Starfield gameplay

Bethesda’s epic spacefaring RPG could soak up weeks of your life, so we’re taking a look at the Starfield gameplay loop.

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Previous Bethesda titles like Fallout 4 require more than a solid day to complete, and we expect nothing less with the Starfield gameplay we’ve seen so far. Numerous mechanics from previous Bethesda games have been expanded and improved upon for Starfield, so what can you expect from your campaign?

With over 1000 planets to explore, companions to romance, and quests to complete, you’ll never be short of something to do in Starfield.

Core Starfield gameplay loop

Once you’re finished with the Starfield character creator, most players are going to experience the same Starfield gameplay loop:

Ultimately, unless you’re doing a Pacifist run, you’re also going to shoot something or someone at some point. The Settled Systems are not safe or peaceful. Whether it be pirates, violent Spacers or the various creatures in Starfield, you’re going to need to defend yourself with the best weapons and armor.

That doesn’t mean you have to go in guns blazing though; you might prefer stealth, pickpocketing, and digipicking – Starfield’s lockpicking mechanic – to get ahead of the competition.

Starfield's gameplay comes with many new innovations, including the pictured Starfield ship and gravity drive.

New and improved Starfield gameplay mechanics

The jetpack has made a return from the Fallout series, but with some noticeable improvements to make combat and exploration easier. Starfield is also the first Bethesda title to feature ship to ship combat, and will require you to customize your spaceship to suit your playstyle. Want to be a marauding pirate? Join the Crimson Fleet, dock with an enemy vessel, and persuade them to ‘kindly’ hand over their belongings. Alternatively, just pick their pockets.

Romance is getting a major improvement, with Todd Howard stating Starfield will focus on deep, meaningful relationships rather than a shallow “they like you or they don’t like you” mentality.

Another big change coming to Starfield is a complete overhaul of the perks, skills, and traits system. Bethesda appears to be merging the best elements from previous titles to create something unique and challenging for Starfield. Rather than increasing your Starfield level and unlocking a perk, you’ll first need to complete a challenge in order to advance your skill trees.

One skill you might want to invest in will be ‘Persuasion’ as Starfield is also overhauling that mechanic. To learn more about this shift in design, be sure to check out our Starfield persuasion guide.

Starfield gameplay trailer

Bethesda’s first look at Starfield’s gameplay came in June 2022 with the Starfield gameplay trailer, which you can view below.

Blazing your own gameplay trail

Players of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series are probably quite familiar with Bethesda’s concept of an open-world experience. Starfield might start you off with a main story quest or throw you at a planet, but you can just as well speed off in the other direction and explore the Starfield map instead.

If you’re not interested in any of the Starfield factions like Constellation, the Freestar Collective, or the Xenofresh Corporation, you can instead find yourself a quiet world somewhere and set up an outpost.

Players interested in settlement and base building can focus on a very different gameplay loop:

  • Survey a world
  • Plant your outpost beacon down
  • Mine some resources with your Cutter tool
  • Process those resources and expand your base
  • Perform some research at the Research Lab for new outpost modules
  • Hire some crew
  • Sit back and watch the sunset

You might still find yourself coming to blows with the local flora and fauna, so getting the best weapons and combat-ready companions will put you in a good place if Starfield’s missions and cities don’t interest you.

Building an expansive base is just another way of engaging with Starfield's gameplay mechanics

Expanding on Starfield’s gameplay

Even once you’ve poured hundreds of hours into Starfield and explored a ton of planets, there’s still more content on the horizon for Starfield. Through future Starfield DLC or the active modding community, you can be sure to find something to expand Starfield’s gameplay. Maybe we’ll see a multiplayer mode, or a survival difficulty that strands you in space if you don’t manage your resources properly.

Regardless of what you add in post launch, you can be sure that Starfield’s gameplay is going to be epic.

If this has you as excited as we are for Starfield’s September release, secure your copy via a Starfield pre order, or get day one access with the Xbox Game Pass.

Tim has sunk at least a thousand hours into Bethesda games over the years, and is always looking for the next mod to extend that playtime further. So, if he’s not busy updating our Starfield weapons database, he’s eagerly anticipating Starfield mods and DLC, or planning his dream outpost.