Starfield: Release date, gameplay, and everything we know so far

By Tom West,

Starfield is the upcoming deep space RPG from Bethesda Game Studios, the developer behind The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. While we patiently wait to explore the stars, here's everything we know about Starfield.

Bethesda Game Studios is currently applying the finishing touches to its brand-new IP, Starfield. The highly anticipated space epic will join the studio's fantasy-driven Elder Scrolls and post-apocalyptic Fallout games as the next single-player, open-galaxy RPG — and because it's an Xbox Game Studios title, it's one of many games coming to Game Pass in 2023. Here's everything we know about the game for the time being as we wait for the Starfield Direct event that will take us even deeper into outer space.

Starfield: Everything we know so far

What is Starfield?

Keeping in line with the other two big franchises under the Bethesda Game Studios banner, Starfield is a single-player RPG through and through. It's the first new IP the studio has released in 25 years, and we'll be looking towards the stars for our adventures this time around. Taking us to the final frontier, space, Starfield offers the studio's signature features like deep character customisation and untethered exploration, where you are the centre of the story and free to explore more than 1,000 planets in any way that you wish.

What's it about?

Set in the year 2330, Starfield sees us explore the final frontier as a member of Constellation, the only remaining group of explorers scouring the galaxy for rare artefacts. We join Constellation when visiting the capital city of New Atlantis, and while it'll be the one constant faction we work with during the main quest, which should take between 30 and 40 hours to complete, it's only one of many factions that will be available to us. Not a huge amount has been revealed about Starfield's main plotline so far, but we do know that it takes place after a war between two of the game's largest factions: the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective — a similar plotline to some seen in many of Bethesda's other games. As such, we'll be free to craft much of the story ourselves, which will centre on the factions we decide to aid. Ultimately, the aim of Starfield is for us to explore over 100 systems to answer one question: "What is out there?"

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Do we have a Starfield release date?

Yes, the Starfield release date is September 6th, 2023, for Xbox Series X|S and PC. It was originally set to release on Bethesda Game Studios' favourite date of November 11th, 2022 but was delayed alongside Arkane's vampire-slaying FPS Redfall into the first half of 2023. Similar to the Developer Direct stream that gave us release dates for Redfall and Minecraft Legends, but sadly not for Forza Motorsport, Bethesda has announced that a Starfield Direct will air on June 11th, after the Xbox summer showcase, so we should learn more about it then.

Is Starfield coming to Game Pass?

Naturally! Starfield is a first-party title, and as such, it'll launch into the Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass libraries on day one, remaining there indefinitely, unlike the third-party games that usually rotate out of the service after a while. Microsoft is yet to confirm whether Starfield will be playable with Xbox Cloud Gaming, but the company has made an effort to bring the likes of Microsoft Flight Simulator to the service, so there is a chance Starfield will follow suit, potentially making it playable on last-gen hardware via cloud streaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Will Starfield be on Xbox One?

Unfortunately not, no. Starfield, like Redfall and the upcoming Forza Motorsport, are exclusively launching on Xbox Series X|S and PC. That's not to say that you'll definitely not be able to play it on Xbox One, though, because if it does become Xbox Cloud Gaming-enabled, the Xbox One will most likely be able to support it.

Any news on the Starfield achievements?

Not yet, no. Judging by the sheer size of Starfield, as well as Bethesda's previous games, we expect the Starfield achievement list to be a pretty time-consuming one. The developer generally likes to feature level-based achievements and unlocks for specific quests, factions, and story milestones, mixed with miscellaneous achievements. Both of Bethesda's most recent mainline games, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4, have achievements linked to visiting 100 locations, so we wouldn't be too surprised to see a "visit 100 planets" achievement.

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What is character customisation like?

Anyone that's played the likes of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Fallout 4 should be familiar with Bethesda Game Studios' knack for giving you the toolset to create your own protagonist. As such, character customisation is at the heart of Starfield, which allows you to build the hero that you wish to become for the adventures ahead. During the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase last year, we were given a brief look at some of the character customisation options during a Starfield gameplay trailer.

