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Starfield latest trailer, game engine, and more: everything we know

The latest news on Starfield's plot, gameplay details, system requirements, and more

Want to know everything there is to know about Starfield? Bethesda are back with another sprawling RPG to explore with Starfield, a sci-fi adventure that's been highly-anticipated for years. Bethesda, developers of the Elder Scrolls series and the third and fourth instalments of the Fallout series, have confirmed that Starfield will launch in the first half of 2023, which means we can expect it somewhere before the end of June. That's right, within just a few months, you could be playing Starfield.

If the idea of adventuring among the stars has your interest, then you're in luck. Below, we've collected everything we know about Starfield so far, including the release window, platforms, trailers, plot, and a copious amount of details surrounding gameplay, so that you can learn all there is to know about Bethesda's latest RPG.

Starfield release date and platforms

In a surprising turn of events, Bethesda announced in May 2022 that Starfield has been delayed from its original (and seemingly very firm) release date of November 11 into the first half of 2023.

Starfield's initial planned release date was significant, since it marks the 11th anniversary of the launch of Skyrim. But, while the new launch day won't be quite as special to long-time Bethesda fans, the developers have chosen to prioritise shipping a quality product on day one, which can surely only be for the best.

On launch, Starfield will be exclusive to Microsoft Windows PC and Xbox Series X|S, and will be available on Game Pass from day one. Whether ports to other platforms will come along in the future remains to be seen, but rather than get your hopes up, it seems safest to assume that this title will remain exclusive to modern Microsoft devices.

Starfield announcements and trailers

Starfield was first officially announced at E3 2018, although it's reportedly been in development ever since the launch of Fallout 4, which would mean that production began in late 2015. Pre-production reportedly ended around the same time as the E3 announcement, meaning that the game has been in a playable development phase for some time now, which sounds very promising. Below is the most recent bit of footage we have from the game, a 15-minute gameplay reveal from the Xbox + Bethesda Games Showcase in June 2022:

What is Starfield's setting and plot?

Starfield's setting and overall aesthetic has been described variously as "Skyrim in space" and "NASA-punk"; pop cultural influences include Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. From what I've seen it seems like if you're a fan of Mass Effect, The Outer Worlds, or Prey, chances are Starfield will also be your jam.

The story begins in the year 2330 in a pocket of the Milky Way called "The Settled Systems", an area approximately 50 light years in diameter around our own solar system that's been at least partially colonised by humans. Around 20 years before the story begins, a bloody civil war occurred between two rival factions called the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective, but at the time the game takes place, the Settled Systems are once again in an uneasy peacetime.

That's just the backstory; the main plot opens with the tantalising premise that you'll be exploring the galaxy "on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery: what's out there?" The trailers contain a lot of philosophical musings on the place of humankind among the stars and the meaning of existence, so I'm wondering if our hero is looking to make first contact — answering the immortal question of whether humanity is alone in the universe. That's merely informed speculation from a Trekkie in good standing, of course.

Director Todd Howard has made self-described cryptic hints towards a twist in the tale somewhere, and footage from Not-E3 2022 revealing that you'll be recovering mysterious artifacts that have popped up from an unknown source hasn't exactly dampened my enthusiasm. Sure, that part's a little run-of-the-mill as far as sci-fi stock tropes go; but those artifacts alone are surely unlikely to be the full story if they've been revealed this early on.

Does Starfield have a character creator?

According to the official Starfield website, in this game you can "create any character you want". Expectations often have to be tempered for a final release (just look at Cyberpunk 2077), but that looked like a pretty big clue that there will be a character creator with some extensive planned options.

As part of the 15-minute Starfield presentation we got to see at this year's Xbox + Bethesda Games Showcase, we got a much deeper look at the character creator, described as Bethesda's most flexible yet. Interestingly, the game will visualise changes to your character's appearance using a technique from molecular biology known as gel electrophoresis, which is a lovely science-y touch. Under the hood it seems like they're still more or less expected set of character creation sliders, but it's a nice detail all the same.

You'll also be able to choose from three backgrounds for your character, which will determine their starting skills; and you can further flesh out your protagonist with up to three optional traits, all of which have a balance of positive and negative effects.

Starfield's character creator uses some real-life science in the form of gel electrophoresis patterns to indicate your selections.

A recent interview with several key members of the dev team revealed that Starfield aims to incorporate old school RPG stats with a sort of greatest hits of skills and levelling systems from Bethesda's previous games. Skills will be increased in a couple of different ways: levelling by spending XP on skill trees, and ranking up through use in gameplay.

In related news, you can build your own spacecraft in Starfield too: you can "completely customise the look and layout" and even name your creation. There are even a choice of in-universe manufacturers for you to shop around among when buying modules. So even if tweaking nose length sliders for hours at a time isn't your bag, Starfield could well still provide a customisation system that's to your liking.

Will Starfield be open-world?

The phrase "open-world" hasn't technically been attached to Starfield as yet, but all the talk of "explor[ing] with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey" on the official website seems to be hinting that yes, this game is going to feature a big old sandboxy world (or, in this case, galaxy) for you to tackle as you see fit.

A spaceship gravjumping in a Starfield screenshot.

If anything by the sounds of it, Starfield will be more like open-universe, with the Not-E3 2022 reveal boasting that there will be over 1,000 explorable planets on Starfield's map. We've only seen footage of a small handful and, naturally, there's some suspicion that some planets may be more fleshed-out than others, considering the logistical difficulties of applying that many bespoke world designs to a game that hasn't been in production for like, a century. Still though, with the confirmation that base building à la Fallout 4 will be making a (re)appearance in Starfield, we're sure players will be able to put at least a few of the more blank-slate ones to good use.

