Starfield release date, gameplay and latest news

A lone space explorer stands at the bottom of a vast canyon as the sun rises in the background
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield is now out on Xbox Series X|S and PC, and it's been praised for its wide breadth of things to do, as well as its approach to role playing mechanics.

From the extensive character customization options, to skill trees and Traits, there's a lot of options for players to design their very own Starfield character. Ships can even be customized, and then used to explore space, and planet surfaces. We've even played it, so you can check out what we thought in our full Starfield review.

Here's what you need to know about Starfield, including a breakdown of the gameplay, and the main story and setting.

Starfield: cut to the chase

  • What is it? A Bethesda RPG set in outer space
  • When does it come out? Out now!
  • What can I play it on? PC and Xbox Series X|S

Starfield release date

A ship landing on Atlantis port

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield was released on September 6, 2023.

Is Starfield an Xbox exclusive?

An astronaut staring at a distant ringed planet in Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda / Microsoft)

Starfield launched for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC, and is an Xbox console exclusive. 

The E3 2021 trailer explicitly confirmed this, ruling out a PS5 release. It won't be on Xbox One either, with Bethesda taking the opportunity to concentrate on newer hardware to enhance the experience and push the game further. With Microsoft now owners of developer Bethesda, this could be indicative of the future of titles like The Elder Scrolls 6 and Fallout 5 going forward.

Starfield trailers

The last trailer for Starfield was shown off at Gamescom Opening Night Live 2023. It's a live-action trailer set to a cover of Elton John's Rocket Man. Check it out below:

We've included some key Starfield trailers throughout this article but you can find all the Starfield trailers that have been released to date on Bethesda's official YouTube channel.

Starfield gameplay

Can you customize your character?
You start your character creation journey as if cycling through employee records. From there, it's a case of choosing from 40 presets as a start point. Then, body, face and background are chosen. 

Your background will come up constantly in the story, but not always where you'd expect. You may choose Beasthunter, which will give you access to additional contracts. There's one that sets you up as a chef, which unlocks unique dialogue options. You can go as deep as you'd like with this, or simply paint in the broad strokes before getting quickly into the game.

Skills and traits
Backgrounds offer three starting skills each. For example, picking 'Dueling' awards 10% extra melee damage, while 'Gastronomy' lets you create unique food and drinks, alongside researching further recipes. Meanwhile, Traits can shape your personality, so if you choose the 'Extrovert' trait for example, you'll have more endurance when travelling with companions, and less when alone. Unsurprisingly, this can't be mixed with the 'Introvert' trait, which does the opposite. Traits appear to have both positive and negative effects associated with them.

The skill tree in Starfield is solid into five sections: Physical, Combat, Science, Tech and Social. Each time you level up, you get a skill point to spend. Each skill has ranks associated with it. Ranking up a skill makes its effects more potent, but you'll need to complete set challenges to reach the next rank for each. There are four ranks per skill.

Skills shown off so far include classics like Intimidation and Hacking, as well as more unique skills like Xenosociology, which lets you mind-control aliens. Another might increase the performance of your boost pack, and of course there's plenty of skills that are focused on stealth and pickpocketing as well.

A work desk in Starfield, with a half-eaten sandwich and a weapon laying on it

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Can you customize your ship?
Yes, you can indeed. You can piece entire sections together, swapping out core components like cockpits, engines, and more, and it seems that there's no need to individually craft those parts. It looks like we'll buy these from individual vendors across different locations. There's quite a bit of freedom when putting together ships. In the gameplay deep-dive, there were ships themed after animals, giant ring ships, as well as more classic looking, sleek cruisers.

Ship customization doesn't just stop at external design, as there's also different options for interiors. It seems that each of the different vendors that you can buy ship parts from has their own design aesthetic. These vary subtly, but do give each ship its own personality and atmosphere.

How does combat work?
The bulk of the combat that you will be experiencing while playing Starfield is classic third or first-person shooting. Things are much faster and snappier than what we got in the Fallout games, and there's plenty of gadgets, explosives and tech to assist in dispatching enemies. It's clear that enemy outposts will need to be cleared out, and that some planets will be home to dangerous flora and fauna.

There's also ship combat, which relies on a mix of shooting and power allocation. During a battle, you could, for example, boost power to engines to close the gap between your ship and an enemies. Power can then be directed into weapons, and then to shields as you duck out to regroup. There are skills associated with ship combat, which you'll absolutely need if you'd like to fend off pirates and enemy factions.

