Starfield Aims to Link Exploration and Narrative in New Ways

As a gamer, there’s nothing quite like immersing yourself into an open-world RPG. And to make a game like that, there’s no better game to take inspiration from than Skyrim. But that game is old news by now, and The Elder Scrolls series is taking a bit of a break. That’s because the next big game from Bethesda is Starfield, a sci-fi RPG scheduled to release in the first half of 2023.

Todd Howard dubbed Starfield as “Skyrim in space,” almost declaring it as a spiritual successor to the beloved D&D-esque RPG. This gets our blood pumping. If Skyrim is anything to go by, we’re in for a choice-and-consequence-based adventure spanning numerous planets. We’d also expect a branching storyline which allows you to play at your leisure.

Jump into a Vertical Open World

Or one without gravity. Starfield evolves Bethesda’s usual open world experience, which involves walking (or riding) from point A to B. Instead, Starfield is all about exploring space. And since space is about more than one planet, we can expect plenty of diversity.

This allows them to actively make the starship a secondary protagonist, much like Jackdaw from Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. Fallout 4 had the settlement mechanic, which could be better utilized as starship customization. This obviously also means that we’re likely getting space combat, especially as indicated by the ship’s innards.

Different worlds means unique races who come with their own pasts, personalities, and dialogue. And as we know, Starfield has a dynamic persuasion system which flavors NPC interactions. The game has over 150,000 lines of dialogue, compared to Skyrim’s 60,000. You’ve already experienced multiple trials by combat, but are you ready for trials by contact?

Galactic Conflict Unfolds

Starfield takes place within The Settled Systems, after a bloody conflict between the game’s two primary factions, the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective. This means we’ll likely be choosing one side or another through our journey. The Ecliptic hired-guns, the Crimson Fleet pirates, Spacers, and House Va’Ruun religious rants are a few notable groups. This easily leads us to believe we’ll interact with colorful personalities with their own dreams and desires. We’re then free to align with a group, paving the way for their success or using them for personal agendas.

We’ve already been greeted by VASCO, one of the robotic companions on our journey. In Skyrim, companions were able to fight with us, store items, and offer fun conversation. It enriched the experience when they’d give their thoughts on an area or event.

A new word isn’t without its toys. Skyrim had artifacts from gods, so perhaps Starfield will follow a similar chaotic structure with its guns, perhaps taking from Doom Eternal, The Outer Worlds, and Ratchet & Clank.

A blend between the timed-wonders of Outer Wilds and the chaotic consequences of The Outer Worlds would ideally connect both the lore-yet-character-based adventures Bethesda loves to craft. We’re usually the chosen one, but we’re given memorable companions to build or betray on our journeys. And no space opera would be one without its Han Solo.

Similar to dungeons in Skyrim, every planet in Starfield will likely contain characters with their own stories and a boss to vanquish at the end. This allows the world to feel alive. No matter what corner you turn, there’s always a reason to explore, be it a cool new gun, plot reveal, or simply a base character upgrade.

Skyrim used dragons and shouts to keep the world engaging, treating you with dynamic battles and quirky abilities, so we’re waiting for Starfield’s gimmick with high hopes.

Play The Character You Want to Be

One of Skyrim’s greatest accomplishments was its ability to allow you to define how you wanted to play. Skip the entire main quest if you want, join the Dark Brotherhood, steal some cheese. Or just lay back and build your mansion from the ground up after getting married to your vampire wife. No matter how you play, Skyrim allows you to live a virtual life in a fantasy world.

We expect Starfield to offer us a similar experience. If we’re luck, it will allow us to truly be the captain of our own space opera. Todd Howard emphasized the focus on character systems, enabling you to roleplay like their previous deep systems.

Skyrim rewards us for every action we take. Even Nords are rewarded equally for stealthily picking locks or casting spells. This freedom gives us the ability to define our own end build and interests. We can steal the Skeleton Key from the Thieves Guild and have it open locked doors at the expense of never finishing the quest line. This means that Starfield will allow us to join factions and entirely mess up the quest line just because of our personal whims and wants. We’ll welcome the quests and narrative, but we’ll truly look forward to how we can progress our galactic odyssey as a bard who kills aliens for a living.

We may finally be paving the way towards Bethesda’s hand at Mass Effect, engrossing us with an emotional and tense conflict, littered with choices with unintended ramifications halfway through the game. The core narrative seems to stem from the mystery regarding humanity’s final journey.

An Ever Evolving Modding Experience

From a technical standpoint, Starfield will expand what fans are able to do with any one game. Entire games have been made from Skyrim simply because the scope for experimentation and fun is out of the world. This could keep the game alive for years to come, much like how Skyrim is still thriving today. Information on modding is still light, but details are sure to follow in the coming months. For fans looking for Skyrim in space, the release of Starfield can’t come any sooner.

Written by Andrew Smith