Bethesda Game Studios’ Starfield releases worldwide on September 6th (or a day earlier, depending on your time zone) for Xbox Series X/S and PC. However, several players have likely purchased the Premium Edition, which gives five days of early access and allows them to jump in on September 1st. Considering the hype, it’s understandable for anyone to want to get in right now, what with the +1000 planets to explore, companions to meet, ships to design and potential for shenanigans.
In the meantime, why not look back on all the cool examples of attention to detail that the space-faring RPG touts? From how natural the various creatures act to the effects of gravity on the player, there are several things worth getting up to speed on. Let’s check out 20 of them here based on the Starfield Direct Deep Dive from June and official interviews with the development team.
Jump Height and Gravity
As noted in the Starfield Direct, each planet has different gravity. You’ll have a boost pack for getting around, but based on the footage, your jump height is affected by gravity (just like in real life. Who would have guessed?). This opens up interesting possibilities for exploration and combat, as seen in subsequent gameplay where you’re floating around, gunning down enemies or tossing mines to deliver death from above. Of course, it also means that some areas will be easier to explore than others, especially if we believe director Todd Howard’s statements on boost packs being viable modes of transport.
Ballistics and Recoil in Zero-G Environments
Environments without gravity have also been showcased and offer “different” challenges. The boost pack could be even more essential here for dictating your overall momentum, but there’s another way to change directions: Ballistic weapons. The recoil of ballistic weapons is strong enough when firing that you’re pushed back in Zero-G environments. It may seem inconvenient at times but could also allow for some impromptu retreating when you need it most (or cause you to get backed into a corner and die).
Laser Weapons in Zero-G
If you’re not a fan of being pushed here and there in Zero-Gen environments, you can switch to energy weapons for more control. However, there are several things to consider, from finding or crafting an energy weapon beforehand to the enemies faced during the mission. Some foes could very well be resistant to energy weapon damage, making it necessary to have a ballistic or the new Mag weapons on hand. Armor-piercing and Explosive rounds were already spotted during the Deep Dive for combat, so there will likely be several scenarios where both are preferred, regardless of gravity.
Scanning Creatures to Learn Their Attacks
Scanning is immensely valuable, not only for analyzing your environment but also for determining the different resources that plants and creatures provide. However, the Deep Dive also showcased that fully scanning a creature gives insight into its health and abilities. For instance, the Hunting Sailgator has a ranged mouth attack and a Wary temperament, so it’ll treat you cautiously. The same goes for the Swarming Dragon, except it can deal burning damage and has double the health (but resides in different biomes). Before getting into fights or harvesting resources, it’s a good idea to improve your scanning to know more about what you’re up against.
Creatures Grazing in the Wild
While we haven’t seen too much footage of how creatures interact with each other, they do more than wander around a planet’s surface. Some will graze the fields and can ignore your presence based on their temperament. Of course, we’ve seen some hostile creatures brutally attack others, but how often that occurs in the wild remains to be seen.
Parents Mirror the Player
Traits are a pretty cool addition to the average Bethesda RPG experience, allowing for additional benefits (and detriments) to your character. Kid Stuff is the most interesting because it lets you visit your parents with a portion of your earnings going towards them. In a recent Q&A on Discord, designer Emil Pagliarulo and design director Will Shen also confirmed that their faces will match your character. “Just as we did in Fallout 3 with your dad, and in Fallout 4 with your son, in Starfield, if you take the Kid Stuff Trait, your parents are based on you,” said Pagliarulo.
Ships are customizable with various modules, from living quarters and cargo holds to weapons, shields and engines. While customization can alter its stats, there is a way to compensate if you need an extra boost in a specific department: Diverting power. As seen in the Deep Dive, there are six gauges, three for weapons and the remaining for the engine, shield and grav drive. Each weapon type can be boosted separately for more damage, but boosting the engine makes you faster. Divert power to the grav drive, and the time needed for jumps is reduced (which can be clutch in an emergency where you’re dangerously outmatched).
Targeting Specific Ship Systems
Skills in Starfield are for more than just exploration or dealing more damage. They also influence space combat in different ways. For instance, pick up the Targeting Control System Skill to target individual systems on an enemy ship. It allows for potentially destroying its shield to reduce defenses or the engine to stop it from moving. While Bethesda hasn’t confirmed that enemies can do the same to you, it stands to reason that such a thing should be possible, so think twice before initiating jumps in the heat of battle.
