The first new intellectual property developed by Bethesda Game Studios in 25 years, Starfield is a hotly anticipated AAA single player, action role playing game which takes place across the vastness of space. Originally scheduled for release in late 2022, Starfield’s new release date is now set for September 6, 2023!
Starfield Everything We Know
How Long is the Game?
“We have done more handcrafting like content wise than any game we’ve done, we’re at over 200,000 lines of dialogue so we still do a lot of hand crafting…”
We don’t know exactly the exact length of the main quest in Starfield, but we do have some theories based on what Todd Howard has said in the last couple of months.
That amount of dialog is more than double Skyrim and well above Fallout 4. While the main bulk of the planets are randomly generated, for that amount of dialog, questing and interaction, the main hub cities must be beaming with life, choices, and options to complete the story. Howard gives an estimate on the length of the main story quest.
“So, it (Starfield) might be 20% more than our previous ones…this one might be in the 30s maybe 40s just for the main quest.”
With 30-40 hours of main story quest you’ll get a lot more main story than previous Bethesda titles.
Bethesda also has a knack for morally gray storytelling. Their best writing comes when you need to make a choice on a faction, a quest, or something where there is no right answer. Sometimes just like life, you need to use your gut make a split-second decision and let it play out. Unlike real life, however, you can go back and change the decision and see how it plays out.
While 30-40 hours is great, I think the massive re-playability will be just how the story plays out and will it have the typical “good guy” faction, bad guy faction or will there be some gray in there like Fallout 4 and other previous titles.
Although various alien races, droids and robots were shown in a glimpse of gameplay during the Xbox & Bethesda Showcase in 2022, as far as we know, character customization will be focused on humans only.
Underneath the Biometric ID tab you’ll find a selection of 14 character presets. Each of these models has a personal record number, and once selected they can then be modified further under the Body and Face tabs.
The Body tab displays a circular grid with three fixed points of: muscular, thin and heavy. Changing the balance on the grid with the dot’s position, you can define your character’s musculature, weight and body structure.
Next is the Face tab, where we weren’t shown many details yet, but it appears players will be using the typical sliders to adjust complexion, eyes, head shapes, hair, and hair color.
Game Director Todd Howard has said that the character customization in Starfied will be their ‘most flexible yet’ and the next two tabs we see suggest that Bethesda is going the extra mile to make each character and playthrough unique.
Backgrounds and Traits
Background and Traits are also tabs in the Character Creator, but they are a couple of new, non-standard additions which provide a lot of depth to your character’s backstory.
In the Background tab you can choose one from a total of 20 possible origin stories, with potential occupations such as Bounty Hunter, Chef, Diplomat, Gangster, and Ronin. Whichever one you choose will determine your three starting skills and how the game environment and NPC characters will react and interact with your character.
In the Traits tab players will further refine their character by selecting up to three attributes from a wide list. Each one will provide unique advantages and disadvantages. We don’t know exactly how all of the traits might influence gameplay, but one example we have is the Kid Stuff trait.
Choose this and your character will be able to visit their living parents in game. The disadvantage being that 10% of all the money you earn will be automatically deducted and sent to them. Things like this could open up possible exclusive dialogue options and maybe even special quests or events. This would be a huge boon to the game and could really add to its long term replayability!
Story and Setting
Starfield’s story is set to take place in the year 2330 – a distant, but still imaginable future where humanity has developed settlements on other planets.
Twenty years prior to the start of the game the United Colonies went to war with their primary rival for power, the Freestar Collective. Although the Colony Wars are now at an end, the peace between these two factions is an uneasy one. In addition, the pirates of the Crimson Fleet are aggressively expanding their footholds into systems where they have never been seen before.
After arriving in the United Colonies’ capital city of New Atlantis your character will come in contact with an organization called Constellation. This group describes themselves as “the last group of space explorers” and their members are committed to unlocking the mysteries of the galaxy.
They are in the process of collecting the scattered pieces of an alien artifact in order to fully assemble it, and when the player character discovers their own relic the members of Constellation eagerly welcome them to the group.
This kicks off the main story quest of the game – can the completed artifact answer some of humanity’s biggest questions? Why are we here? What’s next?
Starfield will have many of the typical Bethesda game hallmarks – a robust main story and side quests along with elaborate character creation, are almost a given, but where Starfield really breaks the mold is with the extraordinary amount of exploration it offers.
Bethesda shocked many when they announced that there would be more than 1,000 planets in Starfield which the player could travel to and investigate.
According to Game Director Todd Howard, while there is plenty of handcrafting that will go into Starfield, creating over 1,000 planets wouldn’t be possible for human developers alone. Therefore many planets will be procedurally generated, an automation technology which Bethesda has been working on and improving since Skyrim.
But what does 1,000 planets to explore really mean? Only certain, restricted points on the surface? A large city, or smaller settlements here or there?
No – it means that the whole planet, not just a small piece of it, is available.
Bethesda’s RPGs have always revolved around the core conviction of “play how you want.” I’m sure that I was one of many who wandered off the beaten path in Skyrim for ‘just a moment’, got lost, and an hour later had forgotten about the main quest as I traversed the wilderness and discovered new landmarks.
Starfield is going to be Skyrim x 1000
And what’s most exciting is that starships aren’t just static modes of transportation in Starfield. Instead, starships will be a vital part of gameplay – to leave any planet and travel to another you will have to literally fly it through space! Whether your gameplay focus is exploration, the main quest, combat, or even crafting, that progression will require the use of a starship.
