Starfield for Xbox Series X|S, PC: Gameplay trailer, leaks, and everything we know

Starfield Art Cropped
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

First revealed at E3 2018 after years of speculation, Starfield is a new IP from Bethesda Game Studios. In fact, it's the company's first new IP in 25 years. While there will no doubt be some design elements similar to the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, Starfield is also a completely new direction, abandoning medieval fantasy and post-apocalyptic settings for a game completely based in science fiction.

We now know that it'll be coming to PC and current-gen systems, including the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on September 6 2023. Here's everything else we know about Starfield. 

Starfield: Trailers

Bethesda initially released a teaser trailer for the game at E3 2018, showing a space station in orbit around a planet. You can check out the teaser below.

We got the first in-engine Starfield trailer at E3 2021 during the Xbox and Bethesda showcase. You can check it out below.

At the time, the game was set to release on Nov. 11, 2022, which would've been 11 years after the launch of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

At the Xbox Games Showcase 2023, despite having a separate Starfield Direct right after the main show, we got treated to a new gameplay trailer which you can watch below. The game has visibly had a lot of polish since it was first announced. 

The new trailer shows a group of space explorers searching for artifacts that hold the key to uncovering a great secret of the universe, while facing various dangers along the way. We get a quick look at some gameplay mechanics, including space exploration and fast-paced gun combat.

What is Starfield?

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks LLC)

Starfield is a new IP and science-fiction RPG being developed by Bethesda Game Studios, a team that's developed critically acclaimed and commercially successful games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Fallout 4.  

We know that it's a single-player RPG, based on an advanced version of Bethesda's famed Creation Engine used in Fallout and The Elder Scrolls.

The Creation Engine is modular by its very nature, and user-generated content remains a big draw for Bethesda's other tentpole franchises. Bethesda described Creation Engine 2 as "advanced," and we got to see more of this in the dedicated Starfield Direct on June 11 2023. 

A spaceship landing in Starfield (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

In different interviews, creative director Todd Howard described the game's art style as "NASA punk." The game is set 300 years into the future, and will sport familiar technology with near-future leanings. Bethesda is continuing its aggressive approach to lore building and depth, and Starfield will be a vast and unique universe with heaps of lore, different factions, and plenty of in-game history.

Howard described it as more "hardcore" than some of their more recent RPGs, emphasizing the plan to bring player expression and customization to the fore of the game, in true "roleplaying" fashion. Starfield will dive into some of humanity's deepest questions, including an exploration of spirituality and religion in a seemingly empty cosmos, while attempting to answer that age-old query of, "Are we alone in the universe?"

Howard also mused "What if we could take that feeling of being who you want to be and exploring a new world but set in space, where you weren't really limited in where you could go or what you could do? That is Starfield." There's no doubt, Starfield will have a lot to explore. 

Update: On May 5, 2023, Starfield's ESRB classification was accidentally 'leaked' on the official Twitter stating that will be rated Mature (+17) — containing scenes of violence, blood, suggestive themes, strong language, and use of drugs. On May 9, 2023, the ESRB officially confirmed that Starfield has indeed received an "M" Rating for the aforementioned content.

For those unaware, the ESRB is a rating system devised by the United States parental advisory board that determines the age rating for media based on their content.

Starfield: Gameplay and story details

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks LLC)

Bethesda's full gameplay overviews and breakdowns began at the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase on June 12, 2022. Here are a few quick-fire details about the game that we gathered up until that point:

  • Starfield will allow for both first- and third-person gameplay, like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls.
  • Conversations take place in first-person, and the protagonist is silent like in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Fallout 3.
  • Starfield is set in the year 2330 in a portion of the Milky Way called the Settled Systems.
  • Twenty years prior to the game, there was a massive war between the United Colonies and Freestar Collective.
  • Some of the other factions in the game include the Pirates of the Crimson Fleet.
  • Your character's backstory will play a bigger role than in some of Bethesda's more recent games.
  • Starfield will sport "hundreds" of hours of content, like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, inspired by the fact that 10 years later, people are still playing Skyrim actively.
  • It's not an "open universe" game, like No Man's Sky, but follows more traditional Bethesda "open world" gameplay.
  • Starfield is gunning for "semi-realistic" sci-fi, although there will still be "gamey" elements, such as visible laser fire in a vacuum.
  • You play as a member of "Constellation," which is a shrinking faction of space explorers.
  • The script of the game features over 150,000 lines of dialogue, almost three times the dialogue of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It's also been fully localized in Japanese.
  • Bethesda says that Starfield is more "grounded" that past Bethesda Game Studios' titles.
  • One of your companions is a robot named Vasco.
  • The soundtrack is being handled by Israeli-American composer Inon Zur, who previously worked with Bethesda on Fallout 4.

