Starfield: Release date, gameplay, and everything we know so far (2024)

Bethesda Game Studios' upcoming space RPG will soon launch on Xbox Series X|S and PC. Here's everything we know about the highly anticipated game.

Starfield: Release date, gameplay, and everything we know so far (1)

Starfield: Release date, gameplay, and everything we know so far (2)

Tom West


Bethesda Game Studios is currently applying the finishing touches to its brand-new IP, Starfield. The highly anticipated space epic will join the studio's fantasy-driven Elder Scrolls and post-apocalyptic Fallout games as the next single-player, open-galaxy RPG — and because it's an Xbox Game Studios title, it's one of many games coming to Game Pass in 2023. Here's everything we know about the game for the time being as we wait for the Starfield Direct event that will take us even deeper into outer space. After Redfall's less-than-ideal reception, it feels like the pressure is on Starfield to carry Xbox through 2023, and be the first-party win Microsoft desperately needs.

Starfield: Everything we know so far

What is Starfield?

Keeping in line with the other two big franchises under the Bethesda Game Studios banner, Starfield is a single-player RPG through and through. It's the first new IP the studio has released in 25 years, and we'll be looking toward the stars for our adventures this time around. Taking us to the final frontier, space, Starfield offers the studio's signature features like deep character customization and untethered exploration, where you are the center of the story and free to explore more than 1,000 planets in any way that you wish.

What's it about?

Set in the year 2330, Starfield sees us explore the final frontier as a member of Constellation — which Todd Howard has said is "like NASA meets Indiana Jones — the only remaining group of explorers scouring the galaxy for rare artefacts. We join Constellation when visiting the capital city of New Atlantis, and while it'll be the one constant faction we work with during the main quest (which should take between 30 and 40 hours to complete) it's only one of many factions that will be available to us. Not a huge amount has been revealed about Starfield's main plotline so far, but we do know that it takes place after a war between two of the game's largest factions: the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective — a similar plotline to those we've seen in many of Bethesda's other games. As such, perhaps we'll be free to craft some of the story ourselves, choosing which factions we decide to aid. Ultimately, the aim of Starfield is for us to explore over 100 systems to answer one question: "What is out there?"

Bethesda recently released three animated shorts for Starfield, offering us a look at three major cities we'll be able to visit in the game. Each video is only a few minutes long, but they're most definitely worth a watch if you're excited about Starfield's upcoming release.

Do we have a Starfield release date?

Yes, the Starfield release date is September 6th, 2023, for Xbox Series X|S and PC. It was originally set to release on Bethesda Game Studios' favorite date of November 11th, 2022, but was delayed. Starfield will be an Xbox Play Anywhere title, so you'll only need to purchase one copy of the game to be able to play it on console and PC, with your save carrying between the two. You'll need to set aside around 125GB to install Starfield on Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Will Starfield have a physical release?

Yes! Following a little confusion earlier this year, Bethesda confirmed that the standard edition of Starfield for Xbox will be available on disc, while the PC, Premium, and Constellation Editions will be digital-only.

Is Starfield coming to Xbox Game Pass?

Naturally! Starfield is a first-party title, and as such, it'll launch into the Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass libraries on day one, remaining there indefinitely, unlike the third-party games that usually rotate out of the service after a while. As a bonus, similar to Redfall, Xbox Game Pass subscribers will receive the game's preorder items, which in this case, will be a Laser Cutter, Deep Mining Helmet, and Deep Mining Pack.

Microsoft is yet to confirm whether Starfield will be playable with Xbox Cloud Gaming, but the company has made an effort to bring the likes of Microsoft Flight Simulator to the service, so there is a chance Starfield will follow suit, potentially making it playable on last-gen hardware via cloud streaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Will Starfield be on Xbox One?

