For reasons I won't get into here because it may constitute a little bit of a spoiler, the planet Earth in Starfield is a bit of a wasteland. But what if it was The Wasteland—that is, the post-nuclear hellscape of Bethesda's other big sci-fi-ish game series, Fallout? In an interview with The Washington Post, creative director Todd Howard said developers actually gave thought to the idea.
And there will be some mini-spoilers after this point, so consider yourself warned.
In many ways, Fallout would seem like a natural fit for Starfield: The remains of Earthly landmarks like the Shard in London and the Empire State Building in New York City are there to be discovered, so why not elements of the Capitol Wasteland? It turns out that the idea was actually given some though.
"We talked about it," Howard said in the interview. But, like "hundreds" of other ideas, connecting Fallout and Starfield in a sort of sprawling, interstellar 'Bethesdaverse' ultimately didn't come together.
It's easy enough to understand why. Narratively, it's a tough fit: Starfield takes place in 2330, just 40 years after the events of Fallout 4, when humanity was still dicking around in the radioactive ruins of the Great War. Starfield could've been moved back several centuries to give everyone sufficient time to recover, but the dark irony of the Fallout setting would still butt pretty hard against the straighter "NASA-punk" approach of Starfield.
There were also more practical reasons for leaving the Fallout connection on the cutting-room floor. Starfield was delayed multiple times, and development was slowed greatly by the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced everyone to suddenly adapt to working from home for an extended time. Given those constraints, working in any sort of meaningful connection between the two game series probably seemed like an easy idea to drop.