At long last we're learning about Bethesda's upcoming space RPG, Starfield (opens in new tab), which is due to launch in November of 2022.That's still quite a ways off, but thanks to an E3 teaser trailer (opens in new tab), a behind the scenes making-of feature from The Washington Post, an illuminating interview with Todd Howard in The Telegraph, plus a bit of sleuthing from excited Reddit members, we learned a lot more about Starfield today than we have in the past several years.
Here's all the interesting information we gathered about Starfield.
"It's like Skyrim in space"
I mean, I think we all suspected Starfield would be like Skyrim in space, and I'd wager that's just what we want. A game that is like Skyrim in space. And that's what Howard said to The Washington Post (opens in new tab). Exactly that. "It's like Skyrim in space."
But not exactly like Skyrim in space, as we'll see.
It's "a bit more hardcore" of an RPG than Bethesda has done before
In an interview with The Telegraph (opens in new tab), Howard said: "It's also a bit more hardcore (opens in new tab) of a roleplaying game than we've done. It's got some really great character systems—choosing your background, things like that. We’re going back to some things that we used to do in games long ago that we felt have really let players express the character they want to be."
He didn't elaborate further, but we know Fallout 4, despite being a good game, wasn't really a great RPG (opens in new tab) when compared to earlier Fallout games. Maybe Bethesda has reflected on that and made some different choices that will give players greater freedom when it comes to their characters.
There will be alien races
We saw some alien critters in a piece of concept art for Starfield, but Howard confirmed to The Telegraph that there won't just be alien creatures but actual alien races. That's probably not really a shock to anyone who's played The Elder Scrolls. Surely there will be alien races the way Skyrim has Argonians and Khajiit. But it's nice to hear it confirmed.
Starfield is built in Creation Engine 2
The trailer begins with the words "Alpha in-game footage | Creation Engine 2" showing on the screen. Bethesda also confirmed that Starfield is the first game to be built in the new engine.
That's probably good news. Players have been moaning about Bethesda's creaky Creation Engine for years, but we don't know much about Creation Engine 2 yet, or how much it differs from the engine used for Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76. Bethesda's singleplayer games have famously been a playground for modders, though, so hopefully the new engine will still be amenable to player-made mods.
Bethesda spent a lot of time on space cheese and button labels
First and most importantly, a sandwich is shown in the trailer as the astronaut enters the ship. There's bread, lettuce, salami, and cheese, and a single big bite out of it, which is how we all eat our sandwiches—by taking one big perfect bite out of it and then leaving the rest for later. Speaking to the Telegraph, Todd Howard revealed that the sandwich was given lots of attention for the trailer.
"We spent a lot of time on that cheese sandwich, getting the right sheen on a piece of space cheese," says Howard. "We like that stuff, we geek out on it. Every button, I think, is labelled in the ship."
There are factions like Skyrim, with Constellation being the main one
300 years in the future, humans are exploring deep space, and the faction known as Constellation "is this kind of last group of space explorers. It's like NASA meets Indiana Jones meets the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a group of people that are still searching for answers," Howard told the Telegraph.
"There are a lot of factions in the game but [Constellation is] the main one that you'll become a part of. It’s kind of like Skyrim in terms of the structure of the game, where you're going to be who you want to be, and then there's different factions that you can join, and really carve your own path."
You can't really climb that ladder, sorry
The astronaut is shown climbing a ladder, something famously unheard of in Skyrim. But remember that this is a cinematic trailer and not gameplay. Sounds like in the game, the ladder will function more like a door.
"Well... climbing is not... don't read too much into the ladder. It’s a ladder to get you in and out of the spaceship. That’s about it," said Howard when posed tough ladder-based questions by The Telegraph.
Todd Howard wont say what that blueprint is, other than it's not a blueprint
"What you found is the key to unlocking everything," the voiceover in the trailer says breathlessly, while the camera pushes in on a diagram taped to the wall next to the astronaut's locker.
The telegraph asked about the "blueprint," but Todd Howard responded, "I wouldn't say that's a blueprint." He would only say it was part of the mystery, something for players to freeze frame and speculate about. Which, of course, we're all doing.
To me, it looks like some sort of teleportation or portal technology, which would certainly change everything. (I'd place a small bet on it being a time machine, too). Knowing space games, I assume it's an alien relic created thousands or millions of years ago, because ancient space tech is a common factor in space games and there's always a lot of puzzling over what it does and how to turn it on. There are notes about multiple rotating rings, and another that says "We have so far been unable to determine what happens in the center."
Teleportation, probably, is what happens in the center. Or time travel. One of those.
The books shown have relevance to the story
The book Sailing Around The World by Joshua Slocum is shown on the astronaut's shelf, and that's a real book by a real guy. Not only did Slocum sail around the world alone, the first to ever make such a journey solo, he disappeared in 1909 while on a voyage.
Asked about the significance of the book, Howard shifted in his seat, according to the Telegraph. “It all has relevance…" Howard said. "I’ll just say that.”
Is this astronaut looking for other explorers who disappeared? Disappeared into that alien relic, perhaps? Or is the book just there to foreshadow the dangers of voyaging into the unknown?
The other book is Omega: The Last Days of the World by Camille Flammarion, a sci-fi novel written in 1894. The story is about a comet on a collision course with the Earth. "It is concerned with the philosophy and political consequences of the end of the world," according to Wikipedia (opens in new tab). Is that why Constellation is exploring the galaxy? Is the Earth in peril, or has it been destroyed? Or did it destroy itself before the comet even arrived?
There's a reference to The 10th Planet, a cancelled Bethesda game
Spotted by someone on Reddit, one of the mission patches stuck on that very interesting locker references The 10th Planet, which was a space combat game in development by Bethesda in 1997. It was ultimately cancelled, but at least someone remembers it. Is it just an Easter egg, or will there be space combat in Starfield? We don't know yet.
Concept art shows more than the official trailer does
To be honest, the short 'making-of' video at The Washington Post today reveals just as much as the official trailer, thanks to a ton of interesting looking concept art depicting alien creatures, new planets, strange environments, and massive futuristic cities.
We can see astronauts peering into a cave and one standing in a dense, leafy off-world swamp filled with alien flora. There's a city covered by a glowing dome and built on foundations rising from the sea, with ships in the water around it. We see a pilot standing next to a starship near a massive high-tech metropolis, and another image shows what looks like a smaller settlement or outpost in a chilly-looking mountainous region.
Of course, this art is conceptual so there's no counting on some or even any of it making it into the game itself. But it's interesting to look at and shows the ambition of Starfield to create an interesting universe to explore and varied locations to visit.