There are still several games to look forward to in the coming weeks, but perhaps the most anticipated game for several players is Starfield. Not only is it Bethesda’s first new IP in over 25 years, but it’s also incredibly obscene in scale, with over 1000 planets to explore, spaceships to build, and a whole range of options to create your character. The fact that it releases on September 6th for Xbox Series X/S and PC, just a few weeks away, is almost surreal.
While Bethesda has yet to host another information blowout like June’s Starfield Direct, there are still several things you should know before its launch. Check out 15 of them here.
Similar Feeling to Red Dead Redemption 2
Despite being a venerable first for Bethesda Game Studios, Starfield has already been compared to Mass Effect and No Man’s Sky. It’s understandable with the overlap in similar systems. However, while director Todd Howard felt the minute-to-minute gameplay was akin to The Elder Scrolls or Fallout, he thinks the overall feeling is akin to Red Dead Redemption 2.
“Believe it or not, it’s the games that put you in a world, that transport you to a place. I think it probably has more of a feeling of Red Dead 2,” he said to IGN. “Like, I’m living the Western fantasy. So in this, you are living this science fiction explorer fantasy. Sometimes that’s being on a barren planet, and nothing is going on, and all that. So for me, it’s the games where I feel I am rooted in the reality of this universe of the game, and everything else kind of disappears.”
Of course, Starfield isn’t the only title to take inspiration from Rockstar’s magnum opus – even younger developers on Nintendo’s team were playing Red Dead Redemption 2 when working on The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Hopefully, you can fulfill that Firefly role-playing fantasy (with some appropriate gear to match).
Multiple Biomes on Planets
By now, you probably already know the statistics – over 1000 planets to explore, from massive cities to barren ice balls with nothing going on. However, while some will only have a single biome, others may have several more, with tweaks to the temperate, radiation, etc.
“We look at all of those things on a planet for your suit and your protection,” said Howard to Kinda Funny Games. “You can get certain ailments if you’re not ready, and certain weather things can come through with all that. There are obviously planets that might have one type of biome, and there are planets that have a whole bunch and the creatures, and the plants and everything go with the biomes.”
Want to spend your time surveying these planets and taking in the various flora and fauna, maybe discovering the resources? Go ahead, especially since you can get a “lot of money” for fully surveying a planet in-game.
10 Percent of All Planets Have Life
The development process behind some planets, especially for those with predators and “more peaceful creatures” was interesting, since the former would often kill the latter. While this has been balanced (and they’re just as likely to come after you), not every planet will have life. Howard confirmed that roughly 10 percent of the over 1000 planets would have life, which still leaves about 100 or so planets to explore. Speaking to Kinda Funny, he noted, “For us, we view it as giving you [that choice].
“When you look at a system, here’s the menu of things you could do. And like science – and we’re pushing it – about 10 percent of those planets have life on them. We’re pushing it to the edge of, ‘what do people think what planets are in that Goldilocks zone versus planets that have resources?’” While there will be things to do on a barren planet, Bethesda wants to capture that feeling of “magnificent desolation.” “I think there’s a certain beauty to landing on those and feeling, ‘I’m one of the only people or the only person to ever visit this planet.’”
No Planetside Vehicles or Mounts
Unfortunately, you won’t be exploring these massive landscapes with a Rover or even taming an alien creature to use as a mount. Howard confirmed their absence and said the team wanted to design it so that on-foot navigation felt good. Then again, there is the Boost Pack, which “almost acts like this vehicle.” It allows for flying, and you can unlock some skills to presumably improve it. While this should work on low-gravity planets and environments, whether it’s a strong substitute for mounts remains to be seen.
Role-Playing Depth and Replay Value
One of the biggest complaints with titles like Fallout 4 is the lack of more in-depth role-playing options. Howard previously admitted that Starfield will be more of a hardcore RPG, and we’ve seen that with the Backgrounds, Traits and Skills that players can spec into. He told Kinda Funny, “We’ve done several games over the decades that have various character systems, and I think we’ve learned a lot in terms of ‘how does it feel when you start a game? What are those first choices like before you understand what the actual rules of the game are?’ That’s always a trick to get right.”
Incorporating enough depth for those playing 20, 50, 100 or even 500 hours is also important, but he thinks “We’ve hit a real sweet spot with Starfield of giving you that flavor right out of the gate, where you pick some starting skills, with your background. But that also has flavor – people want to role-play. They don’t want to see it as a list of numbers.” So if you’re ever looking for a different approach on a future playthrough, the game will facilitate that.
There’s bad news for those hoping that the vast frontiers of space allow for catching various extraterrestrial fish. Todd Howard confirmed to Kinda Funny that it won’t be a thing. Granted, it sounds like you can kill and collect fish, but you won’t get a fishing rod and cast lines to engage in a battle of wits to capture said fish. Modders could add it in the future, but time will tell.
Of course, you have plenty of other things to do while wandering through space. Bethesda producer Jamie Mallory confirmed Mission Boards, which allows players to tackle “exciting challenges.” What exactly that entails is unknown, and while it could be similar to the Radiant Quests of previous Bethesda titles, there’s hope that it’s something like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, where you acquire quests and Contracts from boards across various locations. Again, time will tell.
