It’s in our nature as humans to explore, to think of all the endless possibilities beyond what we can perceive. We’ve been looking up to the stars attempting to derive meaning or some grand answer for time immemorial. Space is a vast field stretched across the infinite filled with possibilities and potential for humanity. On October 4th, 1957, humanity took the first leap out into space with the launch of Sputnik, a Soviet satellite. Ever since then, we have kept pushing the bounds of what we can accomplish with space exploration. Starfield takes our modern understanding of space and shows where it could lead and humanity’s place within.
In this article, we are going to take a look at why Starfield is such an effective vision of space. If you want more of a breakdown of Starfield’s overall experience, you can check out our review!
Starfield’s Not-So-Alien Future
Starfield is Bethesda’s first original IP in over 25 years, it was and is a big moment for them and their fans. They needed their universe to be something special to avoid getting lost in the endless sea of science fiction. Bethesda achieved this by creating a vision of space which is a natural evolution of where we are now. When you look at Starfield there is a sense of tangibility to all the iconography and ideas. There are no talking aliens or some technology that can be eschewed by declaring it space magic.
Instead, they filled their universe with boundless empty space that humans have begun to colonize. All the creations and conflicts you encounter amongst the stars are rooted in the human race. Unlike Mass Effect or Star Trek, you aren’t hanging out with aliens or discovering some brand-new sentient species or society. When the player lands on a planet in Starfield they are greeted with something alien, but in the more traditional sense. A stretch of land full of unearthly terrain and colors but filled with resources that we can understand.
In Starfield’s gameplay deep dive, Bethesda’s art director Istvan Pely used the term “NASA Punk” when describing Starfield. It’s this idea that everything is looked through the lens of the Golden Age of space discovery from 1950-1970. The NASA Punk mindset when crafting Starfield is why it feels so familiar to us. You can see where all the designs in Starfield originated from, there’s nothing about it that seems improbable. A player can instantly connect with this vision because it is so rooted in where we are now. It gives a sense of awe for what we are capable of, almost evoking a sense of patriotism for humanity.
Human stories amongst the Starfield
In previous Bethesda RPGs such as Elder Scrolls or Fallout, they focused on more of a loose form of storytelling. The narratives were crafted so the player could manipulate and shape the outcomes, keeping flexibility as a priority. This meant a wide pool of stories for the player to partake in, but it could lack cohesion at times. Starfield solves this problem by unifying all the major main and faction quests with one throughline, authentic human struggles. There won’t be any spoilers here since Starfield is a meaty experience and these stories are best left for your own discovery. However, what Bethesda achieved with Starfield’s writing is far greater than any of their other titles.
One major contributor to the genius of Starfield’s writing is how relatable so many of the themes and characters are. The main story deals with concepts that we wrestle with on a daily basis and taps into humanity’s nature. Ideas like our place in the universe and how we perceive everything around us are all incorporated into the writing. Starfield will provide its answer to some of these questions, but more importantly, allows you to express how you feel. In doing so, it prods the player’s mind leading to real-life contemplation, and who knows how Starfield will inspire players. After all, people fell in love with fantasy through Elder Scrolls so Starfield might ignite the spark of space exploration for generations.
The developers at Bethesda certainly all had that spark, the passion for telling stories about space and humanity. The characters, plotlines, and locations all feel carefully curated around the broader themes of Starfield. This is Bethesda’s largest game, but the storytelling is more intimate, and the characters are fleshed out like never before. Just the main members of Constellation all have their own stories and hidden depths waiting for you. They deal with incredibly relatable struggles and ask questions that we ourselves would ask in their situation. The companions and characters in Starfield feel like true people, not just extra inventory space (although they are that too). By putting effort into crafting authentic and deep characters throughout all of Starfield, it makes this universe feel more human.
This same sense of humanity can also be found in both the major and minor locations of Starfield’s world. The cities all have a certain flair to them, feeling like particular groups coming together to create their idea of home. Earth today Is filled with various cultures and styles, all expressing their unique lifestyles. Starfield retains that, just spread across solar systems, it shows that even among the stars humans will never lose what makes them special.
The endless possibilities of Starfield’s World
It’s no secret that a Bethesda RPG is a rare occurrence, ambitions keep getting raised which means longer development cycles. With Starfield Bethesda has the opportunity to keep delivering stories of all kinds while we wait for their next game. They have crafted a game where any type of story could work, there are hundreds of untapped planets to explore. Unlimited stories to be told surrounding the vast beauty and mystery of space. Starfield’s base game poses thought-provoking ideas and introduces characters we want more of. Bethesda is in a unique position; they created a world that has so much room to evolve with its concepts and characters.
Unlike Bethesda’s other games, Starfield deals with our future, and what possibilities it could hold. As a player, we of course want more content to play and be excited about. However, more importantly, Starfield and Bethesda have a chance to tell stories that could inspire real-life ideas. The writers have shown they care deeply about the endless potential of exploring the stars. After all, society and our culture have been built upon stories. They can be used as an ignition point for people of all ages to discover passions that can change the world. If Bethesda keeps on supporting Starfield, as silly as it might sound, who knows where it could lead.