Science fiction is a genre that loves to imagine fun, new vectors for human misery. Maybe we’ll end up in a future where alien embryos might erupt from our chest cavities. Maybe an evil sorcerer with a big space gun will start blowing up planets. If Warhammer 40,000 is any metric, we’ve got about 39 millennia before there is literally only war. And yet, somehow, Bethesda has created a future even more terrible: In Starfield, humanity’s lost a lot of its very good boys.
The reporting comes courtesy of novelty Twitter account Can You Pet the Dog, which tweeted a screenshot of Starfield’s item description for the Chocolate Labs food consumable. “Centauri Mills’ chocolate, shaped like an extinct canine called a Labrador Retriever,” the description says. It also notes that the consumable restores five health, which I think we can all agree doesn’t quite undo the psychic damage it just inflicted. Also, Centauri Mills, if you’re listening? Morbid branding decision, folks.
Though they are featured in Starfield’s concept art, pets do not appear to be present in the full game. Furthermore, an item description indicates that Labrador Retrievers — and possibly all dogs — have gone extinct. pic.twitter.com/RnYArouoeASeptember 2, 2023
The psychic damage doesn’t stop there. After reading that item description, you have to wonder: Does Starfield mention any non-extinct canines? Is there any NPC chatter where someone mentions the dog they had growing up, any posters of a dog with a fun little spacesuit? Or does Starfield expect me to believe that, somehow, humanity took to the stars without man’s best friend? Taunting us with derelict mechs was bad, but this is just cruel.
Reactions, as you’d expect, ranged from outrage to despair:
Todd Howard you have hurt me for the last time 😔 https://t.co/fJ2K5yUBHISeptember 2, 2023
Other users took a more proactive direction with their grieving process, lighting signal beacons for modders to right Bethesda’s wrong:
Bethesda: let’s add lore that says dogs have gone extinct.Modders: https://t.co/kzbfmYxWzr pic.twitter.com/JY0AOeACYBSeptember 2, 2023
Admittedly, having dogs running around in Starfield would present some additional technical problems to solve in a game that’s already got a lot of pieces moving in tandem. A dog companion in Fallout 4 is all well and good, but having a Dogmeat in Starfield means having to figure out how a dog would move in zero gravity. If Vasco is any indication, that might be a big ask.
I could live without dogs being on-screen if I had an answer one way or another about whether our canine companions are an ongoing concern in the galaxy. It’s the silence that hurts, Todd. Bethesda can just say that dogs are illegal to have in space if it has to. Something about dog hair and air filtration in spaceships, probably. I won’t think about it too hard.
I can’t say I’m too concerned about cats, though. They’d only go extinct if they wanted to.