Staying for dinner is one of the worst mistakes you can make in a Bethesda game. It doesn’t matter if the person inviting you happens to be the most wholesome grandmother in one hundred miles. If anything, that makes your odds of surviving even worse.
In the desolate wilds of a Bethesda RPG, you’ll walk all day, getting attacked by bandits, raiders, or pirates, before stumbling across some isolated sanctuary. Maybe it’s a charming house in a long-forgotten suburb or a cozy-looking bed-and-breakfast.
But step inside, and you’ll be greeted by the most Apple Pie pleasant family you could meet. From the doting grandmother to the blonde, blue-eyed kids, they’ll trip over themselves to have you stay for dinner.
And why not? After filling gullet with Iguana Bits or Charred Skeever Meat, it’s almost a relief to finally get to sit down and have some home-cooked stew, a rack of ribs, or some interestingly shaped mutton.
But veterans of Bethesda RPGs know it’s better to investigate the house before you sink your teeth into anything meaty. Excuse yourself from the table and stick your nose in a locked room, and chances are good you’ll find yourself in a makeshift abattoir, with a random bandit or traveler strung up like a stuck pig.
This room always cements it for me. It’s how I know I’m playing a Bethesda RPG.
After all, Bethesda RPGs typically offer, without fail, two things. A sprawling, open world and to eventually encounter a random family with an insatiable desire for human flesh. Perhaps even the chance to become a cannibal yourself. And it is stunning to me that nowhere in the galaxy, on hundreds of planets, is there a singular cannibal granny.
Cannibalism is one vertebra of the backbone of Fallout’s wasteland. In the original Fallout, Iguana Bits are made of human courtesy of Doctor Morbid. And this tradition of sprinkling in a little human eating has stayed the same in the franchise, all the way to Fallout 76, where it’s both a perk and a pretty common occurrence.
In Oblivion, you can eat a beating heart. In Skyrim, there’s an entire cannibal cult that you can join. The concept has even appeared in Wolfenstein, where you can wolf down blood in order to restore some health.
You can’t reasonably expect me to believe that no one on any of these remote planets, in their makeshift colonies, has turned to cannibalism. Especially when the option for food is the lackluster veggies, they’re growing in their hubs, giant alien cockroaches, and the biggest of all culinary abominations – Chunks.
Who picks a gelatinous cube of synthetic meat when there’s a perfectly good Abandoned Post full of Crimson Fleet Spacer every 300 meters?
Starfield is a great game because it gives you the freedom to play how you want. Stray a little too far from the questing aspect and you’ll quickly find yourself in a life simulator. I’ve lost hours of my life to carefully lining stolen goods on shelves, and there are others who’ve spent days meticulously crafting the Millenium Falcon. You can craft your guns so that they suit your playstyle and make your spacesuit an indestructible shield against all elements.
And of course, you can cook.
So why can’t I harvest the bodies of the spacers I encounter to create some truly gourmand meals? Let me live out my fantasy of becoming Space Hannibal Lecter.
And failing that, give me my cannibal granny. It’s just not a Bethesda game without her.