Highly anticipated: To be fair, Bethesda has not been stingy with providing updates in the development of its next epic RPG Starfield. However, one thing we have not seen is any of its gameplay, for which fans have been clamoring. Well, clamor no more.
During Sunday's Xbox Game Showcase, hosted by Microsoft and Bethesda, developers finally revealed some of Starfield's gameplay (masthead). Until now, we've only seen some cinematic teasers, concept art, and background on "The Settled Systems." Yesterday's presentation gave a delicious look at character customization, shipbuilding, and combat, both on foot and in space.
Character customization appears more robust than in previous Bethesda RPGs, which is actually saying something because customization has been a strong point in games like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. All the appearance settings you would expect are there. Choose to be fat, thin, big chested, ugly, handsome --- it's a bit like Fallout 3's character appearance settings.
Additionally, the skills menus appear to be pretty deep. Players should be able to tweak a build to fit whatever playstyle they want. A few of the skill categories shown include Social, Combat, and Science. Each skill also has leveled ranks to allow specialization. We noted a few in the Combat tree: Sniper Certification, Targeting, Rapid Reloading, Heavy Weapons Certification, Demolitions, and Ballistics.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Bethesda game without crafting. Todd Howard didn't go deep into the crafting aspect, but it's safe to assume that making your own weapons will be at least as rewarding as Skyrim or Fallout 3.
Base-building in Starfield will be a bit like Fallout 3's settlements. You can hire NPCs to run and manage your outposts. However, in this case, you will actually build the colonies from the ground up. Land on a planet, harvest resources with your mining laser and construct to your heart's content. And that's not all you will build.
Arguably the most exciting feature is crafting your own ships. Starships are modular with several different components from various manufacturers in the game. Howard stopped short of saying ship configurations are infinite, but from what was shown, arrangements appear to be pretty vast.
Finally, there is the exploration aspect of the game. While it cannot come close to No Man's Sky's 18 quintillion procedurally-generated planets, Starfield has 100 star systems collectively containing over 1,000 planets that appear to be even more diverse than NMS. The worlds range in size from Earth-like to big gas giants like Jupiter, with 100 percent of the surface explorable. For those that have spent hundreds of hours exploring every inch of Skyrim, prepare to have your calendar filled trying to explore every nook and cranny of Starfield.
Starfield has suffered some delays, but Bethesda says it's shooting for a 2023 release date. From the looks of it, Microsoft's $7.5 billion investment in Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax could pay off in spades. Starfield is planned as an Xbox/PC exclusive, and it has all the trappings of a system-seller, which is something that Xbox needs.