Starfield is the latest game from Bethesda Game Studios and the most highly anticipated project of 2023. But what do we know about this space adventure? How long will Starfield be? How deep is the role-playing system? How many factions will there be, and what will the battles be like? In this article, we will answer these and other questions.
Platform and Release Date
Platform and Release Date Starfield is an exclusive game for the Microsoft ecosystem and will only be released on Xbox Series X|S and personal computers. The official release date was announced in a recent trailer: September 6th, 2023. The game will also be available on Xbox Game Pass on both consoles and PCs, marking the largest launch on a Microsoft subscription service in its history.
The game will not be available on Sony consoles. Todd Howard, after the merger of Bethesda Game Studios and Microsoft, said that this “will help create a better product,” as they will not have to split their efforts between platforms. Given that the game will be released on PC, where the number of components is uncountable, this statement is controversial.
The project’s engine is Creation Engine 2, which is based on the engine of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. Bethesda has improved its previous work, and in part, the significant delays in releasing new games are related to the development of a new engine. The Elder Scrolls VI will also be created (or is already being created) on Creation Engine 2.
The inception of Starfield’s world and storyline dates back to the year 2310, when mankind had already left the boundaries of the Solar system and made their settlement 50 light years away from the Earth. In the Settled Frontier, a tussle between two factions, the “Free Star Collective” and the “United Colonies,” had ensued, which had come to be known as the “Colony War” and still continues to ravage in 2330, the time when the Starfield saga kicks off.
The player is bestowed with access to a neutral area of the Settled Frontier, where a “Constellation” faction is responsible for maintaining tranquility. A sneak-peek of the interaction with this faction was exhibited in a 15-minute gameplay trailer at Xbox Games Showcase 2022. The faction is a proponent of peace and has its sights set on exploring the region, conducting research, and unearthing the undiscovered. And boy, have they stumbled upon something!
The protagonist of Starfield is a space miner who stumbled upon a previously unknown material whilst mining through rock. To everyone’s surprise, the material turns out to be an artifact that has been shattered into several pieces. The “Constellation” faction is pinning their hopes on the main character to find all the fragments of the destroyed artifact, which could potentially unlock the secrets of the universe or quench the curious minds of humanity.
Character creation and roleplaying in Starfield
In the game Starfield, players will embark on a journey of character creation that will leave them with a vast array of options to choose from. The process will involve customizing their hero’s appearance and distributing their attributes. The character creation system in Starfield is unlike any other – it is reminiscent of tabletop or early computer RPGs, and players are free to create the character’s face from scratch or choose from a set of pre-designed options.
The “genetical facility” in Starfield is where players will be able to modify their character’s appearance during gameplay. This facility will be provided by corporations who are seeking to offer self-alteration services to those who desire them. The options available to players are abundant, ranging from weight to gait to how NPCs will address the player.
However, the real intrigue begins when players start selecting their hero’s backstory, which will determine their class. With roughly 20 possible options available, players can assign starting skills to their hero. The available options are diverse, and here are some of them:
- A chef will have the ability to cook special food, deal more damage in close combat, and receive a bonus of 30 health points.
- A combat medic gets more health from using medkits, can carry 10 kilograms more, and deals 10% more damage with pistols.
- A hacker will be able to hack advanced locks from the start, persuade people in “dialogue trials,” and deal 10% more damage with the same pistols.
The “dialogue trials” are a remarkable effort by the developers to transform the persuasion system from previous Bethesda games. The dialogue system in Starfield has been reinvented for computer RPGs, with over 250,000 dialogue lines available for players to explore. By comparison, Skyrim had 60,000 dialogue lines, and Fallout 4 had 110,000. Todd Howard, one of the developers, described the dialogue system as an “attempt to convince a real person of something.” The idea behind the new persuasion system is to offer players a range of options rather than a single correct answer.
These words give hope that Bethesda has reinvented the dialogue system for computer RPGs – there are over 250,000 dialogue lines in Starfield. For comparison, Skyrim had 60,000 dialogue lines, and Fallout 4 had 110,000.
Once the player has selected their hero’s backstory, they must choose three hero traits from twenty available options. Some traits exclude each other, while others will change the hero’s position in society. For instance, the hero will have their own house on a small planet, but they will owe the galactic bank 50,000 credits. Alternatively, the hero’s parents will be alive, and they will be allowed to visit them, but 10% of credits received for completing missions or found during travels will automatically go to their account. Furthermore, the hero will be able to join religious sects or corporations and receive discounts on their goods.
Skill progression in the game is similar to a merger of the role-playing systems of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. Players earn experience points through battles, exploration, crafting, and mission completion, and upon reaching a new level, invest a skill point in one of five paths of development: physical condition, social skills, combat, science, and technology.
Each of the five paths contains 16-17 skills, but each allows for several levels of improvement to increase bonuses or give the character new abilities. However, skills can only be improved by completing trials: killing 50 people with a sniper rifle to steady the character’s aim, changing 150 empty magazines to double the speed of reloading, killing 250 people with heavy weapons to reduce damage by 30 points when aiming. Each level of skill is cumulative with the previous one, which provides more bonuses.
Improving science and technology skills will come in handy for using research stations and workbenches for crafting. Research stations unlock new recipes for creating equipment modifications, food, and medicine. After that, players can use workbenches to install new attachments on weapons and upgrades on armor.
Crafting and research require materials that players will have to mine on planets using mining equipment. Therefore, one of the hero’s main goals will be to explore worlds and open space.
