Starfield: Everything we know about Bethesda's next RPG

Starfield — an astronaut stands before the body of a massive alien creature.
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Start your countdown clocks for Starfield liftoff. Launch date is less than a month away, with the space RPG marking Bethesda's first original series in a quarter-century. People are, you could say, pretty interested.

The Elder Scrolls studio is promising a thousand planets' worth of adventure—of companions to quest with, ships to customize and fly, outposts to build, and space skeletons doing environmental storytelling with their space journals. As release date nears, we're continuing to collect all the answers to your burning Starfield questions, and you'll find them all here. Here's everything we know about Starfield's story, locations, and gameplay.

Starfield release date

What is Starfield's release date?

Starfield will release on September 6, 2023

Starfield originally had a slated release date of November 11, 2022, but Bethesda announced a delay in May 2022, saying that "The teams at Arkane Austin (Redfall) and Bethesda Game Studios (Starfield) have incredible ambitions for their games, and we want to ensure that you receive the best, most polished versions of them." From there, we expected Starfield in the first half of 2023, but its release date was punted once more with an official September date announcement.

How much will Starfield cost?

Gaming only ever wants to get more expensive, and the major publishers are happy to oblige: Sony, Activision, and now Microsoft have been raising the standard game price to $70 USD, Starfield included. Luckily, Microsoft has made it a habit of putting its latest AAA hits on Xbox Game Pass from launch. Starfield has been confirmed as a day one addition to Game Pass.

Starfield trailers

Here's our first look at Starfield gameplay from 2023

Todd Howard closed out the 2023 Xbox & Bethesda showcase with a big Starfield show and tell. We got a broad sampling of what Starfield has to offer: we got story details, weapon and combat info, character skills and perks, outposts and shipbuilding.

Expanding on last year's gameplay reveal, Bethesda showed off more of every system—letting us see how we could build our ships from different components, customize our characters' looks down to the jawline, and pick skills and traits that would let us mind control aliens.

Here's every other Starfield trailer from E3 2021 onward

Starfield's first trailer was a cinematic teaser. As an astronaut moves through a spaceship's interior and begins their launch sequence, a robot tromps around the lunar surface behind them. A voice-over says "What you've found is the key to unlocking... everything," and "We've come to the beginning of humanity's final journey."

There was also Starfield’s gameplay reveal during the 2022 season of summer showcases, which showed off the surface of a rocky planetoid where the player waved at weird aliens, mined some minerals, and then took on Crimson Fleet pirates inside a research station. 

Starfield gameplay info

Starfield's ships and guns are player-customizable

Starfield - a new module being added to a ship inside the ship builder

(Image credit: Bethesda)

When choosing your spaceship in Starfield, your choices won't be limited to a catalogue of premade stock models. Instead, you can be your own shipwright, hand-designing the starfaring vessel of your dreams. Bethesda's developed a ship customization suite for Starfield, letting you design a spaceship from scratch by assembling individual modules from different ship manufacturers. In addition to your ship's appearance, the modules you choose will also determine your ship's performance and attributes.

Guns will likewise be a canvas for your creativity, in a particularly lethal medium. A weapon crafting system will let players modify and customize their arsenal of space firearms. A glimpse of in-game crafting mechanics showed researchable mods for a submachine gun, offering potential barrel, grip, optic, and muzzle customization options. 

Starfield's character creation, skills, and traits

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield's 2022 gameplay reveal gave us our first look at character creation, and we got a more expansive follow-up in June 2023's Starfield Direct. Character creation will begin by choosing a generic character template, then progressing through body shapes and sizes, skin tones, and hairstyle choices. And, of course, there are plenty of sliders for fine-tuning your space explorer.

During character creation, you'll also select a background. Your background is a representation of your character's history: Options include combat medic, bouncer, professor, or homesteader, each one associated with three starting skills. You'll recognize some familiar Bethesda RPG staples there: medicine, lasers, persuasion, bargaining, etc.

If that's not enough roleplaying, there is also a long list of Starfield traits, another familiar system from past Bethesda games. These are optional choices for your character that come with pros and cons. "Spaced" gives you increased health and endurance while in space but decreased on the surface, for instance. If you end up feeling like a trait is more annoying than it's worth, you're not stuck with them forever: according to Howard, these traits are "problems you can solve." Traits will have sidequests to remove them.

Some traits include:

  • Dream Home: You own a luxurious, customizable house on a peaceful planet! Unfortunately it comes with a 50,000 credit mortgage with GalBank that has to be paid weekly.
  • Hero Worshiped: You've earned the attention of an annoying "Adoring Fan" who will show up randomly and jabber at you incessantly. On the plus side, he'll give you gifts… On the negative side, he can't be killed. Not permanently, anyway. Feel free to try.
  • Kid Stuff: Your parents are alive and well, and you can visit them at their home. But 10% of all the money you earn is deducted automatically and sent to them.

