Starfield’s ESRB Rating Is Full of Sex, Drugs, and DLC

Starfield's ESRB rating suggests the game is going to be one big party, but what's up with those "in-game purchases?"

Photo: Microsoft/Xbox

While ESRB ratings usually mean little to gamers who don’t have to convince their parents to buy a new game for them, those ratings occasionally reveal new details about upcoming titles. For instance, Starfield‘s “Mature” ESRB rating was just revealed, and it seems to confirm the RPG will be a bit raunchier than we previously thought.

It should come as no surprise that the bulk of Starfield‘s ESRB rating focuses on the game’s violence. Most Bethesda Game Studios’ RPGs feature some level of violence, and Starfield is no exception. Specifically, the ESRB warns us that attacks on enemies can “result in blood-splatter effects” and that “cries of pain” can often be heard when using “futuristic guns, lasers, axes, and explosives.” We assume you’ll also be able to sneak around such conflicts or talk your way out of them, but gorehounds will seemingly not be left wanting.

The more interesting details are found further down the rating description. For instance, the ESRB warns us that Starfield contains a fictional drug known as Aurora. Interestingly, the description bothers to note that Aurora is “prominent in the game.” Prominence, in this instance, seems to refer to the quantity of the drug (it can be obtained “by stealing or buying it from vendors”) as well as its role in the narrative. Most notably, it seems that there will be a section of the game that requires players to work in “an illicit drug lab.” That description likely applies to a mission, but it would be fascinating to learn that there is some kind of Aurora side hustle we can participate in.

Functionally, Aurora seems to work like Elder Scroll‘s Skooma or Fallout‘s Chems. The ESRB says that consuming Auroa “results in a distortion effect on the screen.” At this time, though, there’s no word on whether the drug grants any kind of debuff or buff effect when consumed. Given the history of recent BGS titles, though, I’d sooner bet that the on-screen effect is purely cosmetic.

Ad – content continues below

Interstingly, this ESRB rating suggests that Starfield will feature sexual activities. Specifically, it notes that the game “contains some suggestive material in the dialogue and after sharing a bed with characters.” How suggestive? Well, these are the specific lines that the ESRB was able and willing to share:

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease that’s a hundred percent fatal.”

“I’m all for getting a little wild, but next time let’s try it without the jetpacks.”

“Talk about seeing stars, whew… that was amazing.”

Well, those lines certainly make it sound like Starfield will not be taking those scenes too seriously. My guess is that you should expect to be able to visit a brothel rather than seduce your companions. Even still, it was previously suggested that there will be no sex in Starfield. I assume that the previous suggestion was intended to imply that you don’t actually see characters have sex, but it’s possible that something simply changed during the course of development.

Sex and drugs will surely dominate the Starfield headlines, but the most interesting part of the ESRB rating may be the reference to Starfield‘s “In-Game Purchases.” The rating doesn’t elaborate on the nature of those purchases, and Bethesda has not previously revealed what those in-game purchases may be.

Ad – content continues below

While some fear that Starfield will launch with gameplay-enhancing microtransactions (or even a cosmetic-filled battle pass), I don’t think that’s the case. It seems much more likely that the label applies to the kinds of premium DLC expansions that typically follow the release of most Bethesda RPGs. Some are also theorizing that it could be a reference to the paid mods available via the Bethesda Creation Club. While Bethesda hasn’t shied away from controversial microtransactions in the past (*cough* horse armor *cough*), this is another instance where the studio’s recent history should sooner lead to us to believe the label is intended to reference minor microtransactions and premium post-release updates.

Still, this ESRB rating is sadly the most we’ve learned about Starfield in quite some time. Thankfully, Starfield is getting a gameplay showcase during Xbox’s upcoming live stream event, which should shine a light on the much-anticipated title. Xbox needs a major exclusive this year, and Starfield looks to provide just that (even if it will almost inevitably launch with the usual BGS bugs and glitches).