Bethesda Game Studios has an incredible knack for making its world come alive by populating them with people and groups with interesting histories and backstories. Meeting new factions, learning more about their goals and motivations, and playing a role in any potential conflicts they play is always a big part of the experience in BGS RPGs, and presumably, that’s going to be the case in Starfield as well. Bethesda has already revealed quite a bit about the many factions that you’ll be crossing paths with as you explore the Settled Systems, and here, we’re going to take a look at all of them, their histories, what their place in the Starfield universe is, and more.
Constellation is the faction that’s going to be at the center of Starfield’s main story. The space exploration organization is dedicated entirely to the cause of unravelling the mysteries of the universe, but though Constellation was once a legendary group, over the years, it has receded into obscurity, to the point where many aren’t even aware that it still operates. It will, however, be the main drive behind Starfield’s core narrative arc- players will come into contact with Constellation early on in the game, at which point a mysterious artifact in your possession will react to the presence of other alien artifacts in the group’s possession, further cementing their hypothesis that there is indeed sentient, intelligent life somewhere out there, beyond the Settled Systems. That will kick into gear your primary objective of going out into the vast expanses of space, uncovering and retrieving more artifacts, and, aligned with Constellation’s goals, unravelling the universe’s biggest mysteries.
The Settled Systems have two major established governments in charge, one of which is the United Colonies, which is also the single most powerful faction in the game. Considering themselves the true heirs of humanity who carry forward the traditions of Earth, the United Colonies is a highly structured republic that also boasts the largest and most intimidating military force in all of the Settled Systems. Its capital, the city of New Atlantis on the planet Jemison, will be a major location in the game, and we’ve already seen quite a bit of it in gameplay footage so far.
As the main established government that’s spread throughout a multitude of systems and colonies, the United Colonies has, of course, also come into conflict with several other factions over the years. Twenty years before the events of Starfield, for instance, it fought the Freestar Collective in what’s known as the Colony War, while by the year 2330 (which is when the game is set), it’s also been put on high alert by the activities of the Crimson Fleet. The UC also has a very clearly defined government structure, with three major arms – military, administration, and science – working together as part of a single council.
Alongside the United Colonies, the Freestar Collective one of Settled System’s two established governments. But where the United Colonies is all about the structure and high technology, the Freestar Collective, as its name implies, is more- well, freeform. BGS essentially describes it as the space western fantasy. In fact, we’ve seen its capital, Akila City, a couple of times in gameplay footage so far, and it basically looks like a wild west, cowboy town in space.
The Freestar Collective doesn’t have the sort of reach that the United Colonies do, being spread out across just three systems, and its military might isn’t nearly as impressive (though their peacekeeping force, known as the Freestar Rangers, do seem pretty adept at their jobs, from what we’ve been able to glean so far). In the aforementioned Colony War, however, the Collective still managed to hold its own, and at the end of the conflict, it succeeded in retaining is independence. Twenty years later, though it might be fragile, there is some semblance of peace between the two factions.
The Settled Systems are a vast place, to say the very least, which means there’s plenty of room from crime. And if crime is what you’re looking for, the Crimson Fleet is going to be your go-to. Headquartered in the former UC space station known as The Key, the Crimson Fleet isn’t necessarily full-on, structured organization, but more a collection of powerful space pirates who’ve been losely working under the group’s banner out of aligned interests. And they take the whole “life of crime” thing pretty seriously, because of their rules is that if you’re in, you’re in. After joining the Crimson Fleet, the only way out is death.
For the majority of its existence, the Crimson Fleet has operated in the territories governed and overseen by the Freestar Collective, so it’s safe to say that those two factions have some bad blood between them, which is likely going to have a role to play in Starfield’s larger story. By the time the game’s story kicks off, however, the Crimson Fleet has also started encroaching in UC territory, which has put it on alert and made it officially declare it as a threat.
We’ve talked about governments, we’ve talked about criminals- now, let’s talk about money, because, as you might imagine, you’re also going to be crossing paths with plenty of corporations and megcorporations in the world of Starfield. Take, for instance, Xenofresh Corporation, the group that turned an old fishing platform into the pleasure city of Neon, the place where anything goes and everything you could think of is unregulated. A tourist attraction, a trading hub, a haven for corporations, Neon is going to be another major location in Starfield, so clearly, we’ll be learning plenty moe about Xenofresh Corporation in the game itself.
There’s also Ryujin Industries, another megacorp that operates in Neon. Though this group in particular has been mentioned a few times in what’s been shown of the game so far, we don’t know quite a lot about Ryujin Industries yet- though it seems safe to assume that Ryujin Industries and Xenofresh Corporation are probably going to be rivals vying for control of Neon. Or maybe not.
There’s plenty of other factions in Starfield’s universe that players will potentially be crossing paths with. Several minor ones have been revealed so far, and brief details on their goals and backstories are also available. That includes the Spacers, who’re described as a group of violent marauders and bandits scattered throughout the Settled Systems; the House of Va’ruun, a fanatical group of zealots who are pledged to an entity known as the Great Serpent; a group of mercenaries known as the Eclictic Mercenaries; and a couple of religious organizations called the Enlightened and Sanctum Universum.