Starfield aims to be more than ‘No Man’s Skyrim’

Fans hungrily awaiting the launch of Bethesda Softworks’ next AAA RPG – Starfield – were left sated after a mammoth chunk of gameplay was showed off at the Xbox conference on Sunday.

Anchored by studio supremo Todd Howard, fans were treated to a fairly in-depth look at the game. However, the showing of this starfaring saga drew quickly drew comparisons to another interstellar exploring sim – Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky.

Eagle-eyed watchers noticed plenty of similarities between the two projects, and while the genre and aim is fair game, gamers noted that a number of gameplay features are pretty much identical between the pair.

For example, early on in the gameplay demo of Starfield, fans were introduced to a number of gameplay elements including surveying planets and minerals, and also mining those minerals. The former happens in a similar fashion to the existing game, while the latter is identical down to the animation.

Where Bethesda hopes to crack open a key difference is within it’s storytelling. In No Man’s Sky, there are a lot of vagaries and reliance on the user to discover and explore to push forward – key due to it’s nature. No Man’s Sky is set across 18 quintillion planets, all procedurally generated, so a vague story lacking in depth is somewhat necessary, even more so if you consider that every new player will start in a fairly undiscovered portion of the in-game galaxy. Bethesda will hope their ability to tell a story via environments and in-game NPCs as well as a portion of AAA gloss will show through. Fans certainly need that.

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Starfield in action - a ship shoots across the galaxyStarfield aims to be more than No Man’s SkyBethesda

Scale might be an issue though.

Starfield will have 1000 planets across a number of space systems for users to explore. While Bethesda may rely plenty on the same procedurally generated method as No Man’s Sky to create planets, the ‘smaller’ scale and Bethesda’s own style used in Fallout 4 may well mean a more in-depth experience on each planet. The hope is that each visit to a planet in the galaxy of Starfield is meaningful, or at least purposeful – and that the storytelling depth across the universe in-game isn’t just a veneer. There will have to be a reason to visit each planet beyond the ‘just because’ that No Man’s Sky offers.

No Man’s Sky debuted to a very rocky launch back in 2016, but has since improved over the course of the last six years to offer not only the vision that was initially advertised pre-launch, but also a number of key expansions that have totally reimagined the player experience of the game since the start.

Starfield: Official Teaser

Bethesda also endured a pretty rocky launch when they released Fallout 76 a few years back. The empty Appalachian map and lack of story instantly failed to connect to fans beyond the Fallout hardcore, and like No Man’s Sky, years was spent on patching and updating the game to bring it in line with it’s initial promise.

While it may not match the nearly-unlimited scale of No Man’s Sky, Starfield is still stepping up to be something of a big deal in the scale size. We’ll have to see how detailed those worlds are and whether the scope of Starfield improves on what No Man’s Sky has to offer already.

The game will release in 2023, and based on both Fallout 76 and No Man’s Sky, fans might be right to be wary – but just as right to hope for the best. Only time will tell.

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