Bethesda is renowned for creating worlds full of unusual quirks, from Fallout’s sadistic corporations and canonical grey aliens to Tamriel’s Khajiit conmen, princes of madness, and talking dogs. But while Fallout criticises capitalism and hyperbolises corporate warfare, and The Elder Scrolls leans on the weirder aspects of its expansive lore, Starfield can feel tame in comparison.
Set in an imagined future based on our own present, as opposed to Fallout’s alternate history, the game establishes itself early as a more grounded experience than its counterparts. With this in mind, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Bethesda had decided to cut the quirks and make a game as straight-faced and earnest as possible, but these bizarre businesses should convince you otherwise.
The chain of Chunks restaurants you’ll find dotted across the major colonies of the settled systems offer a bizarre combination of two real world products: fast food and the unappetizing freeze-dried food that real-life astronauts choke down when in space.
The company’s founder, Fred Blombart, believed that most people don’t care what they eat, so long as it’s tasty and filling, and was swiftly proven correct as Chunks restaurants and their products soon spread across the settled systems.
The Chunks production process is a tightly-kept secret, unknown to even their employees, in what seems like a jab at the fast-food industry’s attempts to hide poor quality control. In any case, the manufacturers of these convenient cubes are definitely among the stranger corporations in Starfield’s universe.
7 Astral Lounge
The galaxy’s most talked about (and only?) nightclub, the Astral Lounge, is found in Neon, the city controlled by Xenofresh Industries on Volii Alpha. Its exclusive legal access to the psychotropic drug Aurora makes this bar the place to be for those looking to try a psychedelic whose supposedly mind-boggling effects amount to slowing time by 40 percent for ten seconds.
Entering the Lounge reveals a neon-splattered interior which at first seems fitting of a nightclub, but that’s only until you see the dancers. Making sense of anything becomes impossible whilst several people in lurid chromatic outfits with strange spiky appendages dance in a way the developers either realised was hilarious, or thought was genuinely cool. Regardless of intent, they elevate the club in a uniquely Bethesda way.
In the far future of Starfield, all of earth’s national governments have dissolved, as have the nations themselves, time rendering them mere antiquities of Earth’s history. All this makes CAN-uck! even more baffling. With the brand’s commitment to its Canadian origins and product line, the end result may lead you to assume that someone on the development team is either Canadian or infatuated with poutine.
The range of products is broad, with drinks from canned Maple Cola to Pilsner, and a variety of local specialty dishes such as the Edmontonian pierogies and the Haligonian donair wrap. Some fans speculate that the company may also be a nod to Edmonton-based developers Bioware, whose own space series Mass Effect has seen enormous success. Either way, pancakes from a can? Yuck!
5 Chabra Biotics
Little information is given about Chabra Biotics, the pharmaceutical company that produces the drug Hippolyta. This maker of medicines’ product claims it’ll improve your speechcraft today, and in its defence, using Hippolyta does just that, granting a 20 percent bonus to your persuasion chance for five minutes.
Despite its tangible benefits, the combination of the marketing decision to put a weird, overly realistic mouth on the bottle, and the product’s in-game description stating that it lowers inhibitions, do no favours to Chabra Biotics. Whether or not Hippolyta works, the concept of a drug that lowers your inhibitions and improves articulation seems incredibly non-specific, as many medicines can be, and it seems likely that users of the drug would just ramble incessantly, as opposed to becoming any more charming.
4 Red Harvest
Red Harvest is a large grain production company in Starfield, producing products from Naan to Pale Ale under its name. While this is unusual in its own right, the true quirkiness begins when you realise that all of the Red Harvest line of alcoholic products come in small juice boxes, packaged with straws.
Convenient or not, buying your lentils, bread, and alcohol from the same company is strange enough, without the mental image of sipping double malt whiskey from a juicebox. With this in mind, the grizzled cowboys of the Freestar Collective’s liquor swilling seems less intimidating, and a whole lot more ridiculous.
3 The Red Mile
The Red Mile shares the Porrima system with Paradiso, but the two destinations could scarcely be more different. Imagine yourself going to the bank for a business loan and telling them your plan is to set up a deadly assault course that punters can bet on. And then imagine they say yes!
This hotel/casino/resting place’s whole business model revolves around death; although, the fact that participation is entirely voluntary means it’s technically not entirely immoral, a fact the business probably loves to use in court. In the settled systems, The Red Mile is spoken of with fear and is considered by many a death sentence. That is, unless you have the ability to reload a save every time you die.
2 Creature Jam
A spread of the settled systems, the dubiously named Creature Jam is described in-game as a chunky jam made from alien meat, fruit, and unrefined sugar. While this sounds unappealing enough by itself, the label also states that the jam should not be consumed by individuals with any allergies at all.
With no company name attached to the product, the quality of Creature Jam is at best questionable, but since it restores 12 Health and provides +80 Energy Resistance for 8m, most spacefarers will likely consume it straight from the jar without a second thought. And why not? After all, it’s recommended on the back of the jar!
1 Ryujin Industries
This conglomerate initially differs little from the real companies it impersonates, with a wide variety of companies under its banner. Enter into its Neon Headquarters, however, and you’ll notice that contrasting Tranquilitea, their popular tea shop chain, is a weapons store. This sets the tone for a megacorporation whose unscrupulous ruthlessness is a more realistic satire than Fallout’s downright parody.
If you apply and are subsequently hired to work at Ryujin, you’ll dive headlong into this murky world of backstabbing and undercutting. Whilst not as downright ostentatious as Chunks or Creature Jam, the company’s no-holds-barred approach to business is equal parts credible and satirical.
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