We may not know much about Starfield, but by goodness are we excited. Bethesda's upcoming single-player RPG set in outer space marks the gaming giant's first new IP for 25 years.
But just what is the game about? More importantly, when will we actually be able to play it and on which consoles?
During the game's shock announcement at E3 2018, Bethesda boss Todd Howard called Starfield "our next-generation, single-player epic". However, Bethesda wouldn't divulge any more details apart from a short teaser trailer announcing the game and showing off its logo - and we haven't heard much about it since.
However, that hasn't stopped us from boarding the hype train with a first-class ticket. There's nothing more exciting than whetting your appetite for a new game by future gazing (or star gazing in this case).
So, in that spirit, we've searched the galaxy to bring you the latest news and rumors on Starfield. Here's everything you need to know.
[Update: Starfield's map will be massive thanks to procedural generation. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A single-player RPG in outer space from the makers of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls
- What can I play it on? It's likely coming to PC as well as Xbox Series X, but a PlayStation 5 release has been thrown into doubt after Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda
- When can I play it? No word yet, but a 2020 release isn't likely
Starfield release date
So far, what's been released is a title, trailer and, well, promise of greatness to come.
With details so thin on the ground, the absolute earliest we'd expect to see a Starfield game would be 2021.
Bethesda Game Studios Director Todd Howard has stressed that "everyone should be very, very patient".
In Bethesda's E3 2018 presentation, Howard referred to the first Starfield game as "next-gen", suggesting it might not see a release before the next generation of consoles (either the PS5 and Xbox Series X).
In an interview with Eurogamer, Howard elaborated:
"What systems we put it out on - what's the hardware requirements - is still to be determined. We're pushing it; we're thinking very, very far in future so we're building something that will handle next-generation hardware. That's what we're building on right now, that's where our mind is, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't exist on the current systems as well."
In May 2020 Bethesda senior vice president of marketing and communications Pete Hines revealed however that Starfield will be making an appearance before news on The Elder Scrolls 6, meaning that Starfield's grand unveiling will at least be... fewer years away? Hopefully? At this stage however, it seems safe to say it's a while away.
We saw our first glimpse of the game during E3 2018. It's not much more than a title and setting at this point, but the video does introduce us to an unnamed planet, a floating satellite or space station, and some sort of... glowing wormhole?
Check out the teaser trailer below:
Starfield news and rumors
Even PlayStation is uncertain about Starfield’s future on PS5
PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has said that even he’s unsure whether Starfield will come to PS5, following Microsoft’s acquisition of the publisher’s parent company ZeniMax .
“That’s a decision that is out of our hands,” Ryan said. “We’ll wait and see what happens. I look forward to learning about that.”
Ryan also explained that Sony approaches things differently to Microsoft when it comes to making studio acquisitions.
“We just take a different approach,” Ryan said. “Our emphasis has been to focus on really steady, slow, but constant organic growth of our studios, selectively bolstered by acquisitions. We respect the steps taken by our competition, they seem logical and sensible. But we’re equally happy and confident, we’ve got a better launch lineup than we’ve ever had at any of our console launches.”
It appears, then, that the ball is in Microsoft’s court when it comes to Starfield’s release.
Starfield’s map is going to be big thanks to procedural generation
Bethesda’s Todd Howard has said that the map in Starfield will be “much larger” than anything seen in previous Bethesda games—yes, even Fallout 76.
Speaking at the Develop: Brighton conference, Howard said that the game will use procedural generation, which is also used in No Man’s Sky, meaning that the game’s world will be built by a randomised algorithm as opposed to devs having to manually curate every area. According to Howard, procedural generation will allow the developers to increase the scale of the map overall.
As exciting as all of this sounds, Howard also reiterated during the conference that “It’s going to be a while until people hear about it,” and that Bethesda won'r show previews until it’s a lot closer to launch and they can show off something substantial.
A game engine overhaul
Bethesda's Todd Howard has revealed that partnering with Microsoft has "led to our largest engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls 6.“
Speaking at the Develop: Brighton conference, Howard gave more information on the overhauled Creation Engine, saying it’s been “a significant overhaul,” adding that “It’s taken us longer than we would have liked, but it’s going to power everything we’re doing with Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6. When people see the results, they’ll hopefully be as happy as we are with what’s on the screen and also how we can go about making our games.”
