clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A space vessel seen from behind entering faster-than-light speed, with light streaking all around it, in Starfield

Filed under:

Starfield: Everything to know about Bethesda’s next epic RPG

For starters, it comes out in September, and it’s available on Game Pass

Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Starfield, Todd Howard and Bethesda Game Studios’ newest and next grand, open-world role-playing game, will finally launch this fall after two delays. The long-awaited science fiction epic got a deep dive closeup on June 11 with a special Starfield Direct presentation following the Xbox Games Showcase, where even more detail on the game was shared with fans.

It’s a big game, with a big cosmos to explore, and there’s a big fanbase it’s trying to serve. Many players are wondering what exactly they’ll be able to do in Starfield, whether it truly can serve the immersive spacefaring experience of their dreams, or if it is a more rigid story with bright lines drawn around its story paths.

We’ll try to answer all of those questions, and more. Here’s everything we know about Starfield.

When does Starfield come out?

Back in March, Starfield’s release date was announced as Sept. 6, marking the second delay for Bethesda Softworks’ epic sci-fi RPG. It was originally expected in November 2022.

“We have poured ourselves into this game, and even I’m surprised how much we can pour,” game director Todd Howard said during the March announcement. “It is large.”

What platforms is Starfield launching on?

Starfield is available only on Windows PC and Xbox Series X. It’s the third game to be published exclusively to Xbox and PC since Microsoft acquired Bethesda parent Zenimax Media in 2021. The others were May’s Redfall and Hi-Fi Rush in January.

A space explorer on the surface of a snowy moon, with a ringed planet in the sky, in Starfield Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

Will Starfield be available on Xbox Game Pass?

Yes, it will be available day one to Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass — somewhat out of necessity. Delays to Starfield and other major projects have put the subscription service in something of a first-party desert for more than a year.

The head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, admitted in October that “it’s been too long since we’ve shipped what people would say is a big first-party game.”

The point of Game Pass is as a delivery vehicle for big games from the studios Microsoft controls; it becomes even more urgent when the game ending this drought, Redfall, faceplanted at launch.

How many hours long is Starfield?

In an August 2022 interview with IGN, Howard said the main quest line of Starfield is about 30 to 40 hours long.

While this sounds like standard fare for a AAA video game, remember it’s a Bethesda role-playing game, which will surely carry dozens of hours more of side quests, factional quests, and open-ended activities in space and on planet surfaces.

Consider that thousands of players continue to sink time into The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, a game published 12 years ago, and you can expect Starfield to be at least as long, and probably a lot longer.

What kind of gameplay will Starfield have?

Not only is Starfield an action role-playing game, in the mold of Fallout 4 and Skyrim, there is a significant spaceflight and space combat component to it as well. Among some of the details revealed during a 45-minute Starfield Direct on June 11, players saw:

  • A robust character/avatar creation stage, which includes the choice of three character backgrounds, which give the player three starting skills, plus a special trait that offers a gameplay advantage or narrative twist. One such trait that caught peoples’ eye is the Starfield “adoring fan,” (actually the Hero Worshipped trait), which appears to be a callback to The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. (The kid shown even looks like Oblivion’s adoring fan, right down to the blonde fauxhawk.) The return of the adoring fan in Starfield means the player character is continually bothered by an admirer who has followed their exploits. This may be annoying, but the fan can be hired on to the character’s crew, for example. The fan will occasionally give them gifts at random, too.
  • A ship customization suite that allows players to build their vessels as they see fit, placing features like the cockpit and cargo hold where they want them, customizing the landing gear and weapons, and more. This customization will support the player’s preferred style, from a small, fast spacefighter to a large freighter for smuggling. A crew may also be hired for this ship, whether they come from Constellation (the spacefaring organization the player joins to begin the game) or from spaceports the player visits.
  • Yes, that means space piracy is available as an open-ended pursuit. In the demonstration of ship combat, players saw that looting a destroyed ship of its contents was a simple as pressing a button as they flew by. Players can also dock with the ship and board it to deal with any surviving crew in person. Taking over a ship means it can be added to the player’s fleet, modified, or sold for scrap like any other.

Will Starfield have romantic options with NPCs?

Yes. Following multiple romantic questlines in both Skyrim and Fallout 4, Bethesda Game Studios seems well aware that fans expect this as part of a deep role-playing experience.

Will Starfield support modding?

Yes. In a November 2021 Reddit AMA, Howard said, “Our plan [is to] have full mod support like our previous games. 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.”

In the August 2022 interview with IGN, Howard said, “We actually think this game, for our modding community, is going to be a dream, because they’re so much they can do.”

Sarah Morgan, an NPC in Starfield, stands in a living room with a fireplace behind her Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

What are Starfield’s system specs?

Starfield is listed as a 125 GB download on the Microsoft Store (it’s also available on Steam).

On Xbox Series X, Howard has confirmed that the game is locked to 30 frames per second, partly because of the game’s size and scope, he said, but mainly to ensure a consistent performance whether the player is in space combat or exploring the surface of a planet.

Starfield will run at 4K resolution on Xbox Series X and 1440p on Xbox Series S.

As for PC, the recommended system specs, according to Microsoft, are:

  • OS: Windows 10 version 18362.0 or higher
  • Architecture: x64
  • Graphics: AMD RX 6800 XT, Nvidia RTX 2080
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600x, Intel Core i5-10600K
  • DirectX: DirectX 12 API, Hardware Feature Level 12
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Keyboard: Integrated Keyboard
  • Mouse: Integrated Mouse
  • Controller: Xbox controller or gamepad

According to Starfield’s PC system specs as listed on Steam, an SSD is required. Polygon has reached out to Bethesda to verify that requirement and will update when the company responds.

Will Starfield have any DLC or expansions?

During Sunday’s Starfield Direct, Todd Howard mentioned that Starfield will have at least one story expansion, Shattered Space. There’s no word on how long after Starfield’s launch that will arrive.

One spacecraft destroys another in orbit above a white-colored planet with a star shining brightly in the distance, in Starfield Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

Will there be any special edition releases of Starfield?

Yes, there are two: a Premium edition for $99.99 and a whopper of a Constellation Edition at $299.99 that comes with a bona fide smartwatch that resembles the HUD device the player wears in the game. Both entitle the buyer to the Shattered Space expansion.

Those playing on PC or Xbox Game Pass can access the digital content of the Premium Edition for $34.99. While this sounds sketchy for a game you don’t own, it is a first-party title, and those have a very long life on Game Pass. But for what you get, it’s basically pre-ordering the post-launch premium DLC.

Is there any early access for Starfield?

The Premium and Constellation Editions offer five days of early access to Starfield (with pre-ordering implicit). Game Pass players also get early access if they buy the $34.99 Premium upgrade. Early access for Starfield begins Sept. 1.

For a longer look at Starfield, here’s Bethesda’s 45-minute gameplay deep dive into the game from Starfield Direct.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon