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5 things we want from Starfield

Starfield art
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield is arguably one of the most exciting upcoming games of 2022, despite it not coming to the PS5. But so far, all we’ve had is a drip-feed of information about this brand-new sci-fi game from Bethesda, mostly in the form of behind-the-scenes videos. 

So far proper game footage and action has been elusive, though we hope to see some relatively soon given Starfield is due to be released on November 11 this year.

As such, Starfield is open to a galaxy of speculation. And that’s exactly what we’ll do. Here are five things we want to see from Starfield. 

Pilotable spacecraft  

A screen shot of a ship cabin from Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda)

It’s an obvious request, but we want to be able to fly the starships in Starfield. Bethesda has promised multiple worlds to explore, but we don’t want to simply fast travel to them, we want to be able to take the far-future NASA-looking craft into the deep black of space and see what we encounter as we fly towards the next planet on a star map. 

And with space flight comes the idea of space combat. We know there’s been conflict in the universe of Starfield, so it’s not going to be a peaceful place. So we hope Bethesda let us take those battles to space. They wouldn’t even need to be in real-time; they could be some form of neat turn-based system that sees pilots balance power to weapons, engines and life support while trying to get the edge over attacking craft. 

An epic sci-fi story

Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda)

One of the weaknesses of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and its predecessor Oblivion was arguably the main story. Sure, the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood side quests were brilliant, as were the odd small quests that popped up as you explored the open worlds. But the main story of both games were fairly run-of-the-mill fantasy fare that perhaps didn’t do the lore and vast space of the games justice. With Starfield, Bethesda has the scope to start afresh and create a completely original story that can draw upon established sci-fi inspiration but forge its own path. 

Given there’s a hard sci-fi look, not dissimilar to that of The Expanse books and TV series, Starfield feels rather different to say Star Wars or Mass Effect. I just hope that the story isn’t just compelling in scope but also in depth, with one’s actions in the game having an effect on the narrative throughout its course, rather than towards the end. Games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Divinity: Original Sin 2 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are all good examples of how side-quest action and story can rub against the main plot in interesting ways. 

Compelling companions and characters 

Starfield Vasco robot

(Image credit: Bethesda)

We've already seen that Starfield will have a companion in the form of utilitarian robots Vasco. And the look and sound of the bot hints that there’s more to it than just simple utility. But even if that’s not the case, we want to see Starfield full of interesting companions and characters. 

Sadly, these were somewhat few and far between in Skyrim, with companion characters especially being little more than well-armoured pack horses. Given the scope of Starfield and the idea that outer space could be rather lonely, We'd like to see a host of interesting companions and followers to chat to as we explore the universe of Starfield; after all Han Solo and Chewbacca, The Mandalorian had Baby Yoda, and err… Ripley had Jonesy.    

Kinetic combat  

Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Fighting enemies in Skyrim was a lot more kinetic than the floaty hacking and slashing of Oblivion, but even with Dragon Shouts it wasn’t exactly dynamic. Starfield has the chance to introduce a whole new combat system; sure guns will be involved but its doesn't have to be a basic first-person shooter. 

We’d like Bethesda to draw inspiration from the V.A.T.S system and its Fallout games, and have some tactical elements in Starfield’s combat. Even if some form of turn-based combat isn't introduced, we’d like to see some hard sci-fi elements used, say only being able to use recoilless guns in space or low-gravity so that you don’t end up with the recoil from traditional guns throwing you backwards in a vacuum. 

Or we'd like combat to be dynamic, with an element of verticality, say fighting on towering structures or moving from ground battles to dogfights in the upper atmosphere. Give Bethesda’s said nothing about Starfield combat other than a lingering image of a future rifle, there’s all sorts of directions the developer could go. 

Galaxy-scale customization

Starfield concept art characters

(Image credit: Bethesda)

The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games weren't short on customization. But we want to see a greater level of that in Starfield so that players really feel they are having an experience that unique to them. By that we mean everything could be customizable, from attachments on EVA suits and weapons, to tweaking the engines, weapons and environment of one's spaceship. 

And we’d like to see this customization affect combat tactics, the way the universe of Starfield perceives the player’s character, and the profession one can pursue. It may be wishful thinking but we’d love there to be different, or at least interweaving and diverging storylines for characters of different professions; a trader could have a drastically different story to that of a bounty hunter. Dragon Age: Origins does this rather well with its titular origin stories, so I’d love to see Bethesda draw inspiration from that. 

If Bethesda can just pull a few of the above elements off, while creating a compelling sci-fi experience, then Starfield could very well end up being a game of the year contender. It'll have to do something very special as Elden Ring has captured the attention of a lot of Tom's Guide's gamers. 

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.