Bethesda has blown the lid off their highly anticipated sci-fi RPG Starfield. Todd Howard narrated and showed off the game, which is set to come out for Xbox Series X|S and PC in 2023 – they didn’t set a new release date beyond that.
The gameplay started off early in the game on the moon of Kreet, the player’s ship landing on this alien celestial body. Stepping out onto the moon, your long-armed robot buddy points you toward an abandoned research facility that you want to check out. Along the way, they ran into some indigenous life forms that scuttled away, as well as spotted some resources that could be mined similar to No Man’s Sky.
As is usual for Bethesda RPGs, both first person and third person play is possible. Good for when they reached the faility and discovered that pirates had got there already. What followed was some intense first person shooting with a real pace to it that feels uncommon for a Bethesda game – we’ll have to wait and see how it really feels when hands on opportunities present themselves. Also, there’s jetpacks.
Eventually you’re invited to join Constellation, an organisation that counts themselves as the last group of space explorers, with their capital on New Atlantis. You’re given the goal of hunting down some of the many artefacts that have been scattered across the galaxy, revealing an underlying secret that looks set to change humanity forever.
Through this, there’s some classic Bethesda talking head conversations – you know what I mean – but there’s still an impressive degree of fidelity to what was shown. The graphics engine and some of the cutscene animations were stunning to behold.
Character creation is Bethesda’s most flexible yet with all manner of visual attributes. There’s a background that you pick that gives you three starting skills, as well as optional traits that give you both advantages and disadvantages. The skill system expands on their previous games, with selected skills improved by completing in-game challenges. An in-depth crafting
Returning from Fallout 4, you can build your own outposts around the galaxy – you can also hire characters to keep them running. More than that, you can build your own space ship, completely customising the look and layout with an over the top modular system, and then choose the crew that will run.
And, since you have a space ship, you might want to fly it, which you can! That’s probably why you’ll want to pay attention to the thrusters, weapons and shields.
You can land on every single planet in the game’s more than 100 systems, whether they’re populated or barren rocks. Whether you plop down at a main city or decide to go to an isolated section of the planet, it’s all explorable.
A few weeks ago Microsoft and Bethesda have had to give up on the alluringly simple 11/11/22 Starfield release date that they had announced back at E3 2021. Setting a firm release date such as this over a year away, and doing this for a Bethesda Game Studios game with their reputation for buggy releases has (unsurprisingly) ended up with egg all over someone’s face. Bethesda seem to be a tad more cautious now, and despite having given us the first big look at gameplay, the release window is still only “2023”.