In early June Bethesda Softworks released a much-anticipated 15 minute gameplay reveal which caught the attention of gaming fans across the world. Their newest triple A title is Starfield – a space exploration game set in the year 2330, which will include a massive amount of planet exploration, along with the more typical Bethesda gameplay elements of questing, crafting, combat, and elaborate character creation. In this Starfield Starships preview I’m going to breakdown what we might expect to see and experience with the game’s most important mode of travel and exploration.
Another major emphasis for the game will be ship building and space combat. Your starship will be fully customizable, allowing you to choose certain performance strengths based on how you want to play the game. This is Deltia from starfieldguides.com and in this Starfield game preview I’ll be analyzing all of the available information on starships and how they could influence gameplay.
Starships aren’t just static modes of transportation in Starfield, or merely a flat user interface the player uses to hop from planet to planet. Instead, starships are a vital part of gameplay – to leave any planet and travel to another you will have to literally fly it through space! Whether your gameplay focus is exploration, the main quest, combat, settling outposts, or even crafting, that progression will require the use of a starship.
Although we don’t yet know exactly how the player will find, earn, or buy their first starship, it is likely that the early game model will only have the most basic design and functions available. To be able to go ‘higher, further, faster,’ the player will have to invest at least some of their gameplay time into making upgrades and improvements to their ship. With this in mind, what have we seen in the gameplay reveal that could give us an idea of the possibilities available?
The most immediate and obvious differences in starships will be in their look and layout. From what we can see in the ship building interface, many, if not most, of a ship’s elements will be interchangeable and you can completely change the interior layout and exterior visuals with the click of a button (and probably at the cost of some ingame currency).
“You could spend thousands of hours doing nothing but ship building.”Pete Hines, SVP of Global Marketing and Communications
One of the things which the gameplay reveal shows us is some of the different modules available for purchase in the ship building UI. As the video clip switches between various components, you can also see that each type of module is produced by a different ship manufacturer – Nova Galatic and Nautilus to name just two. Each manufacturer seems to have their own specific look and design style for their modules. You could create a ship entirely made from complementary pieces from one particular company, or you could mix and match for a unique look.
Color changes will also be available! Need your ship to be unremarkable or even dark enough to hide in the depths of space? There will be plenty of variations on gray and black to suit your needs. Or do you feel like the steel/metal look is so 21st century? Make your starship identifiable in any harbor or outpost by splashing it with some highlighter colors no one can ignore.
But the exterior visuals only scratch the surface of what you’ll need to consider when building and modifying your ship. A closer look at screenshots from the gameplay reveal can give us an idea of just how much can be customized. Here are some of the components we’ve seen so far:
- Engines – better engines increase speed and acceleration.
- Fuel tanks – greater capacity tanks enable your ship to jump farther or more often in space.
- Reactors – provide power to all of your ship’s systems.
- Lander – landers will auto-deploy their legs and can be built to land on rough terrain.
- Weapons – Various types of cannons and guns will keep your ship, crew, and cargo well protected in the far reaches of space. Choose them well!
- Mass – keep an eye on the weight/mass of each component you add to your ship! The mass of your starship will affect its performance – ie, the heavier your ship is the less acceleration power your new engine may have.
Engines, shields, and weapons systems are all vital to any space worthy starship but balancing the functions you want to have versus their cost (not just currency cost, but how their weight or power requirements will affect other components) will sometimes be a challenge.
The vast depth of space isn’t just some empty neutral zone in Starfield – whether its space pirates, corporations, political groups, powerful financial institutions or insurgents, there will always be the possibility of running into an unfriendly opponent in the sky. Space combat will likely be a necessary part of the gameplay, if you wish to arrive safely to your next destination.
In his interview with IGN, Game Director Todd Howard describes the type of “dog-fighting” flight combat as somewhat similar to that found in MechWarrior. It will be more of a slower pace, where you can feel the weight and shape of your craft as you maneuver and make turns. Howard also states that there are three different weapons systems, and that shields will play an important role, as well. These can all be modified or improved through the starship building interface.
“It’s not just how the ship looks, it’s how it performs.”Todd Howard, Game Director
At a particular point in the video, we are given a glimpse of the space combat in action, and you see that the defeat of an enemy ship actually grants you some experience points. What possible skill is this XP leveling up? Is it just overall experience for the player character, or is there some specific space combat skill line that we are as yet unaware of? Will you be able to level up your character’s piloting skills or mechanical/repair skills? It would be very interesting if the player could improve their space combat not just through materials ship upgrades, but through their own abilities and skills as well.
Starship uses are not going to be limited to just space exploration and combat, either. In his interview with IGN, Game Director Todd Howard mentions that starships will also have the ability to dock with one another. You could potentially disable an enemy starship, or sneak up on an unoccupied vessel, dock with it in space, board it, and even steal it if you so choose.
While so far it’s never been explicitly stated that a player can have more than one starship, the ability to steal a ship implies that it could be possible. Perhaps if you have a crew member with you, they could pilot the second ship back to an outpost or city port with you. If so, imagine the possibilities this could offer! With enough strength and cunning, you could eventually be the admiral of your very own starship fleet!
Another possibility Howard mentioned is smuggling. Though further details haven’t been revealed yet it is possible that you could join a smugglers faction – maybe those pirates! – and generate lots of in-game currency by running jobs for them. You could then turn that currency around and reinvest in your ship, making it a more formidable opponent or a much faster rogue vehicle.
A Ship is Freedom
With more than 1,000 planets to explore, much of Starfield’s gameplay will revolve around starships! Bethesda explicitly encourages playing the way you want in all of their games, and this will be clearly reflected in how the player chooses to modify their starship.
Want to be a top-notch pilot who thrives off the adrenaline of combat? You can tailor your starship to your specifications, focusing on improvements in weapons and shields. Or do you prefer to explore, with the goal of setting foot on each and every planet you can find? Again, you can build a ship for that by improving the power systems which enable you to travel farther away from your outposts in one trip. If you want to smuggle and steal, then a ship with powerful, fast engines would be top priority!
Starships are going to be integral to Starfield gameplay, and Bethesda has clearly put a lot of time and effort into developing a robust ship building system where the player can create and modify their starship based on their specific needs. This opens up a world of possibility for all kinds of unique and personal builds, where the starship that you choose to assemble will likely vary widely in form and function from that of your friends!
Looking for more about Starfield?
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!