What Elder Scrolls and Fallout mechanics will be in Starfield?

(Image credit: Bethesda)
  • NPCs can be pickpocketed. Hopefully we can do the ol' "live grenade left in the pockets" trick.
  • Lockpicking's back, too. Or technically "digipicking", if you're going by the name of Starfield's lockpick equivalent. 
  • There's a persuasion minigame, but supposedly more involved than Oblivion's dialogue pie chart. As Starfield lead quest designer Will Shen says in Into the Starfield episode 2: "You have to think about 'what's my risk here?' We didn't want it to be a system where there's definitely a right thing to say."
  • There will be recruitable NPC companions. As in earlier Bethesda games, they'll assist in combat. And yes, some of them are romanceable.
  • You'll be able to join factions. Their questlines will be independent from each other, unlike the Fallout 4 factions that locked you out of other questlines.
  • You can build outposts, which we’ve now seen in more detail in the latest Starfield Direct. What we saw looked similar to the base-building in Fallout 4 and Fallout 76, but with the incredibly handy ability to zoom out to an overhead view for some extra precision in your base planning.

Starfield companions will hopefully have more depth

(Image credit: Bethesda)

As you'd expect from a Bethesda RPG, Starfield will have characters willing to travel alongside you in your adventures. The first one we learned about was Vasco, but we’ve also seen a lot more Starfield companions in the Starfield Direct—including Constellation members Sarah Morgan and Barrett. The expeditionary robot may be Starfield's default companion, similar to Dogmeat in Fallout 4. Refurbished to handle the rigors of expeditionary space travel, Vasco sounds like he's more of a workhorse, with storage capacity and a variety of gear to aid you in exploration. He still has weapons, though, so he'll be able to assist in a fight with his handy face-laser.

In Starfield, they'll come in two varieties: companions and crewmates. The companions are the four of your Constellation comrades who can go star trekking with you, like Sarah Morgan and Barrett—they each have accompanying story lines and a range of hand-crafted interactions and reactions. Crewmates, meanwhile, are a wider, more generic pool of characters you'll be able to recruit to your starship. There are more crewmate options available, but they don't have the bespoke storylines and interactions that the companion characters do.

You'll be able to romance the Constellation companions, but not any of the crewmate options. Don't get your hopes up for anything titillating, though. According to everyone's most-trusted name in games media, the national government of Australia, its Classification Board found that there's no sex in Starfield. Bethesda has achieved a celibate galaxy.

Starfield has space magic, apparently

It was only shown briefly in the Starfield Direct showcase, but it seems like Starfield's universe is a little more magical than you might expect. At one point in the presentation, we got a short clip of the player character stretching out their hand to do some Jedi business, apparently turning off gravity for the hallway full of now-floating enemies in front of them. How exactly you'll acquire space wizard skills is an unknown at this point, but safe to assume it's related to the mysterious alien artifacts you and the rest of Constellation are investigating.

Will Starfield be multiplayer?

Starfield will not have multiplayer. Bethesda currently has no plans to develop competitive PvP or co-op features for Starfield, and we don't expect it. With the exceptions of Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls Online, it's rare for Bethesda games to dabble in multiplayer.

Of course, maybe modders will pull another Skyrim Together miracle a decade after launch.

Starfield setting and locations

How big is Starfield? How many planets are there?

Starfield — a third-person screenshot showing a Starfield player character from behind as they look out across a snowy, sunlit mountain range on an alien world. A ringed planet hangs in the sky above them.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

In the gameplay reveal, Todd Howard said that Starfield's galaxy will contain over 1,000 explorable planets. To make that number possible, Bethesda's been filling out its galaxy with a blend of hand-crafted design work and procedural generation, and each planet can be landed on and explored on foot. In June 2023, Todd Howard said that "about 10%" of those 1,000 planets will have life on them. That might not sound like a lot, but hey, those are pretty good numbers compared to reality. Hell, I've only got the one.

That's not to say the other 90% will be a waste of your time, though. "We will generate certain things for you to find on [barren planets]," Howard said on the Kinda Funny Xcast. Even so, it sounds like Bethesda's comfortable with letting the majesty of space rocks shine. As Howard said, "If you look at a planet … there is—I love the Buzz Aldrin quote—'the magnificent desolation.'"

What do we know about the major Starfield locations?

