Starfield: Morrowind-In-Space

In the run-up to Starfield a lot of people pointed out that it would be Skyrim-in-space. This was mostly in response to the mad dreams of space simmers who thought they were going to get No Man's Sky or Star Citizen combined with a Bethesda RPG. We're seeing a lot of this again now with the “boundaries?!” shock that space simmers have. It's as if they've never played Mass Effect. This was always just going to be a traditional RPG set in space.

But after a full day of playing, I think that the model of Skyrim-in-space was slightly mistaken: it's actually Morrowind-in-space. Remember how leisurely Morrowind was to get going? The struggle to fight off a measly skeever with your Level 1 Rogue. The way enemy attacks would slice through your paper armour. The long empty gaps of ashy Vvardenfell wilderness between settlements, populated only by f***ing cliff racers. But also remember these earlier games' classic RPG systems. Fuller conversation trees with character-specific options. Levelling that requires you to actually do the thing you're levelling.

Starfield is coming as a shock to the system for some after decades of arcadey action-adventuring from Bethesda, but as someone who started out with Morrowind I am appreciating the return to an older style of game. Fans have been asking them for years to go back to their roots and stop dumbing down their games. Well, here it is.


Community Contributor
So, you're saying that the crafting system lets even medium-level characters make god-killer weapons? <grinning, ducking, running>

Really, though, Skyrim and Morrowind don't seem all that different to me. Morrowind counted all skills when calculating your level (and thus the power of enemies) and didn't have waypoints to help you find your destination. It had a badly balanced item creation system that was still somewhat around in the form of Skyrim's custom spells. It had a very different setting, of course, and I think the only fast travel was via the bug transports.

Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind all had the level scaling system, so gaining levels meant having more powerful versions of monsters populating an area. That let you go anywhere you wanted (well, most anywhere) in any order, without being blocked because your level was wrong. It sounds like Starfield doesn't do that, though. Each system in Starfield has a recommended level. To me, that alone disqualifies it from any "Elder Scrolls in space."

I'm still surprised at the boundaries! From the sound of it, the game is already doing all the procedural stuff to generate a landscape. So why block you from wandering? Maybe it's the transition from one type of landscape to another? No Man's Sky really doesn't do that except with oceans even today - planetary poles have the same environments as the equators. Or maybe just because it gets boring?

You can't blame people for thinking there would be a lot of NMS in Starfield, though, with the procedural planet building, building bases on those planets to harvest resources, and getting credit for scanning life forms. (At least they said the latter was going to be in there. Come to think of it, I haven't heard anyone mention it since.)
So, you're saying that the crafting system lets even medium-level characters make god-killer weapons? <grinning, ducking, running>
Haha I don't claim it's a one-for-one match. Yes, in some ways Starfield is an even more trad RPG than the sainted Morrowind!
getting credit for scanning life forms
That is in there! I have already done that myself. It's fun—in fact I upgraded my scanner as an early skill point.


Community Contributor
They do in NMS, no reason they can't here. The location isn't on a map in the game files anywhere, but it's generated by a fixed set of random numbers. All you have to do is record the seed. Passing the same seed into the same procedural generation will make the exact same landscape.

If they change that procedural generation in ANY way, though, it will all fall apart. They've had to do that in No Man's Sky at least once. Suddenly, the base you had along the beach of a huge, pink ocean is now half buried in a mountain! Instead of having that happen, NMS just reduced your base to its component parts and stuck them in a safe for you to extract when you find a new place for a base.