How long will it take to complete Starfield?

No exact details have yet been given about the length of Starfield's main plotline, but interviews with the development team contain references to what sound like plenty of side-quests and the probability of branching storylines, plus in-depth crafting systems allowing you to customise things like weapons and bases; all of which promises replayability over a long period of time. Todd Howard compares the game to Skyrim and how many, many fans are still playing that game over a decade later, and suggests that Starfield was built after taking that unexpected longevity of interest into account.

If those comparisons to Skyrim hold true, we can reasonably anticipate a 30-40 hour main story, 100+ hours with side quests, and maybe 200+ hours to explore every nook and cranny to 100% completion.

Can you play Starfield in third person?

Good news for motion-sickness sufferers: Starfield can indeed be played in third person. There's also going to be a first-person option to satisfy the desires of immersion fans, though we don't yet know exactly how switching between the two will work. Still, with many modern RPGs choosing to jettison third-person view altogether and (unintentionally I'm sure) locking their game off to many potential fans who can't stomach the shaky cam, it's refreshing to see Starfield include both options. Plus, this means you'll get to see your lovingly customised character in-game whenever you want.

Does Starfield feature factions and a morality system?

It's unclear as yet whether Starfield will feature a points-based morality system akin to the Karma meter in Bethesda's Fallout games. However, the developers have confirmed that the game will feature multiple joinable factions, and that at least one faction will align with "evil" actions and behaviours on the part of the player.

It seems like the major factions to begin with will be the aforementioned United Colonies and Freestar Collective, who were at war in the game's backstory. The United Colonies represent an idealised vision of human diaspora branching out into the galaxy united as a republic. Meanwhile the Freestar Collective are space cowboys, a pioneer group pushing the frontiers of human expansion and who clearly aren't so keen on centralised control. Notably, despite obvious parallels with franchises like Star Wars and Firefly, neither of these groups seem to be played up as having been entirely right or wrong in the war, at least from your character's point of view at the start of the game. There's also a third notable faction, Ryujin Industries, which represents a corporate interest apparently separate from the two ideological ones.

In terms of secondary or minor factions and groups, so far we've heard of Ecliptic Mercenaries, Pirates of the Crimson Fleet, Spacers (characterised by their violence) and House Va'ruun (described as "fanatical religious zealots"). It's unclear yet exactly which of these you'll be able to join — the only one confirmed as playable so far is the Crimson Fleet — but expect to encounter them all at some point in the story.

It seems that after completing the game's introductory missions, your character will be offered a post as a member of an exploratory force called Constellation, charged with uncovering the source of the mysterious artifacts that are the driving force behind the main plot. But by the sounds of it, shifting your allegiances will be a definite possibility at some point in the story.

It also seems that companion characters and dialogue trees are making an appearance, as per Bethesda tradition. There's a persuasion mini-game to bring NPCs around to your way of thinking, somewhat akin to Fallout's speech stat checks. But it is apparently an entirely new system developed specifically for Starfield that's meant to emulate real conversation much more naturally.

Will Starfield feature romance options?

It seems that you will be able to romance companions in Starfield. According to a recent interview with Todd Howard, Starfield will include more complex relationships with NPCs than Bethesda have previously achieved. While he doesn't go in-depth on romance options, Howard hints that "they can be in love with you, but dislike something you did", which certainly implies that you'll find yourself in a romantic relationship among the stars.

Will Starfield have difficulty settings?

Starfield will apparently be more a "hardcore" RPG than recent Fallout and Elder Scrolls titles, though whether that translates to trickier action sequences or just more maths as you min-max your character's stats remains to be seen. Bethesda have historically included difficulty settings in their single-player RPGs, so we're inclined to think that there will be some ability to scale up or down damage in the game's combat sections to suit your preference. We'll have to wait to find out for sure, though; I think it depends on what exactly they mean by "hardcore".

Will Starfield have multiplayer?

Rejoice, my fellow loners, because it's been made very clear from the outset that Starfield will have no multiplayer elements whatsoever. The development focus for Starfield has been solidly on providing a story-rich, single-player adventure with plenty of replay value; and while multiplayer modes certainly have their joys, it's refreshing to see a major release not feeling the need to tack one on where it's simply not necessary for the story that the team have set out to tell.

Will Starfield have DLC?

The only thing I can report on the subject of Starfield DLC right now is that the developers haven't straight-up said "no". Considering that they've been very up-front about not adding multiplayer — and that Bethesda RPGs usually get a few post-release story expansions — I'd say the odds are pretty good. Nothing's officially in the pipeline at this point, though.

Starfield game engine and system requirements

Starfield is built in Creation Engine 2, a modified and updated form of the Creation Engine that was used for Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76. Reportedly, The Elder Scrolls VI will also use Creation Engine 2.

Since we don't yet have any official word on the system requirements for Starfield on PC, it remains to be seen whether or not this sort-of-new engine will require a lot more horsepower on the part of your setup to run it. We'll be keeping this page updated with more information as we get it, though, so be sure to check back to learn what's new!

Here at RPS, we've already gone on record calling Starfield one of our most anticipated games of 2023. Therefore, expect plenty more news, guides, and more from us as we eagerly await Starfield's launch later this year!

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About the Author
Rebecca Jones avatar

Rebecca Jones

Guides Writer

Rebecca is ⅓ of RPS' guides team, ⅓ of the Indiescovery Podcast crew, and currently looking for something else to take a 33% share in so she can call herself a fully rounded games journalist.

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