Starfield. Much like Elden Ring, it's a game that very little is known about but everyone wants to talk about. All we've seen is a small handful of leaked screenshots and an initial teaser trailer accompanying the game's initial reveal. Bethesda Game Studios director and executive producer Todd Howard has explicitly noted that the game is getting a "lot of hype" for something no one has seen yet.
Still, the fervor is understandable. While Fallout 76 launched to mixed reception in 2018, and only gradually garnering a fanbase through a consistent schedule of patches and updates, Bethesda's last single-player RPG was Fallout 4 in 2015, almost six years ago.
Starfield will be Bethesda's first single-player RPG since then, as well as being the studio's first new IP since The Elder Scrolls over 20 years ago. It's a big deal, so ahead of the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase later this year, we've gathered together five things we want to see in Starfield.
Building our own space stations
Spaceship customization is one thing we're going to need, but there's no reason to stop there. Fallout 4 featured the ability to build settlements, so why not build our own space stations?
There can still be pre-built stations meant for the story and side quests but the ability to build and maintain your own space stations could add several layers to the gameplay. Providing safe havens to rest and recover between missions and exploring is compelling, while it could also mean the ability to bring in friendly NPCs to crew different parts of the station. There's a lot of possibility here after previous building mechanics Bethesda introduced to the Fallout universe.
Frenetic space combat
If we're going to be in space a lot, space combat has to be a key feature. Give us deadly dogfights, cruisers battering each other and dreadnoughts obliterating smaller enemy vessels. The ability to pit small fleets against each other or launch invasions of hostile space stations would be really neat, too.
There's no need to stop there, either. What if we can exit our starships mid-combat, launching ourselves across enemy ships to try boarding them and ejecting the enemy crew, like an intergalactic Sea of Thieves? This is probably too much to hope for, but if Bethesda could pull it off, it'd be a sci-fi dream come true.
Meaningful planetary exploration
Building on the theme here so far, Bethesda has to make sure that planetary exploration is meaningful. That doesn't mean roving vast fields per se. On the contrary, I think that going too big could be dangerous, as the bigger a space players have to explore, the harder it is to pack it out densely enough with interesting locations, quests and NPCs.
The key isn't going to be making this universe big enough but in making it feel worth exploring. In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4, Bethesda was capable of doling out interesting side missions and oddities off the beaten path. While doing that on a grander scale than ever before won't be easy, it has to be a priority.
Bethesda games have traditionally featured factions and I expect that return in force for Starfield. From different raiders to massive corporations or even vast empires, there's a lot of potential depending on the exact scale that Starfield covers.
Regardless of exactly how big it is, I'm hoping we see the developers take a page from Fallout 4 moreso than Skyrim. I love Skyrim, but outside of the Civil War plotline – requiring players to choose between the Imperial forces and the Stormcloak rebels – players can join as many factions as they want without repercussions, as the Dragonborn becomes head of the Companions, Thieves' Guild, College of Winterhold and the local branch of the Dark Brotherhood without issue.
Fallout 4 is much stricter, with surprisingly intricate relationships and rivalries between the Minutemen, the Brotherhood of Steel, the Institute and others. Starfield should build on this, allowing players to forge (or shatter) alliances with a deep political element for those that want to explore it.
The ability to play as an alien race
Alright, so I'll admit that this one is the least important of everything I've got listed here, solely because we don't know what kind of science-fiction game Starfield is going to be. If it's more grounded, with a focus on humanity just now exploring the unknown of the galaxy (or even beyond?) then naturally it won't make sense to go for playable aliens.
That said, if we're introduced to a universe teeming with alien life and different sentient species, why not allow players to take on the role of a non-human? One of the most compelling parts of role-playing in The Elder Scrolls series is how various races like Khajit, Argonians and various Elves are all just as playable as the different groups of humans. There's no reason to leave this out if it fits the setting.
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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance games journalist. His bylines can be found at Android Central, Windows Central, iMore and TechRadar.