Starfield— A crowded, neon-lit city street, shrouded with an industrial haze.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield's story takes place in and around a region of space known as the Settled Systems: a 50 light year radius of human expansion around our own solar system. It's divided up between two major factions—the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective—who are at an uneasy peace after a recent war. Players might face other threats, including "Ecliptic mercenaries, pirates of the Crimson Fleet, violent Spacers, or even the fanatical religious zealots of House Va'Ruun."

Also introduced are other Starfield cities and locations: New Atlantis, the capital of the United Colonies, and Akila City, the capital of the Freestar Collective, which is walled to keep out "alien predators that are a cross between a wolf and a velociraptor." The latest addition is Neon, the ‘pleasure city’ that used to be a fishing dock until workers caught a psychedelic fish and the entire area turned more towards nightclubs than angling. 

What do we know about Starfield's factions?

It wouldn't be a Bethesda RPG without some clashing factions and associated questlines to dive into. Constellation, a group of human explorers, seems like the game's main faction. Todd Howard has described the group as "like NASA meets Indiana Jones meets the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a group of people that are still searching for answers."

Otherwise, we don't know many specifics, but we've gotten brief descriptions of some Starfield factions that we'll encounter in our space voyages. According to a Bethesda video Q&A with quest designer Will Shen, Starfield's faction questlines will play a bit more like Skyrim than Fallout 4. In other words, they'll all be independently playable: You should be able to play as you please without locking yourself out of a faction's questline, which was possible for some faction storylines in Fallout 4. 

Starfield system requirements

Bethesda's system requirements for Starfield are pretty modest, considering the game's galactic scale. Turns out you can cram a thousand or so planets into 125 gigabytes of hard drive space. It will need to be an SSD, though.

Here's Starfield's minimum and recommended specs, which you might meet comfortably even if you're not running cutting edge hardware:


  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, Intel Core i7-6800K
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • GPU: AMD Radeon RX 5700, NVIDIA GeForce 1070 Ti
  • Storage: 125 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: SSD Required


  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, Intel i5-10600K
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • GPU: AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
  • Storage: 125 GB available space
  • Additional Notes: SSD Required

Even more Starfield details

Starfield — a Starfield player character approaches a hovering, glowing, gyroscope-like artifact.

(Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

Here's every Starfield tidbit from Todd Howard

In the long months leading up to Starfield, Bethesda's been releasing Todd Howard from his dream factory to bestow some carefully-selected scraps of Starfield info. Here's a collection of Todd's teasers.

In an interview with IGN, Howard described Starfield's ship combat as having a slower tempo, making explicit call-outs to systems-juggling in games like FTL and the MechWarrior series.

Howard also took the time to address concerns about Starfield's big 1,000 planet number, and about how much polished gameplay that'd involve. According to Howard, Starfield will have more handcrafted content than any other Bethesda game.

During the Tokyo Game Show, Howard told the audience that Starfield will launch with a complete Japanese localization and that it has over 150,000 lines of dialog. As Nibellion pointed out on Twitter, that's more than twice as many lines as Skyrim.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Todd Howard said Starfield is "like Skyrim in space," and like Skyrim and Bethesda's Fallout games, Starfield will be playable both in first and third-person perspectives. "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."

In an interview with The Guardian, Howard says, "We’ve been talking about [Starfield] for a decade, we started putting things on paper five, six years ago, and active development was from when we finished Fallout 4, so two and a half, three years.”

Asked in a Bethesda Q&A video whether Starfield is a hard scifi game, Todd Howard said it's "hard to us," but made sure to add an asterisk, saying Bethesda is definitely prioritizing fun in play over scientific accuracy. "It's a trap question, right? It's a video game. A hard science fiction video game would be: you die in space cold."

In the Bethesda Q&A video mentioned above, Howard laid out the major inspirational touchstones for Starfield, which stretch back over four decades. 1984 Apple II space sim SunDog was named, as well as mentioned Traveller, a scifi pen-and-paper RPG first published in 1977.

Todd Howard has toured Elon Musk's company SpaceX for Starfield research and inspiration. Similar inspiration informed Starfield's art style, described internally as "NASA-punk," as lead Starfield artist Istvan Pely told Xbox Wire.

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 confirmed that Starfield is the first game to be built in the new engine.

We don't know much about Creation Engine 2, or how much it differs from the engine Bethesda has been using and updating for years for everything from Skyrim to Fallout 76.

Starfield will be moddable

Todd Howard has said in no unclear terms that, like Bethesda's previous singleplayer RPGs, Starfield will be moddable. 

"Our plan [is to] have full mod support like our previous games," Howard said in a 2021 Reddit AMA. "Our modding community has been with us for 20 years. We love what they do and hope to see more make a career out of it."

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.

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