Starfield is set to be the first new IP in Bethesda’s catalog in over 25 years. Even though the game was first announced during E3 2018, Bethesda has been kicking the can down the road for years with the current release date set for sometime in 2023.
Starfield is another in a line of Bethesda games that’s taking longer than expected to launch. There’s a lot of hype around this game’s potential, but ultimately that has to be weighed against Bethesda’s lackluster history in the wake of games like Fallout 76. There’s a lot to discuss, but we’re missing a lot of key information this close to launch.
Is the hype for Starfield warranted? Let’s take a look at everything going on behind the scenes for this game and see what we can find out.
What’s Taking Starfield So Long?
There are a few things that we need to take a look at when it comes to figuring out why it’s taking Bethesda so long to make and release Starfield.
The first thing that we have to consider is the sheer size of modern AAA games. These games now have the budget of major Hollywood blockbuster movies. There’s a lot more money caught up in these games which means there’s more moving pieces than ever before.
In the case of Starfield, Bethesda is clearly aiming for something very ambitious. This game is reported to have over 250,000 lines of dialogue and at least 1,000 unique planets you can visit. That means that there is an absolute mountain of modeling, animation, and coding that needs to go into this game.
Bethesda also has a shaky track record when it comes to crunch and how they treat their game developers. As the old saying goes, you either pay more to get something done quickly or you pay less and have it done over a longer period of time.
Bethesda seems to be trying to have its cake and eat it too by keeping overhead costs down but still expecting games to come out at a breakneck pace.
Then again, Bethesda might have learned something from the terrible launch of Fallout 76. That game was riddled with bugs and was bordering on unplayable when it was first released. Bethesda could be taking their time with Starfield to ensure that it actually has a strong launch rather than being another in a series of modern flops.
What is the Expected Gameplay Length of Starfield?
Even though we’re potentially less than a year away from the release date, we still don’t know very much about the gameplay and story of Starfield.
The developer recently announced that the expected main-game play length of Starfield is going to be between 30 and 40 hours. This is noticeably longer than Bethesda’s other titles with games like Fallout 4 having 27 hours of expected game play length.
As usual, this is going to vary depending on play style and interest in the story mode. One thing that sets Starfield apart is that this game is already being talked about as something much more expensive than Bethesda’s usual offerings.
The developer has talked about the hundreds of planets you can visit and the hundreds of thousands of lines of dialogue in the game. This signals that even if the story mode comes in at 30 hours, there might be dozens of hours of more content throughout side quests and other adventures in the game.
How Will the Release Graphics Compare to Early Screenshots?
If it’s one thing you can count on when it comes to modern gaming it’s that you can never trust the graphics shown in early screenshots.
Contrary to what you might have heard online, graphics are often the last thing to be finished and polished when it comes to game design. Core mechanics, coding, animation skeletons, and so much more comes before the final graphics are produced and finished.
This means that you can get pretty close to the release date for a AAA title and screenshot leaks can still look a little pretty rough. Game developers often use placeholder graphics to test out the game and get it set up before the final graphics are even finished.
Unless the game’s developer or publisher is claiming that a screenshot or game footage is a representation of the finished product, give leaked screenshots a little bit of a break when it comes to how you judge games.
Which Platform Will Starfield Be Best On?
There’s no question that Starfield is going to play the best on PC (and sold on the Microsoft and Steam stores). We can say this with great confidence based on the fact that Microsoft owns Bethesda and based on the history of Bethesda’s games.
Microsoft is the parent company for Bethesda. Technically, Bethesda is owned by Zenimax which is then owned by Microsoft, but no matter how you slice it, Microsoft is going to want to keep its products in house.
This means that Starfield is only going to be available for the latest generation of Xbox consoles as well as for PC.
Bethesda games are known for their buggy reputation. This has gotten more true over time as they seem to not learn the lessons of past glitchy launches.
These bugs are often patched a lot quicker on PC and you also have access to mods made by community members outside of Bethesda that can do everything from fix graphics to make quality-of-life improvements.
What is the Expected Cost of Starfield?
There’s a lot of discussion over the cost of Starfield. Nothing has been officially announced by Microsoft or Bethesda, but this hasn’t stopped people from speculating at the potential cost of this game.
Starfield is most likely going to keep pace with what we expect from the cost of modern game releases. The base edition is most likely going to come out around $60 with special editions going up from there.
However, Starfield isn’t just any old AAA release. Bethesda is marketing this game as something with revolutionary potential that could change how we look at gaming. If the hype is to be believed, Bethesda might be looking to charge a lot more for Starfield than they do for other titles.
The first part of the FF7 PC remake was over $70, so it stands to reason that Bethesda might use this as an excuse to charge over $60 for the entire Starfield game. Right now, we cannot say for sure though.
Is Starfield Just Going to be “Skyrim in Space?”
People are already really worried that Starfield is just going to be another reskinned Skyrim or Fallout-style game, but there are two things that we can say for certain from what we know today.
The first thing is that we can’t really say all that much. We haven’t seen a lot of Starfield outside of some press release footage and leaked screenshots. We still don’t know the plot of the game’s main story, and we’ve only seen a brief taste of the mechanics that the game is built around.
It’s a little early to say for sure one way or another if this is going to be simply “Skyrim in space.”
However, this is a modern Bethesda game. Bethesda used to have a reputation as one of the best developers out there, but they have lost a lot of that reputation over the years by trying to pass basic re-skins as amazing upgrades.
We’ve seen this time and time again with Bethesda. Todd Howard, the director and executive producer of Bethesda, gets in hot water when Bethesda makes big claims about their game’s advances, but ultimately winds up under-delivering.
From where we stand today, we should be taking Starfield’s lofty claims with a grain of salt.
Will Starfield Live Up to the Hype?
Starfield’s ability to live up to the hype is one of the biggest questions for gaming in 2023.
There’s simply not enough information out there yet to try guessing at whether Starfield is going to live up to the hype or not. Bethesda is making lofty claims about what this game can accomplish, but then again Bethesda has a bad reputation for overhyping and under-delivering.
We’ve got a little more than a constellation of leaked screenshots and marketing footage to work with. We’re going to have to wait until we can see more Starfield before we make a decision on whether or not this game has us over the moon or if it failed to launch.