Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (2024)

Starfield is the first new IP from renowned developer Bethesda Game Studios since The Elder Scrolls debuted in 1994. That alone comes with lofty expectations, not to mention that the space-set RPG has become a critical release for Xbox following the disappointment of Redfall and the sparse first-party Xbox Series X|S lineup before it.

From its all-new setting to its familiar Bethesda RPG mechanics, there’s a lot to unpack within Starfield as we approach its September 6 release. So we’ve put together this comprehensive overview of everything we know about Starfield, including the latest information on platforms, price, gameplay, story, map size, game length, DLC, and more.

Jump to:

  • Release Date and Platforms
  • Gameplay Details
  • Map Size and Details
  • Story and Plot Details
  • Preorders and Special Editions

Latest News

As the Starfield release date approaches, we are continuing to learn new things. Here's the latest news about the game:

  • The Starfield 'Boundary Reached' Drama, Explained
  • Starfield Will Have New Game Plus
  • Starfield Doesn't Truly Get Started Until You Finish the Main Quests

Starfield Release Date and Price

Starfield is coming out on September 6 for Xbox Series X|S and PC (via Microsoft Store and Steam). It’ll be available through Game Pass at launch. Those who purchase the Premium Edition, Premium Edition Upgrade, or Constellation Edition can access the game even earlier (beginning August 31). Besthesda Game Studios has shared the global release times for Starfield as well.

The standard edition of Starfield costs $70 USD, the Digital Premium Edition costs $100, and the Constellation Edition costs $300 (Jump to Starfield Special Editions and Accessories). The most affordable way to play early is by subscribing to Game Pass ($11 USD/month) and purchasing the Premium Edition Upgrade for $35.

Will Starfield Be on PS5?

Starfield is being released as an exclusive game for Xbox, so the title will not be released on PS5 at launch. We don't yet know if Starfield will eventually make its way over to Playstation, but it seems as unlikely as Halo coming to Sony consoles.

Will Starfield Be Playable on Steam Deck?

For Steam Deck owners, there is still uncertainty about whether or not they'll be able to play Starfield. According to leaked patch for the game, Starfield will be playable, but performance may suffer.

Starfield File Size

Starfield weighs in at over 100 GB on both Xbox Series X|S and PC. Here's how much storage space you'll need for Starfield on each of its two platforms:

Xbox Series X|S: 126.1 GB

PC: 139.84 GB

Starfield Xbox Performance

Starifled will run at 4K/30 FPS on Xbox Series X and 1440p/30 FPS on Xbox Series X. Bethesda chose to lock both consoles at 30 FPS for consistency. As director Todd Howard told IGN:

“We do lock it at 30 [FPS] because we want that fidelity, we want all that stuff. We don't want to sacrifice any of it. Fortunately in this one, we've got it running great. It's often running way above that. Sometimes it's 60. But on the consoles, we do lock it because we prefer the consistency. Right? Where you're not even thinking about it. And we don't ever want to sacrifice that experience that makes our games feel really, really special. So it feels great. We're really happy with how it feels even in the heat of battle. And we need that headroom because in our games, really anything can happen.”

Starfield Trailer

The most-recent substantial Starfield trailer was shown on June 11 during the Xbox Games Showcase. The story-focused trailer opens with narration: “Humanity has always hunted for knowledge in the unknown. The wonder is, not that the field of stars is so vast, but that we have measured it” — an altered quote from 19th-century writer Anatole France’s The Garden of Epicurus.

Watch the three-minute trailer for yourself below:

You may alsow want to check out the live-action trailer that was present at gamescom 2023.

Starfield Gameplay

Starfield maintains the core of a Bethesda RPG experience: “Who would you want to be and what would you want to do?” Fallout explores those questions in a post-apocalyptic setting, Elder Scrolls in fantasy, and now Starfield in space.

Starfield undoubtedly does a lot new, though Howard said players of past Bethesda RPGs should feel at home. “I think the minute-to-minute, obviously on the ground, it has similarities to Elder Scrolls and Fallout and the things that we've made and how it feels in your hands or some certain mechanics,” he said.

Howard likened Starfield to “Skyrim in space,” while Bethesda’s Ashely Chang called it a Han Solo simulator: “Get in a ship, explore the galaxy, do fun stuff.” You can currently watch the first minutes of Starfield gameplay to get a peek at what to expect.

Ground Gameplay

As with Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, Starfield can be played from either a first- or third-person perspective, though Howard noted “first-person for us is still our prime way of playing.”

As seen in various gameplay videos, Starfield’s combat is faster-paced than Fallout. On top of refined shooting and movement mechanics, Starfield’s weaponry offers a deep set of customization options that can alter stats, appearance, and/or functionality.

Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (2)

Players will also be able to utilize a jetpack during combat and traversal. Governed by a “boost” meter, the jetpack allows players to attack from above, maneuver across terrain, and drop from heights without taking fall damage.

Bethesda also closed out its Starfield Direct (clip begins at 41:35) by teasing another combat option: something akin to the Force from Star Wars. The playable character is seen holding out their hand and raising enemies off the ground.

