Starfield Gets R18+ Rating in Australia Due to ‘Interactive Drug Use’

By | March 17, 2023

Bethesda’s upcoming RPG Starfield has received an R18+ rating in Australia due to its depiction of “interactive drug use,” according to the Australian Classification Board’s database. It is Australia’s strongest classification for games, meaning sales of Bethesda’s new RPG will be restricted to adults 18 and over in the country. Australia’s R18+ rating is commensurate to the ESRB’s M (Mature 17+) in North America and PEGI 18 in Europe.

Starfield’s drug use is what drove the rating to R18+, with its depiction being classified as “High Impact.” The overall ratings of films and games in Australia is determined by the level of the highest ratings criteria. Violence was determined at the slightly lower “Strong Impact” level, while nudity was regarded as very low level. Starfield’s rating is stronger than Fallout 4, which received an MA15+ rating for its violence when it was released back in 2015. Drug use in Fallout 4 was only regarded as “Moderate Impact” by the Australian Classification Board at the time.

Bethesda’s RPGs have long been known for their explicit content, including featuring a fictional drug called “Jet” that your character can get addicted to in-game. This is a stronger rating than the last few Fallout games, though, and perhaps offers a hint of what to expect when it’s eventually released later this year.

Fallout 3 previously fell afoul of Australia’s classification guidelines regarding drug use related to incentives and rewards, but that was way back in 2008 and a number of years prior to introduction of the R18+ category for games in the country. For its part, Bethesda opted for ficitional names for its in-game drugs over real ones and that was enough for Fallout 3 to be sold in Australia without further issue.

Starfield Character, Ship, and Outpost Customization – Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase 2022

A little more insight into Starfield

While Bethesda has delved into some of Starfield’s systems and gameplay, there’s still a good deal we don’t known. Back in 2022 we interviewed director Todd Howard, where he talked about how it would mix handcrafted content with a procedurally-generated galaxy, among other features.

Starfield was originally supposed in late 2022, but was subsequently delayed into 2023. Xbox boss Phil Spencer supported the delay and said “the decision to give the team the time to build the game that they feel they should be building is just the right thing to do.”

Starfield is currently slated to release September 6 on PC and Xbox Series X|S, and has been confirmed to be available Day 1 on Xbox Game Pass.

Luis Gutierrez is a freelance writer at IGN.