Here's Our First Look At Starfield Gameplay

Bethesda announced "Starfield" back in 2018, and since then it has been the subject of delays and rampant speculation. Players were initially going to be able to get their hands on the game on November 22nd, 2022, but that has since been pushed back to the first half of 2023. Still, the delays are no surprise given the task Bethesda has taken on with "Starfield." Todd Howard claims the space exploration RPG is easily Bethesda's "most ambitious game ever," and if the claims that were made during the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase are true, it may be the most ambitious game anyone has tried to make.

Howard's presentation offered fans their first real look at "Starfield" gameplay. Combat, weaponry, character customization, and space flight were all on display during the 15-minute segment. While plenty of details are still unknown, the showcase gave fans a far clearer idea of what to expect when the game is released next year.

There are strong similarities to other Bethesda games

Minus the V.A.T.S. system, the combat looked a bit like a polished, updated, version of "Fallout 4." Several weapons were on display in the preview, and some used bullets while others used some form of energy. These weapons included pistols, an SMG, and a double-barreled shotgun. Combat was on display in both first and third-person modes and was more of a running-and-gunning style than something cover based. There was also a brief standoff between the player and some creatures on Kreet before the aliens backed down — suggesting violence may not always be the only solution even outside of dialogue boxes.

There were numerous other Bethesda stalwarts on display throughout the presentation. Players receive XP for discovering new locations, a lockpicking mini-game pops up when breaking into lockers, an inspiring orchestral soundtrack kicks in when the action starts, and characters have a selection of traits, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. During one sequence, the player unlocked a door with their watch, so while you don't have a Pip-Boy, you may still find yourself using the smartwatch version instead.

Bethesda has also included a brief look at the game's crafting system, which involves gathering resources, going to a workbench area, and using those resources for research or to create new items. You can also create weapon modifications, just like in "Fallout 4," and build a base that you can staff with people you meet while out wandering ... just like in "Fallout 4."

Character customization is emphasized

Howard says the "Starfield" skill system is a combination of skill systems from previous Bethesda games. The skills the player starts with depend on the background chosen during character creation. Classes include things like bounty hunter, Ronin, gangster, and professor; the starting skills these classes grant tie in with the suggested background. For example, a Cyberneticist, which appears to be a kind of cyborg, has skills in medicine (heals 10% more), robotics (deals more damage to robots), and laser weapons (does more damage with laser weapons). Things get a little bit more fanciful with classes like chef where gastronomy and wellness may make some sense, but dueling might require some suspension of disbelief when it comes to the character's knife skills.

The aesthetic side of character creation has also been expanded into what Howard claims is the company's "most flexible yet." Players can customize their character's body type, shape, and composition, along with hairstyle, color, skin tone, and other visual elements. There are no suggestions that alien races would be available to play or even exist beyond strange, mindless creatures that are just hanging around on planets waiting to kill you.

What do we know about the plot?

As with most Bethesda games, a lot of freedom seems to be on offer with the plot. From the details in the showcase, the main quest seems likely to revolve around scouring the very large map and attempting to find alien artifacts. A group of space explorers called Constellation seems to put the player onto this path, but all evidence points towards players just being allowed to do what they want beyond that. As Todd Howard said, this game lets you "be who you want, go where you want."

The presentation opens with a player landing on Kreet, which is a moon of Anselon, before sending a droid out from their ship. The player is on the moon in search of an abandoned research facility, and the gameplay soon switches to a third-person view of the player in a space suit. Unfortunately, the facility isn't abandoned and the player ends up in a shoot-out with a band of space pirates. There are also two major factions that were previously mentioned: United Colonies and the Free Star Collective.

Several factions that could play a part cropped up in the preview, including the aforementioned Constellation along with some kind of peacekeeping faction and a band of space pirates named The Crimson Fleet. Although a confrontation with members of the Crimson Fleet was shown, suggesting they could serve as the game's main antagonists, the dialogue was displayed suggesting the player could join them if they wished to do so — though when you're in, you're in for life.

Your ship will play a huge part

As you may expect from a game focused on space exploration, emphasis is put on the ship you'll be piloting. The ships will be heavily customizable with the ability to switch out individual parts like the cockpit or engines. There is also the ability to assemble a crew from the people you meet while exploring the vast "Starfield" universe.

The ship is featured heavily in the presentation as a part of both what appeared to be cutscenes and in some gameplay. Early on, it lands on Kreet and opens up so the droid can exit the rear of the craft. Towards the end of the presentation, Howard mentions the ship can be manually flown and it is seen navigating its way through an asteroid field and engaging in several combat sequences. The dogfights shown in the combat sequence look intense, as the ship is shown destroying several enemy vessels. There are third-person viewpoints where the camera follows the ship and a first-person view from the cockpit available when flying and fighting.

The game is enormous

Bethesda games usually have large maps filled with hundreds of places to explore, but Starfield really takes things to the next level in terms of ambition. Howard claims that there are 100 systems containing 1,000 planets. Each planet can be landed on and explored. Planet types include "barren, resource-heavy ice balls" and "goldilocks planets with life." Planets with settlements aren't just limited to the settlements. Players can land anywhere on the planet and explore.

The scale may be made possible through the concept of settled systems, which suggests humanity has only colonized a limited portion of space, so the number of planets with substantial settlements may be limited. Still, it may not be that limited — a variety of settlements were on display in the presentation.

New Atlantis, one of the game's major cities and one of the three that have already been announced, looks large and futuristic despite the plant life creeping in. At the other end of the spectrum, there are dusty outposts and shanty towns to explore. Two of the more interesting places featured in the presentation include a dark, crowded undercity reminiscent of the Blade Runner franchise, and a city with a kind of space-age take on classical architecture with gilded columns and statues. All in all, the variety of settlements appears to be as diverse as the variety of planets. "Starfield" is expected to be released in 2023 on PC and Xbox consoles.