Starfield is publisher Bethesda's newest RPG IP in over two decades. The upcoming sci-fi adventure is said to be the studio's most ambitious offering yet. In a recent Xbox interview, Lead Artist Istvan Pely pointed out that the team aims to have "a very realistic take" on world design. He stated:
“Early on in this project when we were trying to establish the overall aesthetic of this game, we sort of coined the term ‘NASA-Punk’ to describe a sci-fi universe that’s a little more grounded and relatable."
Essentially, the much anticipated game setting will be very much inspired by modern scientific technology. This basis will be further expanded upon by implementing logical "futuristic" renditions of these current gen ideas to give the game its sci-fi flair while still being grounded in reality. To put it in Pely's words:
“You can draw a line from current-day space technology and extrapolate from there into the future so it’s believable and relatable."
Starfield's NASA-Punk vision brings to mind another classic RPG series
This is a take that's been done before as well. Square Enix's iconic Deus Ex franchise is also very much rooted in science-fiction. Taking place from 2020s onwards, the stealth-shooter franchise is renowned for its organic game design and unprecedented level of player freedom.
The original game in particular is regarded as one of the best of all time.
Not just for the aforementioned reasons but also because the early 2000's title was ahead of its time for tackling various subjects involving world politics, conspiracy theories and the bleak, unfair reality of life.
Modern Deus Ex games - namely Human Revolution and Mankind Divided - while less ambitious than the original entry, still wonderfully handled these ideas, including the concept of transhumanism.
More importantly though, since both act as prequels to the original Deus Ex, their technology is also less far-fetched. Stuff like the Glass-Shield Cloaking System - which allows protagonist Adam Jensen to go invisible temporarily - has roots in existing electromagnetic technology, allowing light bending to make the target object invisible to the naked human eye.
These games had actual scientists on their teams to help the creative minds at Eidos Montreal come up with cool ideas for the augmentations seen during gameplay.
Eidos' science consultant for the series, Will Rosellini, appeared in a 2016 interview via VentureBeat, discussing Mankind Divided's augmentation inspirations.
He also did a Tedx Talk back in 2015 about the future of human body modifications, namedropping his work with Human Revolution. With all that said, it would be interesting to see how Bethesda expands upon existing space tech in Starfield.
How close will it truly get to reality? There are many points to address here - space travel, exploration of uncharted celestial bodies, and more. Will the byproduct of having to limit how zany their ideas can get, hamper the experience? We'll only find out after Starfield launches on November 11, 2022.