The upcoming Bethesda RPG, Starfield, has received an age rating for mature content and themes. The rating for the Microsoft exclusive Starfield comes from Australia’s Classification Board, which is notoriously strict on content in video games.
Bethesda has a history with the ACB; in 2008, Fallout 3 was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, which made it illegal to distribute or purchase the game in the country. In order for the game to be reclassified, the content that had caused issue in the Australian version of the game had to be removed by Bethesda and resubmitted to the Australian Classification Board. The main issue was the use of drugs in the game, with stand-in drugs such as Jet and Psycho mimicking real world drugs. The content was not removed entirely from the revised version of the game, but the animations of drug use were removed. While not explicitly condoned by Bethesda, drugs continue to feature in their open world games, Skyrim even lets players sell drugs to orphans.
Similarly, Starfield has received its restricted age rating from the ACB with regard to “interactive drug use.” The rating recommends that Starfield should only be sold to players over 18 years old, and breaks down its content into six categories: themes, violence, language, drug use, nudity, and sex. According to the report, Starfield has a higher rate of violence and drug use when compared to the other categories. The rating considers the “impact” of these categories; sex is registered as “none,” nudity is “very mild,” themes and language are registered as having “moderate impact,” violence has a “strong impact,” while drug use is rated “high impact” and is marked by the restricted icon.
It is interesting to note that in 2008, the inclusion of an animation for drug use in Fallout 3 was enough to have the game on the chopping block. Although gamers would be hard pressed to say that the drug use in Fallout was a “high impact” on the experience, especially when in contrast to nuclear warfare. With this in mind, if Starfield includes animations for drug use, it could be a sign of global desensitization. Alternatively, the rating could simply reflect the notoriously strict Australian guidelines. Considering the later-than-expected release date for Starfield, it is good to see that the game will not need to be delayed or edited further for censorship.
When considering that Fallout was an acquired franchise, and the forgotten IRHA Drag Racing series was based on a real-world sport, Starfield will be Bethesda Game Studios’ only original IP other than The Elder Scrolls since 2002. That is quite a lot of pressure on the new IP, so it’s good news that playtesters are reportedly having a lot of fun with Starfield, and now that the title has a rating from the ACB – albeit a high one – it seems as though Starfield is set for smooth sailing.
Starfield launches September 6 for PC and Xbox Series X/S.
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Source: Australian Classification, via GamesRadar