For over 25 years, Bethesda has been working on a universe that may be their biggest one yet. Starfield is a space odyssey that promises to embark on endless journeys across infinite possibilities in a sci-fi universe.
During the 2023 Xbox Games Showcase, we looked deeper into Bethesda’s next title and what we can expect from the core parts of the gameplay. Here’s a breakdown of Starfield Direct’s deep dive into what we can expect from the vast game.
Quests in Starfield
We’re all too familiar with the plethora of quests available in Bethesda’s games. You’ll likely free-roam in one of these worlds and stumble upon a quest. Perhaps a settlement needs your help, or an individual needs you to deliver a package. These gameplay fundamentals are very much alive in Starfield.
As you explore, you collect resources and maximize your exploration. However, here’s an essential part of this universe’s exploration – the gameplay aims at distracting you from your main quests. For instance, your mission ‘A’ may be to explore a particular planet and gather vital intel. However, as you’re doing this, a creature, person, or anomaly may catch you off-guard. Next thing you know, 2 hours have passed by, and you’re on your way to another planet doing something you had no intentions of in the first place. And you’re enjoying every bit of it—a very Bethesda moment, indeed.
Starfield’s unique inventory system helps you keep everything in check. This includes missions and items you’ve been discovering so far. The highly rendered objects look phenomenal, and browsing your inventory gives you a deeper look at what you’re carrying with you.
Each colony and every planet has smaller stories that play a part in the larger saga. You’ll find people gossiping about their latest lifestyle choices, and ongoing political affairs that require your attention. All of these are important in their own unusual ways. Bethesda’s approach to Starfield seems entirely open-ended, and it’s no wonder how their art direction shows it all off. The environments on each planet you explore reflect its wilderness and humanity.
Speaking of humanity, Starfield has its idea of the past and future deeply ingrained into its narrative. While you’re adventuring through ‘futuristic’ themes of space and planets, humans who thrive here often spend their time thinking about their history and the future. You’ll cross paths with groups of people who will ask you to help them better understand facts and discoveries done before your time. They will also seek your advice and decision-making for necessary errands for their people’s future.
There’s a focus on ‘New Atlantis’, a booming metropolis that values law and order. It inspires its people to thrive on humanistic ideals and gives you a utopian picture of Earth’s children doing their best to colonize planets. You’ll come across many cities like this one with different themes, policies, and value systems. The co-existence of several such ideologies gives Starfield a charming open-ended taste. All of this reflects in the types of quests and explorations you’ll be taking on.
A fan-favorite feature of RPG players is the character creation screen. Oh, the countless hours we’ve spent building the ‘perfect’ character for us to play. Bethesda has made this quite evident – they’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to the creation of your protagonist. A beautiful addition to this is the concept of backgrounds.
Essentially, you’ll be giving your character a back story. Maybe they were a chef before venturing into space, or they were a failed engineer who somehow ended up in a spacesuit. In another case, they were a world-renowned scientist who is now a silent social activist. The tale is yours to create. How your character evolves later reflects the game’s worldbuilding mixed with your decision-making.
All of this comes with a traditional system of building your character. You can customize little details like adding scars, customizing their facial features, hairstyle, and so on.
A promising RPG is always loyal to its fundamental gameplay features, including Skill Trees. Many of us are familiar with the classic system of how character arcs work into mechanics – as you level up your protagonist, they gain skills and possibly use them in the game world. However, Bethesda has added a lovely twist to this.
Your background (from character creation) will work its way into your skill tree, which in turn works its way into situations you come across. We have seen this concept in games like Cyberpunk 2077, where ‘life paths’ affect how your quests change and characters interact with you. Similarly, backgrounds reflect in conversation and give you additional options, opening up choices. For instance, your background in beast-hunting may help someone looking for a professional hunter.
Traits also enhance these features. These little additions to your character give you certain advantages in specific situations during your journey. Think of it like ‘charisma’ that helps you with conversations. These are more prominent personality quirks that drastically change the consequences of your or someone else’s actions in the game.
Ranks give a larger perspective to your Skill Tree. These are enhanced simply by using specific skills that fall into a category of Ranks. For example, a ‘Science’ skill would make you a better engineer. As you progress through the world using these skills, your Rank grows.
Ships and space flight
Think of your ship as an extension of your character. Wherever you go, your ship goes. All the experiences you have in space, you’re ship will be a part of it. It’s your ‘home’ that your nomadic self carries everywhere you travel, and Bethesda ensures that all of it is entirely customizable. Once you purchase a ship, you can change how it looks, hire a reliable crew that runs it, and modify it based on how you wish to explore the universe.
Each part of your ship is upgradeable. You’ll decide how precisely it accelerates or what the thrusters feel like. You can shape your ship based on its function – if you’re to do a cargo mission, you’ll need a lot of storage. And that’s something you can modify. On the other hand, if you’re feeling stylish and wish to give your ship a touch of vanity, there are several options. You can craft your own color palette and design the ship’s looks based on your liking.
If you successfully defeat another pilot, you can salvage their materials and loot everything onboard. A fascinating addition to this is how you can board their ship for a while. This can result in violent face-offs between two pilots. Feels like a space-pirate adventure, doesn’t it?
It’s fair to assume that you will spend a lot of time flying in space. Your ship will eventually be your ultimate weapon and safe haven until you find a place to land and relax for a bit. To make sure this experience is equally courageous and seamless, Bethesda is paying a great deal of attention to your in-flight experience. You’ll not only be experiencing a deep combat system within the flying and shooting controls, but you’ll also be making sure that the ship’s engines (along with other parts) are in check as you busy yourself with a dogfight.
Much of this part of Starfield’s exploration is similar to how you do things on foot. You’ll meet various groups and pilots, with the option of docking and rubbing elbows with possible friends (and enemies). Just like your character, your ship, too, will have skills and traits that will help you be a pilot of your design.
Your journey in Starfield isn’t a lonely one. You’ll have companions assisting you. With each quest and planet (or galaxy) you explore, you’ll have a bunch of individuals with unique traits by your side. These friendships can turn into meaningful relationships. Some even have the option of turning into romance, affecting how a storyline branches out.
You can find new people to join your crew or adventures at different spaceports. Their unique skills affect how your journey shapes – more importantly, how your ship functions and quests carry out. Both technology and people are at your assistance. It’s up to you to make the best of these connections.
If there was one thing about Starfield that fans of Bethesda were concerned about, it was combat. In previous works, Bethesda has paid immense attention to narrative, worldbuilding, and character arcs, but the combat never stole the limelight. However, Starfield begs to differ.
Your weapons are a part of how you navigate this universe. There are mods – barrels, scopes, grips, explosive rounds, etc. There are weapon types – assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, melee weapons, and so on. The developers are adamant about one thing: the combat experience needs to be fun, no matter how realistic or ‘Hollywood’ things may seem. From the gameplay, we can’t help but agree – the shooting mechanics seem well-polished and unique to the player’s gunplay style. This plays well into how your character moves, too. Since gravity works differently on each planet, your ‘boost’ pack gives you an edge in combat. Using it cleverly will give you an unmatched advantage in battle against tricky enemy types.
Just a few minutes of deep dive into Starfield Direct put a smile on our faces. There’s certainly a lot of love and passion put to work in this game. Bethesda has been working on creating a universe that charms every style it is known for. We can see the intricate universe-building, the characters living out this odyssey’s many tales, and details that have us in awe.
We simply cannot wait to get our hands on Bethesda’s next magnum opus. Do you think Starfield will be Microsoft’s next big generation-defining title? Will the game be better than any Bethesda game we’ve played so far? Do let us know in the comments below.
All images via Bethesda