When you visit the Starfield website, you’ll see the release date of November 11, 2022. While it may not ring a bell for everyone, that date is exactly 10 years from the launch of Skyrim, Bethesda’s open-world epic RPG that’s still got a legion of loyal fans today.
Considering how significant that 11.11.11 date was a decade ago, Starfield certainly has a lot to live up to.
The launch trailer, which had no gameplay involved, still managed to evoke a sense of excitement in me that I hadn’t felt in a long time. If I’m being honest, it’s probably got something to do with what I feel has been a dearth of truly epic single player RPGs in recent years.
There’s a lot of factors that I feel have contributed to this, from many games launching as live service titles, and the focus shifting to that side of things for a lot of studios. However, there will always be something special about experiencing solo adventures on a grand scale, because the best titles in the genre allow you to shape your own story inside the worlds that you inhabit.
BioWare used to be masters of this, with classics like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I & II, the Dragon Age series, and the Mass Effect series. They slowly lost their way, though, and their most recent title, Anthem, was a multiplayer space shooter that was doomed from the beginning with bugs and a lack of content. They announced in February of this year that they were ceasing development on these titles.
That’s the risk you take when you focus on games as a service, because you are always at the mercy of your player base. If server populations start to dwindle, especially if it happens quickly after release, it’s hard to rescue a title. That’s exactly what happened with Anthem.
Bethesda have long been one of the other kings of the western RPG arena, with mega franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout being their crown jewels. They know what makes a single player experience compelling.
Remember, when Fallout 3 first came out, people weren’t very sure about how the isometric turn-based gameplay would translate properly into the V.A.T.S system that they started using with the move to a first-person perspective. The system ended up working, and the storytelling was good enough to suck you in for dozens or even hundreds of hours.
While Fallout 3 and 4 had their share of bugs and issues, they were still fun games that hold a special place for me to this day. I would say the same for The Elder Scrolls series, especially for Oblivion and Skyrim.
While Bethesda does have multiplayer versions of these franchises in Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls Online, they never managed to grab my attention for extended periods. I’ve dabbled in both and honestly didn’t enjoy them too much. For me, those two universes are best explored within the context of a single player RPG.
That’s why Starfield is one of my most-anticipated titles this year. It’s a brand new franchise, Bethesda’s first in 25 years, and could help recapture that space adventure magic that I’ve been sorely missing. There have been some other good titles in the genre like The Outer Worlds to scratch that itch, but it was a relatively short game.
What I’m hoping for is a game that will allow me the freedom to explore things at my own pace, while maintaining that feeling of being part of a huge universe with tons of possibilities.
Don’t let me down, Bethesda. It feels like you’re my only hope.