Bethesda’s upcoming space-faring RPG Starfield has received the highest possible maturity rating from the Australian government’s official Classification Board, but that same board has given the game the mildest rating available for sex.
The Classification Board released its judgment on March 15, landing Starfield with an R 18+ rating. Neither North America’s Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) or Pan European Gaming Information (PEGI) had issued ratings for Starfield at the time of this writing, so it’s not yet clear how controversial the game’s content will be for audiences the world over.
Unlike the North American and European software rating boards, the Australian government’s board also rates film media. A description of the R 18+ rating from the government website indicates that a piece of media is restricted to adults only, and retailers may require proof of identification for anyone attempting to purchase it. Content earning this rating “may be offensive to sections of the adult community.”
In addition to drug use, the Australian ratings board also flagged the Violence category with a red dot under “Strong impact,” its second-highest category of intensity. Both Themes and Language fell under “Moderate impact,” while Sex was listed under the mildest ratings category of “None,” indicating that the game does not contain any sexual content whatsoever. Interestingly, the final category, Nudity, did manage to register slightly, drawing a low-scale rating of “Very mild impact.”
That may be a little bit surprising to some, as Starfield seems to be following a pattern established by other Bethesda-controlled series like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. While those games don’t show the player any scenes that are overtly sexual, the most modern entries have included romance options, as well as quests and themes centered around prostitution and femme fatale characters who lure in victims with sex appeal. While Starfield seems set to have a monumental dialogue tree with the player making life-or-death choices for the other characters, not much is known yet about the companions you’ll make as you visit the game’s numerous planets, or in what ways you’ll be able to interact with them.
Likewise, Fallout allows you to use a variety of fictional drugs to enhance your physical or mental skills temporarily, but they often come with periods of withdrawal that will lower your stats for a while, or even addiction, which can addle your character until they get their next fix. The Elder Scrolls’ Skooma has similar physical stat boosts and addiction mechanics, but most of the in-game society seems averse to its distribution and usage.
Set to release on September 6 exclusively for Xbox Series X|S and PC, we may get more answers from Bethesda regarding the intensity of Starfield’s content at an upcoming Starfield Direct planned for June 11.
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