With Starfield’s launch now within touching distance, anticipation surrounding it hitting a fever pitch, and at Gamescom, Bethesda struck while the iron was hot and released several new details on the space-faring RPG. From new gameplay footage being released to interviews with a number of outlets, new details on Starfield have emerged from a number of sources over the last couple of days. Here, as we count the days down to the massive open world RPG’s launch, we’re going to go over all of those new details.
Bethesda Game Studios RPGs have something of a knack for delivering memorable openings, so what exactly can we expect from Starfield on that front? Well, thanks to several new hands-off previews, we know what the first thirty minutes or so of the game are going to entail- and it’s seemingly going to be a packed thirty minutes. As the game kicks off, you’ll find yourself a moon called Vectera, in an outpost run by mining company Argos. As a newbie, you’ll be guided through a tutorial section where you’ll mine some minerals using a cutter, before moving on to the real goal of the job at hand- recovering a strange alien artifact. When you touch the artifact though, you’re instantly bombarded with a strange, space-warping vision, after which you pass out. When you come to, you’re handed a tablet by fellow Argos employees, which is where you’ll create your character.
MORE DETAILS ON THE OPENING
That’s not all though, because there’s plenty else that happens in Starfield’s opening thirty minutes after you’ve created your character. First up is the famous “step out” moment that we’ve come to expect from BGS RPGs, which happens when you step out of the outpost and onto the surface of Vectera. Here, you meet up with Barret, an employee of the explorer group known as Constellation, which contracted Argos to look for the alien artifact. Barret isn’t alone though, because he’s been followed by Crimson Fleet pirates. What follows is a gunfight, then a conversation with Barret, who, after learning that you had a vision when you touched the artifact, recruits you as Constellation’s newest member. At this point, you take off from Vectera, have a dogfight in space with some more pirates, fly to New Atlantis, and head to Constellation’s HQ to meet with its other members and deliver the artifacts. Yep, that apparently all happens in just the first thirty minutes of the game.
WELL OVER 160 HOURS OF CONTENT
Bethesda Game Studios’ RPGs are guaranteed to be massive timesinks, and it’s not at all difficult to imagine someone pouring hundreds of hours into any one of them, much less dozens. Unsurprisingly, it seems Starfield is continuing that tradition. For instance, speaking recently at Gamescom, Bethesda’s Pete Hines said that he’d put around 160 hours into his Starfield playthrough, and that he was still nowhere close to having seen everything in the game. Of course, we do know that the game’s main story is supposed to be 30-40 hours long, but if it’s anything like past BGS titles, the main story is probably going to end up being only a fraction of the whole experience.
While it remains to be seen exactly how Starfield will differentiate between its quests and convey their importance to the experience, it seems at least one of those categories will be referred to as “Activities”- which will seemingly be smaller-scale quests or, well, activities as compared to something like a faction quest. According to the aforementioned Pete Hines, however, you definitely shouldn’t be ignoring them regardless of how unimportant they may seem on the surface. Speaking during Gamescom, he said, “My one piece of advice for folks is: do not ignore your activities. It feels like throwaway stuff that the game is giving you, but there is some amazing stuff in there that doesn’t even feel like a real quest but will take you to some amazing places, some amazing stories.”
MORE SIMILAR TO OBLIVION THAN SKYRIM
Skyrim is the game that BGS is most commonly associated with, and it is, of course, the watermark that all of the studio’s games in the years since its launch have been judged against. Starfield will end up in many such comparisons as well, but according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who spoke about the space RPG in a recent chat with IGN, it is, interestingly enough, actually much closer to Oblivion in terms of the sort of experience it offers than it is to Skyrim. Sadly, Spencer didn’t elaborate, so it remains to be seen what exactly he’s referring to, but hopefully, that means we can look forward to longer and more fleshed out faction questlines, similar to what Oblivion delivered.
WHY THE PROTAGONIST IS VOICELESS
We’ve known for a while now that Starfield is once again going to feature a voiceless protagonist, with the game dropping the new dialogue system that was introduced in Fallout 4 and going back to the one that BGS has used in all of its other games. As revealed in a recent GQ article, however, it was revealed that that wasn’t always the plan. As it turns out Bethesda did initially record dialogue for the protagonist, but ended up deciding to take it out of the game, because they felt it took too much away from player freedom and the game’s role playing aspects.
The aforementioned GQ article also provided some interesting new tidbits on the city of New Atlantis, the capital city of the United Colonies. Previously, it’s been confirmed that it’s going to be the biggest city ever in a Bethesda RPG, but what exactly can we expect to find there? Unsurprisingly, GQ describes it as BGS’ densest city to date with plenty of skyscrapers and bustling streets, and multiple districts that are set both above and beneath ground level. The upper district is where Constellation’s HQ is located, while there’s also a museum in the city where you can learn about the history of humanity over the course of three hundred years leading up to the game’s events.
BROADER EXPLORATION STRUCTURE
Exploring the massive open worlds of BGS RPGs is always a special experience, but Starfield is apparently going to deliver a broader and much more organic style of exploration. That’s according to director Todd Howard himself, who told GQ that the way players explore the Settled Systems in Starfield will be very different from the style of exploration in something like Skyrim. That will also come down to the level of variety that’ll be on offer across different locations- from the sci-fi aesthetic of New Atlantis to the bustling, cyberpunk-style streets of Neon, to the many moments of quiet awe that you’ll be able to find exploring Starfield’s vast space setting and its many uninhabited planets.
Mod support has been the lifeblood of Bethesda Game Studios’ titles for, well, forever, pretty much, and the studio intends to keep that going with Starfield. That’s something it’s said in the past, and it’s something Xbox boss Phil Spencer stressed again in a recent interview with IGN. When asked about community support and the modding scene for Starfield, he said, “I don’t want to disclose what the team has been thinking about, but obviously, when you’re BGS and you’ve seen the legs and the support that Skyrim gets, even today when you look at what the modders have done, it went into the thinking about what Starfield should be and proof will be out in terms of how people receive the game, but our hope is that it is another game that’s around a decade plus longer, later after it launches, and people are still enjoying it.”
NEW GAME PLUS
Something that BGS games have almost never done in the past (and absolutely never at launch) is feature a New Game Plus option- though that’s going to change with Starfield. Todd Howard has confirmed in his interview with GQ that Starfield will indeed feature a New Game Plus option right at launch. What exactly it will entail remains to be seen, but Howard did say it “adds a unique and exciting twist on New Game Plus to incentivize continued and repeat play”.