“What does going to space mean to you?” — Bethesda Details Their Vision For Starfield with Gorgeous Concept Art

"I want to see what's out there."

Starfield is one the most highly-anticipated games of the coming year. It’s Bethesda‘s next big title and the first one under Microsoft Studios. As was confirmed at E3 last year, Starfield is indeed an Xbox exclusive but will also launch on PC. It’s currently set to release on 11th November, 2022 so roughly a year from now. In the meantime, Bethesda has kept fans both curious and excited at the same time with little snippets of the game here and there. Today, the company finally gave us our first serious look at Starfield since last year’s trailer.

What is Starfield?

Starfield is an open-world sci-fi action-adventure RPG from Bethesda Game Studios that follows the path of previous great Bethesda titles. The game is centered around space exploration and you play as a member of Constellation, the last of the “space explorers” in the game world. In a way, Starfield is similar to No Man’s Sky because it lets you wander around and discover space at your own pace and will. However, the game won’t be as colorful or fantastical as No Man’s Sky as it takes a much more grounded, almost Interstellar-like approach to outer space.

A beautiful cosmic horizon showing the point where this planet ends and our space begins | Bethesda Softworks

The concept art reflects this well, showing off realistic spacecrafts and environments that aren’t far from what us humans already have seen or, at least, imagined. Everything from the suits worn by the explorers to the food eaten by the people onboard the spaceships is made to look as close to real as possible. The game is still a science fiction story and very much a Bethesda one at that (as we’ll see later), but it’s trying to do something different than everything else on the market.

External wide shot of a highly-realistic looking spacecraft in Starfield bearing close resemblance to how real-life space vessels actually look | Bethesda Softworks

The Starfield vision

In the first episode of the “Into The Starfield” series released on YouTube, the legendary Todd Howard sits down with two other Bethesda developers, Studio Director Angela Browder and Art Director Matt Carofano to discuss the vision of Starfield. As we’ve all come to know by now, Todd Howard is an exceptional salesman and he certainly delivers on that promise here as well with cleverly-marketed glimmers of hope like you’ve never seen before. I mean, the man managed to sell us on Fallout 76 for Christ’s sake!

Todd Howard, Angela Browder, and Matt Carofano sitting together to discuss the vision for Starfield | Bethesda Softworks

The group starts off with talking about how by now everyone knows what a Bethesda game is. A deep focus on exploration, role-playing, and larger than life narratives along with extensive world-building, mixed in with relatable characters and moments of humane genuineness is present throughout their games. And the team wants to continue in this set path of creating yet another world, yet another story for everyone to enjoy, but with some significant advancements that evolve the game in a new way.

A room inside a spacecraft or perhaps even a space station with a subtle glimpse of the planet visible through the window | Bethesda Softworks

Starfield will feel like a true Bethesda game. It will follow a first-person perspective and include all the Bethesda stables you’ve come to expect from their games. Todd talked about how even though the mechanics of Starfield are completely new, things like being able to pick up any random object wherever and whenever you like are all here. Even seeing the sun set over the horizon as the world transforms in real-time around you is present in Starfield. All of those things make the whole world more believable and the team at Bethesda certainly understands this.

A warm sunset in Starfield showing how the world moves along even without our input | Bethesda Softworks

Exploration and believability

As the conversation continues, throughout the video we see new concept art. We get to see the insides of different spaceships, a beautiful wide shot of a spacecraft, a planetary landing along with some other neat teases that make me even more excited for the game. The group also mentions how the art of this game is vital to the aspect of reality. Everything you see in Starfield is through a real-world lens. Like all this could actually be a reality one day. The team has even penciled the fictional food for space explorers and toys for their kids.

And what makes things more believable? Details. Well, Starfield has a ton of those. The group tells us that the Starfield dev team took inspiration from everywhere and incorporated it into the game. For example, members of the team who have a general interest in robotics helped design and conceptualize the robots in game. How the devs with engineering backgrounds contributed in the design of everything from spaceship doors to the actual space suits. Real life inspiration flows through Starfield.

