Starfield is a huge game. Surprising, but it is. Starfield is probably Bethesda’s largest game to date, and as is Bethesda (and open world) tradition, that experience is littered with secrets, references, and good old-fashioned Easter eggs.
Quite frankly, it’s difficult to not find a secret or Easter egg while exploring the outer recesses of Starfield. Perhaps you encountered someone trying to sell you an extended warranty on your ship, or maybe you noticed that all of the planets in the starting system of Alpha Centauri are named after famous astronauts.
These are only a few of the references you can find throughout the game, and quite frankly, not all of Starfield’s secrets and Easter eggs are created equal. Some are more impressive, either because they provide tangible rewards or because they show off mechanics you didn’t even know the game had. Others are just so obscure or so well-hidden that you wonder how anyone was supposed to uncover them in the first place. Here are some of the most impressive secrets we’ve found so far.
All That Secret Armor
Like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout before it, Starfield is full of armor (spacesuits if you want to get technical) that players can use to protect themselves while adventuring. Each set boasts different stats, weights, and bonuses, and some are certainly better than others. You can acquire most suits by just completing quests and looting enemies, but some are more secretive (and lucrative) than others.
Though Starfield contains numerous outfits waiting to be discovered, the two you really want to go out of your way for are the Mantis and Nishina suits. Both sets are among the game’s most powerful outfits, but if you want them, you can’t rely on the quest trackers. The Mantis Spacesuit is a reward for a secret quest you can only get if you loot the “Secret Outpost” note from a Spacer, which isn’t a guaranteed drop, but the Nishina Spacesuit is even harder to find since you can only acquire it during the mission “Entangled,” and only if you save both dimensions during that quest. To do so, you have to read in-game notes, follow them by hopping between realities, and actively ignoring the quest UI’s instructions.
Alex Hay’s Note
Bethesda announced Starfield during E3 2018 to the delight and shock of audiences everywhere. After all, Starfield was going to be Bethesda’s first new IP in decades (and the Fallout 76 debacle hadn’t occurred yet). Unfortunately, not everyone excited to play Starfield would get the chance.
In March of 2023, app producer Alex Hay, best known for programs such as Toolbox Pro, announced that, as of September 2022, he had stopped treatment for his lung cancer and had entered palliative care (i.e., medical care one receives when they have an incurable illness so as to relieve symptoms rather than cure the cause). Several days after the announcement, Hay passed away. Hay had been following the Starfield project for years and was gutted he wouldn’t live to play the game, but he wished everyone else to enjoy the game for him. So, Bethesda decided to immortalize him within the code of Starfield.
If you visit The Eye station, which orbits around Jemison in the Alpha Centauri station, you can find a note dedicated to Hay. This letter is a memorial to the longtime fan who died before his time. While it’s not out in the open, the note is still a touching tribute nonetheless.
A Hidden Photo Album System
Like many games these days, Starfield requires an SSD. This component cuts down on what would probably be unbearably long load times on an HDD, but you are still left with plenty of load screens full of images that, unbeknownst to most gamers, are actually semi-customizable.
At any point in the game, you can pause the action from your handheld scanner and take a screenshot with Starfield’s photo mode. You can tweak the lighting, your character’s pose, and much more to immortalize your favorite moments, and if you do so, the game automatically adds them to the library of loading screens. You don’t have to do anything, just snap some pictures to see them whenever you change areas. Depending on your skill, you might create pictures that put the screenshots created by Bethesda to shame.
Some Very Familiar Voices
Though many studios will rehire voice actors they previously worked with even if that actor isn’t reprising the same role, that’s simply a common industry practice rather than an Easter egg. However, it seems pretty clear that some of Starfield‘s many voice actors were hired to pay tribute to previous performances (as well as for their talent).
Unlike older Bethesda titles such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which recycles actors for numerous roles, Starfield boasts an ensemble cast, many of whom have experience with Bethesda projects and/or sci-fi. For instance, Hope Town’s very own Ron Hope is played by Wes Johnson, who RPG veterans might recognize as the voice of Lord “Cheese for Everyone” Sheogorath. Meanwhile, Stephen Russel who played Codsworth and Nick Valentine in Fallout 4, is unrecognizable as Starfield’s Captain Petrov.
Starfield is also home to quite a few veterans of sci-fi classics. For instance, if players choose the Kid’s Stuff trait, they will get to interact with the protagonist’s mother and father, who are voiced by Star Trek alum Nana Visitor (Major Kira Nerys from Star Trek Deep Space 9) and Tim Russ (Lt. Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager). And we can’t forget the voice of Keeper Aquilus, who is none other than Keir Dullea, best known for his role as Dr. Dave Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Hours Without Incident Counter
If you visit the Cydonia Mining Colony on Mars, you will probably notice the “Hours Without Incident” clock. On the surface, this sign is a fun bit of worldbuilding that obviously references our own “Days Without Incident” signs while implying that accidents in Cydonia happen frequently. However, it turns out this clock isn’t just for show.
