Bethesda talks about Starfield like no RPG has come out since Oblivion
Starfieldis Bethesda’s next major RPG. It is similar to The Elder Scrolls or Fallout but in space. We have not seen much yet, which is a concern considering it will be coming to PC and Xbox Series X/S in November. However, Bethesda has released a quick roundtable video with developers discussing the game. While I understand that any developer would be excited about what the game brings out, the way they discuss common RPG features for 2022 suggests that Starfield might be just like every other Bethesda title since The Elder Scrolls.
The five-and-half-minutes-long video features Game Director Todd Howard, Design Director Emil Pagliarulo, Lead Quest Designer Will Shen and Lead Artist Istvan Pely all talking about the goals and ambitions they have for Starfield, and it’s got a lot of the marketing buzzwords RPG developers love to tout out in 2022. Talking about “immersion”, “giant open universe” and how video games are capital B better than other media, because you don’t follow the “dotted line”. The group then discusses the various factions that the player might encounter and possibly side with in the game, including a corpo-style team and space pirates. They even discuss how a player can be a double agent and report pirates to police if they consider themselves to be a “good” person. Mkay.
To make it positive, I will say that I like Howard’s quote about how RPGs such as Starfield are so meaningful to players because they care less about what the developer is creating and more about the story they’re projecting into the world. It led to conversations about companions and persuasion and relationship building. That’s the kind of shit I hope to see in Starfield. It then veered off into discussing Starfield as if nothing else has done that. This means having dialogue where there’s no “right” way to talk and situations that feel flexible and not restrictive.
My problem is Cyberpunk2077. I remember it as a game I was able to see the value in, but I also recognized that many of its systemic problems were due to it feeling isolated from other videogame development. Even though games from years ago had solved the issues, it felt like it was still trying to figure out how to fix them. Bethesda is presenting a lot of solid, but not remarkable concepts as big leaps forward. Maybe they are. Starfield isn’t a surprise if you compare it to BioWare, CD Projekt Red and Larian Studios. This sounds more like what RPG enthusiasts expect. Eight months into the game, we haven’t seen much. I hope that this will be an opportunity for Bethesda to review how they talk about it and start showing more than just telling.