Bethesda is a studio that has found great success with its massive single-player RPG games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 3. While the company’s recent fumbles with games like Fallout 76 (and, to a lesser extent, Fallout 4) have disappointed gamers, the studio is pushing forward and has some ambitious projects on the horizon. One such project is Starfield, a game that was first announced during Bethesda’s 2018 E3 presentation.
Following Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda, rumors about Starfield‘s release have ramped up, and now that we’ve gotten a look at its gameplay, there’s a lot more we know about the project. Even after its delay of around six months, excitement for Starfield doesn’t seem to have waned. We’ve gathered as much information as we could to bring you everything we know about Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi RPG, Starfield.
As part of the recent Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase 2022, Microsoft reiterated that Starfield will launch by summer 2023.
Starfield was gearing up to launch on November 11, 2022, which is 11 years after the original release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. However, on May 12, 2022, Bethesda announced it had been delayed to “the first half of 2023.”
There was discussion that Bethesda was originally planning to ship Starfield much earlier — possibly in 2020 or 2021. If the company was counting on shipping Starfield in 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic likely slowed production, pushing it further out. Following the poor reception to Fallout 76 in 2018, Bethesda likely wants its next game to be as refined and polished as possible, which will take time.
Typically, Bethesda has multiple projects in the works at once — with one getting the majority of the focus while the others sit to the side and gestate. We know the company filed for Starfield‘s trademark in 2013, which means it had to have been thinking about it for a while before that.
Starfield will release for Xbox Series X|S and PC.
At this point, it’s clear it won’t come to PlayStation or Nintendo since Bethesda is now a first-party Microsoft developer. Before the game’s E3 2021 showcase, GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb said that Starfield will not appear on PlayStation, stating that it’s exclusive to Xbox. Microsoft confirmed this shortly thereafter.
For a while, it was unclear whether Starfield would come to Microsoft’s previous-generation system, Xbox One, but following its E3 2021 showing, Bethesda confirmed it will only launch for Xbox Series X|S and PC.
Speaking with The Telegraph, Howard said, “You don’t ever want to leave people out, right? But at the end of the day, your ability to focus and say, this is the game I want to make, these are the platforms I want to make it on, and being able to really lean in on those is going to make for a better product.”
Given the game’s scope, it makes sense it will only be available for current hardware. We also know Starfield will launch on Xbox Game Pass on day one, allowing even more players to enjoy it.
We got our first glimpse at Starfield during Bethesda’s E3 presentation in 2018, and aside from conveying tone, it didn’t reveal much. Bethesda was actually reluctant to reveal the game so early, but, as Howard explained during an interview with NoClip, fans had already suspected the team was working on Starfield following its trademark filing in 2013. The team wanted to give fans a roadmap for what to expect from Bethesda Game Studios going forward and decided to pull the cloak off — but maybe too early, as some fans have pointed out.
The more cynical side of the internet believes the company revealed Starfield when it did to distract from the announcement of Fallout 76, which didn’t have the best reception even before its release. The company had to have known the community wouldn’t take kindly to an online Fallout game, so perhaps Starfield and The Elder Scrolls: VI were revealed to hold fans over. Bethesda would never admit that, of course.
Fast forward to E3 2021, where Bethesda showed off even more of Starfield, along with its release date. The two-minute trailer didn’t feature any gameplay, but it did convey the aesthetics and sort of what to expect from its tone and themes. It did have some gorgeous visuals — all of which were in-engine. In the trailer, a character can be seen gearing up a spacecraft for flight, though it’s unclear if this is something you’ll do in the game. We also got a look at a mysterious planet, a robot of some kind, and the inside of the spaceship.
Then, in mid-March 2022, Bethesda released a new extended trailer featuring more footage of Starfield, along with a discussion from the team. The extended trailer is nearly 15 minutes long, though no gameplay was shown yet. Aside from the footage, the developers focused on the game’s environments and characters. Bethesda is prioritized with keeping Starfield grounded, which is mentioned in the trailer.
Then, four years after its initial reveal, Bethesda finally showed off gameplay for Starfield at the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase 2022. The developer gave an extensive look, offering 15 minutes of new footage for the highly anticipated game. We’ll dive into more details about its gameplay below.
It was probably surprising to see Bethesda unveil a new game — and one set in space, at that. Starfield is a single-player sci-fi RPG and the studio’s first new IP in 25 years. Though the developer attempted to create a game set in space in the ’90s, it ultimately failed and was canceled. It seems that Starfield won’t share the same fate, as the team has prioritized its development and aims to bring it to Xbox Series X|S. Presently, it’s the studio’s main priority, as a smaller portion of its developers continues to work on Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls: VI. Bethesda has four main studios under its belt, located in Austin, Dallas, Montreal, and Rockville, Maryland — all of which are assisting with Starfield’s development.
Speaking of current-generation hardware, the question of whether Starfield will be running on a new-and-improved engine has been on the minds of Bethesda fans since its announcement. After all, many of the studio’s past games have been notoriously buggy and have felt outdated, even at the time of release. With Starfield, it’s still not clear how it’ll run in general, but Bethesda has gone on record to confirm it will use the same engine as Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76, known as Creation Engine.
