone with an AMD GPU anyway.

    Everyone is quick to attack AMD for implementing a universal open-source upscaling technology but fail to acknowledge that DLSS is proprietary tech designed to maintain and grow Nvidia's market share.

    Should DLSS be included? - Sure.
    Is it a big deal that it's not? - Nope.
    Would it be a big deal if there was no upscaling at all? - Yes, then bring out the pitchforks.
  • masterx1234
    Dave has a 4090 and yet complains about not having DLSS. Even though he could natively run it at 4K 120+ frames per second. The cope is real.