While selecting planets to visit, a range of information is available at the outset, from its type and gravity to the temperature and atmosphere. However, you can also check which resources it contains, the amount of flora and fauna, the recommended level and more. When seeking specific resources to mine, this should help. It’s also valuable information when setting up an outpost or trying to survive since extreme temperatures could pose different threats.
Interestingly, water is also mentioned and can have conditions like radioactive, safe and so on. Bethesda hasn’t explicitly showcased underwater exploration (though there’s no fishing), but mentioning how safe water is indicates some interaction. Perhaps it’s relevant for harvesting H2O, listed as one of many planetary resources. Time will tell, but maybe don’t jump into the first radioactive lake you find.
Constellation Watch HUD
This is a little observation that many have already picked up on, but the lower left icon on your screen, which showcases your O2 and CO2 levels, resembles your Constellation watch. It also displays the planet’s name, temperature and gravity, which is useful if you didn’t memorize the details before touching down.
Sniping and O2 Depletion
Speaking of O2, it impacts gameplay elements in some interesting ways. When you hold your breath to steady aim, the O2 meter will start depleting. It’s a nice touch and could influence your ability to sneak around and snipe effectively.
Speed and Weapon Ammo on Targeting Reticle
During space combat, your targeting reticle provides a healthy amount of information, like your current speed, ammo for ballistic and laser weapons (which appear to be cooldown-based) and more. Again, nothing shocking, but it’s sleek and doesn’t feel obtrusive, especially when dipping and dodging around in space.
One interesting ground-based combat interaction is at 38 minutes and 54 seconds of the Deep Dive, as the player shoots a container that immediately freezes and affects a nearby enemy. It may be water immediately freezing in a super-cold environment, but it may also be liquid nitrogen, given the setting. Regardless, it’s cool and showcases how using the environment against enemies is a viable strategy.
Factions Can Place Bounties on You
At about 33 minutes and 25 seconds in the Deep Dive, where planets are selected to explore, the upper-right corner denotes the faction controlling a system. In this case, it’s the Freestar Collective, which has an uneasy peace with the United Systems following several past conflicts. Players can have a bounty on their heads, as indicated in the top right, so you could face trouble when landing on a Freestar planet or roaming its colonies.
Go to Jail or Resist Arrest
In the same Discord Q&A, Shen and Pagliarulo confirmed that you could face arrest and go to jail (though it’s possible to pay a fine). Resisting arrest is an option, though how you go about it and what impact it could have on any existing bounties remains to be seen.
Fly Away With Boarded Ships
Boarding ships is a thing in outer space, but if you’re not in a friendly mood, you could enter and gun down all the inhabitants. You can take their ship as your own. However, you don’t need to abandon your vessel. As seen in the Deep Dive, you fly your ship with the other still attached, which should make for easier selling. Is it possible to fly away with the other person’s ship without even boarding them, forcefully relocating them? We certainly can’t wait to find out.
Registered and Unregistered Ships
However, it’s worth noting that ships are marked as registered and unregistered. The former could mean that stealing a ship could flag you, potentially resulting in a bounty. Whether a ship registered to the United Colonies can be sold to the Freestar Collective or not (and vice versa) is unknown, but if looking to make big bucks, unregistered ships may be a better option. Will anyone care if you slaughtered a bunch of space pirates and then sold their ships for profit? Probably not, but you may think twice before doing the same with a luxury ship.
At around 35 minutes and 42 seconds of the Deep Dive, the HUD in the lower left corner showcases “cough”, which could be a status effect. Given the yellow portion of the health gauge, this may be a debuff that you could receive in hazardous environments (not unlike Rads in Fallout 4, which temporarily reduces your max health). There’s also soreness, but no indication of its impact is showcased. How you deal with these is also unknown, so let’s hope the nearest cities and towns have robust medical care.
Light Calculated in Real Time
It wasn’t explicitly confirmed whether there’s dynamic weather in Starfield or not (though we’ve seen conditions such as rain). However, director Todd Howard mentioned in the Deep Dive that light is calculated in real-time through the atmosphere as a planet moves around the sun. The overall goal with the lighting is to make the game feel “more cinematic” and filmic, but this adds an extra bit of realism when exploring outside.