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Starfield: Bethesda’s Familiar RPG Formula in Space

Bethesda Game Studios is known for its open-world RPGs that follow a predictable formula. The studio's latest game, Starfield, is no exception. Although set in space and heavily inspired by science fiction, Starfield still carries the familiar Bethesda RPG DNA.

Like previous Bethesda games, Starfield allows players to pick up and collect nearly every object they come across, no matter how mundane. The physics-based inventory system can lead to piles of trash and clutter. Additionally, players can sit on chairs and wait for hours, or sleep in beds to heal themselves. The game also features zoomed-in conversations and allows players to join multiple factions.

One of the defining traits of Bethesda RPGs is that the player is always at the center of the universe. In Starfield, as in Fallout 4 and Skyrim, the player character is the most powerful, skilled, and important individual in the world. Every NPC needs the player's help, regardless of their previous interactions or knowledge of the player's abilities. The game revolves entirely around the player, making them the only one capable of saving the day.

This focus on player-centric gameplay is intentional and part of Bethesda's design ethos. The company aims to make players proud and satisfied with their gaming experience. They want players to feel catered to and valued, ensuring that they never get bored or forgotten in their vast virtual worlds.

While this formula may frustrate some players who desire more dynamic and realistic interactions, it is unlikely that Bethesda RPGs will ever deviate significantly from this design approach. The studio has honed its formula over two decades, and its games have garnered a dedicated fanbase that appreciates the familiarity and comfort of each release.

In conclusion, Starfield, despite its space setting, remains true to Bethesda's RPG formula. It offers an expansive open world, physics-based interactions, and a narrative that revolves around an all-powerful player character. Whether this formula is seen as repetitive or comforting depends on individual tastes, but one thing is certain: Bethesda's dedication to its tried and true formula has made it a master of its craft.

– Bethesda Game Studios
– Todd Howard's 2012 GDC talk