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Starfield is like Skyrim in space, but with some key differences

Bethesda’s newest RPG Starfield shares many similarities with its sibling games Skyrim and Fallout, but there’s plenty of new features to get excited about as well. Let’s take a look under the hood of this shiny new space sim.

Published on: 28-06-2022

The release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim could be described as one of the most monumental events in gaming history. Ask a random person on the street whether they’ve played it, and chances are they won’t just say ‘Yes’, but are also able to give a detailed recollection of their adventures in Skyrim.

Now, more than 10 years later, developer Bethesda is prepping their newest RPG adventure: Starfield. Instead of exploring lush forests and battling gruesome spiders, dragons and other medieval fantasy creatures, we are going beyond the skies, to the vastness of outer space.

A huge dinosaur like creature towers above the player character on a exotic looking planet

As can be expected of a game from Bethesda, Starfield will share some DNA with other games from their portfolio, such as Skyrim and Fallout. Think of the open world setting, role playing mechanics, some slightly janky combat and, let’s not beat around the bush: a good amount of funny bugs.

Some people will rejoice to hear that Starfield can be accurately described as “Skyrim in space”, while others will groan as they are reminded of the stiff animations and perhaps a bug that wasn’t as funny as it was gamebreaking. But rest assured: while Starfield has plenty in common with Skyrim, it also does tons of new and interesting things. On top of that, Starfield also seems to improve on gameplay mechanics that we’ve come to love (or hate) from Bethesda’s RPGs.

What type of game is Starfield?

Starfield is an open world action role-playing game with shooter combat. You create your own character, assign them traits and a background story and are then plunged into the universe, which you can freely explore to carve your own path.

The game has a main story campaign to follow, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can go off the beaten path and start different questlines for various factions. These quests will have you exploring different planets, moons and interstellar cities, talking with characters and of course, shooting up alien creatures and space pirates.

The interior of a spaceship in Starfield. It looks like a community or dining area with a table with playing cards.

With the experience you gain by completing quests and defeating enemies, your character grows stronger and you obtain new and stronger weapons and equipment. Levelling up also allows you to distribute points to improve your character’s  charisma, resilience, stealth, or other attributes.

Building your character is one of the most important aspects of the role-playing gameplay in Starfield. For example, having high charisma makes it more likely that you can talk your way out of a dangerous situation, or gain trust with a suspicious individual. But if that’s not your style, you can always go into every situation with guns blazing.

The game can be played in both first person and third person view, depending on your preference, and you can switch between perspectives whenever you please. You might prefer a first person view during shootouts, but would rather look at your shiny new spacesuit when you’re out exploring.

A zoomed out view of the city of New Atlantis in Starfield. It's a futuristic looking city with lots of greenery.

The most exciting new feature of Starfield is of course its space traversal and combat. You can build your own spaceship just the way you like it, and shoot for the stars. While you’re in cold, deep space, you’ll be able to engage in exciting dogfights with enemy spaceships. Rather have your feet on the ground? You can land anywhere you like on one of the hundreds of available planets to continue your adventure.

Planet exploration is also a big part of the Starfield gameplay. Every planet has unique fauna and flora to discover and analyse, and you’ll be awarded for scanning these minerals, lifeforms and plants. You can even set up bases on remote planets and build little settlements where characters you’ve met can be stationed.

The player scans in an unknown spaceship that has landed on the planet Kreet in Starfield.

One thing is for sure: no one is going to have the same experience in Starfield.

Similarities between Starfield and Skyrim

Even game director Todd Howard called Starfield ‘Skyrim in space’, so it’s no surprise that the two RPGs share many similar features. 

From the character creator, the role playing gameplay, the different factions you can join and even things like basebuilding: these are all things we’ve seen before in The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim and other Bethesda games like Fallout 4.

Just like in Skyrim, you are pitted in the crossfire of different opposing factions. You can decide to not get involved, or you can pick a side (or multiple!) and influence the power balance. And just like in Skyrim, these factions can get pretty crazy. There’s Constellation, an organisation interested in space exploration, but you can also join a band of ravenous space pirates, or get involved with a space drug dealing gang.

A nighttime view of a futuristic cyberpunk looking spaceport in Starfield.

All of this is to ensure that there is something to enjoy for everyone. Wanna be the hero of the universe and help Constellation uncover the deepest secrets of the dark vacuum? You can. Would you rather delve into the underbelly of the space ports and help your chosen faction achieve their not-so-ethical goals? You can do that too. Or maybe you’re not interested in any of that, and you just want to explore the universe, discover new alien species and live out your best life on your own little farm on some backwater planet. Nobody’s stopping you.

That freedom to be anyone you want is exactly what made Skyrim such a huge success. So it’s no wonder that Starfield is taking the exact same approach, and that many elements of the game will feel familiar if you’ve played Skyrim.

Differences between Starfield and Skyrim

Despite their similarities, there are also plenty of differences between Starfield and Skyrim.

