Starfield has finally been revealed, and it looks like Bethesda’s much-anticipated sci-fi RPG will be reintroducing a mechanic of the Elder Scrolls series that hasn’t appeared since 1996’s Daggerfall.
As shown during the Starfield gameplay reveal at the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase, and spotted by one observant fan on Reddit (opens in new tab), the spacefaring RPG looks to include a mortgage system of some kind. The feature was briefly alluded to when director Todd Howard walked through the game’s character customization features, and discussed several Personal Traits that can be selected for “unique advantages and disadvantages”.
One of these is titled Starter Home. “You own a small house on a peaceful little moon, but it comes with a 50,000 credit mortgage with GalBank,” the trait’s description reads.
The mention of mortgages doesn't usually stir much excitement, but the financial system has a storied history across the Elder Scrolls series. Daggerfall included a surprisingly robust banking system that allowed you to deposit gold in an account, buy items by carrying around a letter of credit, buy and sell houses, and even take out loans at a 10% interest rate. If you were to default, your regional reputation would reduce until you had improved your financial standing.
The mortgage system was dropped for future Elder Scrolls games, although The Elder Scrolls Online does feature banks that can be used to store gold and items. Several mods have also been created for Skyrim that add entire banking systems, spanning loans, debt repayment, and saving accounts. Check out Bordeciel Bank Mod (BBM) or Google's Imperial Bank if that’s your thing.
That Starfield will involve a credit and debt system of some kind shouldn’t be too surprising. Bethesda is pitching the game as a realistic, grounded take on an interstellar human future, even describing the game’s aesthetic as NASA-punk (opens in new tab). And how better to create “ a future that’s believable and, while maybe not always the most welcoming, at least familiar” if not by adding a splash of rentier capitalism to its world.
Starter Home isn’t the only Personal Trait that caught our eye. A list of 16 traits was shown during the first Starfield gameplay trailer, with the player able to choose three in total. Among them were more typical standard personality traits – introvert and extrovert – as well as more universe-specific options.
You have the option to imbibe yourself with alien DNA and acclimatize yourself with the zero-gravity of space for a stat boost. You can also alter how and where your character grew up, which can grant extra dialogue options and rewards when interacting with specific factions.
Elsewhere on the character creation side, you can customize the look of your character, altering their body and face shape using a range of sliders and presets. Character Backgrounds, meanwhile, will send you off into the universe with three starting skills. They let you tailor your character's abilities, such as by improving the damage of specific weapon types, forcing weaker enemies into ceasefires, or upping your chance of persuading NPCs during dialogue.
Although excitement around the game is swirling, TRG’s editor-in-chief reckons Starfield is already losing the space race and needs to do more to really shine among existing space-based RPGs. It might not be too much longer before we get our hands on the game, though, as Xbox Game Pass suggests Starfield will release early next year.