It has been approximately one month since Starfield arrived on PC and Xbox Series X|S, becoming the biggest release in the history of Bethesda Softworks with over six million players at launch. The sci-fi RPG was Bethesda’s first new IP in a quarter century, introducing a massive, explorable galaxy that gamers will surely be making new discoveries in for many years to come. With Starfield’s DLC set to arrive in 2024 and a potential sequel on the horizon in the very, very distant future, here are a few updates and gameplay improvements that should be implemented in future expansion packs, or possibly Starfield 2.
Starfield has ecosystems with an abundance of alien lifeforms, but none of these organisms could be classified as “sentient.” Even though human characters can have Alien DNA via the game’s trait system, and there is a case to be made that Terrormorphs are examples of intelligent life, it doesn’t change the fact that there just aren’t any extraterrestrials to converse with in Starfield.
The upcoming DLC or Starfield’s sequel could remedy this omission by introducing a new alien faction for players to join or fight. Just imagine the potential loot, weapons, ships, lore, and storylines that could be introduced through the advent of celestial beings with sentience in Starfield. Even though intelligent life has been theorized as a rare universal anomaly, and overusing it in the game could feel derivative, it would just be nice to encounter at least one sentient alien race in Starfield, whether they come in peace or desire to assimilate humanity.
Space Exploration Without Needing Fast Travel
Starships are a source of both Starfield’s greatest triumphs and its biggest disappointments. There are intricately designed, buildable spacecrafts, but you can’t manually take off or land on any planets (as Bethesda opted for cutscenes instead). Furthermore, Starfield is full of beautiful planetary scenery interspersed with the occasional space “dogfight,” but interstellar exploration is extremely limited, and you can only navigate to planets and star systems through fast travel.
Admittedly, this improvement might be too ambitious for DLC, but even if we have to wait until Starfield 2, we can only hope that it will eventually be possible to explore Starfield’s vibrant galaxy without fast travel required, and that Bethesda will provide gamers with the ability to manually land and take off from planets. These improvements would give gamers the chance to witness the thrill of blasting off into space, as well as the harrowing, fiery descent upon re-entry into a planet’s atmosphere firsthand.
Ground Vehicles or Mounts
On the subject of traversal, although it is fun to roam around planets with a boost pack (particularly in places with less gravity), it would be nice to see some ground vehicles introduced in Starfield’s DLC, which could provide some variation into the world traversal experience. Some theoretical examples include rovers, hovercrafts, speeder bikes, or even alien mounts of some kind to further fulfill gamers’ sci-fi roleplaying fantasies, and make open-world exploration a little less repetitive. This would massively improve planetary expeditions without fundamentally changing Starfield’s gameplay loop.
A Morality System
Starfield is replete with consequential decisions and features a cast of characters with varying moral philosophies. Unfortunately, whether you roleplay as a good or evil character, it ultimately has little to no consequence on the broader world or story. Bethesda could fix this by integrating a morality system, which could aid in replayability and the aforementioned roleplaying elements. This would not necessarily have to be as deep as Fallout’s karma system, but Starfield’s DLC would benefit from making its new questline decisions more impactful on the rest of the galaxy, helping each playthrough to feel one of a kind.
A frequent complaint from Starfield’s player base is that the game’s map is objectively worse than previous Bethesda RPGs. Fixing this is certainly easier said than done, but improving the map with more detail and overhauling the unwieldy fast travel map system would be a welcome development in Starfield’s DLC or sequel.
The Ability to Fast Travel to Houses
This might be somewhat nitpicking, but after acquiring multiple homes on Starfield’s various planets, I found it increasingly annoying that I couldn’t fast travel directly to my various abodes, and had to continually make tedious treks, trying to remember where exactly my apartment, penthouse, etc. were. Even though players couldn’t fast-travel directly to their houses in previous Bethesda titles like The Elder Scrolls or Fallout, player residences were much easier to locate than Starfield, usually found just a few paces away from a fast travel point. While it may be true that the Dream Home (acquired via Traits) reportedly has a fast travel marker, Bethesda would be wise to introduce a waypoint system to all player-owned properties, which would create more of an incentive to actually return to them.
A Shorter Wait For the Sequel!
Lastly, strictly speaking about a Starfield sequel, Bethesda games have become synonymous with exceedingly long development periods, but it wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, there was only a four-year gap between The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002) and its sequel, Oblivion (2006), which was followed merely five years later by the generation-defining fifth entry, Skyrim (2011). Similarly, from 2008 to 2015, Bethesda managed to release three acclaimed Fallout experiences in merely seven years with Fallout 3 (2008), Fallout: New Vegas (2010, developed by Obsidian Entertainment), and Fallout 4 (2015).
Understandably, development is an intricate, tedious process, and games are becoming increasingly more complex with each new generation, facing higher expectations and bloated budgets, but based on rumors of The Elder Scrolls VI not arriving until sometime between 2026-2028, we could be looking at close to 2040 or beyond as a potential release year of Starfield 2. Ultimately, it’s hard to know if the new sci-fi IP will still be able to generate any excitement that far into the future.
Simply, if Bethesda wants to build brand recognition for Starfield, the series must be nurtured with more frequent releases. Whether it is in the form of spinoffs, continued DLC spread over years, or something else, in order for Starfield to maintain any kind of staying power in the highly competitive videogame market, Bethesda can’t leave us hanging for a decade plus, waiting for a sequel to a game that has been both highly controversial and frequently critiqued.
As someone who sees the long-term potential in Starfield as a series, I sincerely hope that Bethesda and Microsoft will continue to support this debut entry for years to come, providing gameplay improvements with each new DLC pack, with the end goal of setting up a worthy Starfield follow-up (that we won’t have to wait until the 24th century for).