This was a sucker punch. Over the past few months I’ve written a fair bit about Starfield, having pored over the developer videos, and I was pretty confident in the announced release date of November 11. But now Bethesda has pushed Starfield and its vampire multiplayer survival shooter Redfall back to the first half of 2023.
Admittedly, that’s not a huge delay. But my excitement for Starfield has been picking up pace recently, especially as the developer videos teased a form of hard sci-fi setting that I’ve grown very interested in after watching The Expanse. However, the holiday season will now contain a Starfield-shaped black hole.
This is a big serving of disappointment to swallow, as I’ve been waiting for a new open-world Bethesda game for a while; The Elder Scrolls 6 appears to be ages away.
Yet ultimately, these delays tend to be for the best. Bethesda open-world games have a history of being buggy at launch, so if the studio uses the extra time to polish the game to a pristine sheen, I’m all for it.
After all, Starfield has had a lot of work put into it. Surely it makes sense to ensure it's close to perfect, rather than rush it out with good ideas and a compelling world marred by bugs; that arguably did for Cyberpunk 2077.
We’ve yet to see any proper game footage from Starfield, but Bethesda says it's coming soon. So hopefully that’ll give us an idea of what to expect and give the studio the scope to fine-tune it based on reactions.
Where things get a little more complicated, though, is in thinking about what will fill the space left by Starfield.
Not a great deal by the looks of it, for both Xbox Series X and PS5. With the exception of God of War: Ragnarok, which is apparently still on track to release this year, there aren't many other compelling games on the horizon.
The past few months have been loaded with huge games, notably Elden Ring, Gran Turismo 7 and Horizon Forbidden West, plus a few other attention-worthy titles such as Dying Light 2 Stay Human, Total War: Warhammer 3 and Kirby and the Forgotten Land. As such, 2022 has been front-loaded with exciting options, making it a fantastic time to be a gamer on any one of the current, and even last-gen, consoles or PC.
However, perhaps our cup had runneth over a little too much, as there aren't many other big games coming out over the next few months. Starfield was set to be the next major release, but without it, the tail-end of 2022 looks a little barren, beyond God of War: Ragnarok. Nor is it great news for Xbox console exclusives, which surged last year with the likes of Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5, but which now appear to be few and far between; Fable 4, for example, still seems a way off.
So, if you’ve worked hard to find an Xbox Series X restock or PS5 restock, you might find that towards the end of the year there’s not a wealth of new games that take advantage of the powerful hardware.
Should you be annoyed at this? Well no, as there are plenty of excellent older titles that are well worth revisiting, or indeed trying for the first time; if you have Xbox Game Pass, this is trivially easy.
For example, if you want a sci-fi fix, I’d recommend Mass Effect Legendary Edition. Or if you fancy a game with an engaging story, then The Last of Us 2 runs very well on the PS5. Open-world fans should check out Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Witcher 3. And fans of character creation and development, should turn to Disco Elysium or Divinity Original Sin 2.
Plus, bear in mind that some older games have been updated to work well on the latest Xbox hardware, so are definitely worth a revisit; Star Wars Squadrons and Gears 5 both have updates to run better on the Series X and Xbox Series S.
In short, delaying Starfield is a bit of a blow for big Xbox exclusives. But if it makes for a title that could win a spot on our best Xbox Series X games list, then I can stomach the delay. Here’s hoping Xbox gives us some Avowed footage this summer to compensate for any Starfield disappointment.