A “Modder’s Paradise”
While Bethesda games are massive experiences in their own right, the mods that extend their longevity way beyond what should be realistically feasible. Look at Skyrim and how it continues to live on with its new quests, improvements, graphical revamps, overhauls and more. It seems Starfield could one up that with Howard proclaiming it a “modder’s paradise.”
“I think Starfield is going to be kind of a modder’s paradise,” he told Kinda Funny. “It’s part of our DNA here, we’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and [we have] our community around that. We’ve usually been classically single-player, that has been our community, and people are still modding our games and playing them. So we’re doing a lot of it.” It’s not confirmed whether Starfield will launch with modding tools, so stay tuned.
Like Fallout, you can expect several different weapon manufacturers with unique flairs and functions. Lead weapons artist Dane Olds provided details on Combatech and how their compact nature makes them “optimized for space travel.” “That meant trying to reduce weight as much as possible and making things as compact as possible so they could fit aboard the cramped confines of a spaceship.
“As a result, our Combatech weapons are created from light-weight metal alloys and polymers and are mostly bullpup designs.” If in line with real-world bullpup firearms, players can probably expect guns similar to the FN P90 SMG or rifles like the Steyr AUG and FAMAS F1.
FSR2 for Image Processing and Upscaling
Last June, Bethesda confirmed it was working “hand-in-hand”, with AMD to optimize the Xbox Series X/S and PC versions for the latter’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs and Radeon 7000 GPUs. It may seem out of left field until Howard revealed that the team created “all new technology” for Creation Engine 2 while incorporating FSR2 image processing and upscaling. As per AMD’s Jack Huynh, “These optimizations both accelerate performance and enhance the quality of your gameplay using highly multi-threaded code” on both platforms.
“Lots” of Post-Launch DLC Planned
Even before Starfield’s release – heck, just right after the Starfield Direct ended – Bethesda confirmed that there would be DLC. A story expansion, Shattered Space, is coming and included with the Premium Edition. However, Todd Howard told IGN there are plans for “a lot of add-on content.” “We love doing it, our fans love it,” he said, perhaps oblivious to the Steam user scores for some of Fallout 4’s DLC.
Of course, not all DLC will be the same. “We have plans to do things of varying sizes, and we’ve done a lot of that in our previous games,” he said. “It’s something that we like doing [and] our fans like, so despite the size of the game, there’s still things we want to add, as far as features in the future, stories, and things like that. So we think this is a game that’s hopefully going to continue for a long time that way.” Whether that comes through in free updates or manifests in Legendary, Special or Anniversary Edition-style repackages remains to be seen.
id Software Helped With Graphics
Remember when id Software helped Bethesda with the shooting in Fallout 4? It’s lending its expertise to Starfield, but not to the gameplay. Howard told IGN that the studio didn’t help with combat (which Bethesda redid itself) but on the graphics side, like adding motion blur from id Tech Engine to Creation Engine 2.0. “So we get into motion blur. It’s just how the game feels smooth. Some other things that they do in id Tech we wanted to bring into Creation Engine 2, and they helped us do that, and it’s great,” he said.
Fewest Bugs of any Bethesda Game Ever
Another major worry for any Bethesda Game Studios title is the bugs. It’s long since been a meme, but players have grown less tolerant of the same (especially after the disastrous launch of Fallout 76). Some bugs are a given due to the sheer scope and scale of Starfield, it’s touted as having the “fewest bugs of any Bethesda game ever shipped,” per Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty when speaking to Giant Bomb.
The delay certainly helped, though Booty also said the company had “every QA person in our entire company playing Starfield right now.” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer added, “Looking at bug counts, looking at the quality of where we are. The nice thing about what we showed today, from my perspective, is that this is the game. We’ve been playing the game for quite a while, and that’s the game.” Given how important this release is to Xbox as a whole, it’s probably safe to expect a more polished experience (though it’s still locked to 30 FPS on Xbox Series X/S).
Xbox Play Anywhere Support
This is weird since neither Bethesda Game Studios nor Microsoft have officially touted it. Starfield’s listing on the Xbox Store was recently updated to include Xbox Play Anywhere support, which means you can buy the Xbox Series X/S or PC version digitally and receive the other for free. It should allow for cross-save between both platforms, but it’s probably only the Windows Store version, meaning Steam users won’t get the same luxury. More information is definitely needed on this point.
PC requirements for Starfield are heftier than previous Bethesda titles, and that’s without seeing the 4K requirements. At the minimum, you’ll need an AMD Ryzen 5 2600X or Intel Core i7-6800K, 16 GB RAM, and a Radeon RX 5700 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti. Recommended requirements include a Ryzen 5 3600X or Core i5-10600K, 16 GB RAM and a Radeon RX 6800 XT or GeForce RTX 2080. Regardless of your configuration, you’ll need DirectX 12, a solid-state drive and 125 GB of installation space.