Engaging with different gameplay mechanics and completing related challenges will improve a character’s skills. (Security can be increased by picking locks, for example.) Skills are divided into five categories: physical, social, combat, science, and tech.

Space Gameplay

The second half of Starfield’s gameplay occurs in space. Your interstellar traversal will be interrupted by ship battles, which Bethesda designed to feel "exciting and dangerous." The strategy of ship battles revolves around Starfield’s power allocation system, which allows you to disperse power between your ship’s subsystems, such as its engine, shield, and grav drive. The space combat systems were inspired by FTL and Mechwarrior, according to Todd Howard.

Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (3)

Dogfighting, however, isn’t the only option: Players can dock with other ships, steal them, or disable them. After claiming a ship, it can be made yours and accessed at any spaceport.

The transition from space to ground combat won’t be seamless, according to Howard: "People have asked, ‘Can you fly the ship straight down to the planet?’ No. We decided early in the project that the on-surface is one reality, and then when you’re in space it’s another reality."

Dialogue System

Branching and consequential dialogue has been a staple of Bethesda RPGs, and that trend continues in Starfield.

"We've gone back to kind of a classic Bethesda-style dialogue [system]", said Todd Howard. "You're looking at the character and how they emote, you have a series of choices there."

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Starfield includes over 250,000 lines of dialogue — more than twice the total in Fallout 4 and more than quadruple the total in Skyrim. Unlike Fallout 4, the main character will be silent.

Starfield also features an updated version of a dialogue minigame from Oblivion. Details on the new system are sparse, though IGN’s Matt Purslow described the Oblivion system for the unfamiliar:

If you need a memory refresher, Oblivion featured a mini-game during some dialogue sequences that was used to persuade an NPC. It used a wheel cut into pie-like segments that represented actions such as admire, joke, boast, and coerce. Over a series of rounds, you were able to manipulate a character's disposition, something made easier through high speechcraft stats or by using a bribe. It's not clear what elements of this system are reflected in Starfield's version, but it certainly seems there will be a way to engage in conversations beyond just picking dialogue options.

Base Building

Base building returns from Fallout 4, as Starfield players will be able to construct outposts on the planets they visit. Outposts can serve as home bases for your crewmembers and companions, a place to harvest resources, a cargo link between other outposts, and a place to build crafting and research stations. Of course, you can also simply build homes or compounds among the stars for your pleasure.

Set up your home amongst the stars.

🔧 Assign Crew and Companions
🔧 Set up Extractors to harvest resources
🔧 Establish cargo links to move resources between outposts
🔧 Add crafting and research stations#Starfield pic.twitter.com/A67JsnC700

— Bethesda Game Studios (@BethesdaStudios) June 11, 2023

Ship Customization

Ships, too, can be customized. Customization options range from aesthetic (paint color) to practical (engine, grav drive, weapons, etc.). The latter will alter your ship's stats, such as speed, jump range, and cargo capacity.

It looks to be an extensive customization system, judging by the HMS Liberty Optimus ship shown off by Bethesda:

Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (5)

Character Creation

Starfield features Bethesda’s "most in-depth and diverse character creation system yet." The character creator includes 40 preset templates and many options for face and body customizations from there.

The character creator will also prompt players to choose a background, which comes with three relevant skills. For example, a Diplomat will start with the Persuasion, Diplomacy, and Bargaining. Other backgrounds include Beast Hunter, Bouncer, Cyber Runner, Explorer, Gangster, and Homesteader.

The final step of creating a character includes choosing (or foregoing) 1-3 optional traits that include a pro and a con. For example, an Introvert will have increased endurance when alone but decreased endurance when with a human companion. Kid Stuff, meanwhile, allows you to visit your parents’ home, though they’ll automatically take 10% of all the money you earn.

Starfield Map Size and Details

Planets

Starfield has over 100 star systems with over 1,000 planets (10% of which host life). While much of what you find across the galaxy is procedurally generated, Starfield also includes more handcrafted content than any previous BGS game, according to Todd Howard.

Cities

Starfield has four main cities. The most notable is New Atlantis, capital city of the United Colonies and the biggest settlement Bethesda has ever built. Other major cities include the pleasure city of Neon and the Freestar Collective capital Akila City. Bethesda has also revealed Cydonia, a United Colonies mining hub on Mars, and The Key, home of the Crimson Fleet.

Bethesda has confirmed you'll be able to buy or earn property in every major city.

Starfield Story Details

Main Story

Starfield’s main quest will take 30-40 hours to complete — roughly 20% longer than previous Bethesda Game Studios titles, according to Todd Howard. The game director called the main quest “a small fraction [of] what’s in the game.”

Starfield’s narrative is centered around exploration and discovery. Here’s the official story synopsis from Bethesda:

The year is 2330. Humanity has ventured beyond our solar system, settling new planets, and living as a spacefaring people. From humble beginnings as a space miner, you will join Constellation – the last group of space explorers seeking rare artifacts throughout the galaxy – and navigate the vast expanse of the Settled Systems.

The open-world RPG will include at least one of Bethesda’s signature “step-out moments,” such as exiting Vault 101 in Fallout 3.

