The hype for Starfield is real, not least of all because its lead designer has claimed the upcoming sci-fi game will see players “lose their minds.”
"You get to that point where systems really start to come online, and things start to work well, and gel, and you see everything forming into the vision you had when you first started on this crazy journey," said Bethesda design director Emil Pagliarulo. "When that first happened with Starfield, it really was an, 'Oh. Oh wow. Yeah. This is… something really special. Players are going to lose their minds.' Now we just have to finish it!"
We get that feeling already. While we don't know a lot about the game yet, it's coming in 2023 and could be a lot like Skyrim in space, blended with NASA, a Han Solo simulator and the hard sci-fi of The Expanse.
And going by early footage for the game, it looks like there'll be a rather enigmatic plot to Starfield. It looks like space exploration, and possibly survival on inhospitable planets could play a part, as well as cheese sandwiches. With that in mind, here's what we know about Starfield so far.
Starfield latest news and rumors (updated June 15)
- Starfield's main story campaign should take 30-40 hours to complete, although the game will be longer if you want to see everything
- Starfield’s first gameplay trailer is everything we could have wanted
- Bethesda has delayed Starfield until the first half of 2023
Starfield release window
Initially, Starfield was supposed to arrive on November 11, 2022. However, Bethesda delayed the game until the first half of 2023, citing a desire for "the best, most polished [version]."
We can expect more Starfield details before that, with Bethesda likely using the some what vague trailer to build up excitement around its original IP. Given some Bethesda games have launched in a rather buggy state, we're quite happy for the developer to take its time here.
In the meantime, Starfield is expected to be shown off at a major Bethesda and Xbox showcase on both June 12 and June 14.
E3 2021 saw the first proper trailer for Starfield. It shows what could be the in-game engine, but seems rather vague on concrete details. Expect a sci-fi world that's all about handling the rigours of space travel rather than the 'laser swords' of Star Wars.
A second video gives us a closer look at the development behind Starfield and how it'll be the first "new universe" from Bethesda in 25 years.
A more recent behind-the-scenes video has shown off a robot companion called Vasco. This bipedal bot looks set to join Starfield players as they explore the sci-fi worlds beyond humanity’s solar system.
We're hoping Vasco be an antidote to the rather two-dimensional company characters in the otherwise-brilliant The Elder Scrolls Skyrim; we're talking about you Lydia, and your low-key sass at being asked to carry items.
The latest ‘Into the Starfield's developer video, titled "The Sound of Adventure (opens in new tab),'' Starfield composer Inon Zur and audio director Mark Lampert discuss the soundtrack of Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi epic. It’s another reason to get excited.
"I always say that music is the fourth dimension. It is the emotional dimension," said Zur. "And so in order to create this, you have to ask these questions: Where are you going? What is your motivation? What is your story? What is really pushing us?" He went on to explain how the composition for Starfield aims to be “circular,” in that it aims to capture the idea of going out on an adventure, discovering the secrets of the galaxy and then returning home.
"There is always this drive to go back home; we want to complete our mission; we want to complete our journey,” added Zur.
The first Starfield gameplay trailer dropped during the Xbox & Bethesda Game Showcase. We saw various gameplay mechanics, including planetary exploration, shooting combat, customization and even a bit of space combat. Based on this trailer, we'd say the hype for Starfield is more than justified.
No game footage from Starfield has been revealed yet and even the trailer for it doesn’t give much away either. But given it’s an in-house Bethesda game, we suspect it will blend sci-fi space exploration with the open-world, choose-your-own-adventure format of the likes of Skyrim and Fallout 4.
Full game footage has been slated by Bethesda boss Todd Howard for a Summer 2022 reveal. In an Reddit AMA Howard noted Bethesda would rather just show off the game than tout any major features: "We prefer to just show it, which should be next summer," he said. "We're happy with the advancements we've been able to make, some of which you can see in the trailer shot in-game."
Having said that, Howard did say Starfield will come with mod support from the get go, meaning it could have the same staying power as the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which has extensive mod support and is one of the reasons Skyrim still very playable today.
As for game action, expect to pilot a ship, or a variety of ships, across the inky blackness of space and through brightly coloured nebulas and around asteroid fields. All with the aim to explore a variety of environments by landing on planets, moons, space station and other astral bodies.
And that could all be framed around a main story with branching strands that players can choose to pursue in one go or dip in and out of while digging into side quests and other stories not core to the main plot.
We suspect there’ll be a lot of player customization that will also extend to space ships. Of course, that's assuming that there are indeed space flight elements, and that Starfield is not simply set on a space station in the vein of System Shock, Prey, and Alien Isolation.
Ideally, we’d like to see a game that is effectively an open-world Mass Effect, mixing exploration with a compelling choice-heavy story, with some space-sim elements thrown into the mix. There aren’t a vast amount of space-sim or space-based RPGs around, so there’s definitely a gap in the gaming world Bethesda could fill with Starfield.
