Starfield is the upcoming sci-fi RPG from Bethesda, which was finally revealed during this year’s E3 event. We have yet to see gameplay of it, but it’s already one of the most anticipated games of next year. I’m hoping that, given the breadth of this setting, Bethesda will branch away from the comfortable, lived-in world of Skyrim for more adventurous swashbuckling in space — and Bethesda head Todd Howard appears to already have scuppered those hopes.
When you hear that Bethesda is making a new RPG that’s set in space, it’s natural that the first thought one would have about such a game is, “Oh, this will just be Skyrim in space.” It’s a cynical reaction, but not an unjustified one since it seems Bethesda has been riding the success of the fifth Elder Scrolls series all the way into the ground. And then Todd Howard came out and used those exact words — “It’s like ‘Skyrim’ in space” — to describe the game in an interview with the Washington Post. And forgive me, but a promising RPG like Starfield deserves better than that.
I love Skyrim; don’t get me wrong. But Bethesda’s constant milking of a game that has to be constantly rebuilt and improved by modders has left me a bit jaded. And let’s be honest: Skyrim is almost a decade old — will be a decade by the time Starfield launches — and Starfield needs to innovate more if it doesn’t want to look dated. Skyrim was not without its flaws even at launch. To be honest, I’ll be disappointed if it’s Skyrim in space not because I dislike Skyrim, but because I want Bethesda to evolve beyond Skyrim already.
Luckily, there are signs that Bethesda is not following the Skyrim playbook too closely. Howard said in an interview with the Telegram: “It’s also a bit more hardcore of a role-playing game than we’ve done. It’s got some really great character systems: choosing your background, things like that. We’re going back to some things that we used to do in games long ago that we felt have really let players express the character they want to be.” It’s also been described as a “Han Solo simulator” and has been influenced by the likes of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, which sounds much more promising.