Starfield Gameplay Showcase Reveals Bustling Worlds, Combat, and More

It's a big universe out there, and Starfield will let you explore it all.
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Starfield, Bethesda’s upcoming open-world sci-fi RPG, will release for PC and Xbox Series X|S in 2023. After a year of teases and slow-drip info, the game received an in-depth gameplay reveal during the Xbox and Bethesda showcase during Summer Games Fest 2022. 

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The trailer begins with a mission early in the game on the moon of Kreet, set in 2330. A ship lands in the grey, alien landscape near an abandoned research facility, and the view quickly shifts inside the cargo hold to a first-person perspective. There’s a mech named VASCO that exits and gives some cursory information about the location. The player character (who we’ve since learned will be a silent protagonist) makes their way toward it, encountering critters perfectly fit to something like Enemy Mine.

You’ll be able to switch between first-person and third-person perspectives and scan objects in the environment for additional information. You’ll gather data on the planet itself, including how much of the planet or moon you’ve surveyed and the number of resources and flora and fauna species left to discover.

Your compass indicates not only direction but also CO2 and oxygen levels, as well as temperature and gravity measurements. Like another game Starfield has been immediately compared to since the showcase, you’ll also be able to mine resources, like iron, from the environment. 

The gameplay then ramps up the action near the research facility, as the mech informs that pirates have overtaken the area. After making their way through the dim-lit installation, the protagonist engages the pirates in a series of firefights inside and outside, showing a submachine gun, shotgun, assault rifle, and grenades in action, along with the game’s weapon wheel. There’s a jetpack that provides quick movement and verticality, too. 

From what’s shown, there will also be various crates (and presumably other locked things) that can be unlocked through a lockpicking minigame, a staple in many Bethesda IPs. There will also be factions to join, some of which play outside the rules of established law. 

To highlight the diversity of locations found in Starfield  which Todd Howard says boasts 100 different star systems with 1,000 planets to explore — the demo heads to the bustling city of New Atlantis. There we meet Constellation, “the last group of space explorers,” and learn about one of Starfield‘s main plot threads: discovering artifacts across space to find out what “they’re” building.

The footage later details a reasonably extensive character creation suite that Howard calls Bethesda’s “most flexible yet.” A biometric ID system can be seen and is likely another word for presets or saved creations, but it can be changed at a genetics facility.

The expected things like body type, build, skin tone, hairstyle, hair color, head shape, eyes, and more can be tweaked. An extensive list of backgrounds, numbering at least 16, sets your character up with three skills, ranging from Robotics, which allows you to deal 10% more damage to robots and turrets, to Gastronomy, where you can craft special food with special buffs and effects.

Alongside skills, more than a dozen traits can be chosen to provide other passive modifiers to your character. Introverts are better at exploring alone and receive increased endurance while doing so. On the other hand, something like Serpent’s Embrace gives characters “a temporary boost to health and endurance” when Grav-jumping at regular intervals. 

The skill tree system is broken into five categories at the moment: Physical, Social, Combat, Science, and Tech. Howard says that skills are “unlocked as you level up, and then you rank those skills up by using them and completing challenges.” It’s a system that sounds very similar to the one implemented in Skyrim

Then there’s the crafting system, which implements research (a la’ something like Jurassic World Evolution 2) to construct things like weapon mods. On top of that are outpost and shipbuilding systems. Bases can be constructed in a semi-modular system, generate resources to be used elsewhere, and be staffed by various NPCs; it’s still a bit unclear, but they may serve a similar purpose to those in No Man’s Sky.

Shipbuilding allows you to “fully customize the look and layout” of each vessel, adding different cockpits, engines, weapons systems, and more, each with its own stats. Like bases, these can also be manned with a crew. And yes, there are space battles, so ship builds will be important. 

There’s still much to learn about Starfield and much more revealed in the showcase. Give it a watch at the top of this article. For more, stay tuned. 

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Jonathan Moore
Jonathan Moore is the Editor-in-Chief of GameSkinny and has been writing about games since 2010. With over 1,200 published articles, he's written about almost every genre, from city builders and ARPGs to third-person shooters and sports titles. While patiently awaiting anything Dino Crisis, he consumes all things Star Wars. He has a BFA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing focused on games writing and narrative design. He's previously been a newspaper copy editor, ad writer, and book editor. In his spare time, he enjoys playing music, watching football, and walking his three dogs. He lives on Earth and believes in aliens, thanks to Fox Mulder.