Starfield is the game everyone’s talking about right now. But unless you have an Xbox or a gaming PC with some pretty decent specs, you’re left out of the conversation. Or are you? If you want to run Bethesda’s latest sprawling RPG on an older machine or a laptop with integrated graphics, you might want to check out the “Potato Mode” game mod. It squishes the game’s lovely textures down to as low as 16 bits, making it look like something that might be more at home on a PlayStation 2 than an RGB-laden PC from this decade.
“Potato” is gamer slang for a computer lacking in graphical oomph, or at least, one that hasn’t been upgraded to play the latest high-end PC games. While there are plenty of new games coming out that can run even on the lightest of laptops, titles like Starfield and Baldur’s Gate 3 do assume a rather higher level of number-crunching power than they used to. The Starfield Potato Mod comes from NexusMods publisher BulwarkHD, and it requires only a small file download and a few replacements.
Potato mods, designed to strip some of the modern graphical fidelity from the latest games are becoming a popular way for players to experience them on older or less-expensive PCs, are becoming a popular trend. (Even if they make an Epic software engineer cry every time one gets installed.) You can find potato modded games all over YouTube showing off AAA titles chugging along on budget hardware. They look terrible, but they run!
As PCGamer notes, just getting rid of high-res textures probably isn’t enough to run Starfield on a cow-patterned Gateway tower from 2005. The game’s huge maps, physics engine, and various other behind-the-scenes systems will still require a good bit of juice from both the CPU and GPU. But if you’re desperate to get the game playing in some kind of state without upgrading or buying a new machine, it might be worth a look — especially if your graphics card is running a modest amount of VRAM.
Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.