The customization of a spaceship involves obtaining and assembling various modules, which can be purchased, found, or stolen from space stations. These modules come in different classes and possess unique characteristics tailored to specific tasks, such as cargo transportation or long-distance travel. To increase cargo capacity, players will need to install cargo holds, while additional fuel tanks are required for long journeys. However, players have full creative control over the ship’s appearance, allowing for a unique and personalized design.
Moreover, the game also features glimpses of a team appearing on the player’s ship, though it is uncertain whether they are hired workers or companions that players must seek out throughout the Neutral Region. Unfortunately, details on this matter are still unavailable.
Exploring the Galaxy – The region available
The upcoming game Starfield promises an expansive universe for players to explore. With hundreds of space systems and thousands of planets, it’s impossible for developers to handcraft each location. Instead, players will encounter randomly generated space systems and planets. While Bethesda may have pre-generated the world of Starfield, quests, pirate outposts, flora, and fauna were manually created on each planet. The world will be identical for everyone, except for its vastness.
Players will navigate the galaxy in their own spacecraft, controlling it during peaceful flights and battles. However, manually landing on a planet, as in No Man’s Sky, is not an option. Instead, players will land at pre-made locations or any point on the planet’s surface. Todd Howard emphasized the freedom players have to explore any point on the planet, whether it’s barren and resource-rich or populated with life and megacities.
During the Xbox Games Showcase 2022 presentation, the level of the system was mentioned, indicating that players will be artificially limited in exploring certain regions. Each planet has its own unique features, such as terrain type, gravity level, temperature, breathable atmosphere, flora and fauna, and the type of liquid present on the planet. Players will have to scan plants and animals to complete their exploration of each planet.
As mentioned above, players will also need to search for minerals and develop mining veins using mining equipment on planets. These materials will be needed for: creating new weapons and armor, modifying equipment, and building outposts on planets. Fauna and flora will also be needed for preparing food or creating medicines.
To make exploring planets more enjoyable, or if the player’s skills allow for it, Starfield will allow players to assemble a party of companions. One has already been introduced – the robot Vasco, who can both defend the player and carry heavy loads.
Players will also need to settle on planets – as mentioned above, building outposts on planets was already mentioned. There is no exact information, but according to the developers, outposts will help “generate resources”. This means that building them is not just a whim like in Fallout 4, but an essential game mechanic. However, players will also need to spend resources and time building such structures – for example, hiring managing personnel or placing companions in outposts. It is likely that outposts will also provide access to workbenches and research laboratories.
Cities and Factions
The game will have four major megacities, and the public has only been given information about three of them. One of these cities is New Atlantis, which is considered the capital of the neutral region and the headquarters of the Constellation faction. Another city is Neon, which is known as a red-light district and is dominated by corporations that trade substances legally. The third city is Aquila City, which is the headquarters of the FreeStar Collective faction. Despite its appearance of devastation and homes made of scraps of metal, it is an attempt by the faction to allow people to express themselves and live as they please. The city is fortified to defend against creatures known as ash-tovs, which resemble a mix of wolves and velociraptors.
Another faction is the Blood Fleet, a group of space pirates who are fiercely loyal to one another. Those who want to leave this dangerous group are met with death, but according to Emil Pagliarulo, the director of design for Starfield, players can infiltrate and dismantle the Blood Fleet from within.
There are also three religious groups in the game – the Enlightened, Sanctum Universum, and Snake Embrace. Little is known about the first two except for the fact that they are enemies. The Snake Embrace faction worships a deity known as the Great Snake.
|Constellation||Neutral faction that represents peaceful life and is the largest city in the game|
|Neon||Pleasure city with a red-light district and a corporate-run drug trade|
|Aquila City||Headquarters of the Fristar Collective faction, surrounded by walls and guard towers for protection against ashstoves|
|Ryujen||A faction that serves as a haven for those who want to join the corporate conglomerate, with a quest to test the player’s mettle|
|Bloody Fleet||Space pirates who are fiercely loyal to each other and will kill anyone who wants to leave their dangerous business. However, they can be infiltrated|
|The Enlightened||One of three religious groups, nothing is known about them except that they are enemies with Sanctum Universum|
|Sanctum Universum||Another religious group that is at odds with The Enlightened, but no other information is available|
|Embrace of the Serpent||The followers of a deity known as the “Great Snake”|
The battles in Starfield
The battles in the upcoming game, Starfield, will take place in two different scenarios: planet-based clashes and space battles. Players will face not only pirates, bandits, corporations, or enemy factions but also aggressive fauna on the planets. In the gameplay trailer, there are shootouts with aggressive space creatures in open space and mutants in closed laboratory spaces, following the footsteps of Fallout 4.
Only a few weapons have been shown, such as the “Grendel” submachine gun, the “Trainer” shotgun, the “Equinox” laser rifle, the AR-99 assault rifle, an unnamed semi-automatic pistol, and the “Whirlwind” machine gun. While players can sneak up on enemies, it seems there won’t be a dedicated stealth system, as it would look odd. The game will also feature a jetpack that allows players to fly a short distance and attack enemies from above. The trailer also showed a few frames of zero-gravity battles, and it’s hoped that such battles will be frequent and not just limited to the story.
The spaceship battles in Starfield appear slower than in other games, as seen in the gameplay presentation. However, players may be able to adjust their ship’s maneuverability by redistributing power between different parts of the aircraft, such as turning off shields and adding firepower, or reducing energy to engines to evade attacks. A similar system was seen in Star Wars: Squadrons, but Starfield’s system will be more advanced.
During space battles, players will also be able to board and capture other spacecraft. They will have to dock with the enemy ship and navigate through a special corridor to reach the besieged technology. This allows players to even steal an opponent’s ship, making it an ideal playground for space pirates.