Shooter combat

One of the biggest differences is that Starfield’s combat plays more like a shooter, while in Skyrim you have a mix of close combat and ranged magic attacks. Instead of collecting swords and spells, Starfield offers a wide variety of upgradeable and customizable guns, and we’ve seen grenades in play as well.

A first person view of Starfield in which the player aims his gun at a hostile pirate.

Character traits

Other differences are smaller, or are features that we’ve seen in a different form in Skyrim. For example, character customization goes a lot deeper than previous Bethesda games. Not only can you sculpt your character’s face and body entirely to your liking, but you can also change the way they walk and choose specific traits that influence your personality and journey.

Take the Introvert trait, for example, which grants your character boosted endurance when travelling alone, and decreased endurance when you’re with other human companions. One other example are the Spaced and Terra Firma traits, which increase or decrease your health while in space or the surface.

A screenshot of the character creation screen of Starfield, in particular of the Traits tab.

Loan/mortgage system

These traits also gave us a glimpse into a potential new feature of Starfield. If you choose the trait Starter Home, you’re granted a small house on the moon when you begin your adventure, but it comes with a loan of a whopping 50.000 credits.

This leads us to believe that Starfield will have an intricate banking feature and possibly a reputation or credit system. Imagine you can take out loans to buy a new starship, but only if you have a favourable reputation.

Starfield wouldn’t be the first Bethesda RPG with this feature by the way. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall also had a fully fledged mortgage system that allowed you to take out loans to buy yourself houses. We’re curious to find out how intricate this system will be in Starfield!

A shot of a spaceship going through a warp tunnel at high speed in Starfield

Building your own spaceship

Speaking of spaceships, Starfield will allow you to build your very own spacecraft. You can completely customise the look and layout of your ship (as long as you have the funds) and even hire your own crew to fly it!

I’m sure you’re already thinking of all the spaceships from your favourite sci-fi shows that you can recreate in Starfield, and to be honest, it does sound exciting to fly around in your own replica of the Millenium Falcon, Rocinante or Serenity.

A screenshot of the ship building feature in Starfield. The ship is shown in a blueprint view and the player can move different parts at the cost of various resources.

Dogfighting

When you’re busy assembling your own spacecraft, don’t forget to include a few lasers and cannons, because danger lurks everywhere in space. Space pirates (or maybe even the law!) will come after you, so you better have some good defences prepped.

A space dogfight in Starfield. The player just shot down an enemy spacecraft as it explodes into tiny pieces.

This is obviously new to Bethesda games, as both Skyrim and Fallout didn’t have any kind of vehicular combat. There are many sci-fi games that Bethesda could take inspiration from for their space fighting combat, such as No Man’s Sky and Elite Dangerous, so we’re curious to find out how deep these mechanics will go in Starfield.

Will Starfield be bigger than Skyrim?

Starfield will undoubtedly be bigger than Skyrim, with over a hundred systems and more than a thousand planets to freely explore. On top of that, the main story will take you anywhere between 30 and 40 hours to complete. For comparison: Skyrim’s story takes around 25 hours to complete and Fallout 4’s story around 27 hours.

A view of the map screen in Starfield. The Alpha Centauri system is shown in a zoomed out view.

The big question is what the balance will be between quantity and quality. Even though Starfield has been in development for almost a decade, we can’t expect every inch of these planets to be handcrafted and filled with unique content. Game director Todd Howard confirmed that they’ve used procedural generation to create so many planets, so obviously a random ice planet isn’t going to be as engaging as following one of the handcrafted quest lines on one of the ‘main’ planets. But if for some reason you do want to land on this ice planet, just to check it out, that option is there.

This doesn’t mean that Starfield is artificially bigger than Skyrim; even going by the amount of recorded lines, it’s way bigger than Skyrim and Fallout. Starfield has 200.000 lines of dialogue, compared to approximately 60.000 lines in Skyrim and 111.000 lines in Fallout 4.

 A screenshot of Starfield in which the player character stands on a mountain with his back to the viewer. There are mountains as far as the eye can see, with a clear blue sky overhead.

If there’s one thing we can be absolutely sure about, it’s that Starfield is the biggest and most diverse game that Bethesda has ever created. It takes everything you love from Skyrim and Fallout, enhances it, and then multiplies it by a thousand.

The possibilities are endless, which is only fitting for a game about the final frontier.


Get ready for Starfield in the first half of 2023

As we’re nearing the release date of Starfield in the first half of 2023, we anxiously await the moment that Bethesda opens up pre-orders for the game. We expect that pre-orders of Starfield are likely to begin early 2023, when the holiday season has passed and Bethesda can flare up their marketing machine for Starfield.

In the meantime, you can top up your PlayStation or Xbox wallet or grab some extra months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to prepare for the incoming pre-order announcement. As official partners with Sony and Microsoft, Startselect is proud to offer 100% official game codes and gift cards, delivered to you instantly.

Of course, there are more games to enjoy in the meantime. Make sure to check out our blog for the latest gaming news and guides, such as our recommended games in PS Plus Extra and Premium.

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