Tragic: Skyrim's ultra-sneaky bucket trick doesn't work in Starfield

Starfield bucket trick
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Back in 2011, scores of Skyrim players became master thieves overnight thanks to the discovery of a simple exploit. The bucket trick, discovered just one day after Skyrim launched, made any NPC completely oblivious to thievery simply by blocking their line-of-sight. The trick? Put a bucket on their head. You'd think an exploit that trivializes pickpocketing and stealth would've been removed at some point, but the bucket trick survived through Skyrim's many re-releases, and the same trick even worked in Fallout 4.

Which is why I'm sad to report that the bucket trick does not appear to work in Starfield. I can't say definitively that there's no way to block an NPC's vision in Starfield, but I do know a humble bucket is no longer fit for the job. 

It is some consolation that you can still put buckets on NPC's heads, and they still act like you haven't done anything at all. I've bucketed nearly a dozen isolated Starfield NPCs of various head sizes and with several "bucket" types—your standard cylinder, a cardboard box, plastic bins, a trash can. They all make different fashion statements, but sadly, none of them have prevented the NPC from detecting my thievery. NPC vision cones seem to be completely unphased by the plastic before their eyes. 

Starfield bucket trick

No matter how you maneuver, Starfield NPCs seem to ignore head accessories. (Image credit: Bethesda)

Looks like Bethesda finally caught wind of our tactics. The discovery made me sadder than expected. The Skyrim bucket trick is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about Bethesda's commitment to interactive worlds—I loved that it wasn't a bug, per se, but the logical result of two cool systems (physical objects and dynamic line-of-sight) intersecting. Sure it wasn't realistic, but it was hard evidence that Skyrim's world operated on a single set of rules everything follows, and made me wonder if there was a "bucket" solution to everything.

I've been missing that sense of innocent clumsiness in Starfield. Bethesda's space epic certainly has a sense of humor (best exemplified by the return of Oblivion's Adoring Fan), and its surprising lack of bugs is welcome, but I kinda miss all the funny bugs. Our team has spotted some weird stuff for sure—characters vibrating in place, city guards who forgot to wear clothes—but nothing particularly memorable. I've yet to see anyone get hit so hard that their body flies 800 feet in the air or spot a spaceship flying backward. The closest I've gotten is two boxes clipping together until they freak out and fly into the air, which made me smile for a bit.


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Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.