It’s a pretty good week to be a Bethesda fan, because now we have two very important dates to mark in the calendar: firstly, on June 11th, we’re getting the much promised Starfield focused direct (which was recently reported to be imminent, but I guess we’re going to have to wait until the magical E3 period for any more reveals, like usual).
Secondly, on the 6th of September, the thing will actually – probably, hopefully – release, on PC, Xbox Series consoles, and it’ll be day one on Game Pass, because Bethesda games are Microsoft first-party games now following a bout of extreme capitalism back in 2021. And it’s looking pretty wonderful, actually.
Starfield being set in an era of massive space colonisation is entirely fresh territory for the studio, and nobody could mistake Skyrim’s dragon-pocked tundra or Fallout’s shattered 50s Americana for Starfield’s NASA-core, homemade Star Trek vibe, but it is driven by the same principle that makes Bethesda’s other games so appealing, which is, as was once proudly boasted on the back of Oblivion’s box, that they allow the player to live another life in another world. Or worlds, in this case.
Multiple facets of life, from the mundane to the adventurous, are simulated in Starfield – everything from banking, to piracy, to xenoarchaeology. If Bethesda pull this off, and a delay of almost an entire year is promising sign that they might well do, Starfield could be the most complete vision of a “life in space” simulator ever released, fulfilling the dream that multiple games before it, from Elite: Dangerous to No Man’s Sky, from X: Beyond the Frontier to Star Citizen, have fallen far short of.
And if Starfield is successful in this, it will be because of its heritage: Skyrim in Space might be thrown around as a pejorative in some circles, but I can’t imagine being anything but excited by the prospect. Skyrim on Land is, after all, one of the most beloved and successful games of all time, and for good reason: it’s brilliant.
Starfield will, of course, build on the work that makes The Elder Scrolls so captivating, but as we’ve seen from the latest footage (which was glimpsed in previous reveals, but was placed front-and-centre in this week’s announcement video), it will also embrace the fantastic. Whether you call it magic or advanced alien technology, digging around in impossibly ancient ruins to discover the secret of Big Swirly Things is a key part of the Elder Scrolls experience which survives in Starfield, and it’ll be all the better for it.