How does exploration work?
Exploration can be done during space flight, or at ground level on planets. Scanning a planet before landing will tell you some of the resources you'll find there, as well as details about the environment. Down at ground level, you may encounter caves or man-made structures. Exploration is all about following what you can scan on he horizon, whether that's enemy activity, the behavior of animals on a planet, or clues hidden in the environment around you. It's clear that there will be busier, more exciting planets, as well as quieter, more desolate ones.

Recently, Todd Howard sat down on the Kinda Funny XCast podcast to discuss Starfield. He revealed that only 10% of the planets in the game contain life, in order to capture the 'magnificent desolation of the Universe.'

Will Starfield be on Xbox Game Pass?

An astronaut walks towards a glowing temple in Starfield

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Starfield launched on Xbox Game Pass, and is available to subscribers at no extra cost. This is just for Xbox Series X|S however, and Xbox One users won't be able to play the game via the service.

Starfield story and setting

What is Starfield about?
offers up a grand spacefaring adventure across the vast universe, set 300 years into our future. After a few initial missions, our protagonist gets invited to join Constellation, the last group of space explorers. We'll be meeting them in the United Colonies' capital city, New Atlantis, tasked with searching for artifacts across The Settled Systems.

Are there Factions?
Unsurprisingly, there's rival groups with separate goals, like the Crimson Fleet, who it seems we'll be frequently clashing with. Previous videos from Bethesda have also confirmed the existence of violent Spacers, ecliptic mercenaries, and fanatical religious zealots of House Va'Ruun. 

Following a past war with the United Colonies, the Freestar Collective marks the other major faction within The Settled Systems, and both currently maintain an uneasy peace. 

Controlling three star systems, Freestar uses the walled Akila City as its capital, which keeps out "alien predators that are a cross between a wolf and a velociraptor."  Then we have Neon, a pleasure city created by the Xenofresh Corporation. Having created a unique psychotropic drug, Aurora, it's now a popular tourist spot.

Depending on the Background, Skills and Traits you have for your character, you will be able to interact with Factions in different ways. We've already seen scenarios where pirates stand down because your character happens to be of the same religion, so hopefully there's plenty more ways to interact with Factions.

Is Starfield as big as Skyrim?
Starfield takes place across 1000 fully explorable planets between 100 star systems, and four major cities. Including New Atlantis, we currently know about three of them. In terms of how it compares to other Bethesda games, it's difficult to say. New Atlantis is the largest singular area that the studio has worked on, and when you add up all of the procedural planets and area that you can visit, Starfield is likely a much bigger game than Skyrim.

Because of its fragmented nature, Starfield isn't as straightforward to measure in terms of map size. It's more like an interconnected mass of linked hub areas, planets and space. It's clear that it is indeed a huge game, though we'll have to get our hands on it to say just how big it is when all of its parts are added together.

Starfield news

Starfield voice actors revealed
Bethesda has revealed the main voice cast for Starfield. You can head over to our Starfield Voice Cast list for more info.

Todd Howard takes the stage at Gamescom Opening Night Live 2023
After a new live-action trailer was shown off for Starfield, director Todd Howard took to the stage to explain. a little bit more about the game. He touched on character customization, as well as where the player will start their journey, as they meet Constellation, the last space explorers.

Starfield fans hopeful for bug-free launch
Thanks to Starfield's preload option, fans are hopeful that the game will be ,launched in a relatively bug-free state. As GamesRadar+ reports, it didn’t take long at all for prospective Starfield players on Reddit to notice that when the preloads went live, Starfield was already at version Although the details regarding the changes implemented in each of the game’s pre-launch versions aren’t publicly available, many are hoping that the version number could indicate that Bethesda has been hard at work ironing out glitches and making sure that the title is extra polished.

Starfield will feature four romance options
As part of an interview with Kinda Funny Games, Todd Howard confirmed that there will be four Romance options in Starfield. They are each members of Constellation, the main faction in the game.

Starfield gets a 'Restricted' rating in Australia
Starfield has received a 'Restricted' rating by Australia's Classification Board, namely due to the drug-use depicted in the game. Its violence is also considered 'High Impact,' while nudity and sex are very mild. The use of drugs seems to be the main offender as to why Starfield has received the higher rating, and we expect that's similar to how drugs are depicted in other Bethesda games like Fallout 4.

For more on this year's biggest releases, check out our Upcoming video game release dates calendar.

Jake Green

Jake is a freelance writer who currently works regularly with TRG. Hailing from the overcast shores of Brighton in the United Kingdom, Jake can be found covering everything from features to guides content around the latest game releases. As seen on,, and, Jake specializes in breaking games down into approachable pieces for guides, and providing SEO advice to websites looking to expand their audiences.

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