Bethesda Game Studios’ Starfield finally saw wide release on September 6 after years of waiting and speculation. One of the most mysterious elements of Starfield prior to its release was its story, as people wondered how realistic Starfield’s sci-fi universe would skew and if we’d encounter intelligent aliens, time travel, or other odd sci-fi concepts during the adventure.
Starfield is a lengthy game, and its narrative picks up in the back half thanks to some shocking twists, a memorable ending, and an interesting conceit that leads into “New Game Plus”-style replays. If you don’t know whether or not you’ll play enough to make it to the end of your Starfield campaign or just want to know what happens at the end of one of the biggest games of the year, here’s a recap of Starfield’s story and ending.
Note: This article contains major spoilers for Starfield.
Starfield begins with players mining resources on the planet of Vectera. While digging, though, the protagonist discovers a weird-looking artifact. After touching it, they experience a trippy vision that looks like it rushes through the entire universe. This eventually garners the attention of Barrett, who directs players to The Lodge in New Atlantis and an organization named Constellation. Constellation’s primary goal is to explore the universe and new frontiers for humanity, although its recent obsession has been artifacts that the player touched.
Learning that the hero had a vision after touching the artifact, Constellation leader Sarah Morgan inducts them into Constellation and sends them on a quest to find more artifacts and bring them back to Constellation’s base. This MacGuffin chase makes up a large portion of the game as players explore a variety of memorable cities, meet and learn more about Constellation members like Sam Coe, complete lots of sidequests if they want to, and even obtain mystical power.
Players settle into a routine of doing this for a while, but after recovering an artifact from a corrupt businessman in the drug-fueled city of Neon, a mysterious being in a futuristic-looking ship confronts players as they leave the planet. The being’s race is called Starborn and they demand the artifacts Constellation has. After this member of the Starborn, called The Emissary, leaves, Constellation members wonder if they just met alien life for the first time. Constellation and the player continue to search for more artifacts despite how scary that encounter was. Eventually, this comes at a cost.
After obtaining more artifacts, including one from an eccentric collector, the player returns to The Lodge. While the people there are OK for now, they learn that another Starborn called The Hunter attacked The Eye, another Constellation Base, and gravely wounded a Constellation member there. The Hunter then reveals it’s heading to The Lodge and that the player’s “part in glimpsing The Unity is over.” Players have the choice to stay and defend The Lodge or check on the injured members at The Eye. No matter which option is picked, players can’t defeat The Hunter, and one member of Constellation dies. In my run, this character was Sam Coe, but it can differ.
This leaves Constellation to mourn and hold a funeral for the deceased character. After this, they decipher a message tied to a concept called “The Unity” to find the Starborn. During a more peaceful meeting with the Starborn, they learn that The Hunter is Keeper Aquilus, a religious figure who helped players discover the secrets of The Unity, and that The Emissary is whichever character died during their run. They explain that Starborn are people reborn in The Unity and sent to different universes to fight over the Artifacts so they can get back to The Unity and repeat the process.
Yes, Starfield is a multiverse story.
After collecting any remaining artifacts, including one during a fun mission that sees players hopping between multiverses at a locked-down facility, players are directed to Earth and its moon to learn more. During these Sol-based missions, Starfield reveals itself as a cautionary tale about humanity’s ambition. Discovered audio logs in NASA bases on Earth and its moon reveal that Grav Drives — the speed-of-light technology that people use to explore the universe — was created by NASA scientist Victor Aiza after he got a vision from an Artifact.
Unfortunately, frequent early use of the Grav Drives weakened Earth’s gravitational pull on its atmosphere, to the point where the planet became uninhabitable and hunanity was forced to venture out into space, where it would face many of the same political, militaristic, and religious problems that it did on Earth. After learning this, The Hunter and The Emissary both ask the player to side with them. Players can also choose to defy both of them and go for the final artifact themselves.
After making that decision, it’s time to confront the Starborn, complete the Armillary, and discover the secrets of The Unity.
Players arrive at Masada III, and what happens next plays out differently depending on the previous choice. After fighting The Emmisary’s forces, The Hunter’s forces, or their combined might in space, players take the fight onto Masada III’s surface and into a buried temple. Delving deeper and deeper, players enter a few more multiversal anomalies that flash them back to when they touched the first artifact, when they stole that one from the collector, and to a universe where they died instead of another Constellation member.
After a final confrontation, players can talk down or kill the Starborn they are up against and collect the final artifact. Once that is all said and done, players can construct something called The Armillary on their ship at any time and Grav Jump to The Unity. Once players choose to do that, they’ll end up in a galactic void with a giant star-like orb in the center.
A figure is seen in front of that star, and after walking up to them, players discover it’s The Unity itself, having taken shape as the player character. They explain that the player can step into the Unity, become a Starborn, and be sent to a different universe. In the process, they will have to abandon everything and everyone from their home universe, losing a bit of themselves in the Starborn transition. After a recap of what will happen to the player’s universe in the future based on the results of various Faction quests with multiple endings, players can choose to step into or leave the Unity.
Leaving lets players continue to explore, complete quests, and build outposts in the universe where they started the game. They can return to The Unity at any time and step into it. Doing so essentially restarts the game like a “New Game Plus” mode would, as players are now a Starborn with a unique spacesuit and ship and all of the stats and powers from the previous game. No one in this new universe knows who you are, though, and you can then choose to repeat the story or go straight for all the artifacts and back to the Unity to power up again.
Essentially, Starfield’s story never ends as players continue to explore the infinite, even if they make their character act very differently in their fifth run compared to their first.
Starfield is available now for PC and Xbox Series X/S.