clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Starfield relishes in Bethesda’s legacy of item hoarding

If I can pick it up, I will

A pink-haired woman stands with her arms outstretched, clearly proud of the ship she’s standing in, which is full of trash.
Behold my ship of trash
Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

If there’s one thing you can expect people playing Bethesda games to do, it’s hoard stuff. I’m the sort of player who picks up every resource I stumble upon, regardless of need — thank the stars ammo has no weight value. In The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, it was potions, armor, and all sorts of food. In Starfield, I’ve taken to stealing pens and other writing tools off corporate office desks and science research stations, alongside the usual suspects like food and health items.

It’s a problem at the beginning of these games, when players lack storage for all this junk. And so it goes onto the floor of the spaceship, creating the sort of mess that’s become iconic in Bethesda games. Some players focus purely on collecting one item or another; cheese wheels and cabbage are both popular items to hoard in Skyrim. Sometimes they’re in one big ol’ pile — like the mess on my Starfield ship — or in a dark, aesthetic-minded basement where cheese wheels are artfully stacked or laid out across the floor. In Fallout 76, dovetailing with the start of the coronavirus pandemic, players hoarded toilet paper to neatly stack on display shelves.

The thing that makes Bethesda games so ripe for this kind of collecting is the sheer number of items that players can pick up. It feels like there are thousands of different item models used to fill out the games’ worlds. Starfield appears to have more than ever, and largely just for the ambiance they create; unlike in Fallout 4, you can’t break down items in Starfield for resources. There’s so much stuff — beautiful, beautiful stuff — that’s just there for the vibe. And to pick up. It makes for a distinctly Bethesda feel, absolutely looting a room for no reason other than to have things, then heading back to your ship or home to dump it all on the ground.

What’s even more impressive is that all this junk is rendered so lovingly; the unique designs, lighting, and physics of them all are basically asking you to collect and hoard things. Then there’s the way the piles move as you trudge through them, succulents and potatoes alike. I think a ship like this might stress some players out, but for me — and likely others — it’s just what to expect when playing a Bethesda role-playing game.

Junk is basically a calling card for Bethesda games, and that’s beautiful.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon