Bethesda Softworks is a game studio whose biggest success (for now) was the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in 2011. The game conquered the hearts of generations of players and received three DLCs, several reeditions, and releases on nearly all gaming platforms.
However, Bethesda hasn’t said its final word, and for the past few years, the studio has been working on a new title, Starfield, which Todd Howard affectionately called “Skyrim in space” right at the beginning of production. Does this epic space RPG truly have a chance to surpass the popularity of the Dragonborn’s adventures? How does the comparison between Starfield vs Skyrim look, and what can we expect from Bethesda’s new title? Let’s find out!
The first noticeable difference is the setting of both games. It’s also worth noting from the outset that Starfield represents an entirely new brand and world – the games don’t share similar timelines, themes, or a common universe.
The beloved Skyrim is set in a fantasy world called Nirn, inspired by the early Middle Ages, in the year 4E 201 of a fictional timeline. Starfield, on the other hand, presents a sci-fi vision of our galaxy around the year 2330.
Graphics and Visuals
Graphics is another factor that’s hard to miss when considering the differences between the two titles. However, this difference is understandable given the 12-year gap between the two games.
The difference also lies in the graphic engines used in both cases. For Skyrim, Bethesda developed the Creation Engine, which was later used in Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 as well. Starfield, on the other hand, will run on the enhanced, refreshed, and improved Creation Engine 2.
From what we can observe in official trailers, Starfield’s graphics will look truly phenomenal – excellent location design, character models much closer to realism, impressive lighting and shadows, and destructible environments are examples of this. Nevertheless, you can still visually sense Bethesda’s distinctive atmosphere and style, known from their previous games.
Considering that both titles belong to the RPG genre, and were created by the same team, the gameplay mechanics in Starfield and Skyrim are quite similar, but because of the different settings, there are obvious differences in equipment, items, weapons etc.
- In both titles, we can smoothly switch between first-person view (FPP) and third-person view (TPP), with the camera positioned slightly behind our character, on the right.
- In both cases, we have a variety of ranged weapons (bows, crossbows in Skyrim; pistols, rifles, etc., in Starfield) and melee weapons (knives, axes, swords), as well as our own fists.
In Skyrim, our combat actions can be supported by magic, while in Starfield, we’ll have slightly more conventional methods, such as grenades, laser cutters, and similar high-tech equipment.
Further similarities relate to the ability to sneak, allowing us to pass through certain locations unnoticed and steal from NPCs; as well as lockpicking, which mechanically changes only slightly compared to Skyrim (or Fallout 3 and 4, where it looked exactly the same).
The character’s equipment and healing mechanisms will also see only a little change. We will still need to make space in our “backpack” for a suitable number of med-packs (equivalent to potions) and food, which, besides health regeneration, could provide various effects.
Dialogues with NPCs will still follow Bethesda’s style, meaning we can choose from several available dialogue options, sometimes utilizing our natural or mastered skills to achieve specific goals. We will also have the ability to intimidate or bribe NPCs for our benefits.
The companion system is also something that connects both games, with the difference that in Starfield, in addition to the classic companion serving as support in combat and as a pack mule, we will also be able to recruit a crew for our spaceship. Although, come to think of it… In recent editions of Skyrim, besides the NPCs accompanying us, we can also pick characters to be our family members and pets (living and working in a house we purchased) as well as assemble a team of workers for our farm… Okay, so there’s similarity here too!
Story and Narrative Depth
As we all know, Skyrim has a very elaborate storyline, where the main questline intertwines with dozens of side quests. Besides those, we have the opportunity to complete thousands of mini-objectives and discover the greatest secrets of Skyrim and all of Tamriel, by reading books, journals, or engaging in conversations with NPCs.
About the storyline of Starfield, unfortunately, we don’t know much yet, apart from the main narrative outlines, which speak of uncovering the secret of the human race in space.
However, the game’s creator assures that Starfield’s storyline will be about 20% longer than Skyrim’s, so we can expect at least a similar depth.
It’s worth noting, though, that this cosmic odyssey is the first installment of a new brand/story/game, which has significant potential for development (Skyrim, however, is the fifth part of TES saga).
The creators also promise that the NPCs accompanying us will have much greater depth and backstory than the companions we had the chance to travel within Skyrim.
Like in any RPG, Skyrim allowed us to choose and customize our character at the beginning, along with their basic skills. We also have extensive possibilities for development in several advanced skills along with bonus perks.
In Starfield, we will also have nearly limitless possibilities for developing our character, but the initial creation and customization will be much more elaborate. We will be able to create a nearly perfectly replicated custom avatar (including preferred pronouns). An interesting mechanic and an alternative to choosing races and classes will be the ability to select our character’s backstory and traits. This way, we’ll embed them even more firmly in the game world.
Sound and Music
It’s undeniable that Skyrim’s soundtrack is simply epic and unforgettable, with tracks like “Dovahkiin” repeatedly performed by orchestras worldwide during various events.
The music from Starfield (at least based on what we can observe on the trailers) also has enormous potential. However, we can’t hide the fact that certain sounds and music sometimes resemble those known from the Fallout series more than TES.
Modding Community and Support
Todd Howard emphasizes that the modding community is very important to Bethesda, and the studio and creators wholeheartedly support players’ work on mods and enhancements for their games for the past 20 years. The same is expected for Starfield. Therefore, we can anticipate significant modding possibilities and full support from Bethesda.
As we can see, the main creator of Starfield, affectionately calling his new work “Space Skyrim,” has done so almost intentionally. Both games share many elements, particularly in terms of game mechanics. Surely, knowing Bethesda, we can expect many Easter Eggs in Starfield that will further enhance the coherence of both games.
So, are you excited for Skyrim in Space? Because we definitely are!