Excitement among “Starfield” fans continues to build regularly as the New Year approaches. Although no release date has been set, the fact that “Starfield” is slated for the first half of 2023 has only added to fans’ anticipation for Bethesda’s first new IP in 25 years. While essential story details are being kept under wraps, players know that there are several star systems and planets to explore. Alien races are not yet mentioned, but themes related to First Contact can be explored and incorporated.
In science fiction, the encounter of humans with extraterrestrial life is sometimes referred to as “first contact.” Usually portrayed as a conscious or sentient life form, this does not necessarily have to be the case. First Contact often explores themes rooted in xenophobia, transcendentalism, and linguistics. Still, other elements exist, such as weaponization and destruction and an “us versus them” mentality. Bethesda also explores xenophobic themes in “Skyrim,” embracing these prejudices in the Stormcloak capital Windhelm’s fight for independence.
First Contact Themes and Why They Could Appear in “Starfield”
While many themes are explored in science fiction around first contact, the one that generally comes to the forefront, as mentioned above, is the issue of xenophobia, which is described as a fear or aversion to the foreign or strange. This theme is not limited to science fiction. Even in the real world, there are many problems with this mentality toward different peoples and nations; in science fiction, it can range from the possibility of Starfield’s aliens to sentient extraterrestrials and alien life in general that humans cannot understand due to their unknown nature, ecology, or evolution.
Transcendentalism developed in the 1820s and 1830s and has at its core the belief in the inherent goodness of man and nature while society corrupts the purity of the individual. Transcendentalism further assumes that man is at his best through independence and self-reliance. Linguistics is generally regarded as the philosophy of language and of naturally developed or evolved natural or ordinary languages. The “us versus them” view generally evolved from an isolationist view that constructs a xenophobic us-versus-them survival or them-versus-them survival.
Finally, weaponization and destruction point to the idea that any new technology or species can be used as a weapon to overcome indigenous or other forces. While technology strives to improve the lives of humans and other living beings, there is an inherent belief that all new technologies are first seen as weapons. Combined with xenophobia and “us versus them,” “Starfield” may expand this philosophy-like science fiction idea into a broader conflict. Humans often feel justified in killing first and asking questions later, especially in matters they do not understand, which may seem dangerous.
How can Starfield explore the theme of First Contact?
In Starfield, what has happened to Earth and Mars is revealed, suggesting that the solar system is largely uninhabited. Whether this is due to alien contact or dwindling resources that have forced them to move among the stars is yet to be revealed. However, Bethesda has shown fans that different people, factions, governments, and corporations have their ideals and agendas. Players may see these conflicts explode narratively depending on what happens on Starfield’s Earth and Mars.
Starfield’s exploration of space can immediately evoke the xenophobic themes today, even if the game does not feature aliens. Further exploration of technology and weaponry can enhance the story that will be the future theme. Nevertheless, players have already seen a planet teeming with extraterrestrials, some friendly and some dangerous. This allows for a broader perspective on xenophobia, “us versus them,” and even technology if the attributes and ecology of the aliens have an important purpose for humanity.
Starfield will be released in 2023 for PC and Xbox Series X/S.