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Starfield release date, latest trailer, and more: everything we know

The latest news on Starfield's release date, plot, gameplay details, system requirements, and more

When is the Starfield release date? Bethesda's space exploration RPG resurfaced in a Starfield Direct alongside the Xbox Showcase on June 11th, with a longer look at its planets, companions, combat and more. There was no change to its release date, though - phew. You can watch the full, 45-minute presentation below.

We've also taken the time to summarise everything we know about Starfield so far, including the release date, platforms, trailers, plot, and a copious amount of details on everything you can do in its vast, open, sci-fi galaxy.

On this page:

Liam walks you through the 12 most exciting things we learned from the recently broadcast Starfield direct.Watch on YouTube

Starfield release date and platforms

Starfield is due to be released on September 6th, 2023. The announcement of a new firm release date will surely come as a relief to fans who have waited nearly a year for good news, ever since the game was delayed out of 2022 in spring last year.

On launch, Starfield will be exclusive to Microsoft Windows PC and Xbox Series X|S, and will be available on Game Pass from day one. Whether ports to other platforms will come along in the future remains to be seen, but rather than get your hopes up, it seems safest to assume that this title will remain exclusive to modern Microsoft devices. Furthermore, while Steam Deck compatibility is apparently on Todd Howard's Starfield to-do list, it seems it won't be a feature at launch.

Purchasing the Digital Premium Edition/Upgrade or the Constellation Collector's Edition will net you a bunch of exclusives, including five days' early access to the game, allowing you to play from September 1st.

Starfield announcements and trailers

Starfield was first officially announced at E3 2018, although it's reportedly been in development ever since the launch of Fallout 4, which would mean that production began in late 2015. Pre-production reportedly ended around the same time as the E3 announcement, meaning that the game has been in a playable development phase for some time now, which sounds very promising. Below is the most recent bit of footage we have from the game, a 45-minute deep dive from Starfield Direct at Summer Game Fest 2023:

What is Starfield's setting and plot?

Starfield's setting and overall aesthetic has been described variously as "Skyrim in space" and "NASA-punk"; pop cultural influences include Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. From what I've seen it seems like if you're a fan of Mass Effect, The Outer Worlds, or Prey, chances are Starfield will also be your jam.

The story begins in the year 2330 in a pocket of the Milky Way called "The Settled Systems", an area approximately 50 light years in diameter around our own solar system that's been at least partially colonised by humans. Around 20 years before the story begins, a bloody civil war occurred between two rival factions called the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective, but at the time the game takes place, the Settled Systems are once again in an uneasy peacetime.

That's just the backstory; the main plot opens with the tantalising premise that you, a member of a group calling themselves "Humanity's Last Explorers", will be exploring the galaxy "on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery: what's out there?" The trailers contain a lot of philosophical musings on the place of humankind among the stars and the meaning of existence. HLE (as I'm sure they call themselves for short) are seemingly in search of alien artifacts, in the hopes of answering the immortal question of whether humanity is alone in the universe.

Beyond that, the exact plot of Starfield is very much being kept under wraps. Director Todd Howard has made self-described cryptic hints towards a twist in the tale somewhere. Perhaps the Not-E3 2023 footage showing your protagonist wielding what looks an awful lot like space magic powers has something to do with it? Too soon to tell, but we can certainly speculate.

Does Starfield have a character creator?

Starfield boasts Bethesda's most detailed and inclusive character creator ever, and the custimisation is so flexible that they've even used it to build many of the NPCs you'll meet in the game! (Although sadly, we can now confirm that said NPCs won't include a cameo from Skyrim Grandma.)

We got a deep look at the character creator during last year's Not-E3, and we learned that the game will visualise changes to your character's appearance using a technique from molecular biology known as gel electrophoresis, which is a lovely science-y touch. Under the hood it seems like they're still more or less expected set of character creation sliders, but it's a nice detail all the same.

You'll also be able to choose from three backgrounds for your character, which will determine their starting skills; and you can further flesh out your protagonist with up to three optional traits, which can have either positive or negative effects. Negative traits in particular are there to add a bit of challenge to the game; for example, "Introverted" characters will have more trouble navigating social situations, which is something you'll have to work around as you play. This ability to craft a unique personality for your character will also unlock some custom responses in dialogue, but it seems there's no significant content locked off according to your choices (e.g. quests, relationships, etc.).

