Starfield might not be ‘Skyrim In Space’ – removed from fantasy, we could get a new style RPG

At first glance, Starfield seems like a radical departure for Bethesda, firmly established as they are in the business of peddling passports to fantasy theme parks. Bloodthirsty Orcs. Scheming Elves. Sentient cats plying wares from roadside caravans. Colonies of suburban mannequins, intelligent zombies, and rogue supercomputers vying for a foothold in the bombed out ruins of a “Chicken In Every Pot” America that never quite was.

The tangible click-clunk of Starfield’s space race aesthetic is nothing like any of that. You can almost smell the machine oil, and feel the rumble of thruster fire. It’s grounded in something real, in things that have happened and are happening; an extrapolation of our current reality with its drone warfare and billionaire space tourism. But is it all that removed from worlds already charted?

Bethesda’s twin resorts are at once familiar and extraordinary, heavily drawing on western genre tropes so common that anyone within the general orbit of the Anglosphere can boot up Skyrim or Fallout 4 with no prior knowledge and immediately get the gist, but their influences are anything but straightforward: Tamriel is at once reminiscent of Middle Earth, Edo Japan, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Wasteland is as much Day of the Dead as it is Mad Max, tinged with the atomic age panic of Godzilla and the techno-horror of The Terminator.

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