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Starfield needs mods more than Skyrim ever did

Starfield mods will be what keeps the newest Bethesda RPG alive, as it hasn't had as large an impact (yet) as Skyrim did back in 2011.

Starfield needs mods more than Skyrim: a blue planetary surface backgroudn with a yound women in a red jacket with shoulder length blonde hair in the foreground

Writing about both Skyrim and Starfield mods is like breathing air for me at this point. The community of Bethesda players coming out in droves to both make and download mods for these games is, frankly, amazing. I never get tired of celebrating this work, either, as while the relationship between developer and player has changed so much thanks to mods, there are some incredible creations to show for it. That said, even after just a couple of months, I’m starting to feel like Starfield’s future hinges more on mods than Skyrim’s ever did – and only time will tell.

There are already thousands of Starfield mods and millions of player downloads across the many places you can get them, and while this is the same for Skyrim over a decade since it first launched, Bethesda’s new space RPG game is the one that needs them.

I thought Starfield was serviceable, and found Bethesda’s design philosophies didn’t work well with this colossal universe of barren planets the team had built. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, of course, but I can’t help but see a lukewarm response to what, on paper, could have been the biggest release of this year. Bethesda called Starfield the team’s biggest-ever launch, but months later it was pulling in fewer players on Steam than Skyrim.

A day-one game pass launch and Xbox’s PC launcher likely have something to do with the numbers, but Starfield still didn’t make the splash Skyrim did. Can you, right now, see Starfield being rereleased so many times that Bethesda itself hires today’s Keegan-Michael Key to helm an ad for the release of the game on Amazon’s Alexa? I certainly can’t.

If Starfield is to match the longevity Skyrim had (and still has, let’s be honest), it needs mods. Players already love improving Bethesda’s newest game, adding desired features, and having fun with what can be done in the Settled Systems, so if Bethesda leans into that I think it’ll have a winner. Todd Howard says official Starfield mod support is coming in 2024, and I don’t doubt that the team wants to lean into what the community can do, as it has done for all of its other games.

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Without trying to open old wounds too much, Starfield is too big for its own good. The massive universe of planets and procedurally generated locations just doesn’t mesh with the sense of exploration and character that Bethesda is known for. Starfield does have its moments, like the first time I realized New Atlantis has an entire undercity called The Well that barely gets advertised to you, but, on the whole, I found it lacked the explorative charm of Skyrim and Fallout.

Skyrim was a great game coming out at the right time, while Starfield is a good game coming out at the wrong one. With mods growing in popularity in 2011 and Skyrim being the perfect ‘forever game’ for many of us, it’s been able to stick around. Starfield on the other hand feels like butter stretched out too thin on old, mouldy bread. Which is to say it does too much with systems that feel out of date. If there were fewer, denser planets in Starfield and more concentrated mechanics and systems, my opinion would be very different.

That said, there’s already a growing community of modders behind Starfield, as Bethesda games like Skyrim and Fallout teed them up to hit a hole-in-one. The Starfield Community Patch came out swinging, and missing launch features like an FOV slider coming in mods filled the gaps in Bethesda’s output, which the team would later patch up.

This was great at launch, but we’re now in an era that requires the Starfield community to give more and more creativity if it is to last as long, or even half as long, as Skyrim. I think over time this will happen, as the current volume and scope of mods for Starfield is already massive, but once Bethesda releases official mod support in 2024, only time will tell if the fan work can rival that of previous games.

If you’re in the midst of your time in the Settled Systems we’ve also put together a list of all the most vital Starfield console commands, along with the best Starfield traits if you fancy starting a new character.

Still looking for more? While a good Starfield wiki can be a handy source of information, our new Starfield Database goes further, offering you daily news, searchable databanks, and even interactive tools.

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