Recently, Bethesda Softworks released a much-anticipated 15 minute gameplay reveal which excited gaming fans across the globe. Their newest triple A title is Starfield – a space exploration game set in the year 2330, which will include shipping building and space combat along with the more typical Bethesda gameplay elements of questing, crafting, combat, and elaborate character creation. Another major emphasis for the game will be space travel and in this Starfield Exploration preview I’m going to take a closer look at what’s been revealed in the gameplay trailers.
Bethesda shocked many when they announced that there would be more than 1,000 planets which the player could travel to and investigate. Let’s take a closer look at all of the potential possibilities for exploration and player discovery that 1,000 planets might provide.
In my previous video on the game’s length, I also talked a bit about the technology behind the creation of this vast array of planets. According to Game Director Todd Howard, while there is plenty of handcrafting that will go into Starfield – over 200,000 lines of unique dialogue for starters – creating over 1,000 planets wouldn’t be possible for human developers alone. Or at least it wouldn’t be possible if they were trying to release the game this decade.
That’s where procedural generation comes in – using technology to create some of the planets which players will be exploring. Bethesda has been using such automation since Skyrim and the technology has only gotten better since. It gives the developers more time to create meaningful character moments, engaging story, or well balanced combat, while the technology is taking care of a lot of the busy work.
But what does 1,000 planets to explore really mean? Only certain, restricted points on the surface? A large city, or smaller settlement here or there?
No – it means that the whole planet, not just a small piece of it, is available.
“You can land on Atlantis – but you can also land and explore anywhere on the planet”
“And not just this system, but over 100 systems, over 1,000 planets. All open, for you to explore.”Todd Howard
Starfield isn’t just an open sandbox, but 1,000 different sandboxes. With varied environments to explore and the potential for new discovery around every rock face or hidden deep in overgrown forests the amount of gameplay available through exploration and discovery seems nearly limitless.
Bethesda’s RPGs have always revolved around the core conviction of “play how you want.” I’m sure that I was one of many who wandered off the beaten path in Skyrim for ‘just a moment’, got lost, discovered a cave or entered a tomb, and an hour later had forgotten about the main quest as I traversed the wilderness and tried to jump scale mountains on foot.
Starfield is going to be Skyrim x 1000
So, we know that there are hundreds of planets to explore, and we know that many are procedurally generated. What does that mean for gameplay? For those players who come to Starfield for the wonder of search and discovery, what is there to be found?
Crafting resources are an obvious first answer. You’ll need materials to craft medicines, supplies, and weapons – and likely they will also help you to build or power your outposts and ships. Excess materials could be sold to generate income, to further your expeditions into deeper space.
Different materials will likely be found only on certain planets or in certain environments, and you’ll have to keep searching to find exactly what you need.
Another exciting discovery could be life on other planets! And not just the unique flora and fauna the gameplay reveal lets us get a quick glimpse of. Bethesda has been very coy so far on the question of whether or not there is any other intelligent life in Starfield beyond humanity. We see a variety of human faces, but not so much as a hint of an alien one.
Something as dramatic as making first contact might be part of the main story quest, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something out there for players to find. Hidden ruins of alien civilizations or clues to a thriving but reclusive culture could provide the player with additional knowledge and give them an advantage in the main story or against other factions. Perhaps you can discover alien technology which can be reverse engineered through research and thus give your outposts and/or ships a more powerful advantage.
The wide open spaces of planets aren’t the only areas there are to explore, either. According to Todd Howard, there are four main cities in the game, with the capital of New Atlantis taking center stage in the gamplay reveal. Not just the biggest city in the game, but the biggest city Bethesda has ever built, New Atlantis serves as the headquarters for the Constellation faction as well as a base for spaceship construction.
But just like in the wild unknown, what is most interesting in the cities could be off the beaten path. There are sure to be dozens of side quests that will immerse your character into the essence of the city – whether that’s by conducting a mission for one of the factions, assisting the ruling class in exchange for favors or preferential political considerations, or seeking out medicinal resources at the request of the local hospital. In the lower quarters, or down dark allies could be a whole other side to the city, as well. Bounty or assassin missions could provide you with powerful black market weapon mods, or secretly completing tasks for crime bosses could boost not just your finances, but also your political influence as well.
And cities are not just made up of buildings, landmarks, and people, but they are also filled to the brim with things. Bethesda is well known for past games where picking up all the items not literally nailed down is 100% allowed, and even encouraged. Or dare I say, a challenge. Whether you are experimenting with putting buckets on shopkeeper’s heads or getting stuck in an agonizingly slow walk because you picked up one too many pieces of cheese, there is profit, folly, and fun to be had when it comes to acquiring all the in-game items your character can possibly carry. Kleptomania all around!
Adventure is out there!
The scale and scope of Starfield is unlike anything Bethesda fans have seen the studio do before. Players spent hundreds of hours in Skyrim, walking, riding, climbing or even swimming every square inch of the world available to them. How much more will there be to do in a game like Starfield? Is it even possible for one player to see and explore all the planets that the game has to offer?
There are sure to be some who try! Like the adventurers of old the sense of discovery will drive them to seek out another new world, new environment, new experience. To find any secrets or even easter eggs the developers may have hidden for players to find. The vast amount of things to do and see will add hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to the replayability of Starfield and could extend the life of the game for years
I’ll be doing more deep dives into Starfield and covering the game on starfieldguides.com. I’d encourage you to hit the subscribe for the newsletter if you want the latest posts and guides when the game launches. I’ll also be streaming the game on twitch.tv/deltiasgaming. Until next time, thanks for reading!
“We can’t wait to see what you find.”Todd Howard
38 thoughts on “Starfield Exploration”
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