Starfield’s lead designer has commented on the game’s story and how it delves into existentialism and religion in some capacities. Emil Pagliarulo said in an interview with Polygon that Starfield’s story will dig into the “more theological aspects” of exploring space and the questions humanity has about our place in the universe.
“The real high level of the story is like, ‘Are we alone in the universe in one place?’” Pagliarulo said.
Delving into the question of the meaning of the universe could sound “pretty heady,” Pagliarulo said, but that’s what Starfield is going for. “We kind of go there a little bit, we get into some pretty existential stuff in the main story,” he said.
Pagliarulo went on to say that Starfield might be similar to Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi movie Interstellar in this way. It’s a movie about space travel, but it’s a lot more than that, too.
Both Pagliarulo and game director Todd Howard grew up in religious settings, Pagliarulo said, and Starfield will represent both atheist and agnostic viewpoints.
“There’s the atheist view, there’s the more agnostic, religious view, but we don’t answer that question for the player. We don’t say what’s out there or what’s causing their thing–it’s open to interpretation,” Pagliarulo said. “Players have gotten other things before, the science, the exploration, meeting the alien race that wants to invade. Those are all great. I love all those things. But we wanted to know if we could tackle a bit of a larger story in a game, something that one of these great movies accomplished.”
Starfield has two religions–the Sanctum Universum is a religion that believes humans travelling through the universe is a sign that God exists. The other religion in Starfield is called the Enlightened, and they are an atheist church that believes there is no theology involved in what’s happening in their world.
“[Religion] was a way to talk about these big concepts but not dive too far down the rabbit hole–you don’t want to offend people,” Pagliarulo said.
Bethesda consulted with Shane Liesegang, who wrote for Skyrim and Fallout before leaving to become a Jesuit priest, to create and write the religions in Starfield.
Starfield releases on August 31 for the Constellation Edition and for people buying the $35 upgrade. For everyone else, it unlocks starting on September 5. For more, check out GameSpot’s run of Starfield’s launch times and how to start playing as soon as possible.
If you were hoping to sign up for Game Pass and use the $1 trial offer to play Starfield, you’re out of luck, as Microsoft has quietly removed the promotion.
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