Everything we know about Starfield: Release window, platforms, gameplay, trailers

Concept art for the video game Starfield. At the bottom center is a glowing golden city with t talle skyscraper inthe middle. Light extends upwards to the top of the image. On the left is a close up of two astronauts faces. On the right the head of a blonde woman with shoulder length hair who is looking off to the top right. Below her there is a bulky humanoid-shaped robot.
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Aspiring astronauts rejoice, Bethesda’s long-awaited odyssey into space is finally just a few months away. While many of the details are nebulous at best, we’ve collected everything we know about Starfield to help you gain a better understanding of what you can expect from one of next year’s most eagerly anticipated games.

First of all, if you’re a fan of Bethesda’s flagship series The Elder Scrolls and Fallout then you’re in luck. While this is the first new IP the company has unveiled in over two decades, Bethesda boss Todd Howard has stated that it’s basically Skyrim in space, (opens in new tab) meaning existing fans should gel pretty well with the studio’s latest outing. Howard has also revealed that Bethesda has wanted to make a science-fiction game of this nature since at least the ‘90s, so Starfield has been an even longer time coming than The Elder Scrolls 6!

Thankfully, you won’t have to wait too much longer for Starfield, at least. If you’re excited about Bethesda’s first foray into the cosmos, look no further than our handy round-up of everything we know about Starfield so far. Be sure to bookmark this page too, as we’ll update it accordingly when more information inevitably becomes available as we edge ever nearer to the fast-approaching Starfield” release date. Speaking of which…

This is an artist's concept of the city of Neon from the Starfield video game from Bethesda. Here we see an offshore oil rig converted into a glam, futuristic city. There are large glass domes, lined with pillars that give off a golden glow.

This is an artist's concept of the city of Neon from Starfield. (Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield release date

Initially, Starfield was slated for release on November 11, 2022, or 11/11/22 if you like neat, easily memorable numeric arrangements, which is absolutely what the folks at Bethesda were originally going for. 

However, in May 2022, Bethesda officially announced that they made the decision to push back the launch of Starfield to the first half of 2023. We suspect that all the backlash from the less-than-perfect release of Cyberpunk 2077 in December 2020 has perhaps influenced their decision to delay the game. At time of writing, Starfield it has been confirmed for release on PC and Xbox Series X/S.

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Starfield platforms: Is Starfield an Xbox exclusive?

So, let’s get one thing straight. When a company pays $7.5 billion for another company, it’s only natural that the former company will no longer want its competitors to benefit from the latter one – that’s how mergers and acquisitions work. It’s also how, you know, actual money works.

Basically, yes, Starfield is exclusive to systems affiliated with Microsoft, meaning that you can play it either on PC or a current-gen Xbox console. Unfortunately, PS5 owners are out of luck this time around, and will probably face a similar fate when The Elder Scrolls 6 is announced in the 24th century, which is when Starfield is set.

This is an artist's concept of a shelf from the Starfield video game from Bethesda. On the shelf is an astronaut helmet with a 'Don't use' sticker on it, alongside some books (one titled 'The Constellation Spacefarer's Guide' ) and a small white case.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Oh, and to make the deal even sweeter for PC and Xbox owners, Starfield will be available to download for free via Game Pass on day one. All in all, it’s an Xbox console-exclusive that’s also playable on PC  — and, as was recently announced, Samsung smart TVs once they incorporate their own cloud-based Game Pass apps.. 

And if you’re one of those people who asks, “Is it coming to Switch?” about every game ever released in the history of the universe, we’re here to report that no, it is not. Sorry!

Starfield trailers

At time of writing, Bethesda has unveiled a bunch of different trailers for Starfield. You can easily access all of them through a curated playlist on the official Bethesda YouTube channel (opens in new tab), although we’re going to briefly break down the important bits of each one to give you a better idea of which specific trailers you should check out for yourself.

The first trailer (opens in new tab) came out in June 2018, and mostly just served as a “Yes, this game exists!” kind of thing. “Also, space!” There’s not a whole lot of other stuff to get your hands dirty with here.

Almost three years to the day later, however, we got the first of several regular updates confirming that the game was not only on track, but well into development. Shortly thereafter, we were briefly introduced to three worlds – Neon (opens in new tab), New Atlantis (opens in new tab), and Akila City (opens in new tab) – in August 2021, before receiving details about the game’s setting and factions in October and the first episode (opens in new tab) of an until-now three-part series called Into the Starfield (opens in new tab) in November. Phew!

