Like basically every big game, Starfield coasted on cinematic trailers for a long time. Also like many big games, when we finally started to get actual gameplay of it, I was a little worried. Conversations and ship-building and other RPG stuff looked fine, but even going back to the official June 2022 gameplay reveal, the guns just looked sad and wimpy. I'm not asking for Destiny 2-grade gunplay here, but I did want to see guns with some feedback and character, or at least some iron sights that don't feel like aiming down a cinder block.
To my immense relief, a new video from Bethesda – confirming another Starfield delay of all things – contains brief but precious gameplay snippets showing just that, along with some much more out-there environments and themes that have given Starfield some welcome color. The only problem is that these promising clips are either obscured by Todd Howard's shoulder or by crappy vlog camera angles, and the fact that this low-quality footage is, for me, possibly the best stuff yet is perfectly on-brand for the house of jank that is Bethesda. I'm not the only one encouraged by this footage, either, and fans are already poring over it for all the little details.
There was never any doubt that Starfield is gonna be janky; it is, after all, an open-world Bethesda game. But I now have renewed hopes that it may be endearingly janky rather than frustratingly janky. The background segment at 1:30 in the video above is key to those hopes. I like the hovering, Fallout 4-style loot menu, and the gun shown at 1:48 looks much less ugly and dumb than previous Starfield armaments. We even get some actual gunplay at 1:58 and 2:04. Behold, recoil! A decent reticle! Iron sights that align with the path of your bullets! Bullets that aren't giant white lasers! Starfield finally looks like an actual shooter, which is a pretty low bar to clear, but this is a big step up from clunky gameplay that looked like your character was running through three feet of honey and trying to aim a surfboard.
The environments featured at 2:20 contribute a different kind of spice. Many comparisons have been made between Starfield and No Man's Sky, and I suspect we'll see many more after seeing Starfield's take on 'vibrant tropical forest with graceful pseudo-dinosaurs'. But I'm not complaining, because this is a lot more interesting than the recurring Starfield character 'miles of space sand'. I'm also a big fan of the lamprey monster at 2:24 that looks like a cross between a Dead Space necromorph and Monster Hunter's Khezu. We've seen a million dudes in space suits already; I want to see more of the towering fauna and toothy monsters lurking in Starfield's universe. And we should see that and more at the Starfield Direct slated for June.
Here's the updated and increasingly messy E3 2023 schedule, now featuring Xbox and Starfield shows.