The Xbox and Bethesda Showcase finally revealed official gameplay for Starfield. With a runtime of 15 minutes, the trailer provided an in-depth look at planet exploration and space travel, combat, a vast character creation system and more.
The trailer starts off with a space farer landing on a desolate moon called Kreet. A companion robot affectionately known as Vasco exits alongside the player revealing a rocky world, scattered with primitive alien life and fauna which our adventurer starts scanning, this is where the game steeps into somewhat familiar territory, harkening to popular survival title No Man’s Sky – more on this later.
Gameplay progresses to an abandoned research lab filled with nefarious space pirates. Here is where we experience combat, weapons, and the progression systems in action. Experience seems to be linked to your actions, kills gain XP, and a loot system is in place that requires the player to pick locks on weapon cases, while a jetpack can be used to propel yourself toward enemies. I remember a similar gameplay mechanic being used in Mass Effect Andromeda, allowing you to effectively ‘bob and weave’ through enemies, or even reach higher ground and gain a vantage point against them. It would be interesting to see how fleshed out the mechanic will be in Starfield.
The action-packed sequence then shifts to New Atlantis, a capital city where we meet who we assume are members belonging to the Constellation. A conversation ensues, talks of mysterious artefacts and ‘visions,’ possibly alluding to the game’s main plot.
Todd Howard then presented Starfield’s character creation system, which he claims is the “most flexible yet,” allowing you to customise all the elements of how you look such as skin tone and facial features and body type to name a few. You can then pick up a background that gives you three starting skills, these seems to affect how NPC react to you in the virtual world. There are also optional traits, each coming with unique advantages or disadvantages, and an intricate weapon crafting system – anyone familiar with Fallout series will feel right at home with how these systems come in to play.
Finally, we get a glimpse of space exploration, and yes Bethesda allows for full control of your ship, allowing players to freely explore and land anywhere on any of the stated 1,000 planets. Additionally, you can completely customize the look and layout of your cabin, building it from a variety of ship manufacturers. A ship needs a crew, and Bethesda grants you the ability to hire members you meet across your journeys. Neat!
While only touched upon, it seems that creating your own outpost on uninhabited lands is possible, and you’ll be able to purchase and create your own homes, although to what extent we cannot yet confirm.
Time to address the elephant in the room; sentiments toward the game seem mixed, with some billing it as ‘No Man’s Skyrim’. I see nothing wrong with this, space is the final frontier. Since our adventurer belongs to a faction called the Constellation, a last vestige of space explorers who seek to discover mysterious artefacts across the galaxy, it makes sense that your journey would lead to previously uncharted territory.
Besides, I personally love Hello Games’ space survival romp, but it sorely lacked a focused narrative, and that’s where these two games forge different paths. A space opera akin to Skyrim and Fallout with fully fleshed-out mechanics allowing me to explore the universe, discover deeply curated lore, as if I’m Star Trek’s Captain Kirk? Beam me up, Scotty!
Starfield will be available within the first half of 2023 on Xbox Series X/S and PC.