Bethesda Game Studios’ RPGs can capture an incredible sense of scale and size the way very few other studios in this industry are able to do with their games, but even by those lofty standards, it looks like the upcoming Starfield is going to be absolutely massive. And with the abundance of systems and mechanics and oodles of content that the game will be comprised of, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of details that have been released about it by the developers that are well worth looking into. As we count the days down to Starfield’s launch, here, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing.
The rich lore and backstory of BGS RPGs is something we can never quite get enough of, and recently, the developer shared a timeline detailing nearly three hundred years of backstory leading up to the events of Starfield. The game is set in the year 2330, and the timeline begins in 2050, when humans first land on Mars, before having colonized space 50 years later, by 2100. The timeline also covers humanity’s arrival in the Alpha Centauri system in 2156, where the United Colonies – the largest established government in the Settled Systems – is established in the year 2159. The city of New Atlantis is founded on the planet Jemison in 2160, before becoming the official capital of UC in 2161.
MORE TIMELINE DETAILS
The history of other core factions is also detailed in the timeline that Bethesda recently revealed- like the Freestar Collective, the second-largest established government in the Settled Systems, which is officially founded in 2188 in its capital Akila City. A conflict between the two factions comes to a head in 2196 and is dubbed the Narion War. After dragging on for 20 years, the Narion War is resolved when the two sign a treaty, and the Settled Systems are officially formalized by law. Constellation, a faction of explorers that will be central to Starfield’s main story, is established in 2275, while in 2307, UC and the Freestar Collective come into conflict again, beginning the Colony War. This war, however, doesn’t last nearly as long as the last one, and officially ends in the year 2311, roughly two decades before Starfield’s events kick off.
Player housing is generally an excellent bonus, but in massive games that let you thoroughly immerse yourselves in their realities, it almost becomes something of a necessity. Of course, it’s also something that Bethesda is big on, and that’s going to be doubly true in Starfield. The developers have confirmed that players can get houses in every major city in the game. Some of these have to be purchased, while some are earned by completing quests.
BACKGROUNDS AND TRAITS
BGS has spent plenty of time talking about how Starfield will allow players to shape their characters by selecting Backgrounds and Traits for them. From determining a brief backstory for your character to granting unique perks based on that backstory to adding additional gameplay or story-related perks, Backgrounds and Traits will give you plenty of control over the sort of character you want to shape. You can, however, also make a character with no Backgrounds or Traits whatsoever, and play through all of Starfield as a complete blank slate.
KIDS STUFF TRAIT
One of several Traits that players will be able to choose for their characters is Kids Stuff, which will add your parents as characters in the game that you can go and visit (and routinely send money to). In fact, BGS has also confirmed that similar to how your dad’s face in Fallout 3 or your son’s face in Fallout 4 was based on what you made your character look like, your parents’ faces in Starfield will also be different and be based on your character’s custom appearance.
In Starfield’s massive setting, players are going to have the freedom to be any number of different things. For those less inclined to abide by the laws of the Settled System, being a smuggler is very much on the table as well. But how exactly will the law push back against your smuggling activities? That’s where the Contraband system comes in, where certain items will be considered contraband no matter where you go. Anytime you fly close to a major settlement, security ships in orbit will scan your cargo for contraband, which means aspiring smugglers will have to purchase special ship modules that can hide illegal possessions from those scans. Contraband can be sold for high profits, and though the economy of items will remain fixed, players will be able to fetch higher prices by unlocking and upgrading certain Skills.
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s played a BGS game, but yes, Starfield will have a jail system as well. Anytime you’re caught committing a crime, you’ll have the option to either pay a fine or go to jail and serve whatever sentence you’ve managed to build up through your actions. Of course, you’ll also have the option to resist arrest and make a run for it.
PACIFIST PLAYTHROUGH NOT POSSIBLE
Anytime a game emphasizes choice and consequence mechanics the way most BGS games do (and the way Starfield is going) the question of whether a pacific, non-lethal playthrough will be possible comes up. Where Starfield is concerned, the developers have said it won’t be. Though players will be able to avoid killing characters in several situations through either using non-lethal weapons or through persuasion checks in dialogue options, a fully non-lethal playthrough won’t be possible.
There’s plenty of different factions scattered throughout the Settled Systems, and their different goals and motivations will often bring them in conflict with each other- so does that mean you’ll only be able to align yourself with one or the other? Not exactly. Like most BGS titles, Starfield will let you play and complete faction quests independently of each other. In some cases, however, there might be certain points where two factions come into direct conflict and you’re forced to make a choice- like infiltrating the Crimson Fleet as an undercover agent for the UC, and eventually having to decide which one of them you want to side with.
In addition to governments and corporations, Starfield’s factions are also going to have more spiritual leanings. Largely, these will revolve around three factions- Sanctum Universum, which believes that a higher power most definitely exists out there, and that humanity being able to travel the universe is further proof of that; the Enlightened, who don’t believe in a higher power and instead center their philosophy around self-reliance; House Va’ruun, a group of zealots who’ve devoted themselves to a celestial entity known as the Great Serpent, which may or may not actually exist.
Companions have traditionally played an important role in Bethesda Game Studios’ titles, but with Starfield, it seems the developer is putting an even greater emphasis on them. In a recent Q&A on Discord, design director Emil Pagliarulo said, “When we first began Starfield pre-production, we looked back at our previous games, and realized how popular and effective the companions were. So they were a big priority for us, and we really wanted to tie them directly to the main quest. There are some really big moments with them specifically.”
In total, there will be 20 named recruitable companions in Starfield, though not all of them will be equally important- which brings us to our next point.
Of the 20 named recruitable companions in Starfield, four will be the most important and will have the most story-related interactions with the player, and all four will be Constellation members. That said, every named companion will have their own unique backgrounds, and will be able to accompany you when you’re out exploring.
CREW MEMBERS AND OUTPOSTS
Building outposts is going to be a major feature in Starfield, which we’ve known for a while, while players will also be able to hire and assign crew members to different outposts to ensure their maintenance. How exactly will that work as a transaction though? According to the devs, you won’t have to worry about paying them regular salaries, and will instead pay them a one-time up-front cost. Using speech checks or certain Skills, you’ll also be able to negotiate lower payments.
All of your companions and crew members in Starfield will also come with unique Skills of their own that will apply to things related to combat and your ship, from being proficient with certain weapons to giving a boost to your ship’s shields and more. While it won’t be possible to upgrade their Skills with time, their Skills will, when relevant, stack with yours, which means that will be something you can choose to factor into your strategy when deciding the makeup of your party. Or you could just go it alone and have no companions. That’s alright, too.
Starfield is right around the corner now, with a global launch set for September 6- though Premium or Constellation owners will get access six days early, on August 31. Xbox Series X/S players can already pre-load the game, as can PC players who’ll be playing through the Windows Store. Meanwhile, if you intend to play Starfield through Steam, you’ll have to wait for pre-loading to become available until August 30, a day before the game’s early access release.
You’ll definitely want to get the game downloaded and installed in full ahead of time as well, given its meaty size. On Xbox Series X/S, the game is 100.19 GB. Meanwhile, on PC, it’s 125 GB if you play via Steam, and a whopping 139.84 GB if you play via the Windows Store.