Starfield’s Marketing Is Making Space Skyrim Sound Boring

I’m really excited for Starfield, along with the rest of the world. I’m a big Bethesda nut and played hundreds of hours of Skyrim when I was supposed to be studying for exams in school. Don’t do that kids. I mean, it worked out for me but it won’t for you. Stay in Skyrim, don’t do school. Wait. You know what I mean.

I must admit I haven’t bought all the Skyrims that have been released, but I’ve got at least three of the 567,398 versions that have launched. Since playing Skyrim I’ve also gone back and visited older Elder Scrolls titles like Oblivion and Morrowind. I like the vibes of the Fallout series, too, even if Bethesda’s entries have never lived up to the stellar post-apocalypse of Obsidian’s New Vegas. So when I heard about Starfield – Skyrim in space, a star-faring RPG from one of the best developers in the business – I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. But the more I hear about the game, the less excited I am for it.


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Some of this is due to the format of every Starfield announcement so far. Aside from the trailer (which didn’t show any gameplay), all we’ve seen are roundtable discussions between developers. I’m not saying Todd Howard is boring, but these talk show bits don’t come off as a creative genius passionately describing his creation. They’re more like a bored news anchor reading patch notes off a teleprompter.

But if the format isn’t for me, then at least the reveals are great, right? Right? Wait, the design director said you can be a cop who narcs on pirates? And he thinks that’s cool? Aside from Howard’s complete disregard for how cool pirates are, the rest of the Into the Starfield series seems like empty buzzwords. “You’re not just playing a game, but you’re living in this world.” “It’s a giant open world for the player to do what they want.” “We don’t just make RPGs, we make simulations.” All completely meaningless.

Maybe I’m being a little harsh. The developers talk about creating your own character and exploring different worlds, which are specific things you’ll be able to do in Starfield. The thing is, you could also create a character in 1994’s The Elder Scrolls: Arena. Exploring different worlds has been a thing in games for ages, too, in one form or another. Sure, the photogrammetry will make worlds look better and scanning IRL models will make your character’s eyelashes and pores look really real when Starfield releases, but it’s not new.

A large part of my problem with Starfield’s marketing is that it hasn’t said anything about the game. Not really. Todd Howard tells us that the player will create their own story and NPCs will make comments about whatever you’re doing. But that doesn’t tell us anything about Starfield. We get it, it’s an RPG. It’s doing things that Skyrim did, and hundreds of games before Skyrim did. It might do them better, but you would say that, you’re Todd Howard and you want me to buy your new game.

Starfield Official Concept Art By Bethesda

Starfield Official Concept Art With A Ship On An Unknown Planet

I hope that Bethesda is keeping gameplay in the back for a good reason, and that the reveal will blow all of our tiny little minds. But at present, we know so little about the game and it’s infuriating that the developers are pretending that these faux-interviews are giving us any insight into what the game will be like. Multiple dialogue options? Different factions? This is the most basic RPG stuff.

Bethesda doesn’t have to spoil everything, I just want it to show something. Anything. Give me panning shots of planets, spaceships roaming the stars, let me see a freaky little alien giraffe that I’ll be able to befriend or corrupt depending on my moral alignment and skill choices. Just show me a weird purple creature! I’m excited to see a new science fiction IP in a world of endless Star Wars regurgitations and constant remakes and sequels, but Starfield hasn’t offered us anything new yet. It’s characters we don’t know in a universe we’ve never seen, but the only things that the devs have actually told us about so far are archaic RPG basics. Riveting.

The more times they sit us down with Todd & co, the less I want to play this game – a game I was once very excited for. Maybe I just won’t watch the next episode of Into the Starfield. Maybe Starfield isn’t real. Maybe Starfield will be great. I just wish Bethesda would stop pretending it’s letting us in on all the game’s secrets when it’s doing nothing of the sort.

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