Unfortunately not, no. Starfield, like Redfall and the upcoming Forza Motorsport, are exclusively launching on Xbox Series X|S and PC. That's not to say that you'll definitely not be able to play it on Xbox One, though, because if it does become Xbox Cloud Gaming-enabled, the Xbox One will most likely be able to support it.

Any news on the Starfield achievements?

Not yet, no. Judging by the sheer size of Starfield, as well as Bethesda's previous games, we expect the Starfield achievements to be pretty time-consuming. The developer generally likes to feature level-based achievements and unlocks for specific quests, factions, and story milestones, mixed with miscellaneous achievements. Both of Bethesda's most recent mainline games, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4, have achievements linked to visiting 100 locations, so we wouldn't be too surprised to see a "visit 100 planets" achievement.

Interestingly, it appears that Starfield's achievements have already leaked, and as mentioned above, it looks like there is an achievement for landing on 100 planets. Similar to Bethesda's other games, the leaked list contains 50 achievements, but some of them could be seen as spoilers, so keep that in mind if you decide to check them out.

Will Starfield have a Performance Mode on Xbox Series X|S?

No, Bethesda has revealed that it wants to favor consistency in Starfield, so the game will be locked at 4K/30fps on Xbox Series X and 1440p/30fps on Xbox Series S.

Starfield: Release date, gameplay, and everything we know so far (4)

What is character customization like?

Anyone that's played the likes of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Fallout 4 should be familiar with Bethesda Game Studios' knack for giving you the toolset to create your own protagonist. As such, character customization is at the heart of Starfield, which allows you to build the hero that you wish to become for the adventures ahead. During the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase last year, we were given a brief look at some of the character customization options during a Starfield gameplay trailer.

The trailer gave us a look at the base character creator, which offers us customizations for the face and body of the protagonist, which looks to be a much more enhanced version of what we've had access to in previous games from the team — it's also worth mentioning that the Starfield protagonist will be silent. We'll also have the chance to choose our character's background and traits. Backgrounds act a bit like the systems we've seen in previous Bethesda games, which are geared toward giving you three starting skills that can give you a slight boost to things like weapon damage or increasing damage inflicted on various enemy types. Some even grant you early skill unlocks, like crafting food and drink that other classes presumably can't access until they learn it via the skill tree. Traits act as optional boons throughout your playthrough. You can pick three Traits when creating your character, but while they do offer advantages, each one also has a disadvantage, so you'll need to choose which ones you like carefully — Todd Howard has said that they're "problems you can solve," though, so expect missions and challenges to complete if you'd like to rid yourself of a Trait's downside, such as the adoring fan.

Starfield also offers a skill tree that you can work through, which again will feel familiar to veteran players of the developer's RPGs. You'll unlock new skills when leveling up your character, and then have the chance to increase their rank by using them or completing challenges.

Does Starfield have a crime system?

Much like Bethesda's other games, Starfield will have a crime system available for those of you who want to become space criminals. Todd Howard had already alluded to a joinable faction of space pirates, but we now know that smuggling "contraband" will feature as a specific way of handling stolen items. We'll be able to create compartments in our ship to house the contraband so it can be smuggled past the security ships orbiting major settlements. Getting caught can result in jail time, paying a fine, or attempting to escape the authorities.

What do we know about Starfield's space travel?

Bethesda's space epic contains over 1,000 fully explorable planets spread across more than a hundred systems — some of which feature procedural generation — and traveling between them can be achieved with your spaceship. The ships are fully customizable inside and out, including your crew, from cosmetic attachments and colors to modifications that upgrade parts like the engine, shields, weapons, and more. Even when traveling through the vastness of space, you're never completely safe, as enemy ships can appear and initiate ship-based combat.

During a recent interview, Todd Howard said, "Obviously, it’s procedural. So there’s no way we’re going to go and handcraft an entire planet — what we do is we handcraft individual locations and some of those are placed specifically, obviously the main cities and other quest locations, and then we have a suite of them that are generated or placed when you land, depending on that planet."