Factions

You can join multiple factions in Starfield. In addition to Constellation, which players will join as part of the main quest, four of Starfield's major factions have been revealed to be joinable. Here are brief descriptions of each from lead quest designer Will Shen:

  • United Colonies: “the future of space republic idealized.”
  • Freestar Collective: “the space western fantasy.”
  • Ryujin Industries: “represents corporate life.”
  • Crimson Fleet: space pirates.

Religions are also featured in Stafield. In addition to real-life religions, Starfield features three fictitious systems of faith: Sanctum Universum (aka Universals), who believe God exists in the in-game universe; The Enlightened, who are "essentially organized atheists” that prioritize humanitarian efforts; and a mysterious sect called The Great Serpent.

Companions

Like in previous Bethesda RPGs, Starfield allows you to recruit companions and crew members to assist you on your adventure. These companions can travel with you or be assigned duties on a ship or outpost.

According to Todd Howard, there are four main companions (all of whom are from the Constellation faction) with individual questlines and romance options. Three of those characters have been confirmed: Constellation leader Sarah Morgan, Constellation pilot Sam Coe, and Constellation engineer Barrett. Other recruitable characters include the robot VASCO, the returning Adoring Fan, shotgun specialist Marika Boros, and outpost engineer Heller.

In total, there are “over 20 named characters” that can be recruited, according to the recent .

Will Starfield Have DLC?

Yes, like previous BGS games, Starfield will receive premium DLC/expansions. In fact, Bethesda has already announced the first story expansion, Shattered Space. It’s included with the Premium and Constellation Editions.

Todd Howard told IGN Bethesda is “going to be doing a lot of add-on content for Starfield.” He added, “Our plan is to do things of varying sizes, and we've done a lot of that in our previous games. So despite the size of the game, there are still things we want to add as far as features in the future or stories and things like that. Hopefully, it's going to continue for a long time that way.”

Starfield Creation 2 Engine

Starfield is the first Bethesda game built in its upgraded Creation 2 Engine.

"We have more people doing engine work now, by a factor of five, probably than we've ever had," Todd Howard said in 2020. "So the overhaul in our engine is the largest we've probably ever had, maybe larger than Morrowind to Oblivion."

Howard called Creation 2 a “significant, significant overhaul,” noting how the revamped engine will improve rendering, animation, pathing, and procedural generation, among other things.

The new engine has purportedly led to the fewest number of bugs in a Bethesda game, according to Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty, though it’s safest to take this statement with a grain of salt until Starfield is released.

"We have an awful lot of people internally playing Starfield, working with Todd and the team," said Booty. "I see bug counts and just by the numbers if it shipped today, Starfield would already have the fewest bugs of any Bethesda game ever shipped."

Starfield Mod Support

Starfield will have “full mod support,” according to Todd Howard. "Our modding community has been with us for 20 years,” he said. “We love what they do and hope to see more make a career out of it."

Howard said he and the development team believe Starfield “is going to be a dream” for the modding community given its breadth of content.

Starfield Special Editions and Preorders

Below is all of the information on Starfield preorders, including special editions.

Standard – $70 USD

Includes:

  • Starfield game
  • Old Mars Skin Pack DLC (included with Game Pass and preorders/early copies)
    • Laser Cutter, Deep Mining Helmet, and Deep Mining Pack

Premium (Digital) – $100 USD

Includes:

  • Starfield game
  • Five days early access
  • Shattered Space Story Expansion (upon release)
  • Starfield Digital Artbook & Original Soundtrack
  • Constellation Skin Pack DLC
    • Equinox Laser Rifle, Spacesuit, Helmet, and Boost Pack

Premium Edition Upgrade* – $35 USD

*Adds Premium content to base game purchase

Physical version

Includes:

  • Steelbook display case
  • Constellation patch
  • Five days early access
  • Shattered Space Story Expansion (upon release)
  • Starfield Digital Artbook & Original Soundtrack
  • Constellation Skin Pack DLC

Digital version

Includes:

  • Five days early access
  • Shattered Space Story Expansion (upon release)
  • Starfield Digital Artbook & Original Soundtrack
  • Constellation Skin Pack DLC

Constellation Edition – $300 USD

Physical items

  • Credit Stick with laser-etched Starfield game code
  • Starfield Chronomark watch
  • Watch case
  • Constellation patch
  • Steelbook display case

Digital Items

  • Five days early access
  • Shattered Space Story Expansion (upon release)
  • Starfield Digital Artbook & Original Soundtrack
  • Constellation Skin Pack DLC
Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (6)

Starfield Accessories

Wireless Controller

Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (7)

Xbox Wireless Controller – Starfield Limited Edition

Wireless Headset

Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (8)

Xbox Wireless Headset - Starfield Limited Edition

Seagate Hard Drive (2TB, 4TB, 8TB)

Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (9)

Special Edition Starfield: Seagate 2TB Hard Drive

Preorders now live. Release date TBC.

Jordan covers games, shows, and movies as a freelance writer for IGN.

Starfield: Release Date, Gameplay, Story, and Latest News - IGN (2024)

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