Years of waiting are finally about to end – we’re now right on the very cusp of being able to play Starfield, the brand new game from Bethesda Game Studios.
Starfield is going to be a huge science fiction RPG, and it’s the first brand-new setting that Bethesda has offered up in decades, since it’s been bouncing between Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. With release now imminent, here are all the key details.
Starfield release date
Bethesda finally gave a new final release date for Starfield in March 2023 – the game will come out on 6 September 2023.
While there have been quite a few delays in Starfield’s long path to release, the game has now gone gold and is available to pre-load on Xbox, so we’re now fully locked-in for that date.
Looking further back, Bethesda unveiled Starfield at E3 in 2018 with a teaser trailer that gave us very little to go on – it was only a minute long! That evocative name set the rumour mill going into overdrive, but there was no release date to go with it.
Later, though, we finally got a date – at E3 2021 Bethesda opened Xbox’s presentation with a longer trailer for the game and confirmed its release date as 11 November 2022. That was sadly revised in May 2022, when Bethesda delayed the game into the first half of 2023.
Starfield pre-orders and collector’s edition
Starfield is now up for pre-order at a whole bunch of retailers, at last – so you can get your order in to make sure you’re playing Bethesda’s space epic on launch day.
Pre-order the standard edition here if you don’t have Game Pass!
More excitingly, Xbox and Bethesda recently unveiled a pretty stunning collector’s edition, called the Constellation Edition, that packs the game with some superb extras, the highlight being a fully-working smartwatch that replicates one you’ll wear in the game.
Starfield Constellation Edition
This is the ultimate edition for a Bethesda fan who simply cannot wait for Starfield.
That much more expensive version also includes the game’s first story expansion, Shattered Space, and early access to game, along with a lovely presentation box and some more goodies.
What would have been a simple bit of estimation over the course of years has become more complicated when it comes to the game’s likely platforms. After all, Microsoft recently completed its blockbuster purchase of Bethesda, and big-name exclusives will surely have been one major motivator behind that.
That’s why it wasn’t a great surprise to get confirmation that the game will be exclusive to Xbox consoles and PC when it releases – Starfield will not be appearing on the PS4 or PS5.
Returning to the good side of that information, the game will also release straight onto Xbox Game Pass, so if you’re a subscriber to that service you’ll be able to play it at no additional cost immediately.
After waiting a long, long time for more information than the initial teasers, we’ve now seen a lot of Starfield thanks to a lengthy presentation dedicated to the game in June 2023 – Starfield Direct.
You can watch the whole thing above, and it’s well worth diving into if you’re curious about the game, since almost every aspect of it comes up at one point or another.
We can see space battles, exploration, character customisation, dialogue, questlines, combat on foot, the skill system, base construction, ship-building and much, much more.
It’s a much more detailed look at the game than the shorter gameplay reveal we got a year earlier, and Starfield looks visually much better than the older demo, too. We now know that it will run at 30FPS on Xbox consoles – at 4K on Xbox Series X and 1440p on Series S.
This older demo showcases a whole range of gameplay pillars that will make up Starfield, including glimpses of combat, the character creator, dialogue and exploration. We even get to see some ship-on-ship combat at the end.
Bethesda’s Todd Howard followed this up with an extensive interview with IGN in which he explores a lot of the aspects shown off in the trailer, so do check that out for more granular detail on some of what we’ll cover below.
The game looks to have some familiar elements to a Bethesda RPG – you can play in first or third-person view, for one. There is once again a skill tree and perk system, and you can choose your character’s background as well as every aspect of their appearance.
From there you’ll be able to set out into a galaxy of 1,000 fully-realised planets, all of which are visitable and which you can land on anywhere you choose. That’s a crazy amount of content to explore, and can only mean there’s some procedural generation going on.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bethesda drops more hand-crafted quests and areas into this playground. We know the game will have factions and a main story, although that’s still pretty mysterious at this point, involving the discovery of ancient artefacts. Howard has said he expects the main story to take 30-40 hours to finish, and that we’ll visit some detailed locations including New Atlantis, Bethesda’s biggest-ever city.
Base-building is returning from Fallout 4 and looks far more intuitive, although it’ll still potentially divide players into those who care and those who don’t.
There’s a full spaceship-building system that you can use, too, designing your ship exactly as you like, and that also means that you can indulge in some old-school dogfighting against other ships, something completely new for Bethesda to deal with. You won’t be able to fly directly from space onto the surface of a planet, though – Bethesda said the engineering cost of the feature just wasn’t worth it.
Crafting materials can be collected from all over the place to let you build your ship and other upgrades, while a research system will tackle tasks while you’re busy doing other things.
All of this is in a newly-upgraded game engine that certainly looks spectacular at certain moments, but it will also be key to see how Bethesda can manage performance for the game – buggy launches are part of its DNA, but we’d love to see Starfield launch with a smooth frame rate and few bugs.
The original Starfield teaser showed a planet before revealing a satellite that unfolds and zips through some sort of cosmic wormhole or gate.
The word “constellation” appears partially at the start, too – and it also comes back in the second trailer, this time referred to as a group of people. Todd Howard confirmed in an interview with The Telegraph that this group is key to the story, calling them a “last group of space explorers”.
The group is apparently one of several factions that the player will interact with in the game – a familiar concept to lovers of Bethesda’s previous RPGs. We’ve had short vignettes from the developer about some of the settlements that you’ll visit in Starfield, including New Atlantis, below, as well as Neon and Akila.
The clips are super short and only contain animated concept art, but they still give some hints about how the world of Starfield might operate, so it’s well worth checking them out alongside the longer gameplay demonstrations further up.
This all should see us taking on the role of a spacefarer or astronaut, and it’s clear that the discovery of ancient artefacts and sites of interest might be the spur that gets us into the main story of the game (a familiar plot device to Mass Effect fans).
We also know that you’ll make a custom character and, as confirmed during a Reddit discussion, the game will let you choose your pronouns and gender, with dialogue recorded to support whatever choices you opt for, a nice inclusive touch.
When it comes to dialogue, Bethesda revealed in October 2022 that it had passed the 250,000 mark in terms of lines of dialogue, more than twice the total present in Fallout 4, so we could be in for a whole lot of conversations.
This will be accompanied by a new persuasion system that’s a throwback to older games where you’re a little more informed about the choices you’re making, as you can see in the interview below.
In a few of the trailers and clips released so far, you can see glimpses of a tall robot that looks like a companion for the player, and that’s now been confirmed in the short trailer below.
It’s called Vasco, and can accompany the player as they explore, offering more storage and even a gentle bit of protection if fighting does break out. The robot’s distinctive design is impressive, and we’ll be interested to see what further gameplay implications Vasco has.