Starfield players are questioning the lesser depiction of violence compared to Fallout 4 and Skyrim
Compared to previous Bethesda games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim, Starfield has toned down the extreme violence and cruelty.The ESRB rating for Starfie...
The ESRB rating for Starfield mentions blood and violence, but the examples focus on blood splatter effects and corpses rather than dismemberment and decapitation.
The decision to tone down the violence could be attributed to the game's more realistic and grounded tone, as well as its focus on awe and wonder in space exploration. However, there is currently no official explanation for it.
With Starfield now available, some players are questioning why Bethesda seems to have toned down the depiction of violence compared to Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It's no secret that Bethesda's open-world games can often be extremely violent. Whether as the Dragonborn in Skyrim or as a Vault dweller in Fallout 4, players wield a diverse array of weapons, magic, and more to combat increasingly nightmarish foes. With Starfield, it appears to be similar, but one should not expect a lot of dismemberment while playing.
Extreme violence and cruelty were not necessarily always part of Bethesda's toolkit. For example, while The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind may have had walking skeletons and corpses, attacks only resulted in small blood splatters. That changed with the release of Oblivion and Fallout 3 in 2006 and 2008, respectively. The Gates of Oblivion and the Dark Brotherhood questline were filled with mutilated corpses. Fallout 3's V.A.T.S. system allowed players to dismember enemies with targeted attacks. Since then, cruelty has been a part of Bethesda's games.
Starfield has toned down its extreme depiction of violence in several significant aspects compared to previous Bethesda games. A post on Reddit has highlighted the confusion within the community regarding this matter. One commenter mentions visiting an apartment with "blood everywhere" only to find a completely intact body that looks more like it's sleeping rather than being a victim of murder. Others jokingly mention how Terrormorphs, the massive flesh-rending aliens in Starfield, don't actually inflict violence but rather gently put people to sleep.
Even the ESRB has recognized that Starfield is much tamer compared to Bethesda's previous games. Although Starfield has received a rating of 17+ (Mature) from the ESRB due to blood and violence, the examples mentioned in the rating refer to blood splatter effects, bloodstains, and corpses. In comparison, the ESRB rating for Fallout 4 warns of "slow-motion dismemberment and decapitations," as well as "chunks of flesh," "severed heads," and "mutilated corpses." Starfield is more reminiscent of Morrowind than Bethesda's more recent releases.
As for the reason why Starfield has toned down its depiction of violence compared to previous games, there are several plausible explanations. Starfield has a more realistic and grounded tone and background. NASApunk doesn't necessarily align with excessive violence. Additionally, there is a mature touch in the style of Star Trek within the game, which could suggest that Bethesda views violence as a distraction from the larger themes of wonder and awe in space exploration.
But critics of the decision have a point. While Starfield may be a game that focuses on a more realistic and mature experience, it is still filled with exaggerated violence and scenarios where visually impressive violence would be appropriate. Players will rely on Starfield mods to compensate for this.
Starfield is now available for PC and Xbox Series X/S.