If there’s one thing Bethesda games get quite right, more or less anyway, it’s exploration. Whether it’s the snow-capped mountains of Tamriel’s Skyrim, or the irradiated wasteland of a post-apocalyptic Mojave Desert, there’s a particular sense of wonder that comes with exploring worlds built by Bethesda – and I have found that this is something quite a few other open-world games fail to match. With Starfield allegedly featuring over 1,000 planets for players to explore – let alone just one exciting world like Fallout 4 or The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim – it’s easy to get a little excited about the exploration we’re all going to be in for when it drops. However, there’s one thing that Bethesda should really be avoiding when it comes to Starfield: building interiors, and dungeons.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; in Bethesda games, there are usually quite a lot of building interiors and sequences that can be equated to dungeons – even in the Fallout games. There are not only quite a lot of these, but – more often than not – that’s where all the major narrative events and gameplay sequences take place. I certainly know that being able to wake up Jarl Balgruff in the middle of the night to tell him about dragons is part of Skyrim’s charm.
But, despite all that, it’s clear to see that Starfield represents something of an ambitious step forwards for Bethesda and its’ games. So, that’s why things like linear dungeons and maze-like building interiors should be scrapped.
Okay, I know it’s unrealistic to want Bethesda to completely ditch building interiors; however, a game with the scope of Starfield should focus fully on exploration and avoid constraining players to one-lane dungeons and enclosed interiors. It’s important to remember that as big as Starfield is going to be, there’s only going to be a finite number of furnishings and interior design assets. With hundreds of Starfield planets potentially home to thousands upon thousands of buildings, things are going to get stale – and repetitive – pretty fast. Not to mention, these sorts of environments limit combat encounters quite a bit.
Thankfully, though, this is all something that Starfield has the scope to avoid; it’s something it should actually actively look to avoid, especially when you consider the fact that Starfield is to be around “20% longer” than previous Bethesda RPGs. While I don’t want to jinx anything, this is very-much a game that could become a drag; a playthrough based on this rough estimation of the Starfield length could stretch into hundreds of hours.
To put it plainly, the thought of being able to fully explore every floor of one of Starfield’s impressive space-age skyscrapers, which is something some players are eager for, sounds – quite frankly – horrendous. I truly can’t think of anything worse. This is a game about space travel. It simply doesn’t need more than a handful of interior locations on every other planet. I’m certain that Bethesda will have no trouble when it comes to environmental storytelling in exterior locations, in any case. So, why waste everyone’s time with corridors and stairwells.
Now, I should make it clear that this isn’t to say I am suggesting we spend every moment of our time in Starfield’s universe on the rocky surface of an unexplored moon or wandering the streets of one of Starfield’s cities. No, there is a time and a place for being inside. While Starfield’s spaceship customisation sounds exhausting, it should also be used as a way for the player to customise what should be the game’s main interior environment.
Details on just how much of your spaceship you’ll be able to explore in Starfield are slim right now, but having a fully explorable – and fully customisable – spaceship in Starfield could be the perfect way for Bethesda to build on the settlement-building and home-constructing we’ve seen in available in the studios’ more-recent games. We know there’s going to be a lot to do when it comes to customising the outside of your ship, but Bethesda could and should make the interior just as important.
It seems certain that Starfield is going to be one of the best Xbox Series X games available when it drops, but any game as big as this one has to be acutely aware of becoming bloated. All the best Xbox RPG games – and the best PS5 RPG games – find a way of avoiding this, though, and I think Bethesda should lean on the grandeur of its’ environments, when it comes to Starfield, to do so.