Around 10% of the planets we'll explore will contain life, while others will be barren, resource-rich worlds. Howard explained that random things will be generated when you land, so you'll not be exploring a planet of nothingness. Some planets will feature a singular biome, while others could house several, and other factors may also come into play, such as temperature and radiation. During the same interview as above, Howard said that with each biome we'll discover different kinds of creatures, some hostile, and some peaceful — "we’ve actually had a problem at times with the predator creatures going and killing all of the more peaceful creatures you’re coming across," Howard said. "Then you realize there’s something dangerous in the area." There will also be a diverse range of vegetation, which can host various traits that can be useful and valuable.

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Does Starfield have houses or settlements?

It looks like our spaceship will act in the same way as the housing system found in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Fallout 4's Settlements, with the added bonus of being able to fly them around. When discovering planets, though, you'll have the ability to build outposts for conducting research and gathering resources. These resources are an integral part of Starfield's crafting mechanics, which you can use to modify your weapons, upgrade your gear, and create consumables.

A with Bethesda Game Studios' lead designer Emil Pagliarulo and lead quest designer Will Shen revealed that a housing system is available in Starfield. According to Pagliarulo, you'll be able to "purchase a dwelling in all the major cities in the game," and one will be available as a reward for "completing something."

Is there multiplayer?

While the size of the game would suggest that multiple players could explore freely without even bumping into anyone else, Starfield is a single-player RPG. It's a concept that is a constant throughout all of the developer's mainline games, and as such, we won't be exploring the vastness of space with a buddy, except for the AI companions.

Will Starfield have different factions?

Yes, and unlike Fallout 4, Starfield uses an independent questline for its factions, meaning you'll not be locked out of other factions when joining one. We don't know how many there are yet, but every one of them can apparently be joined on a single playthrough. "We really want the stories to be a little more personal," Starfield quest designer Will Shen said. "You're influencing the direction of where this faction is going to go." You won't become the leader of every faction like you could in Skyrim, but "every faction questline will be reflecting on your choices," and will have "far-reaching consequences." Todd Howard recently confirmed that there will be a faction aimed towards being space pirates.

What is Starfield's companion system like?

AI companions will be available in Starfield, so while you'll not be with another player, your journey through space won't be a lonely one. We've already seen one of the companions, and potentially the initial one we start with, much like Fallout 4's Dogmeat, but there will be over 20 companions available — four, of which, will offer additional story and interactions. The gameplay trailer introduced us to VASCO, a robotic expeditionary robot that'll aid us when discovering planets; while VASCO will act more like a pack mule, carrying all of our expeditionary gear and very important loot, it does come with some minor weaponry to help us out in a fight. You'll not be able to train your companions, but each of them will come with a number of preset talents and specializations.

Interestingly, the companions in Starfield will have "a lot of opinions." At some points, we'll be able to have our companion speak on our behalf if an NPC is proving difficult to deal with. "You might have a companion with you, and you'll be challenged, or someone will tell you, 'You can't get through here,'" Shen said. "You can actually turn to your companion and say, 'hey actually, could you handle this' and they'll actually speak on your behalf."

With Starfield primed for arrival into Xbox Game Pass, we'll look forward to finding out if it has what it takes to join some of the best games on Game Pass.

More Starfield stories:

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  • Best Xbox exclusives — Must play games for your Xbox Series X|S
  • The best Xbox Game Pass games to play in May 2024
  • Starfield is finally getting a 60fps mode on Xbox Series X

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Written by Tom West

Tom has been playing video games since he was old enough to hold a controller, experimenting with a number of systems until he eventually fell in love with Xbox. With a passion for the platform, he decided to make a career out of it, and now happily spends his days writing about that which he loves. If he’s not hunting for Xbox achievements, you’ll likely find him somewhere in The Elder Scrolls Online or fighting for survival in Battlefield.

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Starfield: Release date, gameplay, and everything we know so far (2024)


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