A Starfield 'leak'?
There's a chance some 'leaked' images have given us a new look at Starfield - if, that is, they're real. Four images have surfaced on Imgur (via GamesRadar) which are allegedly from the upcoming game.
The images show a space ship, two instances of a third-person perspective of a character standing beside the ship in astronaut attire (with a stealth and stamina bar in the corner), and a sort of oxygen and carbon dioxide gauge which also appears in the corner of the third-person perspective images.
Take with a grain of salt but some images of Starfield may have just leaked pic.twitter.com/CUcj7lWccrSeptember 26, 2020
Of course, there's been no confirmation that these images are actually from Starfield so we can't be sure what we're seeing is from the in-progress game. If they are real, though, it looks like Bethesda could be going a little more hard on the sci-fi than in previous space games like Mass Effect. We won't know for sure until Bethesda reveals more about the game.
Microsoft acquires Bethesda - Xbox exclusives?
Microsoft created shock waves in September 2020 when it announced its acquisition of ZeniMax Media, which owns publisher Bethesda Softworks.
This acquisition means that Bethesda titles will come to Xbox Game Pass, including yet-to-be-released titles like Starfield which will be available on the service on release like Microsoft's first-party titles.
What isn't clear just yet, however, is whether or not this acquisition will mean Starfield won't be available on PlayStation 5. It's been noted by Bloomberg's Jason Schreier via reporter Dina Bass that future Bethesda games "will be on Xbox, PC and 'other consoles on a case-by-case basis'" but we've still to hear about any specifics when it comes to the future of Starfield.
"We're creatives, and it's like, we have to make this game, and this is the time, and so Elder Scrolls 6 is going to have to wait a little bit," Howard said. "And again, Elder Scrolls Online is doing so well, it's so vibrant, that this is the time [for Starfield], both for us creatively, and our audience."
Not at E3 2019
Starfield didn't make an appearance at E3 2019. It's not a huge surprise as during a panel at PAX East, which celebrated the 25th Anniversary of The Elder Scrolls, Todd Howard responded to a question about some photogrammetry tech being used in Elder Scrolls and Starfield with the news that "it’s going to be a long time! It’s not something we’re going to be talking about, either of those games, at E3 this year, and so patience, please”.
A whole new world
Bethesda has reportedly been talking about making Starfield for years now.
There have been rumors flying around about the game since Bethesda publisher Zenimax filed a trademark for the name as far back as 2013.
Given how much mileage Bethesda has achieved out of its other tentpole IPs – Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, which have both seen various spin-off entries and MMO variants – it is presumably hoping to make Starfield a far-reaching franchise in the same vein.
...and whole new systems
The idea behind Starfield has been floating around as far back as 2004, and Howard has said it has the recognisable Bethesda DNA to it – so expect deep character customisation and open exploration. But also expect all new ideas entering into the mix – this won't just be Fallout or Skyrim in space. Speaking to Eurogamer, Howard stated "[...] it has a lot of new systems we've been thinking about for a while that fit that kind of game really well." So don't be surprised if there's some sort of on-theme space flight element involved too.
Bigger than ever before
Both the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series have shared a similar character progression system and open-world backdrop, partially rooted in their sharing of the same gaming engine.
While we haven't heard specifics on gameplay, Starfield looks set to follow in the same vein, albeit in a more galactic setting. But the final frontier could hold much larger potential for exploration, allowing players to travel across various planets and encounter unknown civilizations.
There's a big gap in the market for sci-fi RPGs
With the future of the space-opera RPG series Mass Effect looking uncertain, and the unfulfilled promise of the planet-hopping exploration game No Man's Sky, Starfield will be entering a gaming market hungry for a sci-fi RPG done right. With the proven success of Bethesda's other franchises, could the developer have the next Mass Effect up its sleeves?
(Image credits: Bethesda)
Keep checking back here for all the latest Starfield news
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