This might be an immediate turnoff to some, but when you consider the engine has evolved tremendously since 2011, it might as well be something totally new. As GamesRadar explains, Bethesda has added to the engine — so much so that calling it the “same” isn’t as informative as you’d think.
“For Fallout 76, we changed a lot of it,” Howard explained. “All new renderer, new lighting model, new landscape system. Then when you go to Starfield, even more of it changes, and then Elder Scrolls VI, which is really out on the horizon, even more of it changes.” In short, the fact that Starfield is still running on Creation Engine might not necessarily be something to worry about.
Parts of Starfield were already playable as of E3 2018. That was four years ago, and the game is in even better shape now. “We know the game we’re making now, and one of the reasons we announced it is that it’s looking really awesome. We have [a] runway in front of us, and we know what’s happening,” Howard told GameSpot in 2018. When it comes to the gameplay and what to expect from Starfield in comparison to Bethesda’s other games, Howard concluded, “It has what you’d expect and more.”
“It’s different, but if you sit down and play it, you would recognize it as something we made, if that makes sense? It has our DNA in it. It has things that we like,” Howard told Eurogamer in 2018.
In 2020, leaked images supposedly from Starfield surfaced, giving us a possible glimpse at the game’s UI and characters. Now that the game has been shown off, it’s clear these leaks were the real deal. Another leak from Reddit (and relayed by GamesRadar) suggests that each planet in Starfield is bigger than the entirety of Skyrim, though this has not been confirmed either.
The studio is, of course, keeping tight-lipped when it comes to revealing information about Starfield, but the main point is that it’ll likely satisfy those players who love “classic” Bethesda games. In recent years, the company has tried new things like The Elder Scrolls: Blades and Fallout Shelter — two games that were designed with mobile devices in mind. Starfield, on the other hand, will not be like that at all, though what we’ll be doing in it remains to be seen.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Howard said, “The game is set about 300 plus years in our own future, and Constellation is this kind of last group of space explorers. It’s like NASA meets Indiana Jones meets the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a group of people that are still searching for answers.”
“There are a lot of factions in the game, but that’s the main one that you’ll become a part of. It’s kind of like Skyrim in terms of the structure of the game, where you’re going to be who you want to be, and then [there are] different factions that you can join and really carve your own path.”
It’s still unclear if you’ll be able to freely explore the universe as you can in No Man’s Sky, but at this point, Bethesda hasn’t given us any reason to believe it’ll be designed that way. We do know science and religion will play a part in Starfield, as stated by Howard. “We ask some big questions in the game — the kind that people have asked when they look to the sky, you know? ‘What’s out there? Why are we here? How do we get here?’ And we get into science, we get into religion.”
Then, at the Xbox Showcase in 2022, Bethesda finally showed the game in action, and based on initial reactions, Starfield seems to be what players were expecting, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The gameplay video kicked off with a shot of a massive spaceship (which can be fully customized) landing on a planet. From there, the main character can be seen exploring, defeating enemies, gathering resources, and infiltrating an enemy base. The video showed off third- and first-person camera perspectives throughout, which is typical for Bethesda games.
While the fundamental gameplay loop will unfold as you might expect, much of the action looks to be a step up from previous Bethesda games, at least from a polished perspective. There’s a moment when the game goes full-on FPS, so we’re curious to see how that plays out with various weapons later on in the story.
Another talking point is the fact that Starfield will have 1,000 planets to explore. It’s unclear if each of these planets has been crafted individually or if they’re procedurally generated like in No Man’s Sky, but suffice to say that Bethesda’s latest adventure will be big. Of course, you’ll interact with NPCs, embark on quests, collect resources, and enter battles with intergalactic enemies. While this game shares a lot with No Man’s Sky, it seems Starfield will lean a bit more into action.
Starfield will also feature a robust character creator with a slew of skills to unlock. These are skills that resemble many others from previous Bethesda games but with a space-themed spin. You’ll also be able to craft various weapons, equipment, medicine, and even food — using the items you’ve found while exploring.
And you’ll need all the help you can get because many planets will contain deadly creatures that will surely put your skills to the test. While exploring other planets, you’ll be able to construct your own outposts, which aid in resource generation. You can even hire other NPCs to help run an outpost, making it easier to keep things going while you complete quests.
Ship battles will also be present in Starfield, giving you action not just on planets but in the skies above as well.
Beyond that, expect around 111,000 lines of dialogue (nearly twice as many as Skyrim), factions, a persuasion system, lockpicking, and other familiar mechanics from past Bethesda games.
Fans worried about multiplayer getting in the way of a quality single-player story (looking at you, Fallout 76) should rest easy. According to a Eurogamer interview with Bethesda’s Peter Hines, Starfield “is decidedly single player.” The company has described Starfield as a core Bethesda game we’ve come to expect — only this time, it’s set in space, which is new to the studio.
Since the release date is still a way out, there’s no pre-order information available for Starfield right now. We’ll keep you posted on when pre-orders will become available.