Many gamers have discovered that the Hours Without Incident counter is actually updated in real-time based on the player’s actions. Anyone who waits for an hour will see the clock tick up, and anyone who intentionally assaults an NPC will make the timer go back down to zero.
The Broken Constellation Space Helmet
A little-known fact about outer space: There is no oxygen. You need a full spacesuit to not only breathe but to remain pressurized and prevent your blood from boiling inside your veins. One of the most crucial parts of a spacesuit is the helmet, so if it’s broken, you shouldn’t use it. Unless you want to see a really clever Easter egg, that is.
After acquiring your first ship in Starfield, the Frontier, you will find a ton of useful items strewn about. One object of note is the Broken Constellation Space Helmet, which has duct tape stuck to the visor. Appropriately, the words “Don’t Use” are scrawled on the tape. That indicates that the headpiece isn’t spaceworthy, so common knowledge would dictate that you should leave the helmet where it is.
However, if you ignore common sense and wear the helmet, you will find that the duct tape actually blocks your view. In the right lighting, you can even see the ink used to write the reminder bleed through the tape. This is an awesome little detail that gamers who play in third-person might never notice, and it’s a fitting punishment for anyone who ignores the warning. Sticky notes were invented for a reason.
The Many References to Previous Bethesda Games
When it comes to Easter eggs, a longtime studio can’t go wrong by referencing its previous work. After all, many gamers are playing Starfield because they are longtime fans of Bethesda games. Of course, they’re going to understand all these tongue-in-cheek winks.
Most of Starfield’s self-referential Easter eggs (that I’ve found, at least) reference The Elder Scrolls games. The most obvious one is the Adoring Fan (he was in the marketing, after all), who is a clone of the NPC of the same name from Oblivion, right down to the mannerisms and voice actor. Players who don’t pick the Hero Worship trait during character creation will never encounter him, but anyone who does will find the character a reliable, if grating companion.
Also, one of the stores in Hope Town is called “Best Defense:” an obvious homage to the armor store in Oblivion of the same name. Anyone who takes time to examine the prisoner logs in The Lock will see one inmate is named Delvin Mallory: the same name as a member of the Thieves Guild in Skyrim. Speaking of Skyrim, if you max out the Crippling skill in Starfield, you will notice that the badge portrays an arrow shattering a knee; a clear reference to the infamous meme started by Skyrim’s guards.
While most of Starfield’s self-referential Easter eggs stem from The Elder Scrolls, Fallout isn’t ignored. Many gamers are convinced that the baseball trophy references the Fallout 4 town of Diamond City since the base of the Starfield item states that the baseball originated from Boston, and Diamond City was built in the ruins of a baseball stadium. Interstingly, Bethesda’s Todd Howard recently revealed that the team previously considered making Starfield‘s version of Earth the same version of Earth seen in the Fallout games.
Countless References to Other Sci-Fi and Fantasy Media
Pop culture is ingrained in our collective psyche to the point where you can excite audiences by just referencing an existing favorite movies, shows, and books. Though Bethesda has never been shy about filling its games with references to outside media, Starfield really raises the bar when it comes to its pop culture references.
If you take the time to explore, you can find your first reference as early as landing on New Atlantis. Should you visit the UC Distribution Center, you’ll encounter the NPC Johann Baptiste. The guy is so upbeat that he’s even excited to file taxes, which is funny in and of itself, but when you’re done talking to him, he says goodbye with the phrase “Keep on keeping on.” Anyone who played Death Stranding will instantly recognize that as the motto of the game’s delivery service…or maybe it’s a reference to the clairvoyant Edgar Cayce, who allegedly coined the phrase.
Numerous media references can also be found in Starfield’s many item descriptions. These range from humorous to somber pieces of worldbuilding (the Chocolate Labs food item states that dogs went extinct in the game’s universe), but the game’s best item description Easter egg belongs to the humble potato. According to the game, potatoes can be “boiled, mashed, used in a stew,” which is…admittedly accurate. However, if those preparation methods sound familiar, you’ve probably seen The Lord of the Rings movies, as Samwise Gamgee used similar words to describe the humble spud.
Finally, one of Starfield’s best references is a bit of a spoiler and completely missable depending on companion relationships. During the mission “High Price to Pay,” someone is going to die. You can’t change that, but you can determine who bites the dust. No matter which NPC dies, the surviving members of Constellation will hold a memorial service during the quest “Missed Beyond Measure,” and players can even offer a few parting words.
Well, if Sam Coe died during “High Price to Pay,” players can talk to his memorial photo and end with the words, “See you, space cowboy.” These words are fitting since he literally was a space cowboy, but they are also a reference to the legendary anime Cowboy Bebop. After all, that is the name of the song that accompanies Spike Spiegel’s assault on Red Dragon headquarters. Since Spike seemingly died at the end, after fighting through impossible odds, the reference is more than fitting for Sam Coe’s funeral.