Although we don’t yet know exactly how the player will find, earn, or buy their first starship, it is likely that the early game model will only have the most basic design and functions available. To be able to go ‘higher, further, faster,’ the player will have to invest at least some of their gameplay time into making upgrades and improvements to their ship.
And when you’re making those upgrades, keep in mind that the vast depths of space aren’t just some empty neutral zone in Starfield. Whether it’s space pirates, corporations, or military groups, there will always be the possibility of running into an unfriendly opponent in the sky. Space combat will likely be a necessary part of the gameplay, if you wish to arrive safely to your next destination.
And who might some of those opponents be?
The United Colonies are the largest military and political power in the Settled Systems. Based out of their capital city of New Atlantis, the United Colonies strive to represent the idealized version of a space republic and this is reflected in their strongly cosmopolitan society.
The Freestar Collective is the other major power in the Settled Systems. It is a loose confederation of three different star systems unified in their dedication to personal freedoms and individuality. As a non-centralized organization representing a lot of settlements on the frontier of space, the Collective has a heavier ‘space western’ character than their more straight-laced rivals.
The Crimson Fleet is a loose alliance of individual pirate captains who choose to operate together under the Jolly Roger banner. They have footholds in multiple systems and although originally they were primarily a Freestar Collective problem they have since expanded their reach and now trouble the United Colonies as well.
These are the major players in Starfield so far, but there are plenty of other smaller factions at play. The military organizations of SysDef and the Vanguard are dedicated to eliminating the threat of the Crimson Fleet. Ryujin Industries has their own agenda and exerts financial pressures on settlements. And of course the politically neutral Constellation organization is invested in space exploration and discovery.
Crafting and Research
Crafting has also always been an integral part of any Bethesda title, granting the player the ability to use collected resources to create powerful weapons or to even build and furnish homes.
One of the first shots of gameplay in the Starfield trailer shows the player character collecting iron using a laser extractor. The iron is automatically added into the inventory after a short harvest animation. It’s reasonable to assume that this is how it will work for other kinds of resource harvesting, whether the material be mineral, metal, flora or fauna.
An additional element to the crafting in Starfield is the ability to run research projects. Research will likely be a necessity before you can craft additional, improved items.There are five main areas of research: Pharmacology, Food and Drink, Outpost Development, Equipment and Weaponry. Within these categories, the player can have simultaneous projects being worked on at once.
One of those major Research categories I just mentioned, Outpost Development, is referring to Starfield’s housing system.
Unlike Skyrim housing, which was mostly an aesthetic addition to the game, the outposts in Starfield are clearly meant to serve larger functions – much more like the Settlements do in the Fallout series. Outposts will likely serve as safe bases and landing sites, where the player and crew can rest, repair and refuel before traveling out into space again.
The Bethesda footage reveals some of the outpost construction. It has some unique gameplay features – specifically atmospheric considerations like oxygen, temperature, and even gravity. You’ll have materials on the planet to consider before settling and even a “Military Hab” shown from a still image on the preview. That leads me to believe this will have some sort of mechanics just like in Fallout 4 where randomly your settlements (or in this game, outposts) can be attacked and must be defended.
Howard also shared that you will be able to hire NPCs to defend and run your settlements. Ironically, not much of this system was shown beyond a small snippet, which is kind of shocking considering many players sole gameplay loop in Fallout 4 was just building, supplying and defending settlements.
The addition of new outposts on other planets and moons could also serve as a way to enable the player to travel further into space, so that a network of outposts stretching to the outer limits of the universe could keep the player within a reasonable safe range of refueling or rescue.
Game Director Todd Howard has described Starfield as “Skyrim in Space”. But the Elder Scrolls has never seen any gunplay or laser blasters! So what will Starfield’s combat be like? Will it be an RPG with guns, or more like a legit shooter?
When it comes to gun based combat a more obvious Bethesda title to compare Starfield to would be the Fallout series. Fallout games have often included a system called VATS – the key feature being that the player could use it to stop or slow time and it could assist the player with their aim.
In the Starfield gameplay reveal we do see a similar VATS function appear when gameplay time slows down as the player swaps their weapons. However, we do not see this effect completely stop enemy movement or assist the player with aim. If this is the case, it will give the game more of a fast-paced shooter feel. Other elements of combat we’ve seen so far is the ability to crouch and sneak, along with the ability to use grenades.
A really exciting sci-fi element shown in the reveal is the boosted jumps players can take, enabled by the pack on the back of their spacesuit. This adds an exciting element of vertical gameplay which players could use for all kinds of tactical advantages.
Overall, the combat does look snappier and sharper than what we have seen in the Fallout series. However, I believe that Todd Howard chose to compare Starfield more directly to Skyrim for a reason.
Skyrim is about exploration and adventure. The combat is important, as well as fun, but for most players it’s not their main gameplay focus. I think that Starfield will also reflect this, likely prioritizing exploration above all else. This doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the game at all, however, as combat will clearly still be a robust part of the Starfield gameplay.
Looking for more about Starfield?
- Starfield: 10 Things You Must Know!
- Character Creation Explained
- Starfield Gameplay Breakdown
- Starfield Exploration
I’ll be doing more deep dives into Starfield and covering the game here on deltiasgaming.com. Keep an eye out for more coverage as we anxiously wait for the game to release! Additionally, I’ll also be streaming the game on Twitch.