Microsoft obviously wants the star of the summer Xbox Games Showcase 2023 to be remembered as Starfield. There was an entire second Direct Showcase after the main showcase that focused on Starfield in depth. Up until this point many prospective players had reason to be skeptical of Starfield, but Bethesda wasn’t shy about its gameplay today.
Aside from the comprehensive coverage of the content and in-game systems, we also received some important bits of info that most of us have waited so long to hear. The release date for Starfield is September 6, 2023, so potential delays are no longer anything to dread. Starfield will be available on day one for Game Pass subscribers, including PC gamers. However, the option remains to get the game on Steam if you’d like.
Out of the nebula and into the spotlight
Here’s everything we took away from the Starfield gameplay showcase, though we also recommend watching it for yourself due to the huge amount of info Bethesda just dropped on us. The showcase is a bit long, so set aside at least 30 minutes. In summary, the devs covered everything from the premise of the game down to the ways different mechanics and systems work. This includes worlds, exploration, iconic locations, ship combat and travel, a combat overview, the character creator, skills and crafting, crew and party management, and the different factions out there.
For starters, Bethesda reiterated that there are roughly 1,000 locations you can visit in the galaxy thanks to its approach to procedural generation. This is an open-world exploration game that takes themes in No Man’s Sky to the next level in various ways. Bethesda also wasn’t afraid to show off plenty of these worlds, and it looks convincing despite the automatic terrain generation going on. Another interesting point they touched upon was how procedural generation is not uniform for all players, meaning you will not have the same experience on the same planet as your friends. It sounds like this mainly applies to the wider geography and that the hand-crafted important locations will be the same.
What was lost will been found
The main story follows a development after the discovery of strange alien artifacts with unique properties. Bethesda only teased this so we don’t know much about the main story still. We do know that you join an exploratory organization called Constellation and work with a team of well-funded adventure enthusiasts and scientists to solve the mysterious of the galaxy and push the frontiers further. Bethesda did say that exploration is a core pillar of Starfield, and it’s evident at this point.
You can also get lost in the many cities and iconic locations throughout the universe. Several prominent locations include Atlantis City, which is an elegant metropolis. Neon, on the other hand, is reminiscent of a cyberpunk dystopia. Check out several more major hubs in the full showcase.
Starfield combats gameplay weaknesses of prior projects
Weapons, abilities, and combat are heavily revised compared to previous Bethesda games according to the devs. There are new gun aiming systems coupled with extensive customization and distinct mechanics to keep things interesting. Use standard kinetic guns, or try out some future space tech like lasers and good ‘ole incinerators if that’s your thing, too. It was particularly interesting to hear how these different weapon types behave in zero gravity environments, which is a nice touch to a next-gen experience. Bethesda even teased something that looks a lot like Power Armor.
You’ll choose between five skill trees with focuses on weapon proficiency, stealth/thievery, physical strength, and neural powers based on what was conveyed in the presentation. It also sounds like Bethesda trashed the grind-heavy experience systems for improving skills. Instead, you’ll need to complete specific challenges to improve your skills. Given that combat in Skyrim and Fallout feels dated and simplistic, Starfield might account for some of Bethesda’s biggest past criticisms.
Ship combat is another beast entirely. For starters, you’ll be able to fully customize your ship down to individual modules. You can even have a whole fleet of ships. This will give you something to think about regarding the type of ship you take into combat. Dogfights aren’t just simple shoot and destroy engagements either. You’ll be able to target individual systems on enemy ships to cripple functionality, and direct power to different systems on your own ship. For example, you can boost shields and weapons for combat, boost the engines for exploration, and amp the jump drives for a quicker getaway. And if you like a particular ship, why not board and commandeer it?
Define yourself and your crew
The devs also went into the player creator system and claim it’s the most robust system they’ve created to date. You can essentially make yourself look like any character in the game. The developers also scanned a wide range of people and physical traits to ensure you can create the look that represents yourself.
While this capability isn’t available for creating unique crew members, you can still choose from a large pool of allies around the galaxy. This includes a mech that isn’t afraid to kill for its human overlord. Did we mention that Bethesda recreated that annoying fan from The Elder Scrolls who follows you around to bask in your glory and complement you? It would be a shame if something accidental happened to him on a remote world.
Get lost out there
Bethesda also seems keen to tap into the interests of survival genre fans. You can build base camps practically anywhere as you explore and set up modules for crafting and living. Good thing there’s plenty of world clutter to create lived-in environments. One dev commented on her habit of stealing and amassing a collection of sandwiches in her house.
There’s a lot we still have questions about though on the PC side of things. Performance also remains a major question mark given that Starfield runs at 30 fps on console. That may only apply to a quality mode, but we’ll certainly want to know more about how well it runs on midrange and older systems. The game has its moments of beauty, but also some effects that don’t look as cutting edge in the visual department. Either way, it’s only a few months to go before Starfield launches on console and PC and we can check out the gameplay for ourselves.
While the Starfield gameplay trailer was definitely the focus of Xbox, there were plenty of other huge reveals during the main showcase. These include Obsidian’s Avowed, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, and Ubisoft’s Star Wars Outlaws.