“Starfield” has to be one of the most anticipated games to come out in recent memory. Being developed by Bethesda Game Studios, “Starfield” is the first new IP Bethesda has come out with in over 20 years. Known to be 25 years in the making, “Starfield” will be a space-faring adventure that will take us across our very own galaxy, The Milky Way, in the far future. So, we now have a dungeons and dragons-inspired fantasy franchise with “The Elder Scrolls,” a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland with “Fallout,” and next, Bethesda is taking us to space.
The game was officially announced in 2018 during the Bethesda E3 Show, with Todd Howard telling us that the game is far, far away from release and will be a next-generation title. Fast forward to the worst year in recent history, 2020, Microsoft announced their plans to acquire Zenimax Media, which included Bethesda Game Studios and plenty of other Studios, and in 2021 the acquisition was completed. During the first-ever Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, Xbox gave us a look at “Starfield” once again with an in-engine trailer, letting us know that it will be an Xbox exclusive with a November 22 release date. Unfortunately, the release date wasn’t met, and the game got pushed to the first half of 2023. Fortunately, on the other hand, during the 2022 Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, Xbox showed us a long 15-minute demo of the game showcasing its different aspects. We got a look at the story, the character customization, the RPG systems, space and planet exploration, combat, and more, and to say that the game looked ambitious would be an understatement.
Sure, it was made fun of online about how it looked generic and standard and ran poorly, and bla bla bla, but what isn’t made fun of on the internet? Besides, the game isn’t even out yet, and what they showcased looks incredibly promising. Be cautious since it’s a Bethesda game that I agree with, but I can’t simply shoot it down before I play it for myself. A thing to take note of here is that the game is trying to be grounded in reality by giving us a world, nay, a universe, that is in our future, and because of that, everything like the ships, the guns, the outfits, and more look more mechanical and grounded and believable than if they were ripped out of Tron or something else. I like this aesthetic, and as a huge space nerd myself, the exploration aspect has me head over heels for this game. Plus, I noticed the NASA logo you cheekily hid in the background. Bethesda, you aren’t fooling anybody! With all this preamble out of the way, allow me to give you the reasons why I am excited about “Starfield.”
Okay, so the biggest reason for me to be excited about “Starfield” is its world, or should I say worlds. A hundred star systems with over 1,000 planets all available for us to explore is a massive promise. If you saw the trailer, then you may have noticed they showed us the star map of Alpha Centauri, our closest celestial neighbor, but what you may not have noticed or perhaps noticed but didn’t pay much mind was a system called “Sol.” If you aren’t aware, Sol is our own solar system, and while there are literally thousands of planets out there for us to explore, the idea that I will be free to fly across our own solar system excites me the most. What will Earth look like here? Is it so far in the future that our sun has turned into a red giant and devoured the inner planets? If not, then how will they handle the Earth? I have so many questions! We saw a second of gameplay of the character on Mars with the Mars rover lying dead and covered in dust, so it’s practically confirmed that we will be exploring our own planets as well. Imagine landing on Europa and seeing Jupiter looming over in the skies or touching down on Titan and seeing Saturn’s rings as you look up—that’d be so cool!
Enough talking about our system; there are tons more here to visit and see with Alpha Centauri confirmed. What else will they fit in here, and how vast will the patch of space we’ll be exploring be? The Gliese System and the Trappist System—are all pretty close to ours (in terms of spatial distance, obviously), and if Bethesda has these in the games, it’ll be fun to see how they’ll imagine these planets to look like. We know they are using a ton of procedural generation, as handcrafting all of these worlds would be a ridiculous task and will take countless years, so we can expect some planets and moons to be barren with no life or sights to see while others will be packed with life, and so on. My one gripe here is that the game doesn’t have a manual landing, which means we won’t be able to fly into a planet’s atmosphere and fly out ourselves, like in “No Man’s Sky” or “Star Citizen.” A cutscene will do that for us. Unfortunately, I always wanted to fly straight inside a gas giant like Jupiter and see what would happen. My dreams of doing that are crushed just as much as my spaceship would be if I tried that, but then again, it’s a Bethesda game, so I am sure someone will mod that in at some point. I am just curious to see how Bethesda will handle the planets, moons, and stars we have heard about and how they’ll visualize them for us. I am also curious about how big the patch of space we get to explore will be. A hundred systems is a lot, but at the same time, all of that can fit in less than 1000 light years, and our galaxy is more than 100,000 light-years across. Creating a game that big will be ridiculous, but it also brings another question: how will they handle the edge of the world? Usually, the worlds in open-world games are surrounded by an endless sea, but this is space, so what will the edge of the explorable area look like or be like? Maybe they have shrunk the entire Milky Way into a hundred systems. It’s stupid, but I won’t mind that either. One last question: will there be any black holes here? That’d be killer!