Thought we were finished? Oh yes, there’s more. February 2022 saw the unveiling of a short clip on the art of Starfield, (opens in new tab)  while March featured the second episode of Into the Starfield (opens in new tab), which predominantly focused on the game’s RPG elements. We got a teaser trailer in April (opens in new tab) 2022 while also being introduced to a robot companion named Vasco (opens in new tab), before finally gaining access to Into the Starfield episode three, which focused on the game’s score. This is composed by none other than Inon Zur, who many Bethesda fans likely already know from his work on Fallout. Aside from an extended gameplay demo — which we’ll discuss in detail in a minute —And that, dear reader, finally brings us up to date. 

Starfield plot & setting

This is an artist's concept of the city of New Atlantis from the Starfield video game from Bethesda. Here we see a space port at nighttime. In the foreground, to the left, there is a pilot standing next to their large grey spaceship. In the background is a big, towering futurist city twinkling with lights.

This is an artist's concept of the city of New Atlantis from Starfield. (Image credit: Bethesda)

Just because we’re up to date with Starfield trailers doesn’t mean we’re finished talking about it. After all, this article is quite literally supposed to include “everything we know about Starfield,” which naturally includes all the info we’ve gleaned about the plot and setting so far.

Starfield, you may have guessed, is set in space – specifically, the Settled Systems, which were originally unveiled as part of one of the trailers listed above. This is where humanity is at home in the cosmos, comprising multiple planets that will be traversable as part of the game’s story. We already know about some of these planets, too – New Atlantis is home to the United Colonies faction, while the Freestar Collective reside in Akila City.

That’s an important point to consider as well. Like most Bethesda games, Starfield is set to place enormous emphasis on the disparity between its factions, many of whom will shape the trajectory of your story via their disputes with one another. At the time in which Starfield is set (the 24th century) there is tension between the two core factions, although they aren’t actively at war… anymore. Who knows what will happen the longer you explore the Settled Systems, eh?

This is an artist's concept for Starfield, a video game by Bethesda. Here we see an astronaut exploring a jungle-like planet. They look very small compared to surrounding giant vegetation (giant leads, vines, tree branches).

This is an artist's concept for a jungle-like planet for Starfield. (Image credit: Bethesda)

Aside from the two factions in New Atlantis and Akila City, there are also a bunch of smaller, more roguish alliances floating about. These include corpos, pirates, religiously fundamentalist kind-of-cultists – you get the gist.

Meanwhile, the third planet we’ve seen, Neon, speaks to how hard we can expect the actual science-fiction to be. We think you should watch the video linked above to see what we mean for yourself, but if you need convincing, it’s pretty Huxley-esque in that it’s home to a special kind of hallucinogenic fish. Soma, but it’s mackerel. Brilliant.

Oh, and did we mention your robot companion? We did? Okay, but we’re still going to mention it again on account of the fact it’s a robot companion. You’ll probably have access to lots of other followers too, but Vasco is basically a mix of Dogmeat and Mister Handy – what more could you want from the technological prowess of 2330?

It’s also worth noting that as of Xbox and Bethesda’s June showcase, we know that our mission is to join Constellation, the last group of space explorers. It appears that much of Starfield’s main story will revolve around unearthing mysterious artefacts in various different systems in order to determine their purpose. Honestly, it all sounds a bit weird.

What type of game is Starfield?

This is an artist's concept for Starfield, a video game by Bethesda. Here we get a glimpse of a shady night market. It is very dark, illuminated by several colorful neon signs. To the left there is a merchant selling small, alien creatures to eat. The street isn't too crowded, but there are a fair few people further down the street.

Starfield concept art showing a cyberpunk-looking marketplace. (Image credit: Bethesda)

This shouldn’t be surprising for the vast majority of existing Bethesda fans, but if you’re a newcomer to the studio’s games who is mainly interested in Starfield because of its sci-fi setting, it will be helpful to know that it’s a role-playing game (RPG).

It’s not just any RPG, either. In general, regardless of how you personally feel about them, Bethesda RPGs are among the most famous in the world. Skyrim has been ported to everything short of the Mars Rover, while Fallout is known all over the world for its atompunk setting and not-as-quirky-as-when-we-were-all-15 humor. (It’s worth noting that the Starfield aesthetic was internally dubbed “NASA-punk,” (opens in new tab) which is… certainly almost a word!)

