The Microsoft Bethesda E3 2021 showcase started off by taking to the skies, with Bethesda Game Studios director Todd Howard on stage to debut the first in-game trailer for Starfield, its next-generation sci-fi RPG coming exclusively to Xbox Series X/S and PC next year, November 11, 2021.
Other than the confirmed Starfield release date and platforms, however, there was plenty Bethesda tucked into the new trailer that you may have missed on first viewing. Never fear; Team GamesRadar+ has forensically scanned every frame to find out what we can glean about this brand new IP from the makers of Fallout 4 and Skyrim. Here's eight things we learned from the latest look at Starfield.
Bethesda has a brand new, next-gen game engine
The opening scene from the Starfield trailer confirms that we're looking at in-game visuals built within Creation Engine 2, which may come as a surprise to some. For years, Todd Howard has always talked about using an updated version of Bethesda's Creation Engine for Starfield, but that numerical addition suggests the software is now considered a new engine entirely by the studio.
Creation Engine 2 could just be the name Bethesda is giving to the original, but heavily improved, Creation Engine, but the differentiation makes sense nonetheless, given Starfield's next-gen exclusivity, and hopefully means Bethesda can push its vision of the final frontier to its full potential on Xbox Series X.
A single logo confirms previous leaks
Check out that patch on the character's right shoulder in the trailer. Look familiar? That's because we've seen it before, when a number of Starfield screenshots emerged onto the internet via unknown sources last year.
The reappearance of this patch – which appears to be the official logo for the Constellation, the space faring organization you'll be representing in Bethesda's fictional galaxy – thus confirms the veracity of those screenshots. Granted, we don't know the context behind the photos themselves – whether they represent native gameplay, or an out-of-game shot – but it assures our trust in the images of Starfield we've already burned into our brains nonetheless.
You won't be journeying alone
Our central star of the trailer isn't the only one enjoying life amongst the stars in this particular spaceship. We get a glimpse of characters conversing with one another via a wall of scrawls written on the mirror, including a request to someone called Vasquez for a re-up of Tranquilitea (more on that in a sec).
Is this a tease for Starfield multiplayer? Or can we instead expect a Mass Effect style crew of non-playable characters who we can recruit, romance, and reject as we make our way across the galaxy? We'll take either option, please and thank you, as long as it makes our galactic gallivanting a little less lonely.
You're basically working for fictional NASA
The Starfield trailer adds some extra context to the game's newly revealed story synopsis, which confirms that we'll be "searching for life's greatest mystery" as part of the aforementioned Constellation. That almost certainly means we're either looking for the existence of a creator, or alien life; either that, or humanity has decided that the answer to whether Han or Greedo shot first somehow lies among the stars.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Todd Howard confirmed that the Constellation is just one of many factions you'll interact with throughout Starfield: "It’s kind of like Skyrim in terms of the structure of the game, where you're going to be who you want to be, and then there's different factions that you can join, and really carve your own path. "
Tranquilitea sounds like the new Nuka-Cola
One of the many interesting scribbles written on the mirror in the trailer's spaceship is a request from one character to another for caffeinated Tranquilitea. I don't know about you, but Tranquilitea sounds very much in keeping with Bethesda's legacy of in-game food and drink items that players can use in their game worlds, from Skyrim's Sweetrolls to Fallout's Nuka-Cola.
Could we be drinking Tranquilitea to restore, or perhaps settle down, our stamina in Starfield? And what's so bad about the decaffeinated version? Perhaps it'll help our customisable space explorer sleep a little more soundly, taking on the next day with a Rested bonus. We're just spitballing at this point, but it sounds delicious either way.
Your ship could be fully customisable
Another tidbit from that aforementioned wall of scrawls presents a question: "upgrade reactor?". Now, we could be reaching at straws here, but could this be a hint towards customising and upgrading your spaceship in Starfield? That kind of progression certainly seems likely for a game in which you'll "embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery". How are we supposed to travel around the galaxy, after all, without a tin can that we can truly call our own?
Combat will include guns
While Bethesda has yet to detail the core language of Starfield's gameplay, the way in which the trailer's character casually throws what appears to be a submachine gun onto the table suggests combat will play a part in its latest new IP.
Interestingly, the gun's interface appears to show its magazine count, in a visual telegraphing that brings to mind another sci-fi Xbox shooter we all know and love. Who knows? Now that Bethesda is a Microsoft-owned studio, perhaps the Master Chief could show up in Starfield for a mid-game cameo...
Is that a playable mech?
As our spaceship takes off for launch, we catch a glimpse of a mechanised bipedal robot stomping across the terrain of this alien planet. Snapshots of a similar mech adorn the walls of the spaceship's interior, suggesting we could be using it a lot in our exploration of Starfield's alien worlds and planets.
Like that of our character and ship, we sure hope this thing is customisable, and comes equipped with some firepower to make sure it doesn't fall prey to some of the galaxy's hostile natives.