Starfield Devs Talk Religion, Smuggling, Jail Time And More In Enlightening Q&A

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Thirsty for information about Bethesda's Starfield ahead of its September 6th release date? Good news! Starfield developers Will Shen (lead quest designer) and Emil Pagliarulo (overall design lead) took time off from polishing up the title to do a community question & answer event on the official Bethesda Studios Discord server. There's all kinds of specific information that clarifies details only hinted at in previous official materials.

We have to give Will and Emil credit; they didn't shy away from questions nearly as much as you might expect. We got a lot of information, and as a result we're not going to reproduce everything here. Instead, we'll cover the salient details for you. Even at that, there are a lot, so sit down and strap in for a Starfield Q&A summary.


Like most of the rest of Bethesda's games, you create a custom character at the beginning of Starfield. This character can be given a specific background and you can customize traits for them, sort of like in Fallout. Also like those games, the starting character traits are usually a double-edged sword. Folks who would prefer to start with a more blank slate can rejoice, though, because the options to select an "anonymous" background and to skip trait selection are both present.

One of the traits that the developers showed off with glee was called "Kid Stuff," where your parents are alive and you are in contact with them. You're actually able to visit your parents in the game, and Emil confirmed that while the voice actors for the parents are fixed, Will says that their appearance will be based on the look of your custom character, just like your dad in Fallout 3.

Another detail of the game that was much-discussed among fans was the revelation that you can be a smuggler and ship contraband. The devs said that some items are simply considered contraband, and are illegal everywhere. Those will have to be smuggled past security ships orbiting major settlements, and hidden using special ship modules that you can acquire.


If you get caught smuggling, or doing any other sort of criminal activity, you're likely to be arrested, just like in the Elder Scrolls games. When you're arrested, you have the same options: go to jail, pay the fine, or, if you're feeling plucky, resist arrest and try to escape, although this will probably annoy whatever faction runs the settlement you're at quite a bit. Emil says that the game explores the themes of crime and punishment in a spacefaring universe.

Speaking of factions, Will says in response to a question about whether you can be a "double agent" that all of the playable factions "can be completed independently," which basically means "no." However, he does note that there is a specific questline where you do exactly that, but it sounds like it's a storyline thing, rather than something you can do for any faction. Indeed, Emil says that "you have specific roles/jobs/missions in the faction questlines." Expect them to be similar to Skyrim in this regard.

A player asked if time moves when the game isn't running, and was told no, the simulation is only active while playing, as expected. This isn't really a space sim, guys; it's more like Fallout 4 in space—not that that's necessarily a bad thing. With that said, Emil says that the Settled Systems are "more like Skyrim than Fallout 4's Commonwealth," and that factions may get upset when you take another faction's side.


Folks who enjoy player housing will find a lot to like in Starfield, apparently. The developers say that you can acquire at least one home in every settlement, and that some are purchased, while at least one is a quest reward, which reminds us of Morrowind. While trading is of course a central part of the game, there's no real economy; however, prices for items can be adjusted through your character's skills.

Aside from ship-to-ship combat, it seems like the rest of the combat in the game will be on foot, which is a disappointment to the mech fans in the audience (including your author.) On the topic of mechs, Emil says that they—along with "controlled alien beasts" used for "xenowarfare"—been outlawed after a major war in the history of the setting, and is explicit with the detail that they are not available as a feature.

If you prefer a more charismatic, non-lethal approach to the game, the developers said that there are non-lethal weapons in the game, but that a whole pacifist playthrough might be very difficult. Folks who enjoy doing non-lethal runs in Bethesda's past games will probably be well aware of how poorly it usually works, so this is no particular surprise. There also seems to be a "Speech Challenge game" that will pop up in "specific scripted moments," which will apparently be found in "most quests."


Companions were a major part of past Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, with adventuring partners like Skyrim's Lydia and Fallout 4's Deacon being especially beloved by fans for their quotable dialogue and sometimes, interesting personal histories. If you're a fan of NPC companions in games, rejoice: Starfield will apparently have "over 20" available companions, each with their own background. Will confirms that they can follow you around and carry your stuff, as is their lot in life as a companion of the PC.

Four of the companions are apparently from the Constellation, which is a secretive organization that the player joins as part of the main quest sort of like the Blades in Skyrim. Will says that those four have the most story and interaction with the player, but overall the companions were apparently "a big priority" for the team and a major focus of the game.

If you, like the author, prefer not to fuss about with talkative NPCs, you can instead apparently also hire generic crewmembers to work on your ship or run outposts. It's a little unrealistic, but apparently crew members only require a one-time fee instead of having to be paid regularly; the developers say this was a compromise made to reduce the amount of things the player needs to manage, which is fair enough. You can apparently use the aforementioned Speech minigame to ratchet down the cost, too.

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Finally, players asked about religions in the game. Bethesda already announced that there are three different spiritual factions unique to the game, one of which is the fanatical House Va'ruun. Apparently, House Va'ruun acts primarily as antagonists to the player. The other two, which are the monotheistic Sanctum Universum and the atheistic group known as "The Enlightened" (Redditors?), apparently serve as wide-ranging factions within the story. Real-life religions also exist as part of the universe, but aren't a focus of the game.

Some folks seem to have the impression that Starfield is aiming to be a competitor with titles like Elite: Dangerous or Star Citizen, but it really doesn't seem to be that kind of game. Personally, your author is looking forward to the title with modest expectations; he's expecting "Fallout in Space", which sounds like fun for sure. What do you think? Do these details make you more or less excited for the game? Let us know in the comments.