Starfield has been released for a month, and it turns out it’s a Bethesda game. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised; surely, that’s what we were all hoping for: where’s the joy in a big, polished cosmos where everything works as it should? It’s far preferable to live in a universe where something as innocuous as a mop might accidentally spark a mini-genocide.
This is what player lkl34 discovered while wandering about Neon and opting to pick up a cleaning mop. The immediate reaction of NPCs around them is to yell “thief!” and run like headless chickens, which is humorous enough, but as bad logic piles on bad logic, things begin to spiral… And before we know it, we’ve got a slew of NPCs in their underpants, ostensibly unaggroed and desperate to participate?
This is the nonsense for which we pay the admission fee. This isn’t unusual, as every Starfield player knows. Bethesda’s space sandbox suffers from the same tagging flaws as its past games, which means that any time you accidentally knock a ball or pick up an incidental prop, you risk a gunfight with security. It’s interesting to watch the player pick up the mop again and the NPCs’ immediate “oh no!” reactions.
My favorite Bethesda anecdote is about how a dragon once attacked me in Skyrim near the boundaries of a small village, and because it knocked over a fence while attacking, the entire village swiveled on the spot (blaming me for the fence) and joined its assault: the game then instantly quicksaved. Moorgate has a similar vibe, even if lkl34 can’t quite resist the urge to lob a grenade at the helpless NPCs halfway through.
Starfield does have the option of paying a fee, which is how you often ‘escape’ such incidents in Elder Scrolls games (well, that or a fireball to the face), but it doesn’t appear to be relevant in this case. Instead, the NPCs run in groups for a set distance before slowly returning to the crime scene. It’s strange to see them butting heads in uncertainty, awkwardly returning to the mop thief before all panicking and fleeing when the player dares to take up a cleaning bucket.
As would be predicted, Starfield’s post-launch support is a little Bethesda and a whole lot of hero mods: players have already improved the UI and removed the tedious temple tasks. Regardless, of psychopathic security forces or not, it still feels a little empty. Starfield is a game clearly built for the long haul, and one of the strangest things about it is how things change over multiple playthroughs, but the question remains whether it can sustain interest for such a long period of time: PCG’s Chris Livingston went all-in but quickly discovered it had little to keep him playing. Clearly, a dispute over cleaning supplies should have started.