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 know that it'll be coming to PC and current-gen systems, including the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, since Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media, and Bethesda Game Studios are now a part of the Xbox first-party family.

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.

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.  

After a range of older leaked screenshots hitting the net, we knew a bit more, with additional coming after a few interviews and the E3 2021 trailer, before getting a blowout in June 2022. We know that it's a singleplayer 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," although exactly how it's advanced remains a bit of a mystery.

(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?"

Bethesda also shared concept art from Starfield, sharing a glimpse of what the various worlds and factions of Starfield are like. Below, you can see a variety of concept art showing the different planets of New Atlantis, Akila, and Neon:

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. 

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.

Howard showed off character creation, which allows players to create their spacefarer, including adjusting every possible detail down to the walking animation, You can also choose from different traits, which provide varying advantages and disadvantages, such as giving the player loving retired parents ... which means 10% of your earned money is automatically deducted and sent off to support them. 

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks (screenshot))

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. 

(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. 

(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.

As Starfield is a role-playing game, it has an extensive skill tree. This allows players to improve numerous aspects about themselves as they earn experience and level up. Players can also engage in research, improving their weapons and other gear for better chances of survival across the many worlds in Starfield. 

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.

There's 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?

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

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)
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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.

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 is currently slated to arrive at some point in the first half of 2023, after being delayed from its initial release date alongside Arkane Austin's Redfall.

During E3 2021, it was announced that Starfield is targeting a Nov. 11, 2022, release date. Whenever 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.

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.

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Samuel Tolbert

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.