Starfield’s Genre-Defining Comparison: Skyrim vs. Oblivion

phil spencer next to the oblivion knight

phil spencer next to the oblivion knight

Starfield is a massive space-based sci-fi epic from Bethesda. 1000 planets are explorable across its many star systems, and yet many are still wondering if any game is similar to the latest Xbox exclusive. Fallout, Oblivion, and even No Man's Sky all have things in common with the galactic adventure.

We have heard many opinions from developers and studio heads on their favourite parts of Starfield during the direct this Summer. Now we are getting actual comparisons from Phil Spencer to previous Bethesda games, and perhaps, not the one you are thinking of right now! (Skyrim, right?)

Todd Howard Compares Starfield

When speaking about his upcoming epic, Todd Howard has referred to Starfield as "Skyrim in space" we would agree that the game does indeed invoke feelings of being the chosen one on a galactic level. However, it may be a strange comparison considering the gun-free fantasy setting you find in the Elder Scrolls franchise. Wouldn't Fallout be a more apt comparison?

Todd Howard sits behind a microphone
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Credit: Lex Fridman
Skyrim in space

Fallout is a fantastical look at a post-apocalyptic society and how you fit in the Wasteland. Featuring plenty of weapons and even some alien encounters, why hasn't anyone from Bethesda compared Starfield to their vault-emerging-based game?

Phil Spencer Chimes In

One reason the team haven't brought up Fallout could be to avoid talk regarding the not-quite-great launch of Fallout 76. Also, Todd and his team did not create the most popular game in the series - Fallout New Vegas. Whatever the case may be, Bethesda did not originally conceive Fallout; they only took the reins for the third iteration onwards.

Phil Spencer wearing a grounded t shirt
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Credit: Xbox
More Oblivion than Skyrim

So perhaps that is why Todd compared Starfield to Skyrim, and perhaps why Phil Spencer commented with the following after starting his 15th play-through, 200 hours in:

"I think it's more Oblivion than Skyrim - for people who've played, maybe they'll get that."

"It is an epic, epic game."

High praise from the man at the top, but what does he mean by comparing Starfield to Oblivion?

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Oblivion launched back in 2006 for the Xbox 360, a stunning achievement to see such an ambitious game running on console back then. Many people still consider Oblivion to be superior to the all-conquering Skyrim, so let's see just why that is and how Starfield might compare.

First off, Oblivion was so much more varied than Skyrim's eternally Winter landscapes. Changing up biomes is something we have already seen in Starfield, but there will surely be some more similarities we can find.

a knight ready for battle near a castle
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Credit: Bethesda
Better than Skyrim?

NPCs were very memorable in Oblivion, and one has already made the leap to Starfield via a nice little Easter Egg you can find while picking traits. Next, Oblivion was more focused when it came to unlockable skills; instead of becoming a Thanos-like gatherer of abilities like in Skyrim, players had to really focus on complimentary perks when making their builds.

Last but not least, Oblivion was full of memorable side-quests and factions. Starfield looks to follow suit with the various human settlements across the galaxy, such as the Freestar Collective and the Crimson Fleet. Skyrim, while filled with side quests, often flickered out to nothing with unsatisfying conclusions for many of them.

All said, we hope Starfield takes the best from both of Bethesda's classic fantasy RPGs and makes its own waves in the roleplaying hall of fame. The endgame is upon us; a matter of days stand before us and galactic wonder, so why not make sure you have followed our prep list and snuck a peak at the beginner's guide we have made for you?

For all things Starfield, stick with us at Starfield Portal.

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