Starfield is one of the most eagerly anticipated games in decades, there’s no question about that. But video game fans were in for a shock last month when Bethesda announced that the game had been delayed, and wouldn’t be meeting its much publicized 11.11.22 release date.
Developer Bethesda (the company behind Skyrim and Fallout 4) is not known for missing release dates, and this one surely seemed to be set in stone. But at least the Maryland-based developer, which is now part of Microsoft, promised to show off the game at the Xbox & Bethesda games showcase this June, meaning hungry gamers would finally get to see Starfield in action as Bethesda had only shown concept art and little else up to this point.
The gameplay video shown during the Microsoft showcase is quite long, showing off combat, exploration and character creation amongst other things.
Unlike Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls games, which take place in a medieval fantasy world, Starfield is set in a sci-fi universe. There are many planets to explore, and the gameplay video below shows the player landing on one of these. After encountering several alien creatures, he comes across a bunch of pirates, fighting them on the planet surface and inside a base of some sort.
The game’s combat does look good but doesn’t feel completely right though – even if admittedly the game could still be almost a year away from release. First and third person shooting (the game lets you switch between both perspectives) was never very good in the Fallout games either for instance, but at least in those games you could pause the action to target individual body parts, something players almost certainly won’t have the luxury of doing in Starfield, as this is more of an action RPG game unlike Betheda’s previous efforts.
It’s hard not to get No Man’s Sky vibes when watching this video either, as Bethesda seems to have taken some inspiration from Hello Games’ space epic. Indeed, Starfield not only allows you to build your own spaceships, but also take to the skies and engage in space dogfights as is seen at some point in the trailer.
There are also more than 1,000 explorable planets in the game as game director Todd Howard says in the video… Most of these, though, won’t be hand-made (obviously) but rather procedurally generated as in No Man’s Sky, as it remains to be seen how interesting to explore they turn out to be when the game is finally released.
As is the case with Bethesda’s previous games, Starfield will seemingly feature a very comprehensive character creation system, letting you define your character’s appearance, and even personality traits such as “introvert”, which may have a bearing on how other characters respond to you during the game’s story.
The video also shows the games’ first-person dialogue, something Bethesda seems to have put a lot of effort into as Starfield will have more than 150,000 lines of recorded dialogue to listen to according to the Maryland-based developer, the most in any Bethesda game to date. This will apparently also feature a conversation wheel similar to that seen in their 2006 game Oblivion.
Regarding the graphics, the game’s NPC characters look very good when seen up close in first-person perspective, and Starfield is looking pretty good overall in this gameplay preview, although not quite spectacular – a settlement the player is seen trekking through at one point in the video looks pretty pedestrian (a bit like those in 2015’s Fallout 4) by today’s standards. Maybe it’s the company’s old Creation Engine, which has powered Bethesda’s games for more than 10 years now, even if the version powering Starfield – and the upcoming Elder Scrolls 6 game – has been heavily upgraded no doubt.
A problem here is that Starfield doesn’t seem to have as much personality as its earlier games Fallout 4 or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, coming across as a generic action RPG set in space in this gameplay reveal.
Of course, Bethesda still has plenty of months left to polish Starfield before release, which is now expected in the first half of 2023. More recently, though, game director Todd Howard said the company is “putting the finishing touches on Starfield”, meaning an early 2023 release is not out of the question. Here’s hoping that’s the case, then, and that Starfield turns out to be another great epic role-playing game from Bethesda when it finally sees the light of day.