The trailer gave us a look at the base character creator, which offers us customisations for the face and body of the protagonist, which looks to be a much more enhanced version of what we've had access to in previous games from the team — it's also worth mentioning that the Starfield protagonist will be silent. We'll also have the chance to choose our character's background and traits. Backgrounds act a bit like the systems we've seen in previous Bethesda games, which are geared towards giving you three starting skills that can give you a slight boost to things like weapon damage or increasing damage inflicted on various enemy types. Some even grant you early skill unlocks, like crafting food and drink that other classes presumably can't access until they learn it via the skill tree. Traits act as optional boons throughout your playthrough. You can pick three Traits when creating your character, but while they do offer advantages, each one also has a disadvantage, so you'll need to choose which ones you like carefully — Todd Howard has said that they're "problems you can solve," though, so expect missions and challenges to complete if you'd like to rid yourself of a Trait's downside, such as the adoring fan.

Starfield also offers a skill tree that you can work through, which again will feel familiar to veteran players of the developer's RPGs. You'll unlock new skills when levelling up your character, and then have the chance to increase their rank by using them or completing challenges.

Does Starfield have space travel?

You bet it does. Bethesda's space epic contains over 1,000 fully explorable planets spread across more than a hundred systems — some of which feature procedural generation — and travelling between them can be achieved with your spaceship. The ships are fully customisable inside and out, including your crew, from cosmetic attachments and colours to modifications that upgrade parts like the engine, shields, weapons, and more. Even when travelling through the vastness of space, you're never completely safe, as enemy ships can appear and initiate ship-based combat.

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Does Starfield have houses or settlements?

It looks like our spaceship will act in the same way as the housing system found in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Fallout 4's Settlements, with the added bonus of being able to fly them around. When discovering planets, though, you'll have the ability to build outposts for conducting research and gathering resources. These resources are an integral part of Starfield's crafting mechanics, which you can use to modify your weapons, upgrade your gear, and create consumables.

Is there multiplayer?

While the size of the game would suggest that multiple players could explore freely without even bumping into anyone else, Starfield is a single-player RPG. It's a concept that is a constant throughout all of the developer's mainline games, and as such, we won't be exploring the vastness of space with a buddy, except for the AI companions.

Will Starfield have different factions?

Yes, and unlike Fallout 4, Starfield uses an independent questline for its factions, meaning you'll not be locked out of other factions when joining one. We don't know how many there are yet, but every one of them can apparently be joined on a single playthrough. "We really want the stories to be a little more personal," Starfield quest designer Will Shen said. "You're influencing the direction of where this faction is going to go." You won't become the leader of every faction like you could in Skyrim, but "every faction questline will be reflecting on your choices," and will have "far-reaching consequences."

What is Starfield's companion system like?

AI companions will be available in Starfield, so while you'll not be with another player, your journey through space won't be a lonely one. We've already seen one of the companions, and potentially the initial one we start with, much like Fallout 4's Dogmeat. The gameplay trailer introduced us to VASCO, a robotic expeditionary robot that'll aid us when discovering planets; while VASCO will act more like a pack mule, carrying all of our expeditionary gear and very important loot, it does come with some minor weaponry to help us out in a fight.

Interestingly, the companions in Starfield will have "a lot of opinions." At some points, we'll be able to have our companion speak on our behalf if an NPC is proving difficult to deal with. "You might have a companion with you, and you'll be challenged, or someone will tell you, 'You can't get through here,'" Shen said. "You can actually turn to your companion and say, 'hey actually, could you handle this' and they'll actually speak on your behalf."

What do you think about Starfield so far? Are you looking forward to joining Constellation for some interstellar adventures? Let us know down below!
Tom West
Written by Tom West
Tom has been playing video games since he was old enough to hold a controller, experimenting with systems like the Nintendo 64 and Playstation until he eventually fell in love with the Xbox 360. With a passion for the platform, he decided to make a career out of it, and now happily spends his days writing about that which he loves. If he’s not achievement hunting, you’ll likely find him somewhere in The Elder Scrolls Online.
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