From what we’ve seen and heard so far, it seems Starfield will be quite a bit deeper than previous – or, at the very least, recent – Bethesda games. Despite being described as “Skyrim in space,” we know that it’s heavily inspired by the kind of classic RPG foundations that Bethesda’s flagship series were initially built upon, as well as being more grounded than the studio’s most famous fantasy epic. We’re expecting heavy emphasis to be placed on gear, stats, exploration, and so on, all of which will culminate in a highly customizable adventure through space that will be unique to your own personal choices and interests.  That’s definitely helped by the fact Todd Howard recently stated that Starfield has the studio’s “most flexible” character customization suite yet. 

This is an artist's concept for Starfield, a video game by Bethesda. Here we see a rocky, moon surface. Just off in the distance, in front of some mountains, is a spaceship parked next to a base. Above you can see a deep blue sky filled with stars and a glare of light to the right.

We can't wait to explore the many different environments that Starfield will have to offer. (Image credit: Bethesda)

That’s not to say Starfield won’t be anything like modern Fallout or The Elder Scrolls. In fact, episode two of Into the Starfield specifically mentioned that it will feature a dialogue minigame not unlike those that have become typical of Bethesda’s overarching style. If you’re the kind of person who regularly tries to exploit speech checks in Bethesda games, Starfield appears to be experimenting with the formula in new and intriguing ways – something that’s further compounded by the fact it has over double the amount of dialogue as Skyrim.

And that’s pretty much all there is to know about Starfield right now. There have been some other rumors on social media, although it’s probably best to ignore them. In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye out on what Bethesda officially has to say about the game over the next few months and update this article accordingly with whatever new information comes to light. For now, we’re all looking forward to seeing what will happen in the first half of 2023.

Starfield gameplay

As mentioned above, we recently got to see an extended gameplay demo for Starfield at Xbox and Bethesda’s June showcase (opens in new tab). While Starfield is certainly comparable to previous Bethesda games -- the transition from your ship to a boundless lunar wasteland looks somewhat akin to Fallout’s famous “step out into the world” moments — there are also plenty of new ideas on display here, too. It’s no wonder Todd Howard has explicitly labelled Starfield as Bethesda’s “most ambitious game ever.” 

The gameplay demo we saw starts on Kreet, a moon of Anselon. After touching down with Vasco the robot — again, the Starfield equivalent of Dogmeat — you’re tasked with locating and infiltrating an abandoned research facility that, as it turns out, has been commandeered by a bunch of space pirates. Definitely the kind of objective we’ve come to expect from a typical Bethesda RPG.

Moment-to-moment play is fairly straightforward, too. While Starfield is predominantly a first-person shooter, you also have the option to switch to third-person if you’re more into Mass Effect than Metro. It’s worth noting that combat appears to involve multiple variables outside of just shootybangs. In the trailer, we can clearly see that gravity affects the speed and distance of your jumps, and that you can even dash mid-flight to execute some nifty aerial acrobatics. There are standard pistols, but we also got to see automatic weapons and a snazzy space shotgun. If combat is as fast-paced and fluid as it looks in the Kreet trailer, Bethesda fans will be eating well when Starfield finally drops next year.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Bethesda RPG without other role-playing staples like crafting. While you’re exploring planets — which is aided by a compass that also tracks oxygen and carbon dioxide levels — you can survey the area around you to locate minerals and materials, which can then be collected and later used to develop new technologies, weapon mods, and more. We specifically got to see the laser-cutting tool used to extract dense metals like iron. There also appear to be various other minor systems that have become common in both Bethesda games and RPGs at large — for example, Starfield’s take on lockpicking is called “digipicking,” which is obviously a very spacey name. Much galactic! Very cosmos!

There’s also a Fallout 4-style emphasis on building outposts, which function as homes away from home on alien planets. These will aid you both in terms of general survival and resource acquisition, and can be operated by teams of NPCs you personally select. You’ll want to make sure you keep your favorite characters’ hands free though, because you’ll probably want them to staff your ship instead. 

As in, yes, you can design, build, and fly your own ship in Starfield. Once it’s ready, you can fly offworld to participate in all kinds of spacey shenanigans, including high-octane intergalactic battles. Once you’ve sent your mark to their maker, it’s time to make your way to one of the game’s 1,000 different planets, all of which can be landed upon and explored individually. And they called Skyrim never-ending…

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Cian Maher is a freelancer writer based in Dublin, Ireland who will literally not stop talking about The Witcher 3 - it's only a matter of time before he hits us with a space-based Witcher 3 pitch.