Starfield's character creator uses some real-life science in the form of gel electrophoresis patterns to indicate your selections.

A recent interview with several key members of the dev team revealed that Starfield aims to incorporate old school RPG stats with a sort of greatest hits of skills and levelling systems from Bethesda's previous games. There are five skill trees — Physical, Social, Combat, Science, and Tech — and as you earn XP you'll gain 1 Skill Point per overall character level achieved, which can then be used to either unlock or rank up skills. But in order to do the latter, you'll also need to complete gameplay challenges.

In related news, you can build your own spacecraft in Starfield too: you can completely customise the look and layout, internally as well as externally, and even name your creation. There are even a choice of in-universe manufacturers for you to shop around among when buying modules. So even if tweaking nose length sliders for hours at a time isn't your bag, Starfield could well still provide a customisation system that's to your liking.

Will Starfield be open-world?

Starfield isn't officially "open world", since there will be loading screens separating each individual planet from the wider universe the game takes place in. However, navigation around that universe and on the surface of each planet will be seemless.

A spaceship gravjumping in a Starfield screenshot.

There will be over 1,000 explorable planets on Starfield's map, many of which will be procedurally generated. Exploration of these planets will make up the majority of the gameplay: there's a huge amount of biome variety, and even the light on each planet will be different depending on the context it exists in. There will be procedural side-quests on these planets too, although it sounds like the main story (plus more side-quests) will take place on the more authored planets in the game.

Still though, with the confirmation that base building à la Fallout 4 will be making a (re)appearance in Starfield, we're sure players will be able to put at least a few of the more blank-slate ones to good use. And there will be a fun variety of pre-existing settlements on the authored planets, including cities like New Atlantis — which seems to be your character's home, and is the biggest city Bethesda have ever built for one of their games.

How long will it take to complete Starfield?

No exact details have yet been given about the length of Starfield's main plotline, but interviews with the development team contain references to what sound like plenty of side-quests and the probability of branching storylines, plus in-depth crafting systems allowing you to customise things like weapons and bases; all of which promises replayability over a long period of time. Todd Howard compares the game to Skyrim and how many, many fans are still playing that game over a decade later, and suggests that Starfield was built after taking that unexpected longevity of interest into account.

If those comparisons to Skyrim hold true, we can reasonably anticipate a 30-40 hour main story, 100+ hours with side quests, and maybe 200+ hours to explore every nook and cranny to 100% completion.

Can you play Starfield in third person?

Good news for motion-sickness sufferers: Starfield can indeed be played in third person. There's also going to be a first-person option to satisfy the desires of immersion fans, though we don't yet know exactly how switching between the two will work. Still, with many modern RPGs choosing to jettison third-person view altogether and (unintentionally I'm sure) locking their game off to many potential fans who can't stomach the shaky cam, it's refreshing to see Starfield include both options. Plus, this means you'll get to see your lovingly customised character in-game whenever you want.

Does Starfield feature factions and a morality system?

It's unclear as yet whether Starfield will feature a points-based morality system akin to the Karma meter in Bethesda's Fallout games. However, the developers have confirmed that the game will feature multiple joinable factions, and that at least one faction will align with "evil" actions and behaviours on the part of the player. In fact, you'll have a bunch of different play style options open to you, seemingly independent of faction (but presumably aligning with some more than others).

It seems like the major factions to begin with will be the aforementioned United Colonies and Freestar Collective, who were at war in the game's backstory. The United Colonies represent an idealised vision of human diaspora branching out into the galaxy united as a republic. Meanwhile the Freestar Collective are space cowboys, a pioneer group pushing the frontiers of human expansion and who clearly aren't so keen on centralised control. Notably, despite obvious parallels with franchises like Star Wars and Firefly, neither of these groups seem to be played up as having been entirely right or wrong in the war, at least from your character's point of view at the start of the game. There's also a third notable faction, Ryujin Industries, which represents a corporate interest apparently separate from the two ideological ones.

In terms of secondary or minor factions and groups, so far we've heard of Ecliptic Mercenaries, Pirates of the Crimson Fleet, Spacers (characterised by their violence) and House Va'ruun (described as "fanatical religious zealots"). It's unclear yet exactly which of these you'll be able to join — the only one confirmed as playable so far is the Crimson Fleet — but expect to encounter them all at some point in the story.

