Starfield 1st Impressions: Gameplay, Release Date, and System Requirements

4 Sept 2023

The launch of Bethesda’s biggest title to date, Starfield, is just on the horizon. The open-world science fiction game is the first new IP made by Bethesda in 25 years, the company best known for developing the fantasy Elder Scrolls and post-apocalyptic Fallout series. Since its announcement during E3 2018, fans have been following the game's development closely. As the release date inches closer and closer, more and more people find themselves riveted by the promise the game holds, counting down the days until liftoff as their anticipation grows.


Starfield is an open-world action role-playing game. Like many of Bethesda’s previous titles, players can play the game in first and third-person view and switch perspectives at any point during gameplay. The game takes place in a large area of the Milky Way galaxy, with over 1000 fictional and non-fictional planets and an unspecified number of moons and space stations for players to land on and explore.

Procedural Generation in Starfield

This has been one of the biggest selling points of the game. In interviews and showcases, developers explained how Starfield uses procedural generation and hand-crafted content to ensure exploration never grows stale. Planets will be made with various terrain chunks, all created by the Starfield art team, which are stitched together to create believable landscapes. Various factors, such as planet temperature, will determine what resources the player can gather and exploit and what kind of flora and fauna the environment can feature if it can sustain extraterrestrial life. As players explore the planet, the game will actively place points of interest in their vicinity, such as encounters, dungeons, and small settlements. This means that even if two players were to land on the same planet, they would likely have different experiences.

An explorer gazes upon a beautiful alien landscape.

Even with many parts of the game being procedurally generated, there is still a lot of hand-crafted content to experience. Todd Howard boasts that Starfield features more hand-crafted content than any Bethesda game. One location the developers are proud of is the city of New Atlantis, the largest city in the game and the largest fictional city Bethesda has ever developed. From what’s been gathered so far, these are the game elements that will be procedurally generated and hand-crafted:

  • Star system layout/location: Pre-determined (hand-crafted)
  • Planet/moon orbits and locations: Pre-determined (hand-crafted)
  • Planet/moon surfaces: Procedurally generated
  • Space stations: Hand-crafted
  • Large cities: Hand-crafted
  • Small settlements/structures: Procedurally generated
  • Dungeons: Procedurally generated
  • World events: Randomized

Character Customization

Another aspect of the game players are looking forward to is the customization available to them. At the beginning of the game, players will customize their character’s body type and appearance using an expansive yet simple-to-use character generation system. Players will also be able to choose their character's background, which will determine their starting stats. A player’s character could have been a bounty hunter, diplomat, explorer, or chef.

In addition to getting access to certain basic skills, early gameplay has revealed that backgrounds can present special dialogue options in certain situations. One example shown in the Starfield Direct - Gameplay Deep Dive video was when the player was speaking with an NPC in a fancy restaurant when they found out that he needs help tracking down a monster. Since the player had a background as a beast hunter, they could ask twice the usual rate.

In addition, players can pick optional traits that can help them but often come with a small hindrance. For example, the Wanted trait will give players a damage buff when their health is low, but there is always a random chance that mercenaries will show up and attack the player. Developers have said there will be ways to change or eliminate traits later but haven’t elaborated yet.

Ship Customization

Another side of customization that players can look forward to is in modifying their starship. Players can spend their hard-earned credits at starports to buy new ships. From there, they will be allowed to upgrade individual systems or modify physical aspects of the ship. Starfield’s shipbuilder mode uses a module-based construction system where parts snap onto the ship like Legos. The shipbuilder mode is less of a realistic simulation compared to games like Kerbal Space Program and allows players more freedom to build their dream ship. Bethesda has already teased the creative potential of the shipbuilder mode by showcasing ships that look like animals and even a ship that resembles a giant, bulky robot.

How this Optimus Prime lookalike will be able to fly is beyond me.

The Starfield Direct video also showcased the game’s new animation system, improved combat and persuasion mechanics, a brief look at the skills players can level up, and more.


Bethesda has also announced that Starfield will have full mod support, allowing players to create and add mods to alter or overhaul parts of the game. This has been a huge element in previous Bethesda titles, such as Skyrim or Fallout 4, where creative members of the modding community have created mods that added new creatures, altered game mechanics to provide a more challenging experience, and even added massive original quests with fully voiced characters.


While millions of players wait to play the game, a handful have received review copies to play a couple of weeks before everyone else. These people include well-known game review companies and social media influencers. Naturally, all of these people are under a strict Non-Disclosure Agreement. However, this hasn’t stopped people from expressing their early impressions of Bethesda’s latest title.

Those who have played previous releases from Bethesda Game Studios, especially their sizeable open-world titles like Skyrim or Fallout 4, know that their games tend to have a sizeable number of bugs and glitches during the first few weeks after release. Fans will be pleased to hear that very few bugs have been encountered. Gaming journalist Tyler McVicker reports that he had not encountered a single bug during his first 15 hours in the game. These reports confirm the statement by Microsoft Game Studios executive Matt Booty, claiming that Starfield would have the fewest bugs any Bethesda game has shipped with.

A ship lands near a mysterious outpost. Is there anyone around?

Other sources report a smooth gameplay experience and RPG mechanics deeper than those in previous Bethesda titles. Overall, all the hard work the developers put in is shining through, and Starfield is shaping up to be a fantastic release.


Starfield is available for preload across Xbox Series X/S, and PC on Steam. In addition, players who pre-ordered the game's premium edition will be able to play five days earlier than anyone else. Players should ensure their hard drive is up to the task, however, as the download for the PC version is a whopping 139.84GB, while the Xbox is 100.19GB for the standard edition. There is also the game's premium edition on Xbox, which is 117.07 GB for the Premium Edition, including The Shattered Space Story Expansion (to be released) and other bonus items, including the official soundtrack and digital artbook.

PC players should also ensure that their systems can meet the demands of Starfield. The game files are highly recommended to be downloaded onto a Solid State Drive (SSD) for the best performance.

The minimum requirements for Starfield are as follows:

  • Operating System: Windows 10 version 22H2 (10.0.19045)
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, Intel Core i7-6800K
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5700, NVIDIA GeForce 1070 Ti
  • Direct X: Version 12
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 125 GB Available Space
  • Additional Notes: SSD Required

If players want to get the most out of Starfield, Bethesda recommends the following components:

  • Operating System: Windows 10/11 with updates
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, Intel i5-10600K
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
  • Direct X: Version 12
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 125 GB Available Space
  • Additional Notes: SSD Required

After ensuring their systems are up to par, and the game files are downloaded, the only thing left is waiting for the Starfield launch. Bethesda Game Studios has released a map showing the global release times for early access preorders and standard edition owners (seen below).

A global map of when Starfield will be released.

Old Bethesda RPG fans and science fiction nerds are watching with bated breath as the release date inches closer. People who preordered are preloading the game files onto their systems in preparation for the launch. Others are waiting for official word from various reviewers for a detailed look at the game, waiting to see if this ambitious project lives up to the astronomical levels of hype built over the years. But until then, all we can do is watch the countdown.


This story was written by Alex Johnson, as part of the HackerNoon Blogging Fellowship.