The best part of any Bethesda RPG is getting to "be who you want," as Todd Howard likes to put it, and who I want to be is a sneaky jerk worming my way into a space faction to steal the best clothes. Yeah, sure, looting guns and customizing a spaceship will be cool, but my number one priority in any RPG is being dressed to impress nobody less than myself. Starfield may still be on the horizon after it got delayed into 2023, but I'm pretty positive I already know whose threads I'm nicking.
If you too care more about wearing a unique coat than the stats on the thing, you already know it's the space pirates of the Crimson Fleet.
Spare me from the Starfleet-looking sleekness of the United Colonies, the sci-fi academia of Constellation, and the space western duster jackets of the Freestar Collective. They've all got a recognizable visual identity, as Bethesda's factions always do, but it's going to be a pirate's life for me.
As soon as that fella with the long eyelashes in Starfield's June gameplay reveal said "No one quits. The only way out is death," I knew immediately that I'd be picking death. Specifically the death of whoever his boss is, because I know the space pirates are going to have the shiniest, edgiest outfits complete with excessive straps and buckles that don't appear to actually have a function. You know, the good stuff.
It looks like my new friend is wearing a terrestrial outfit, not a space suit, which I think includes a rather excessive red scarf. Dibs on that. And dibs on that metallic skull helmet full of lights and wires that this other pirate is wearing. This whole command center of theirs is an edgy space teen dream with its constant red glow.
Not for nothing either. I will (and did) prioritize my outfit over survival even in less graphically-minded games like Project Zomboid, but Bethesda's work on Creation Engine 2 means that the fits are a real sight for sore spacer eyes.
Even if I'm not dying to wear the gear from other factions, the gameplay reveal was a real feast of reflective fabrics. The Constellation welcome committee features a woman with a jacket whose zipper and tufted shoulder designs catch light differently. Another member's suit shows off how the coated atmosphere-proof fabric contrastes with the matte patches on his shoulders and the grain of his metallic collar. And, hell, did you spot the scratches on his helmet visor?
I guess this one goes out to Bethesda's materials artists for making me invested in a space game when I'd normally skip it for something pure fantasy. Realism isn't the end all be all of artistic design in games, but since we're getting more realism in Starfield, I'll happily take the giant leap forward in outfit integrity.
I'm also curious whether the many modular parts of Starfield's ship building system will tie to factions at all. The bulky ship that pirate reinforcements land during combat in the gameplay reveal isn't really my style, but I did spot some shiny gold thrusters on back that are.
For the sake of not making a choice entirely based on aesthetics, let's look at weapons real quickly too. Like choice in fashion, Bethesda's factions typically have a favorite class of gear too. From the gameplay reveal, the pirates seem to favor laser weapons over ballistics. I'm more of a melee lady myself, though maybe I can adapt in space. Plus, I'd be willing to bet my credits that getting in good with the bad folks will eventually earn me a unique laser gun with some ridiculous ability like extra damage only against friendly wildlife. There was a pretty slick black and gold laser rifle called the Equinox that the player looted from a Crimson Raider base during the gameplay reveal. Yeah, I could rock that.
While we wait to see more official gameplay from Starfield, my fellow PCG writers are hoping for weird as hell NPCs and cities more like Morrowind. I'm just keeping an eye on the gear my new best frenemies are wearing.
I will find out which one of them has the coolest helmet. And I will wear it.