Starfield: release date, trailers, gameplay, and more

Bethesda is a studio that has found great success with its massive single-player RPG games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. 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 a delay of nearly a year, 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.

Release date

A space explorer stands in front of a mountain range in Starfield.

Starfield will launch on September 6, 2023.

Platforms

Spaceship on planet in Starfield.

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.

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.

Trailer

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.

Fast forward to E3 2021, where Bethesda showed off even more of Starfield, along with its (at the time) 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. 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.

Gameplay

Third-person shot of character on planet in Starfield.

Parts of Starfield were already playable as of E3 2018. That was five 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.

Character supposedly from Starfield.
https://imgur.com/a/GSWTkHn

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.

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.”

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 over 1,000 planets to explore. These will each be filled with unique flora and fauna, and have dynamic lighting based on the type of star that the planet orbits. What you do on these planets will be generated procedurally, but mixed with some hand-crafted elements as well. Planets themselves will be built only when a player approaches them, and assemble locations on the surface on the fly so that every player will have a different experience. 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.

A full 45 minutes of gameplay and information was shown off in a special Starfield Direct in 2023 that finally gave players a true idea of what Starfield will be like in action.

We see more of the outpost building that can be constructed on any planet. The building process takes you into a top-down view for easier placement. After building up an outpost, you can then assign your crew to manage it to passively collect resources from the planet and even have them delivered to other locations for you.

We saw more ship customization, but what was new was the details on how ships can be obtained. Outside of simply purchasing them, you are also free to steal them. However you get them, piloting between planets will be completely manual, and not a simple fast-travel function (although that is also an option). If you do get into trouble in transit, you can either destroy the enemy ship attacking you or board them to take out the crew on board and take their craft for yourself.

Your player character will be completely customizable, as is expected from a Bethesda game. This time, the studio claims to have made the most advanced character creator yet, with 40 presets to begin from and tweak to make your ideal avatar. Aside from looks, you will also determine your character’s history. This will give your character some starting background that could be commented on, but also your first set of skills. You will be able to add on traits if you desire, which gives you one advantage and one disadvantage. Your normal skills will be improved by using said skills, just like in Skyrim.

Gunplay is going to be a major part of Starfield, and looks far more solid than Fallout. There are a huge number of weapons, and each can be customized in various ways via a mod system.

The last thing shown was the most interesting and also most mysterious. We see the player use some sort of tech or magic power to essentially remove gravity or suspend a hallway full of enemies with a wave of the hand. What this power is, if there are more of them, and how you get it is all still as mysterious as the final frontier itself.

Preorder

A space explorer walks toward a strange light structure in the middle of the night.

Starfield is ready for launch and has preorders ready to claim. There will be several versions: Standard, Digital Premium, Premium Edition Upgrade, and Constellation Edition. If that sounds a little confusing, here’s a simple breakdown.

Standard Edition ($70)

  • Base game
  • Old Mars Skin Pack
  • Laser Cutter
  • Deep Mining Helmet
  • Deep Mining Pack

Digital Premium Edition ($100)

  • Everything from the Standard Edition
  • Five days early access
  • Shattered Space Story Expansion (upon release)
  • Constellation Skin Pack – Equinox Laser Rifle, Spacesuit, Helmet, and Boost Pack
  • Access to Starfield Digital Artbook and Soundtrack

Premium Edition Upgrade ($35) – Upgrades your Standard Edition preorder

  • Everything from Digital Premium Edition
  • Steelbook and Constellation Patch (Physical Only)

Constellation Edition ($300)

  • Everything from the Premium Edition (including physical items)
  • Starfield Chronomakr Watch ad case
  • Credit Stick with laser-etched game code

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