At the 2022 Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, we finally got our first look at Starfield gameplay footage. You can take a look at the 15-minute presentation below:

The gameplay footage, presented by Howard, shows numerous aspects of the game. We get to see first- and third-person gameplay, with the player gathering resources and fighting Pirates of the Crimson Fleet, one of the game's many factions. Combat appears similar to Fallout 4, though players can now slide around, as well as take advantage of lower gravity on certain environments like the moon of Kreet.

We saw even more in the Starfield Direct. Each planet has different gravity, with Boost Packs providing an edge in combat and zero-gravity environments adding new challenges. With a wide range of weapons, including energy weapons, mag weapons, and more, players have the freedom to choose the one that suits them best. 

The story of Starfield revolves around the player joining Constellation, no matter what other affiliations the player has. Constellation is gathering artifacts and trying to determine whether sentient alien life exists. Lead by ex-soldier and adventurer Sarah Morgan, Constellation is made up of characters with different backgrounds, including a theologian, a scientist, and a former pirate. As players travel through the United Colonies and Freestar Collective space, they will encounter different stories, people, and adventures to uncover. The game also features highly detailed and diverse characters, with the character generation system using scanned faces from a range of ages and ethnicities.  

Howard showed off character creation, which allows players to create their spacefarer, including adjusting every possible detail down to the walking animation, Players can choose from various options such as facial morphs, aesthetic and makeup, blemishes, scars, piercings, and teeth settings. With a set of backgrounds, players can use these to assign basic skill sets. You won't know exactly how useful your background may be until you play through the game, perhaps a certain NPC will be looking for someone with your specific set of skills?

Additionally, players can customize their build by selecting up to three traits. These traits have their own advantages and disadvantages and can give interesting storylines to the game. The skill point system provides an organic way to improve your character, and there are challenges associated with each skill to unlock ranks. Each level-up earns one skill point that you can use to unlock or rank-up skills, and with five different skill trees, there's a lot to choose from.

The screenshot leaks (from earlier builds as far back as 2018) suggested that you'll be able to create your own spaceships, which wouldn't be a huge surprise given that Fallout 4 allowed you to create your own settlements. That was confirmed by this gameplay blowout, where Howard confirmed that players can build their own settlements and spaceships. 

Settlements can be a simple outpost or a thriving colony, and players can recruit different characters they meet to come to work on these outposts. Outpost construction will be familiar to anyone who built settlements in Fallout 4, though it is naturally more advanced. Players will be about to set up extractors to harvest resources and explore the planets. 

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks (screenshot))

A similar system now exists for spaceships. Howard notes that literally every aspect of building a ship can be customized, with different components, spacing, types, manufacturers, and more. This isn't just cosmetic construction; it has an effect on everything about the spaceship. Jump distance, speed, handling, weapon systems, shield strength, and more are determined by what you build. The ship is almost like having another character, with modules for crafting, weapons storage, crew quarters, mess halls, and more. Players can also fully customize the look of their ship, with various ship manufacturers bringing unique looks and feels to each piece.

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks (screenshot))

Players can recruit staff for their spaceship, which will come in handy when combat begins. Space flight is in the game, as are space dogfights. Particles fly and parts go flying as ships hunt each other down in the dark void of emptiness. Ship combat  involves a power allocation system and the ability to board and control enemy vessels. Space exploration is also highlighted with massive star yards and different encounters with other ships and space structures. The game's sense of control has been transferred to players in the form of ship piloting and combat, making space flight exciting and dangerous.

Speaking of worlds, Starfield is big. It's huge. Demonstrating just how big the game is, Howard claims players can land anywhere on every single planet. He then went on to say that there are over 100 star systems in the game, with over 1,000 planets to explore. While many of these are dead worlds composed solely of different types of minerals, a handful are "Goldilocks" planets (not too hot, not too cold) that support life. Procedural generation generates planets, while hand-crafted content comes into play as the player explores.

