What is Starfield's main quest about, and how does the space RPG begin? Over the years Bethesda games have had some pretty iconic openings. Most notably—it became a meme—is Skyrim's "Hey you, you're finally awake" intro, where you begin the game as a prisoner on a wagon carrying you to your execution. Fallout 3's introduction, meanwhile, begins with your actual birth that leads into a tutorial as you grow from a child into an adult in Vault 101.
These memorable intros lead to the start of the games' main quests, and Bethesda fans have been speculating about the beginning of Starfield, too: How it introduces players to the world, what you're doing at the very start of the game, how the main quest begins, and what that quest actually is about.
There's not a whole lot of official information out there to go on, but just based on the 15-minute Starfield gameplay reveal (opens in new tab) from last year, fans have come up with some pretty convincing theories.
Here's how some Starfield fans suspect the game begins, how the main quest kicks off, and even how you acquire your first spaceship and robot companion. While this is all speculation and only uses the gameplay trailer as a source, I'll still give you all a spoiler warning for Starfield's main quest.
You begin Starfield as a space miner
Most of the speculation about the start of the game and how the main quest begins was put together by Reddit poster Exo_soldier, and to follow their theory you have to rearrange the footage shown in the gameplay reveal. Most of the information is there, but it's not shown in chronological order.
For instance, the first look we get at Starfield's character creation system is near the end of the gameplay video (at 8:40 (opens in new tab)), but it's a good place to start when speculating about the beginning of Starfield.
The most important thing to note in this footage is that "Argos Extractors" and "record locator" are shown in the top left corner of the character creation screen at all times. Why would the name of some corporation be displayed during character creation? It's because you begin the game already working for them. You're not just building your character, customizing your appearance, and selecting your attribute—you're also creating an employee profile for Argos Extractors. There's even an employee number shown at the bottom of the character creation screen.
So, what is Argos Extractors? It sure sounds like a mining company, and probably the very place where you learned to extract minerals with a mining laser, which we see the player doing earlier (at 3:33 (opens in new tab)) in the video. Even the player's HUD shows a planetary survey as they first step off the ship at the 2:45 (opens in new tab) mark.
That fits in with a mining operation's goals: detecting what resources a planet contains. This all indicates that you begin the game as a miner, and following the game's intro you take your mining gear with you on the rest of your adventures. Some of this is also confirmed by Starfield's description on Steam (opens in new tab).
You dig up a mysterious artifact while on the job
So, you begin Starfield as just another employee of a big mining company. That's supported in footage you can see by skipping forward to 8:12 (opens in new tab) in the gameplay video. This clip is most likely from the earliest scenes in the game, where several people are seen using mining lasers underground. One of them says to you "Most dusties don't even make it this far." This could be a veteran mining employee noting that "dusties" (which could be a nickname for mining newbies) don't last very long at the job—or that you've gone much deeper into the planet than most miners do.
Another Reddit commenter, XannyLarusso (opens in new tab), speculates that you might be working off a prison sentence in the mines. Others suggest you could be working off a debt. Both would tie in with the starting points of Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls series where you always begin as prisoner. Even in the Fallout series you begin in a Vault, which is a lot like a prison in some ways.
While you were minding your own business as a simple space miner, drilling for minerals and resources, you dug up a strange alien artifact. You touched it, which gave you strange visions (shown very briefly at 6:52 (opens in new tab)). Afterwards, you apparently told some of your coworkers about it, and they called Constellation, which is a guild representing "the last group of space explorers."
A member of Constellation is dispatched to talk to you about the artifact
Constellation then sent someone out to meet with you about the artifact you found. We can guess this because at 7:03 (opens in new tab) we see a ship landing, and a pilot in a spacesuit walks out and says to a miner "So, you found something?" The miner says "The new guy found it," an indication you haven't been working for Argos Extraction for very long.
The pilot then speaks to you and says "You dug up the artifact, right? That means you saw it. The visions." Whatever it is you discovered, Constellation has also discovered similar artifacts in the past.
Your meeting is interrupted by space pirates
Skip to 7:35 (opens in new tab) and we see a different ship landing, as someone yells "That's the Crimson Fleet," who are described by another character a few moments later as "cut-throat pirates." Then there's a battle. This probably isn't just a random skirmish from some other point in the game: It looks like this appearance by the Crimson Fleet, and the gunfight that follows, interrupts your meeting with the Constellation pilot.
Are the space pirates also there for the artifact, or is this just a random raid? We don't know. However, other clues suggest that it's likely that the Constellation pilot you meet doesn't survive the battle.
You inherit your first ship from the dead Constellation member
It's a bit grim, but it seems likely that your first ship in Starfield is that Constellation pilot's ship. It's just a guess, but it's possible that as he lay dying, the pilot tells you to take his ship and use it to reach Constellation's headquarters. More evidence supports this: the wristwatch you use to unlock the door to the Constellation headquarters (earlier in the video, at 6:23 (opens in new tab)) probably belonged to the pilot, too. That pilot doesn't seem to be in attendance at your introduction to Constellation, which supports the theory that he was killed in the skirmish with the Crimson Fleet. If he was alive, he'd probably have come with you.
Well, it's not like you don't spend a lot of time in Bethesda games looting dead bodies, right? This time, lifting items from a corpse got you your first spaceship and a key to Constellation's front door. Heck, even your companion robot, Vasco, probably belonged to the dead Constellation pilot. Everything you get early on in Starfield is a hand-me-down, or to be more accurate, a loot-him-up.
You take over the Constellation pilot's mission
At 6:26 (opens in new tab) you see the player reaching the Constellation building with Vasco, using the watch to get inside, and meeting with the guild's members. They show you the other artifacts that have been discovered, which they hope will answer the question "What's out there?" That's the mystery Constellation is trying to solve. Since you've seen the visions, you're now "part of solving that puzzle" too.
And most likely that is the main quest: finding more artifacts, figuring out "what they are [and] what they're building," and finding what we can assume is either alien life or (as happens in a lot of science fiction) the remnants of some sort of ancient alien civilization. The stuff the pilot was doing—flying around, investigating artifacts, and talking to the people who found them—is now your job.
Finally, at 8:22 (opens in new tab), we see the player walking toward some sort of construct, which could be part of the vision you have at the start of the game, or possibly an event near the ending of the main quest.
That's a lot of speculation and guesswork, but it all sounds pretty darn plausible to me. Starting as a common space-miner, stumbling across a mysterious artifact, inheriting your first ship and robot companion from a dead pilot, and becoming the one person who can unravel the mysteries of the universe feels on par with the main quests in earlier Bethesda games. We'll see how accurate this theory is when Starfield comes out.