Starfield: What to Expect
It may seem that Bethesda has been tight lipped on their upcoming game, but actions scream louder that the the PR department guys when the realise there's a flaming dumpster in their office. Here's 5 things Bethesda has told us will be in Starfield.
1. Microtransactions: They've been in ESO, Fallout Shelter, Fallout 4, Skyrim, Fallout 76, and TES Legends. There is a clear pattern, even if you remove free-to-play and online games. This is the business model.
There's two times of MTX they can go with: mini-DLC and Gameplay Acceleration, though the two categories are not rigid, and can be mixed to further maximise profits. Mini-DLC is a MTX model where consumers pay for extra content, similar to CC or the Fallout 4 workship DLCs. Gameplay Acceleration is more like he Atom Shop and Fallout Shelter Loot-nch Boxes. Everything is accessible by gameplay, either directly or through the earning of credits. However, gameplay is monotonous enough that people will willingly hand over money not to play the game they paid full price for.
2: Radiant quests: We saw these in Skyrim, and they reached alarming levels in Fallout 4. The Minutemen questline is especially illustrative: 3 custom quests establish a small thread of a story, tying together a series of endlessly repeating Settlement missions. Sound familiar? It was also the Skyrim Civil War.
Nuka World took it even further. Never before have radiant quests determined the outcome of the main story. Previously, such major narrative work was assumed to be impossible for such basic game mechanics. This DLC was 8 'clear dungeon' quests, and a single menu at the end of each determined which side you were on. This makes the questline for each raider faction identical, eliminating any need to play multiple times.
76 took this to new its zenith. It's certainly going to be toned down as Bethesda returns to single player, but the randomised 'events' and area defense arcade games are guaranteed to make a comeback.
#3 Building: Hearthfire, to Settlements, to C.A.M.P.S., Bethesda loves building systems. Who can blame them? Skyrim had several player houses, but many character builds simply didn't have a fitting home. A building system allows any half-comoetent player to make a house that fits their character, and thus greatly improves role playing.
More importantly, it throws people back into the gameplay loop. You need plans and materials, so you fight and explore. Or, you can spend more money on microtransactions! It's no coincidence that half of all Fallout 4's DLC is Settlement focused, as are many Creations. This system is ideal for hyper-monetisation.
Numero Quatro: bugs!
Radroaches, Radscorpions, bloatflies, and stingwi- oh... Other type of bugs.
Let's be real here, in part this is inevitable. In my Fallout 1 game, I've only made it to Junktown and I've already been locked out of a quest by a bug. The bugs won't stop it from being a great game. Skyrim and New Vegas are beloved and still played today, and they are on the same notorious, bug-infested engine. Nor would a new engine automatic make this game great. It would more likely be a marketable gimmick to draw attention away from major flaws and poor writing.
V. A Simplified Character Statistics System
76 has no stat decision when creating your character. No SPECIALs, no traits, no skills. Fallout 4 only had SPECIALs. Skyrim had nothing. SPECIALS are unique to Fallout, and Bethesda doesn't even bother to include that in the beginning anymore. When you load up the game for the first time, do not expect to be defining a character. Expect a cinematic scene.
As you go forth, you will most likely have some statistics. Even 76 didn't remove them entirely. But don't expect them to shape your experience any more than how you kill people. No more solving problems with charisma, negotiation, repair, pickpocketing, or perception. Kill the enemies. Kill then with a pistol, kill them with a bomb, kill them from the shadows...