Starfield, the spacefaring Bethesda RPG that's been 25 years in the making, is nearly upon us. The Starfield release time for early access drops on the evening of August 31 in the US and very early morning on September 1 in Europe (with a slightly more sociable release time in AU/NZ.
We'll be covering the launch through early access, and all next week up until the game's full release on September 6 for PC, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Game Pass. If you're interested in gaining early access, there is still time to get in a Starfield pre-order, otherwise you'll have to wait a few extra days to gain access to what is undoubtedly the most anticipated upcoming Xbox Series X game in years.
We'll link out to our Starfield review once it goes live tomorrow, and bring you up-to-date coverage of this new Bethesda RPG as it starts to roll out. So stick with GamesRadar+ for all the Starfield launch news and more.
We're still a little while out from both launch and those Starfield reviews dropping, so it feels like the best place to start is with the Starfield Direct. Back in June, Bethesda well and truly lifted the lid with what's since been described as a feature film-length documentary about the game.
If you're trying to while away the hours before Starfield arrives, it might be worth re-watching the Direct a couple of times. On the one hand, it's an excuse to bed down in all the hype again. And on the other, it's 45 minutes long, and that's 45 fewer minutes that you'll have to wait for the game to come out.
Todd Howard made his first ever appearance at Gamescom last week ahead of Starfield's release, so we've learned quite a lot about the game over the past few days. Most recently, design director Emil Pagliarulo revealed a couple of interesting details in an interview - firstly, that a former Bethesda writer-turned-trainee priest had helped the team flesh out one of the in-game religions.
Elsewhere, Pagliarulo discussed the transition to Starfield from the likes of Skyrim and Fallout, revealing how writers found it difficult to move from the stylized, established tones of those worlds to the brand-new horizons that Starfield had to offer.
As we reach launch, the interest in Starfield seems to be kicking up yet another gear. Yesterday, with just a few days to go before the full release, Starfield claimed Steam's top-seller spot from Baldur's Gate 3. While it's not a direct competition, it's certainly interesting to see the two big RPGs of the summer sitting right at the top of the pile.
To go with all that hype, the Starfield marketing machine has also kicked things up a notch, with a partnership with Imagine Dragons in the year of Our Lord 2023.
As a League of Legends fan, I am not equipped to talk smack about musical video game partnerships with this particular band, and as a teenager of the early 2010s, I would be a hypocrite if I did so. So without further ado, here's 'Children of the Sky'.
The arrival of Starfield means that Bethesda is preparing for another important event - full production on The Elder Scrolls 6. Unveiled five years ago, it's been on the backburner as Bethesda focused on its sci-fi efforts, but now that Starfield is nearing the finish line, it's starting to take on a bigger role at the studio.
It's worth noting that even once Starfield is out, several developers will remain on the game to provide post-launch updates, and prepare for that Starfield expansion. But studio head Pete Hines himself has confirmed that some degree of work has started on The Elder Scrolls 6 - let's just hope we're not waiting quite as long for this one...
We're not the only Starfield countdown out there, and at least one of them is far more creative than anything you're going to get out of me once the game is finally in my hands. Last week, one spacefaring genius created a sandwich-inspired Starfield countdown that adds a new bready treat to the table every five minutes until launch.
As of right now - more than a day before the game launches - the screen is entirely filled with a dazzlingly wobbly pile of sandwiches, and the famously irritating Annoying Fan lurking in the background.
Before we get too lost in the waves of excitement heading our way over the next day, it's worth getting some of the details out of the way. Remember that the August 31/September 1 is only for those who have purchased Starfield early access.
If you don't have that, you can find out more about how to get it at the link above, but the short version if that you'll need to have either purchased the Starfield Premium Edition or the Starfield Constellation Edition. Given that the latter is physical only and costs $300, you'll probably struggle to get your hands on it in time for release, but you should still have time tog et the Premium Edition and lock in five extra days with the game.
And before you try and dive into one of those expensive editions, it's probably worth checking the Starfield system requirements. The recommended specs aren't massively demanding, but you'll want a decently powerful machine to make the most of Starfield. Crucially, Bethesda has made it pretty clear that you'll want an SSD to help with those loading times, and you'll also be looking at an install of more than 120GB - so there's a good chance you'll want to be searching out an external hard drive before you blast off.
Returning a little closer to the game itself, if you're still trying to decide how you want to play, this Starfield build planner should help. Using information gleaned from various trailers, it's a comprehensive skill tree that should let you make informed decisions about where you want to take your character.
Going back to Gamescom, one particular detail caught our eye; Todd Howard said that he's still not sure how Starfield will land, because exploration is so different to Bethesda's previous games.
"It's not the same as dropping you in a world like Skyrim. You wander totally differently," Howard says, noting that the moment of stepping out onto a new planet "works almost every time" - a marked change between the single 'leaving the Vault' moment that the Fallout games have become famous for; "when you're looking over the landscape and the star is setting. That's all somewhat simulated. In this game it just happens."
Interestingly, it seems like we might get a slightly earlier look at Starfield than we thought. Streamer DansGaming tweeted yesterday to say that they had permission to stream the game from noon ET time tomorrow (after a three-hour countdown starting at 9am ET).
For those of you keeping count, that's an eight-hour headstart, as Starfield won't unlock until 8pm ET for the vast majority of players. This is probably a broader streaming embargo that means several big streamers will be working under the same rules, but that also means that we'll get to vicariously blast off a few hours early.
I AM ALLOWED TO STREAM @StarfieldGame EARLY THANKS TO @bethesda!I'll be live at 9am (Eastern USA) on August 31st with a countdown stream, and can start playing at Noon!I'm going to be scouring that game for all the secrets. I can't wait to share this experience with you all. pic.twitter.com/7V7SUX2vOvAugust 29, 2023
Another interesting detail from the Gamescom interview blitz was, as Todd Howard put it, how long it took for Starfield to come together in a fun, playable state. It wasn't until the seventh year of its eight-year development cycle that the RPG really "clicked" for the team. Games often coalesce toward the end of development, but the sheer scope of this project really stresses this.
"I thought we would find the answers faster," Howard said of Starfield's long development.
In a pre-launch thank you to fans, Todd Howard admits he's a long-time Reddit lurker and reckons Bethesda has the smartest fans in gaming.
"We like to say we have gaming’s smartest fans, and you certainly are," he said, adding, "Starfield has been a labor of love for us and the fact that all of you care enough to build a community around it means the world to us. We can’t wait for you to play."
Todd Howard sent a heartfelt message to the Starfield dev team congratulating them on the game's impending launch. "It’s an incredible blessing to be surrounded by so many talented and inspirational people every day. Moments like this make you reflect back. Some of us have been together for decades, some joined more recently, but everyone has the same passion. I could not be prouder of their continued dedication to create something truly special."
Howard was also willing to crack a few jokes about just how many times Skyrim has re-launched during Starfield's development.
That just about wraps up our coverage for today, but keep a bookmark here as we head into Starfield's early access launch and beyond! Oh, and how stinkin' cute is the new Starfield Funko Pop?!