Hold onto your warp nacelles and hyperdrives, Starfield aficionados. The game’s lead designer Emil Pagliarulo and lead quest designer Will Shen have hosted a Discord Q&A about Bethesda’s forthcoming space colossus. Self-despising fool that I am, I sat up late at the office taking notes throughout – please accept a modest avalanche of new details.
First off, a note on the subject of Starfield and housing. You can own property in “all the major cities in the game”, according to Pagliarulo, with some dwellings being purchaseable and others, quest rewards.
Building on the character creation systems of Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, the game features a “Kids Stuff” trait that generates parents based on your choice of custom character, allowing you to inflict your terrible physiognomical experiments on at least two other in-game entities. “No spoilers, but I think fans will really appreciate the actors we got to play those roles,” Pagliarulo added.
And now, a few words on the subject of contraband items. You can apparently buy ship modules that allow you to smuggle illegal items past the security ships orbiting major settled planets, much like the false partitions aboard the Millennium Falcon. (Pagliarulo mentions organ trading, but I’m fairly sure he’s jesting.) Get caught, and as in other Bethesda games, you can go to jail, pay a fine or blow seventeen shades of starlight out of the arresting officer/patrol craft. “The Settled Systems is more like Skyrim than Fallout 4’s Commonwealth in that regard,” Pagliarulo commented.
There are a few quests that are specifically about crime and punishment, actually, and if you’re really into underhand antics, you can play a double-agent – infiltrating the gorgeous pirates of the Crimson Fleet on behalf of the horrible G-men of the United Colonies, with the option of betraying either in the end. This particular quest takes inspiration from the movie Donnie Brasco.
If all this strikes you as perfectly barbaric, you might be displeased to know that there’s no way of completing Starfield without killing anybody. “We talked about this very early on during pre-production, whether or not we would fully support a “non-lethal” playthrough,” Pagliarulo wrote. “We realized that, for various reasons, that wasn’t totally feasible.” There are, however, non-lethal weapons plus a Speech Challenge mechanic which kicks in at scripted intervals, giving you the chance to talk your way out of situations, and especially those featuring important characters you might be particularly keen not to murder.
Pagliarulo and Shen had a few things to say on the subject of religion. Starfield features real-life faiths, would you believe, which makes sense given that it occurs a hundred or so years from our present-day. “Existing, IRL religions are part of the Starfield universe, (with folks of all religions and denominations out there) but we don’t really focus on them,” Pagliarulo wrote. “Instead, we highlight three new ones specific to the game.”
The make-believe creeds are the god-seeking Sanctum Universum, the atheist Enlightened, and the colourful preachers of House Va’Ruun, who seemingly trace their origins to somebody hitting the minibar a little too hard during an interplanetary voyage.
“The gossip among the guards is this: a colony ship sets off for a new world, making grav jumps along the way,” Pagliarulo explained. “After one of the grav jumps, one of the passengers claims he spent that time communing with a celestial entity known as the Great Serpent. What was a few seconds for everyone else was… much longer for him. And he brought back a mandate, which is basically, ‘get onboard, or be devoured when the Great Serpent encircles the universe.'” Has anybody here read Stephen King’s The Jaunt? This feels like a homage to that.
While we’re making cross-media comparisons, here are a few of Pagliarulo and the Starfield team’s literary and movie influences. “Star Wars, OG Battlestar Galactica, Space: 1999, Buck Rogers, Battle Beyond the Stars, Ice Pirates… and let’s not forget the classic that is Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jaryd Syn. I think I actually saw that one in 3D. But also much “headier” sci-fi stuff, like the writings of Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein, or films like Contact, Interstellar, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and even Event Horizon.”
Bethesda have cited Event Horizon in the past, but it’s still the reference that holds my attention. Sidequests in space derelicts from hell, please!
Some practicalities: you can recruit companions from a pool of “over 20 named characters”, four from the Constellation organisation of Artifact-hunters, who get the most development as characters. “When we first began Starfield pre-production, we looked back at our previous games, and realized how popular and effective the companions were,” Pagliarulo wrote. “So they were a big priority for us, and we really wanted to tie them directly to the main quest.”
Bethesda also experimented with you paying crew members a salary once they’re assigned to work at outposts, but opted for a one-time payment instead. “There’s a lot to do in Starfield, and we wanted to minimize what the player had to constantly keep track of,” Pagliarulo said.
Some final snippets. Time only passes in Starfield when you’re actively playing, so you won’t be setting up trade routes and mining operations and heading to bed, for a big payout in the morning. Oh, and it sounds like we’ll get to explore a map full of destroyed battlemechs. “I’m not saying there’s an old mech battleground in the game,” Pagliarulo joked. “I’m typing it.”
What do you make of all that then? I have a feeling a few of those Starfactoids are already in circulation – Starfield at this stage is sort of a giant news-comet that has been splintered into a million pieces by misjudged nuclear bombardment. But hopefully there’s enough in there to justify you reading to the bottom. Well done! Here’s everything we know about Starfield other than the above.
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