As you can see, there are so many questions when it comes to the world of “Starfield,” and rightfully so, it’s a massive game, so it’d be interesting to see how Bethesda handles the world and the limitations here. I talked about all of this, and yet I didn’t mention the space exploration part one bit. With things like asteroid fields, space stations, and more, the scope and scale of this game are mind-numbing, and no matter how limited or generic it may look to some, I am happy I’ll get to fly across space freely and explore multiple worlds while playing on a console.
A Space-Faring RPG
It’s a Bethesda RPG, this time in space, so expect choices that will alter the storyline and perks that will add to or penalize your gameplay, among other things. Look, if you have played “The Elder Scrolls” or “Fallout,” then you already know what you can expect here, and from what Bethesda has shown, I think it’s safe to assume they are making all the right choices. A silent protagonist who is fully customizable; skill trees and upgrades that will progress and unlock as you use them; traits, attributes, perks, and backstories that will give you more dialogue options in certain scenarios; joining factions; and so on. There isn’t a lot to say here, as on the surface, everything looks as it should, but when we play it, we’ll learn the depth of all the systems. Other than the exploration and story, there will be a ton of shooting bad guys, both using guns and your spaceship, so that’s always fun. It’s a Bethesda RPG, and these guys know how to make good RPGs, so we’ll have to wait and see the true depth of all these systems.
The narrative is always hit or miss in Bethesda Games; if you ask me, the lore is always good, but the stories are alright. Again, this is a personal opinion. But here, it’s worth talking about and looks interesting to me because of one single line from the trailer, “Discover what’s out there.” I can’t talk about you, but I love space. I love wondering about the possibilities and the things and sights that the cosmos is rich with, and I spend plenty of time looking at the skies and wondering when humanity will become an interstellar species. So, for a nerd like me, this line has me gushing all over. You’ll be a member of Constellation in this game, one of the last factions of space explorers who are seeking answers that lie somewhere in the depths of space. There isn’t a ton of information to go by, but the whole premise is giving me major Star Trek vibes with its focus on exploration and discovery. We’ll have to wait just a little longer, but I have my fingers crossed.
Another short and quick thing to note is that the game will be exclusive to the Xbox Series X|S on console, meaning it will be current-gen only. I don’t want any players to be left behind because they don’t have a new-gen machine, but at the same time, these consoles have been out for more than two years with nothing to show so far, so it’s about time that we start getting games that will take full advantage of the hardware.
Finally, can we take a moment and appreciate the ambition behind this game? It’s easy to make fun of this game, but at the same time, there is nothing like it out there. “Star Citizen” is the closest thing, but that game has been in active development for more than a decade at this point, and yes, while you can play it now, it’s far from being complete, will never come to consoles, and requires very high-end hardware on PC to run properly. “No Man’s Sky,” on the other hand, is a survival game that is far too massive and lets you explore the entire universe quite literally. I can see how calling “Starfield,” “No Man’s Sky with a Budget” makes sense, but at the same time, these games are fundamentally different from each other. “Starfield” will either blow our minds out or fall flat on its face, and either way, no matter what happens, I will always appreciate the effort, ambition, and work that Bethesda has put into this game.
If you are an Xbox player, then I am sure you are excited about this game. How can you not be excited? It’s one of the biggest exclusives to come out in Xbox’s history. As I said, “Starfield” will either be great or it’ll be bad; there’s no in-between for a game like this, and I hope it’s the former and not the latter. They have me at space exploration and especially on the fact that it’ll feature places we know of/heard of, and not all areas will emerge from the imagination of someone. Something about being close to home and in the real world is always comforting. There’s so much to say about this game, but it’s looking so massive and full of content that every time I start to talk about one aspect, I get distracted by the other and totally go off-topic. Whatever the case may be, 2023 has begun, and this game will arrive any time in less than six months, and we’ll have all our answers. “Starfield” will also be part of the Xbox Game Pass upon release and is a game I am eagerly looking forward to playing.