Remember when we thought that Starfield was going to be a $60 role-playing game that was going to come out in 2022? Good times. While we’ll have to wait until September 6th to take to the stars, explore its 1,000 worlds, and listen to its 250,000 lines of dialogue, we now have a much better sense of what you’ll actually do in the game. And during today’s Xbox showcase, Bethesda pulled the curtain back even further, giving us our best glimpse yet of what’s likely going to be one of the biggest games of 2023.
There’s going to be a more Starfield-focused show later on Sunday, but for now, you get to gawk at a totally in-game trailer that...looks surprisingly like Fallout?
As you might already know, achieving liftoff does seem to be a key concept to the entire thing. Unlike most depictions of space travel, it appears that Starfield will show a cruder and more dangerous approach. Futuristic Star Trek this is not. Humanity travels through the stars, but precariously so.
Much like other Bethesda games, there’s a big emphasis on player choice. It’s got a classic Bethesda dialogue system, alongside a persuasion system that is influenced by your stats. You can choose a professional background for your character alongside personality traits that will influence your build, but Todd Howard assures players that the system is fairly relaxed when it comes to allowing different playstyles. There are traits that give you benefits, but each one comes with some type of downside to balance it out. This is very by-the-book stuff, but in many ways Bethesda wrote the playbook to begin with. And if nothing else, one reason to be excited is that this isn’t a re-release of Skyrim and it’s been a long while since Bethesda has released an original game!
In an interview with IGN, Howard said that the developer put off its next fantasy RPG for a bit in favor of exploring a new world, something it hasn’t gotten to do in a long while. Unfortunately, though, this vast expanse of space isn’t going to have much sex in it. Boo.
Also, Starfield will have a very fancy-looking controller that’s probably one of Xbox’s best-looking accessories yet.
Todd Howard emphasized that Bethesda didn’t have the technology to create something like this until now, allowing them to “realistically” generate the world around you.
During the longer Starfield showcase, Bethesda gameplay of a character arriving at a base, where they promptly started shooting down enemies for some XP. And then, the looting began. There seems to be a lot to collect and customize, with a particular emphasis on food. They’re calling the vibe of the whole thing “NASA punk,” which you can make of what you will. Oh, and there’s a photo mode.
The spacefaring gameplay, meanwhile, was very reminiscent of No Man’s Sky. We see a ship land on a planet, where the biggest city Bethesda’s ever made (according to them) lies. Their hope is to try and tell as many stories as possible in one area. We also got to meet some of the factions, including the obligatory humanity-focused one.
Just because we’re in space, however, doesn’t mean we can’t get some different aesthetics going. There’s civilized space, and then there’s the stuff beyond, where anything goes. We got a peek at a town that looked like it was straight out of a western, and moments later, something that looked cyberpunk. Each planet will have its own gravity, and sometimes, that gravity can affect you while you’re shooting.
“We’re pushing our cities and settlements farther than we ever have before,” Bethesda said.
Each time you level up, you get a skill point that you can use to rank up skills. You can do challenges to earn skill points. One skill, for example, lets you mind control aliens while another lets you boost your jet everywhere. Another skill lets you punch really, really good. But you can also definitely sneak around the world, crawling into vents if that’s what you prefer. Or you can blow stuff up. There seems to be a skill tree for nearly all approaches.
You can buy a ship, customize that ship, and even hire a crew to keep it running. Some crew mate interactions can blossom into romance, though the conversation that was shown off looked a little wooden. I’m guessing that’s because the dialogue isn’t as fleshed out as a full companion. Just like companions, most crewmembers can lend a hand on the field.
During space fights, you can redirect energy from your shields to your weapons to boost them. After you destroy ships, you can loot them mid air. You can turn them into scrap, or you can board the enemy vessels themselves. The gameplay revealed that enemy ships will often have things to shoot inside them, but should you prevail, you can take control of the actual ship.
In related news, you should know that Starfield is an Xbox console exclusive, though it’ll also release on PC and Steam. Bethesda’s Pete Hines wants you to know he is very sorry about that, but hey: That’s what happens when you get bought out by Microsoft for billions of dollars.
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