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Starfield trailer teases over 1,000 explorable planets, flyable ships, and more

Everything you would expect from a Bethesda game, plus more

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Starfield, Bethesda’s ambitious new role-playing game, appears to be an amalgam of The Elder Scrolls and ambitious spacefaring games like Elite Dangerous and the Star Citizen project. In a presentation livestreamed on Sunday, game director Todd Howard lifted the cover off the highly anticipated game to reveal flyable, customizable starships as well as 100 star systems and more than 1,000 different worlds to explore.

The lengthy trailer, shown during a joint presentation with other Xbox Game Studios projects, and timed to coincide with the Summer Games Fest, also established the game’s storyline. In the year 2330, Starfield’s players are allied with Constellation, described as “the last group of space explorers,” who are on a quest to recover lost artifacts of alien origin. The cast comprises a multigenerational, multicultural crew, and the story could also ponder or attempt to prove the existence of true divinity.

Regardless, there will be spaceships, sunsets, and helpful robot companions, along with what promises to be another masterful soundtrack from Inon Zur. In the tradition of other Bethesda RPGs, Starfield will include highly customizable character creation, craftable weapons and weapons modifications, as well as player bases. The highlight of Sunday’s presentation, however, was the ship customization system, which includes options for multiple components from multiple manufacturers. Players will even be able to fly and fight in their ships from first- or third-person perspectives.

Announced in 2018 alongside The Elder Scrolls 6, Starfield was originally set for a Nov. 11, 2022 launch. Last month, that date was pushed back into the first half of 2023. The delay prompted an apology from the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer.

“These decisions are hard on teams making the games & our fans,” Spencer wrote on social media at the time. “While I fully support giving teams time to release these great games when they are ready, we hear the feedback. Delivering quality & consistency is expected, we will continue to work to better meet those expectations.”

Starfield will launch for Windows PC and Xbox Series X, and it will be playable at launch through Xbox Game Pass.