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Starfield's endgame includes Legendary Ships, but space derelicts may house its best stories

Bethesda "solicited stories from people outside the design team"

A large ship drifts in orbit around a planet in Starfield.
Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

What's the first derelict and/or abandoned (but is it really abandoned???) spaceship you ever visited in a videogame? I'm struggling to pin it down through the growing white noise of early middle age - as with much else in my life, everything blends into a gritty soup of Metroid and DOOM beyond the turn of the millennium - but I suspect it might have been a level from Rebellion's amazing 1999 Giger 'em up Aliens versus Predator, which I now recall only as screenfuls of fangs illuminated by Smartgun fire.

Does Sonic 2's Flying Fortress Zone count as abandoned, given that almost every NPC aboard is robotic? Blargh. I'm more confident picking my favourite space derelict, which would include choice excerpts from the debris field of trashed starcraft you traverse in the otherwise-questionable Dead Space 3. I'm hoping for more of that kind of thing in Starfield, in which you'll encounter a wide range of scuttled vessels plus still-crewed, decidedly hostile "Legendary" ships that could play a part in the hotly upcoming Bethextravaganza's capacious endgame. There's fresh news on this front from senior level designer Zach Wilson, who has been waxing lyrical online about "the tragedies and perils of space travel".

Wilson's contributions to the game include building spaces for Starfield's United Colonies faction questline, helping out with planet exploration (a subject of mounting controversy - more from me on all that in a bit) and design work for outer-spacey activities and encounters, including the aforesaid visits to derelicts. (Please brace for one mild quest spoiler in the next paragraph.)

"There are a couple that I really like but that I want to keep under wraps until after the game releases so that they can be a surprise to players," Wilson observed in a Q&A on Bethesda's official site. "One that I've always loved features a hapless tour guide leading a bunch of excited townies out for a space tour and are very excited to meet a 'real captain'. The dialogue is hilarious. We also have Legendary Ship encounters - these are huge, high level enemy ships that will dramatically outclass the player through the early part of the game that you have to build up to being able to destroy."

The stuff about Legendary Ships reminds me of Bethesda head of publishing Pete Hines's comments to IGN last week that Starfield "doesn't even really get going until you finish the main quest", which he estimates will take 50 hours. Here's hoping for some Destiny King's Fall-esque endgame extravagance (if you didn't play Destiny, King's Fall was/is a huge Raid involving an alien dreadnought, often hailed as the series' highlight). But I'm most intrigued by Wilson's thoughts on trashed/abandoned ships, which pooled input from outside the design team and seem reminiscent of Fallout 3's eerier Vaults.

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"I also really like our derelict ships - we built a bunch of handcrafted derelict ships that focus on the tragedies and perils of space travel that the player can explore and discover the stories behind," Wilson continued. "The best part about these is we solicited stories from people outside the design team for their contributions, so folks who don't normally get to contribute content to the game were able to put their unique stamp on the game. One of our designers that came from the modding scene, Kris Takahashi, also built several really exciting ship encounters."

You can read more about Wilson and his doings on I've just looked up Kris Takahashi - he started working on official Bethesda stuff in 2018 with Fallout 76. His more celebrated mods include the self-explanatory/rather back-handed "Interesting NPCs" for Skyrim and "Tales of The Commonwealth" for Fallout 4. Seems like a good person to have on the payroll. Anyway, here's Rachel (RPS in peace) with a breakdown of the process of actually flying a ship in Starfield, which you should probably get your head around before invading anybody else's. And if you want to learn more about all the other mods, don't forget to check-out our list of the best Starfield mods.

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