Much like the rest of Starfield, its story is a bit of an enigma. The latest trailer gives off the feeling that exploration of a new region of space will play a big part of the game's plot.
"For me, Starfield is the Han Solo simulator," Bethesda executive Ashley Cheng told The Washington Post (opens in new tab). "Get in a ship, explore the galaxy, do fun stuff."
And Bethesda boss Todd Howards told The Telegraph (opens in new tab) that Starfield would be like "NASA meets Indiana Jones meets the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen."
So we'd posit that means exploration with some alien stuff going on, particularly as part of the latest trailer showed what looks like a diagram for some form of ring-based portal or teleporter structure.
A recent Xbox Wire posit detailed how Starfield will have a "NASA-punk" design, which could mean it'll embrace a hard sci-fi look and setting.
"Early on in this project when we were trying to establish the overall aesthetic of this game, we sort of coined the term 'NASA-Punk' to describe a sci-fi universe that's a little more grounded and relatable," explained Starfield's lead artist Istvan Pely. "We wanted a very realistic take. You can draw a line from current-day space technology and extrapolate from there into the future so it's believable and relatable."
"What's really interesting is how much we all latched onto that concept," Starfield’s lead animator Rick Vicens added. "When you said NASA-Punk, the art team could instantly take those two words and make them work. It was just the perfect term for our art direction and keeping everyone in same flow and working with a consistent style. For me, it just clicked. At the start of the project, I think that term was critical for us."
As Starfield is a Bethesda game we can expect it to have all manner of quests, characters, and dialogue options to explore, with a story that somewhat reacts to what the player does and the decisions they make. We just really hope that Bethesda spends a lot of time on making the main story thoroughly engaging, with site missions that tie in with it.
Skyrim had a thoroughly passable main story, but the side quests were more interesting. That’s no bad thing, but a compelling main story is definitely something we really want to have from a sci-fi game, much like that of Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic II and Mass Effect.
Starfield setting and locations
A new and official trailer from Bethesda has shown off art work and a brief snipped of gameplay for Starfield, namely around The Settled Systems setting.
This location is some 50 light-years away from our own Solar System, which isn't hugely far away in space terms. But this interstellar setting was ravaged by war and is still far from safe.
One location looks rather idyllic in a very Star Trek way, seemingly blending a cityscape with a wood.
But another image shows off an arid landscape dotted with spindly, otherworldly trees and no shortage of rocks. This looks like one area that you'll need to pack a gun for.
Speaking of guns, another bit of artwork shows off three characters garbed in a very Star Wars-like lived in spacesuits. Each one has a distinct style and hints at the numerous faction that are likely in Starfield.
An earlier batch of unlisted trailers have shown off a trio of potential Starfield locations.
Neon is a "pleasure city" full of bright lights and futuristic-looking buildings. It was built upon an a giant fishing platform "on a rather nondescript aquatic world" by the Xenofresh Corporation. The company then came across a a fish with "psychotropic" properties and developed a drug called "Aurora" to turn its fortunes around.
New Atlantis is a space port and the capital of the United Colonies, described as "the most powerful, established military and political faction in the game." It looks suitably sci-fi with flying cars and looming skyscrapers.
Then there's Akila City, the capital of the Freestar Collective. Akila is populated by a diverse set of people who share a strong belief in personal freedom and individuality.
Yet that freedom is arguably brought into question given the city is surrounded by a wall to keep out creatures called Ashta, described as "alien predators that are a cross between a wolf and a velociraptor." This could be one location to visit suitably well-armed.
A more recent teaser trailer meets developer chat showcases some more artwork and footage form Starfield. And it's looking like it'll be a heady mix of Skyrim open-world/open-galaxy exploration with the hard sci-fi setting of TV series The Expanse.
Rather than opt for glistening spaceships and clean interiors, Starfield seems to favor function over form with ships that look like they could be conceivably designed by NASA.
Interiors aren't festooned with holographic panels or smooth surfaces, but instead seem to be using every bit of surface space as storage with an emphasis on practicality not sci-fi glamour.
We've had plenty of traditional sci-fi games in the pass, notably most recently with Mass Effect Legendary Edition. So a game in a grittier, more realistic sci-fi setting is definitely compelling and almost a breath of fresh air, well metaphorically speaking,
Starfield Xbox Series X and PC exclusive
While we really want another Elder Scrolls game, we’re very interested to see what Bethesda does with Starfield, given it’s a brand new IP from the gaming giant.
It’s set to be a next-generation game, so we’re expecting it to look very impressive on Xbox Series X. But aside from that, there’s scope for Starfield to be space-faring sci-fi Skyrim or something that’s more akin to space-sims such as Elite Dangerous.
Either way, we’re excited to see what Starfield will turn out to be. Bethesda has a strong pedigree of making and publishing impressive games. So it’s got a lot of experience to draw from, though that also comes with a lot of expectations from fans as well. For the time being, we’ll just have to wait and see what Bethesda reveals next.