What, exactly, is Bethesda's Starfield all about? Following the reveal of Fallout 76, a number of questions about this other game that the Elder Scrolls and Fallout developer is working on still remain. We set out into the vast expanse of the Internet to see what kind of chatter about this mysterious upcoming title is out there.
The TrademarkLet's start things off with an obvious question: is Starfield a code name for Fallout 76? It's entirely possible, but I don't think it's likely. On the one hand, it's unlikely that Bethesda would invest the time and money in applying for (and subsequently renewing) a trademark for something that they weren't actually making. It would seem a bit silly to trademark a codename. On the other hand, the cost of a trademark application is a pittance compared to the kind of cash Bethesda has in their coffers. The entertainment industry is also notoriously secretive about their work. Many (if not most) big films utilize a code name during production for various reasons, one of which is to try to prevent too much leaking out before people get to the theaters. It's plausible that Bethesda would register the trademark for Starfield as part of the overall cover for the work they've been doing on Fallout 76—just one additional layer of believability to the cover for the game. According to Heavy, Todd Howard has stated that the developer is working on two games at the moment. A PCGamesN piece states that one of those two games are most certainly not The Elder Scrolls VI. That leaves us with a couple of likely scenarios:
- Starfield is its own game, and the second game of the two is Fallout 76.
- Starfield was the code name for Fallout 76, and the second game is The Elder Scrolls VI (despite what they've said).
- Some other scenario like a complete and total misdirection about there being two games being worked on.
The 4Chan LeaksIn August of last year, a number of leaks popped up on 4chan. 4chan autodeletes posts once they've fallen off the index, but a Reddit user copied all of their contents before they disappeared for good. In these rumored leaks, we read a few details about what Starfield supposedly is. It will feature space travel between a mix of randomly-generated worlds and hub worlds. There will be 12 romanceable companions for you to choose from and alien prostitutes if that's the kind of thing you're into. Combat will focus mainly on gunplay with a system that iterates on the mechanics introduced in Fallout 4 (and there will still be melee weapons available, too). Starfield's rumored races will all be humanoids of some sort. There will be, of course, bog-standard humans in the game. There will also be robotic races and alien races that are described as "conspiracy-esque," possibly referring to grey aliens or lizard people. The 4chan leaker also states that there will be five separate faction-based questlines for players to choose from, also similar to the setup of Fallout 4. One of the five options will be dedicated to loners who don't want to align themselves with any particular organization. That's the gist of the rumored leaks centered around Starfield. They certainly sound believable, but they are also exceedingly generic. The rumored 4chan leaks mostly talk about mechanics and completely avoids the topic of story. Bethesda games are very much like Ubisoft games. If I told you there was an upcoming Ubisoft game on the moon where you reveal the map by standing atop gigantic 2001-esque black monoliths, it would certainly sound believable. Once you understand the gist of how a company makes a particular style of game, coming up with a convincing fake is simply a matter of fleshing out the details and promising that the gameplay has been improved on from their previous work. It's that easy to come up with a fake. Judging by the complete and total lack of any story information or anything particularly unique about this title (save for the "randomly-generated worlds" portion), the rumors on 4chan are just far too generic and vague to give us any useful insight into what Starfield might be even if they are 100% genuine. Odds are, they probably aren't.
The ResetEra PostA ResetEra Post has a little bit more credibility compared to the 4chan leaker. A ResetEra post speculated that the game might be a mobile title based on trademark filings. A lone user named Potterson had a simple rebuttal to the question of whether or not Starfield would be a mobile title:
No, it is not :) And it is coming this fall, so just wait for E3.ResetEra (much like its progenitor NeoGAF) does not take kindly to unfounded claims, so Potterson ended up having a little chat with a forum administrator behind the scenes. Said administrator eventually added in this response to the thread:
At this time administrators cannot verify the contents of the quoted post made by Potterson in this thread are accurate. However, the user has shared information with us that suggests they could be in a position to know the information they claim in the post. As always, ResetEra members take full responsibility for what they post.Still flimsy, but the ResetEra admin states that this particular user is at least in a position to know what the deal is on this game. While this is a hair more credible than the 4chan leak, it still doesn't tell us very much about Starfield. Okay, it's supposedly not a mobile title. Bethesda has strongly focused on PC gaming first and console gaming second. The only mobile title released by the company so far is Fallout Shelter, a title that I certainly enjoy (and still play to this day) but was nonetheless a departure from their usual fare. I think it would be sensible to come to the conclusion on one's own that Starfield wasn't a mobile game in the first place. Once again, we unfortunately have not learned much.