Starfield will tantalise you with a bunch of mechs you can't use

A spaceman walks past a rusting mech in Starfield.
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Remember last month, when Bethesda put out a series of animated Starfield shorts that, presumably, contained some kind of important narrative content? I've kind of glossed over that stuff, because all I paid attention to were the battling mechs it showed off: Bipedal, human-operated war suits caked in grease and diesel that look incredibly cool as they pummel the hell out of one another. It led me, and plenty of others, to ask if we might get a shot at piloting these titans ourselves when Starfield finally releases.

Well, the answer's no, in short. As part of yesterday's Discord Starfield Q&A with lead quest designer Will Shen and lead designer Emil Pagliarulo, Bethesda revealed that Starfield's mechs are more of an ornamental feature. A kind of battlefield mood piece that will pockmark some of the game's many, many planets but that will never actually become pilotable. I'm inconsolable.

Asked by a fan about the history of Starfield's mechs, Pagliarulo explained that the mechs are "leftovers from the Colony Wars," the conflict kicked off in 2308 when the game's Freestar Collective violated a treaty, "Both sides, United Colonies and Freestar Collective, had mechs. But the Freestar Collective really mastered them." The UC, apparently, balanced out its use of mechs with "the controlled alien beasts from their Xenowarfare division," which is admittedly a pretty intriguing series of words, even for a Starfield-sceptic like me.

Alas, UC's Xenowarfare labs and both sides' mechs were "outlawed with the Armistice that ended the Colony War" a few decades before Starfield kicks off. That means, says Pagliarulo, all that's left of them are the rusting hulks that litter historic battlefields. Mechs are "not usable, no," said Pagliarulo, "they're in ruins." Rust in peace, battlebots.

To be fair, we already knew that Starfield won't have ground vehicles, but I'm not sure I'd put mechs under that rubric. In my heart of hearts, I had hoped they might function a bit like Fallout 4's power armour: More of an apparatus than a vehicle. No such luck.

But hey, at least it sounds like you'll get to wander among the carcasses at some point. Pagliarulo says he's "not saying there's an old mech battleground in the game," he's "typing it." So that's pretty much confirmed, then.

To be honest, I'm probably going to be a little frustrated to have the opportunity to walk among and touch a bunch of dead mechs I'll never get to use myself, but I suppose it will make for an arresting visual. Plus, you just know it's going to be one of the first things an enterprising modding team tries to get working, and that's if Bethesda doesn't beat them to the punch in some kind of expansion. So come on, get in the mech Bethesda, or the modders will have to do it again.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.