A central element of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls RPGs is that you, the player, can become the head of virtually every organization in the game. Seriously, if you aren't sitting atop the magic guild, the fighter's guild, the thieves' guild, and the local murder club by the end of the game, were you really even trying?
It sounds like the upcoming sci-fi epic Starfield (opens in new tab) will take a similar, but slightly more restrained, approach: In the latest Constellation Questions video, lead quest designer Will Shen said players will have the opportunity to explore and influence all the game's factions, but won't necessarily be able to take charge of them.
Starfield has a number of confirmed factions (opens in new tab) at this point, including the United Colonies, the Freestar Collective, Ryujin Industries, the Crimson Fleet, and House Va'Ruun. Each of them has a different idea about the sort of future humanity should embrace, from an idealized republic to religious fanaticism, and it's reasonable to assume that some of those competing philosophies would be bound to collide. But Shen said players who want to do it all won't have to worry about missing out on anything.
"One of the early things we decided on was making sure that the main quest actually kind of gives you a little bit of a tour of the settled systems and all of the major players there, so that we can give you a taste of what they're going to be up to," Shen said in the new Constellation Questions video. We also discussed really early on, 'Okay, do we make some of the factions be in conflict with each other?' And we decided we really want to make sure that you can play through all the faction lines independently of each other.
"This time around, we were like, we really want the stories to be a little more personal, right—you're influencing the direction of where this faction is going to go. So, say the politics of the Freestar Rangers, what's more important, is it justice or is it industry, right? Where are you going to try to nudge them in this direction or another. So you don't necessarily end up as the head of every single faction of the game. But obviously all the major characters and every faction questline will be reflecting on your choices. But it can have far-reaching consequences for what that faction is and what it cares about."
That definitely sounds like an approach more akin to Skyrim than to Fallout 4, which lets players dally with all the factions but eventually forces them to make a choice, and leave the others behind. At the same time, it's more down to Earth (which is ironic, given the interstellar nature of the game): In Skyrim you're literally a supernatural hero destined to save the world, whereas in Starfield you seem to be just a new recruit to Constellation, an exploration group similar to "Indiana Jones and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," according to Todd Howard .
It won't be just factions who will be influenced by your decisions. Shen said that the companions you meet in Starfield will "have a lot of opinions and points of view about what decisions you'll be making along the main storyline."
Starfield is currently slated to come out sometime in the first half of 2023. Some fans are speculating (opens in new tab) the date will be March 23, which plays nicely into Todd Howard's appreciation for visually appealing release dates—03-23-23—but so far nothing has been confirmed.