Starfield, like many of Bethesda’s past RPGs is a game full of choices and consequences. Most often, major choices in any given quest line will come through dialogue or optional objectives clearly marked in the quest log. However, there’s one choice players don’t even know they’re passively making, which can have devastating consequences later on in the game’s main campaign.
[Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Starfield.]
Throughout Starfield‘s campaign, players will be introduced to a number of recruitable companions. These companions come from all walks of life and spending time with them helps dive into their backstories and flesh them out as characters while exploring The Settled Systems. For example, Sam Coe’s family were founders of Akila City, and Sarah Morgan served in the United Colonies military (and was a drummer in a band at one point) prior to joining the exploration group Constellation, whereas the stealthy Andreja was a former smuggler and devotee of the House of Va’ruun before joining Constellation’s ranks in 2328. Meanwhile, Lin and Heller come from the protagonist’s mining past with Argos Extractors, and the Adoring Fan seems to exist for the sole purpose of praising the player and bringing back nostalgia for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
“A High Price To Pay” Will Kill A Companion
In the mission “A High Price To Pay,” the player must make a choice to defend one of two key locations. This will be either the Constellation’s headquarters, The Lodge, where the player is already situated after delivering one of the artifacts, or The Eye, where Vladimir is located. Starfield‘s main companions – Barrett, Andreja, Sam, and Sarah – are divided and are located across both and the catch seems to be that as a result, one of these companions will die, and it will be one that the player is close to.
The choice of which companion is placed in which location may initially seem random, and Starfield developer Bethesda has yet to confirm what the key components of this are, but it would seem that this placement varies depending on the game’s Affinity system and how much time has been spent with them. The two companions that are at the player’s location will survive, but the companion they’re closest to at the other location will die at the hands of The Hunter, which can be a particular gut-punch if it’s one that the protagonist was intent on romancing.
The Companion Death Is One Of Starfield’s Most Emotional Moments
For those who are already aware of the shocking twist in “A High Price To Pay,” this makes the choice of which location to save even more tactical, as it comes down to figuring out who is situated where via dialogue, and selecting the location with the character or characters they favor most to save, then looking at who they were closest to out of the two companions in the other location, knowing that they will die. For those who were unaware going into the level, however, it’s a cruel trick that will have a lasting impact on the game’s story going forward, and likely one that will make many players reload a past game save file to try to change things.
The companion’s death is tied to the main story and can’t be avoided, but by tying it specifically to the characters the player has spent the most time bonding with, it comes as a particularly crushing blow regardless of any strategic planning, and even though the protagonist doesn’t have any recorded dialogue at this moment, the other surviving companion’s dialogue will be just as heartbreaking as they hold their dying friend in their arms. Afterward, many of the other characters will discuss the companion’s death, making it feel like a proper loss, and making the guilt over the decision feel inescapable.
Starfield later reveals that one of the Starborn whom players have been interacting with later in the game, The Emissary, is this dead companion. The Starborn are a group of ascended individuals who have surpassed their humanity by reaching and passing through The Unity, enabling them to cross entire universes. In the case of The Emissary, they ventured to the Unity after the player’s character was the one who died in their universe, making for an emotional reveal near the end of the game and essentially mirroring some of the players’ upcoming actions where they can also become a Starborn and begin New Game Plus.
This Companion Can Be Saved In New Game Plus
Despite how emotional the original narrative was, Bethesda does seem to offer a way to redeem this in New Game Plus. If players decide to skip the main quest upon returning to The Lodge as a Starborn at the start of New Game Plus, they will inform their companion that they are Starborn now and that they died in their original universe. If they don’t skip this, however, they can do some tasks to actively save all the members of Constellation.
Upon completing the mission “Further Into The Unknown,” if players speak to Vladimir and use the [Starborn] dialogue option, they can inform him that the Artifacts need to be moved as you know The Hunter is coming to claim them and will kill a member of Constellation. This unlocks a mission exclusive to New Game Plus called “Foreknowledge” where players can build the Armillary sooner and move the Artifacts prior to the moment when the events of “A High Price To Pay” would have played out.
Upon returning to The Lodge after completing this, every member of Constellation will be present. Their jovial and friendly nature as they hang out at the bar makes the moment even more satisfying, as only the player and Vlad are aware of how close they came to dying and the others can live in blissful ignorance on the matter.
Playing out this whole arc across essentially two runs of the game’s main campaign has a great payoff in Starfield. After the emotional gut punch of initially losing a companion – and a close one in particular – Bethesda’s made a unique way of making playing through New Game Plus feel even more worthwhile while further exploring the lore of the Starborn.