There are also space stations throughout the game, which provide a place to dock and explore even when you aren't setting foot on a planet.

Is Starfield a singleplayer game?

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Yes. Pete Hines, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Bethesda, has confirmed that the next game after Fallout 76 (which is Starfield) will be a traditional singleplayer RPG. "It is a new IP, it's a single-player role-playing game that folks understand," he told The Telegraph. That has since been reiterated in more recent interviews as well.

From what we understand, there will be no form of multiplayer whatsoever in Starfield, but as we saw from Fallout 76 and various multiplayer mods for Elder Scrolls and other Bethesda titles, that doesn't mean Starfield couldn't get at least some form of multiplayer in the future, either in the form of a mod or sequel. It's just not very likely.

Is Starfield a next-gen game?

Exploring space will be a net-gen experience (Image credit: Bethesda)

Yes. In interviews, Howard has said that Starfield was being developed with next-generation technology in mind with improvements that kind-of-new hardware can handle. We don't specifically know what this refers to, but we're sure more information will be released closer to launch. 

Starfield is a current-gen-only title, hitting Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC exclusively, alongside the Xbox Series X-based version of Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming for Android and web.

Being available in Xbox Cloud Gaming at launch will allow Xbox One owners to stream the game to their older hardware, while still ensuring Starfield is built around current-generation technology.

The trailer said that the game is coming to Xbox Series X and Series S, with no mention of Xbox One. It's using a new iteration of the Creation Engine, however, which could let it circumvent some of the criticisms of Bethesda's earlier games.

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

At minimum, this will allow the developers to utilize the ultra-fast SSD in the Xbox Series X|S, meaning load times are nearly nonexistent and new areas and textures can be streamed in hundreds of times faster than on a hard drive.

What are the PC Sytem Requirements for Starfield?

As of June 11 2023 following the Starfield Direct, the PC requirements were made live on Steam, they are as follows. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
System Requirements for Starfield on PC
Row 0 - Cell 0 MinimumRecommended
Operating SystemWindows 10 2004Windows 10/11
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 5 2600x, Intel Core i7-6800kAMD Ryzen 5 3600X, Intel i5-10600K
Memory16 GB RAM16GB RAM
GraphicsAMD Radeon RX 5700, NVIDIA GeForce 1070TiAMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
DirectXVersion 12Version 12
NetworkBroadband Internet ConnectionBroadband Internet Connection
Storage125GB available space125GB available space
SSD required?YesYes

Is Starfield coming to PlayStation 5?

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Microsoft has confirmed Starfield is exclusive to Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and Xbox Game Pass cloud, with no planned Nintendo Switch or PS5 version.

I had heard when we initially broke the news about Bethesda joining Xbox back in 2020 that the plan was to make all games exclusive to platforms where Xbox Game Pass exists. Xbox lead Phil Spencer echoed this during the Xbox Bethesda showcase in 2021. This is the first real evidence that that will indeed be the case.

Starfield: Release date

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Starfield will be releasing officially on September 6 2023, after being delayed from its initial release date alongside Arkane Austin's Redfall. The Premium Edition will give buyers the benefit of 5 days early access. There will also be a Constellation Edition which comes with a bunch of physical items and this will also grant the Early Access period.

Pre-orders are open now and there are 3 editions to choose from:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
EditionIncludes5 Days Early AccessPrice
StandardBase Game onlyNo$70
PremiumBase Game, Shattered Space DLC, Constellation Skin Pack, Digital Artbook and OST.Yes$136
ConstellationAll of the above plus Chronomark Watch and Case, Steelbook Case, Constellation patch and Credit Stick.Yes$300

Image showing contents of Starfield Constellation Edition

The Constellation Edition will be $300 and appeal to Bethesda superfans (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

When it does release, it might join the ranks of the best Xbox role-playing games, or maybe even reach the top of the best Xbox games in general. There are already limited edition gaming accessories too that you can purchase now ahead of release.

Additionally, it will also hit Xbox Game Pass on day one, as you might've expected, and as is the case with all Xbox first-party titles.


Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox Game Pass gives you access to over 200 games for one monthly fee. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also adds Xbox Live Gold to the package so you can play online with your friends. You also get access to EA Play.

Buy from: Amazon | Xbox | Best Buy

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

With contributions from