After an early glimpse of Starfield at Microsoft’s Xbox & Bethesda showcase last year and a delay to 2023, we’re now getting a much closer look at Bethesda’s first new IP in 25 years thanks to 15 minutes of gameplay. Starfield is, naturally, set in space where players will take on the role of a last group of explorers. Described as “Skyrim in space,” by game director Todd Howard, the RPG will be playable in both first- and third-person, but primarily it’s first-person.
During the early stages of the gameplay we arrive on the moon of Kreet, just one of more than 1,000 planets that players will be able to fly to and explore freely. Powered by Bethesda’s new Creation Engine 2, the first Starfield gameplay shows a player freely roaming around in both first- and third-person views, collecting resources, and disturbing creatures that are also foraging on Starfield’s many planets.
The gameplay progresses to an abandoned research lab, where pirates are hiding out. It’s here we see the XP progression system in action per kill, and the weapons available in Starfield. You can even use a jet pack to propel yourself towards enemies. As with previous Bethesda games you’ll need to pick the locks of weapon cases that are found throughout Starfield if you’re hunting for loot.
The main story is centered on the Constellation, the last group of space explorers. You meet them in the capital city of New Atlantis, where you’ll discover that this group of explorers is hunting for artifacts across the systems of Starfield. What are these artifacts being used for? That’s the puzzle to solve. The systems in Starfield are full of groups that you can team up with to take on the pirates.
Bethesda is leaning heavily on character customization, with Howard revealing the character creator is the studio’s “most flexible yet,” allowing you to customize skin tones, face, hair, and more. You’ll pick three traits to customize for your character and the skill system will include unlocks and separate ranks. You can also use resources to craft weapon mods on top of this.
You can build your own outpost for resource generation across the planets, and you can hire characters you meet to keep them up and running. You can also build your own space ships, choose your crew members, and completely customize the look and layout of the ship. There are a variety of ship manufacturers and modules, so it looks like it may be easy to create a unique ship with different weapon systems or shields.
Flying around looks particularly impressing in Starfield, and it suggests many of the battles in the game won’t be contained to just planets. You can land and explore freely on all the planets in the system of Starfield, and Bethesda says there are more than 1,000 planets all open for players to explore. It looks incredibly ambitious—even if gameplay looked a little sluggish at times. We still don’t have an exact date for its launch just yet.
Starfield was originally set to launch on November 11th, 2022, a nod to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s release date, but Microsoft announced a delay to the vague “first half of 2023” just weeks before its Xbox showcase. Microsoft did recently list Starfield as “early 2023” in an Xbox Game Pass signup page and all the games at the showcase are expected to release in the next 12 months. So it’s possible we won’t be waiting too long to start exploring. Either way, Starfield launches exclusively on Xbox Series X / S and PC next year.