During the Xbox and Bethesda showcase at E3 2022, we finally got our first proper look at Starfield gameplay. With a plethora of features on display to give us an idea of what we’ll be able to play around with in Bethesda’s upcoming spacefaring RPG, there’s certainly no shortage of reasons to get excited. With Todd Howard taking to the stage to offer insight into elements such as the size and scope of the adventure, customization options, character creation, and more, we’ve put together a list of the most exciting Starfield gameplay features we can’t wait to experience for ourselves.
1,000 planets and 100 systems to explore
The Starfield gameplay gave us a sense of the size and scope of the space-set RPG. Todd Howard revealed that there will be 1,000 planets and 100 systems to explore. When we encounter a new world, we’ll also be able to land anywhere on the planet’s surface and explore all it has to offer. Just how dense and populated these planets are remains to be seen, but it certainly sounds like there will be plenty for us to discover and explore in the galaxy.
Scanning and gathering resources
The Starfield gameplay also showed off some of the features we’ll be able to use when we’re planet-side. As we explore and survey each world we encounter, it looks like we’ll be able to use a scanner device to locate and identify resources, and flora and fauna that’s native to the environment. The scanner can also be used to scan nearby elements such as pirate ships. The UI also shows you how many discoverable resources there are to find and the percentage of flora and fauna you’ve scanned. It looks quite similar to the way scanners work in No Man’s Sky, which allows you to scan and identify resources around planets. We also get to see a tool known as a Cutter, which mines and gathers materials – the tool uses a laser style drill to carve out iron from the rocky terrain. Any resources you find can be used to start research projects.
While we don’t get to see it directly in action, the gameplay footage quietly confirmed that Starfield has a photo mode. During the sequence with the scanner, you can see a little prompt to activate photo mode at the bottom of the screen. We don’t yet know what options this will offer, but if other photo modes are anything to go by, we may well be able to play around with different filters and compositions. Just knowing we’ll be able to capture shots of our spacefaring adventure is certainly exciting and it’s a welcome feature we’re very glad to see will be included.
When Starfield was first announced, Bethesda said you can create any character you want, and it looks like we’ll be able to do just that. During the gameplay showcase, we got to take a look at Starfield’s character creation, which Todd Howard said is the “most flexible yet”. Outfitted with sliders that appear to offer a vast amount of different options, you’ll be able to customize “all the elements of how you look”. From what we’ve seen so far, there are features to change and customize your body type, walk style, skin tone, hair style, hair color, eyes, and more.
Backgrounds and optional traits
Alongside options to customize how your character looks, the character creation tool also lets you select your own background. With a long list to choose from, each background will give your character a set of starting skills. During the showcase, some of the backgrounds we got to see included a Chef with Gastronomy, Wellness, and Dueling starting skills, as well as a Cyber Runner who has Pistol Certification, Security, and Persuasion – each skill offers a different buff or ability that will no doubt come in handy in various situations. Alongside backgrounds, you also select three optional traits that give you unique advantages and disadvantages.
While it wasn’t highlighted by Howard during the Starfield gameplay showcase, we did get to see the player-character sport and use some kind of jetpack. When the view switches to third-person, we can see the jetpack resting on the character’s back, and there are a few instances where we see them make use of it to propel up into the air. After coming across the space station, you can hear it activate as the character launches across the terrain. On another occasion, a ship lands a short distance away and the jet pack is used to glide over a gap to reach the enemies emerging from it. It certainly looks like it’ll come in quite handy as we explore worlds and fight foes.
Just like Bethesda games passed, Starfield features its very own take on the classic lockpicking minigame. During our adventures we can come across locked items such as weapon cases that we’ll have to pick our way through. Known as ‘Digipick’, Starfield’s lock picking minigame looks suitably futuristic, with a digitized-looking ring with missing pieces that you have to line up a set amount of times to successfully unlock the case. It looks like it will also feature a security level difficulty system, with the example we’re shown being Novice difficulty. There’s nothing quite like getting your hands on some good loot after you’ve bested a lock.
Build your own outpost
As Howard explained, you’ll be able to build up your own outposts which “act as home away from home for survival and resource generation”. Starfield lets you place down a variety of different structures and you’re free to choose where and how you build it. Rather excitingly, you can even hire characters you encounter during your travels to stay at an outpost and keep it up and running for you. It sounds quite similar to the building features in Fallout 4, where you could build up your own settlements with different structures and assign settlers to act as guards or run any shop stalls you may establish.
Build and customize your spaceship and weapons
Of course, no spacefaring adventure is complete without your trusty ship. Alongside creating and customizing your character to your liking, you’ll also be able to build your very own spaceship however you wish. From choosing the crewmembers aboard the ship to being able to “completely customize the look and layout” and changing up its performance, Starfield looks set to feature in-depth creation tools so you can truly realize the spacecraft of your dreams. With different modules and ship manufacturers to choose from, to different weapons and engine systems, there are also cosmetic options such as the color of the paint job you give to different parts of the ship. Starfield also features a crafting system that allows you to create mods and upgrade any weapons you wield.
Become a pilot
Naturally and most excitingly, you’ll be able to fly the ship you create. As well as exploring the planets on foot, you’ll be able to navigate your way through the stars and travel distant worlds as the pilot of your own spacecraft. As the gameplay shows, it looks like we’ll be able to fly our ship through the galaxy from different viewpoints. At one stage we see the view directly out of the cockpit window as we sit in the driver’s seat, while we can also seemingly follow the ship from an outside view as we traverse through space.
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