Moreover, Todd really hammers down the importance of exploration. Now, exploration has been integral to Bethesda games in the past but Starfield is different. Because it’s the tale of the ultimate plain of exploration; space. What really lies beyond this little planet of ours, what’s really out there? That’s the question Starfield is looking to answer.

A space vessel venturing out into the unknown to explore the cosmos | Bethesda Softworks

The game also wants to immerse you inside a whole new world where everyone you meet, everyone you see, every place you visit has history, its own art, its own entertainment, its own life. Nothing should feel like it’s just a game, rather it’s a universe with endless stories to be told and adventures to be had. That’s why Bethesda is working hard to ensure that the game has rich world-building that only reflects the epic scale of the environment but also portrays the more grounded nature of the narrative.

The “Step-Out” moment

In the light of exploration, Todd highlights that Bethesda games have always had a “step-out” moment. This is the moment where you/your character steps out in the world for the first time and sees the abyss for what it is in its full glory. Most famously, the vault opening in Fallout is a prime example of the step-out moment. This moment really makes you want to know more about the world and the drive for exploration sets in. Starfield, being the ultimate exploration game, has two step-out moments, according to Todd Howard.

A space explorer lands on an uncharted planet, possibly having their own “step-out” moment | Bethesda Softworks

You can decipher that statement in countless ways but what I personally think is that the first step out moment is when the actual game starts and you’re greeted on to perhaps your room in a space station or maybe on Earth and as soon as you step out of there and see the full environment, you get your first step out moment. The second step out moment is when you finally go into space for the first time, or maybe when you make your first landing and step out on an unexplored planet. I’m sure you can imagine all the possibilities.

Two Lives

It also seems like Starfield will have mod support from day one, or at least early on in its life because the group were very insistent of getting the point across that Bethesda games have two lives: one that the actual developers create and one that we do. The first live is the way that the game is meant to be played, the way the developers intender for the game. The other life implies how the fans mod the game to the point where it becomes an entirely different experience.

The group specifically mentioned how the fans create this other world using their tools, once again implying the use of mod tools. Lately, we’ve seen Bethesda be more and more supporting of mods and encouraging them more than ever so it won’t be a surprise if we see Starfield launch with decent official mod support, or even extensive mod support down the line.

Bethesda is all in

Lastly, it’s important to note that Starfield is aiming to be a mature yet grand sci-fi tale that will likely be several hours long rich with side quests and activities, just like every other Bethesda game. If you ask me, this seems much more like a Elder Scrolls than a Fallout, you know? It’s a game Bethesda has been reportedly working since 2013, that’s when the term “Starfield” was first trademarked.

A spacecraft landing on a planet in Starfield | Bethesda Softworks

It looks like the team is pouring their hearts out in this game and trying to capture the magic of what it feels like to defy gravity. Embarking on an cosmic journey is a landmark endeavor for any human and Bethesda wants to make sure you feel that. As we’ve seen with a lot of recent titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Battlefield 2042, expectations are the thief of joy and Starfield is hyped to oblivion.

So, this is a dangerous line to walk for Bethesda as they’ve got to prove themselves in light of recent events. With a laser focus on exploration and open-world gameplay, Starfield will be the most ambitious project the company has ever taken on, and it seems as if the wait might just be worth it. Fingers crossed.

A space explorer watches the gloomy yet glistening buildings of a city at night | Bethesda Softworks

Starfield releases on November 11, 2021 on Xbox Series X|S and PC, it will also be available on Xbox Game Pass on day one. Expect more episodes of the Into The Starfield series as the weeks go on, and return here to catch up on everything revealed in the videos. The next major reveal, which will most likely be a full gameplay reveal, will be seen at E3, eight months from now. Till then, these introspective shorts on Starfield should keep our appetite in check.

Huzaifa Haroon
Born and raised around computers, Huzaifa is an avid gamer and a Windows enthusiast. When he's not solving the mysteries of technology, you can find him writing about operating systems, striving to inform the curious.