Starfield, releasing this November, will be Bethesda Game Studio's first new franchise in 25 years.
Doubtless, Starfield will be a culmination of many of Bethesda's design practices borrowed from their other two flagship series: The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Notably, both these long-running RPG franchises have featured in-depth character creation systems.
Many Skyrim players will attest that the customizability this allows takes up over half an hour of tinkering on a dedicated playthrough before they are done finalizing their character. Thanks to its enhanced rendering and other technological breakthroughs on Creation Engine 2, Starfield has room to take the character creation ceiling even higher.
Five features to make Starfield character creation great again
1) Height slider
The Elder Scrolls games have all the high fantasy races fans would expect and then some more. Its world has men, merfolk, feline bipeds, and lizard people — all with their racial propensities and cultures.
One of these propensities includes heights. High elves, for example, are lorewise much taller than wood elves.
However, no Bethesda game up till this stage has featured a variable height slider. Skyrim contains the code to change the scale of character models, most apparent when facing the Ebony Warrior.
Yet this option is not available for tweaking in character creation without mods like RaceMenu. If Starfield includes a height slider, it would likely be the only Bethesda game outside ESO to have height customization.
2) Different body types
A steady proof of improvement in character creation in Bethesda games can, again, be found throughout the Elder Scrolls. Morrowind featured only rudimentary modifications of facial features that it could account for in its low-poly 3D environment.
Even through its improvements and possibilities for really eccentric-looking player characters, Oblivion lacked any changes to the body itself. Skyrim was the first game to incorporate weight changes, which can also be found in Fallout 4.
However, this weight slider only functions as an index of skinny to stocky in an otherwise homogenous body type. This is where Starfield could find further refinement, looking at titles like Saint's Row or Elden Ring. These games feature individualized changes to body parts like the limbs, upper torso, lower torso, etc.
Admittedly, there is no overt cyborg component to The Settled Systems' NASA-punk world. But as the diversifying cultures related to different settlements like Akila City and Neon have shown, there is room to address different subgenres of dystopic science fiction.
Naturally, cyberpunk augments might also be a critical point that the game has a take on.
If there is room for a cyberpunk culture, there is also a suitable occasion to introduce cybernetics to character creation. Functional robotic augments have been staples in this strain of games — be it the original Deus Ex or Cyberpunk 2077.
Starfield, however, could ramp it up with significant cosmetic changes related to cybernetics.
Skyrim and other BGS games after it featured tattoos and scars, implemented in a similar way. In terms of imperfections, Oblivion arguably features the most customization for out-of-proportion character models.
Despite this, there is no way to create asymmetrical features as many titles allow.
Thus, for its push towards further realism, Starfield is the likeliest candidate to feature proper 'imperfections' — which is as simple as allowing the sliders to go beyond the average variables for normalcy.
5) Personality archetypes
In their second monthly dev diary update this year, Starfield creative director Todd Howard discussed his visions for the game's narrative philosophy. Named 'Made for Wanderers,' the video delved into how the game grapples with its central components, roleplay, and player agency.
More than most Bethesda titles that have come before, this game attempts to give gamers a more fleshed-out personalization suite.
Part of this is their class and background.
Ideally, the background is something dealt with in the Dragon Age: Origin way, where distinct backgrounds are given their playable prolog. Another more straightforward addition that could supplement this is user personality archetypes, e.g., noble, outlaw, jester, and scholar.
Taking inspiration from the likes of Divinity: Original Sins 2, this could affect dialogue and even grant unique in-game roleplay choices.
Note: This article reflects the author's views.