E3 is always swamped in rumour, but Bethesda's Starfield is potentially the most interesting one right now. The elevator pitch is 'Elder Scrolls in space.' Let that sink in for a while.
Now, specific game info is largely internet gossip currently - ‘my uncle works at Nintendo’ level of stuf - but there’s some history behind both the name and idea - Bethesda filed a trademark for the name years ago and renewed it this year, for example. And there at least some vague industry whispers that it might actually be a thing that exists.
What is Bethesda’s Starfield about?
There are a few (opens in new tab) posts (opens in new tab) that (opens in new tab) outline the broad concept: a huge open world sci-fi RPG built in a partially procedurally generated environment. Unlike something like No Man’s Sky, this is reported to use random generation for larger spaces, terrain and some buildings, within which handcrafted locations and quests will be place. (Bethesda used a similar idea in The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall, one of the largest game maps ever created).
It sounds like the system will create a mix of created and randomly generated missions and situations. There will be some quests that everyone sees, while some players might find a small war erupting that only they see because of the placement of factions within their world.
If the information is correct you won’t have a space ship either. Instead you’ll control a huge station that you populate and expand as you play. You’re free to explore, as NPCs docks ships and planets and other stations contact you for help. You’re can explore the base and hire people, or they can come and live aboard. One reference thrown around was Deep Space Nine.
What proof is there Bethesda are making Starfield?
Bethesda trademarked the name in 2013 and renewed the filing (opens in new tab) this year, with February currently the most recent date. Interestingly, even further back (opens in new tab) in 2010 Bethesda pitched a huge licensed Star Trek game, with Todd Howard saying at the time, “I want the big Star Trek RPG that you go out and explore the universe”. Nothing ever came from that but it’s easy to see how it might have planted the seed of an idea.
Supposedly, the game’s been in development since Fallout 3’s release, with a mix of Id Tech rendering and Bethesda’s Creation Engine NPC and quest tools. In March of last year (opens in new tab) Bethesda were hiring for a "bleeding-edge RPG" that the listings claimed would be "different to anything" it's done before.
Will Starfield be at E3?
That’s... kind of the point here. The name exists and belongs to ZeniMax Media, Bethesda’s parent company. The details are unsubstantiated but there are faint industry rumblings that it's a thing and could be unveiled at E3.
It’s something Elder Scrolls fans certainly want to be true. This guy (opens in new tab), for example, certainly thinks he's cracked a code hidden in Bethesda's official E3 art:
#BE3 is less than a week away! Join us Sunday night at 9PM PT to see what's new from Bethesda! pic.twitter.com/7uvHMmB04QJune 5, 2017
See! It's all so clear now.
Although I think we can probably throw this 'leak' in the bin...
What with it being, A) terrible, and, B) an entirely different game - specifically 2009's Shattered Horizon.