It seems that after completing the game's introductory missions, your character will be offered a post as a member of an exploratory force called Constellation, charged with uncovering the source of the mysterious artifacts that are the driving force behind the main plot. But by the sounds of it, shifting your allegiances will be a definite possibility at some point in the story.

Companion characters and dialogue trees are also making an appearance, as per Bethesda tradition, although in a new twist those you recruit to your crew will be back on the ship buffing you with their unique stats rather than standing by your side as you progress through the story and quests. There's a persuasion mini-game to bring NPCs around to your way of thinking, somewhat akin to Fallout's speech stat checks. But it is apparently an entirely new system developed specifically for Starfield that's meant to emulate real conversation much more naturally.

Finally, there will be combat, of course. This will involve both expected FPS-style encounters that see you face off against NPC bad guys; it'll be familiar enough to Fallout fans, but with a few improvements, like moddable guns and stealth options for those who'd prefer. Starfield also includes space combat, which requires a bit more explaining. You'll have a variety of options in how you deal with other ships you encounter: hail them, board them, trade with them, attack them, the choice is yours! If you do get into a fight, you'll be doing cool stuff like reassigning power to different ship systems in real-time. There will also be abandoned ships you can scavenge, which sounds a bit spooky.

Will Starfield feature romance options?

Is it even a space RPG if you can't romance your companions? Well, there's no need to worry about finding out this time, because yes, you will be able to romance companions in Starfield. According to a 2022 interview with Todd Howard, Starfield will include more complex relationships with NPCs than Bethesda have previously achieved. These hints were expanded upon during Starfield Direct 2023, which outright confirmed that you can romance at least some of your companion NPCs, with space cowboy Sam shown declaring that he's never really loved anyone except you. Aww, Sam. But also, c'mon now Sam.

Speaking of NPCs, oh look, Oblivion's Adoring Fan is back too! Wonder if he'll be a romance option...?

Will Starfield have difficulty settings?

Starfield will apparently be more a "hardcore" RPG than recent Fallout and Elder Scrolls titles, though whether that translates to trickier action sequences or just more maths as you min-max your character's stats remains to be seen. Bethesda have historically included difficulty settings in their single-player RPGs, so we're inclined to think that there will be some ability to scale up or down damage in the game's combat sections to suit your preference. We'll have to wait to find out for sure, though; I think it depends on what exactly they mean by "hardcore".

Will Starfield have multiplayer?

Rejoice, my fellow loners, because it's been made very clear from the outset that Starfield will have no multiplayer elements whatsoever. The development focus for Starfield has been solidly on providing a story-rich, single-player adventure with plenty of replay value; and while multiplayer modes certainly have their joys, it's refreshing to see a major release not feeling the need to tack one on where it's simply not necessary for the story that the team have set out to tell.

Will Starfield have DLC?

Starfield Direct in June 2023 finally confirmed what we'd all suspected: that yes, there will be DLC for Starfield. At least one of these will be story-based: entitled "Shattered Space", it'll be free to players who purchase premium editions of the base game, and a paid add-on for those who go in for the standard edition. There's no release window for Shattered Space yet, or indeed any details of what it will contain beyond additional story quests.

Starfield game engine and system requirements

Starfield is built in Creation Engine 2, a modified and updated form of the Creation Engine that was used for Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76. Reportedly, The Elder Scrolls VI will also use Creation Engine 2.

Since we don't yet have any official word on the system requirements for Starfield on PC, it remains to be seen whether or not this sort-of-new engine will require a lot more horsepower on the part of your setup to run it. We'll be keeping this page updated with more information as we get it, though, so be sure to check back to learn what's new!

Here at RPS, we've already gone on record calling Starfield one of our most anticipated games of 2023. Therefore, expect plenty more news, guides, and more from us as we eagerly await Starfield's launch later this year!

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About the Author
Rebecca Jones avatar

Rebecca Jones

Guides Writer

Rebecca is ⅓ of RPS' guides team, ⅓ of the Indiescovery Podcast crew, and currently looking for something else to take a 33% share in so she can call herself a fully rounded games journalist.

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