Bethesda head Todd Howard has gone in depth on Starfield in a recent appearance on The AIAS Game Maker's Notebook Podcast, sharing his thoughts and experiences on what went into the massive space sim. One interesting point he mentioned was that enemy ships had to have their AI majorly nerfed for space combat to be enjoyable.
Initially, Howard says, it was easy to create a clever AI for space battles but they would hold their own possibly too well. "Forever we were just jousting," he explained. "It turns out you have to make the AI really stupid. You have to have them fly, they need to turn and basically be like: 'Hey, player one, you can just shoot me for a while.' And then you give the AI tools where the player can see: 'Oh, he's boosting away, I can do that.'"
The enemy AI was one of the key pieces in bringing together space combat as a whole, Howard explains, with the mechanic being a notoriously difficult one to implement in video games. He says he was inspired by games like FTL and old MechWarrior titles, but wanted to include those mechanics "in a way that people could understand, where we're not having to pause the game in space."
Despite the fact that AI has been nerfed since its initial conception, many players are still frustrated with how difficult Starfield's space combat can be, especially on higher difficulty levels. If you're looking to improve on your own interstellar battles, check out our Starfield guides hub.