Starfield dominates Xbox Bethesda showcase | Games

Microsoft saved the best ’til last at its big Xbox showcase on Sunday, closing the online event with an extended first look at Bethesda’s long-awaited sci-fi role-playing adventure Starfield.

The demo focused on a sequence early in the game where the player’s ship lands on a desolate volcanic moon, Kreet, and a mech is sent out to investigate. An abandoned search facility is quickly discovered, but a fight with pirate squatters ensues. It’s the first time fans have seen the game’s combat, with its mix of third- and first-person viewpoints, and fast-paced shoot-outs.

This is an epic RPG, so of course there’s a skill system: players unlock new abilities as they level up, then rank-up skills by completing tasks and missions. We also saw what looks to be incredibly in-depth character creation, with traits and starter skills including combat, medicine and diplomacy. Researching new weapons and crafting weapon mods will be possible, and players will be able to mine resources from planets, using a tool very similar to the laser drill used in No Man’s Sky – one of several similarities to the well-established space adventure title from Hello Games.

Starfield will also feature space exploration and space dogfighting, with players able to fully customise their craft with new weapons and shields, as well as recruiting their own crews. Bethesda’s Todd Howard promised that it will be possible to land on any of the 1,000 planets, spread across 100 star systems, and explore them fully – some will be dead rocks, but others are teeming with life. Setting up outposts for living accommodation and resource generation is another key feature.

Originally due out in November but delayed into the first half of 2023, Starfield is Bethesda’s first big new series in more than 20 years, and was a natural choice to end an otherwise rather restrained event.

Elsewhere, there was confirmation of a brand new Xbox-exclusive title from Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, though no details were provided. Interesting trailers included a new dark action game, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, from cult studio Team Ninja, a historical hack-and-slasher set in an alternative Han dynasty swarming with demons. It’s due in early 2023. Coming in November from adventure game specialist Obsidian, Pentiment is a 2D role-playing adventure set in 16th-century Bavaria with visuals resembling an illuminated scroll.

Comedic first-person shooter High on Life, from Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, is coming in October. There were also world premieres for turn-based strategy game Ara: History Untold, sci-fi thriller Ereban: Shadow Legacy and fantasy adventure Ravenlok, which boasted a gorgeous voxel art style. There was an interesting glimpse of Cocoon, the latest game from Jeppe Carlsen, lead gameplay designer on acclaimed platformers Limbo and Inside.

Cocoon. Photograph: Microsoft

As for Microsoft’s own studios, Mojang revealed a new Minecraft spinoff, Minecraft Legends, an action strategy game with a definite feel of indie hit Trove. A new Forza Motorsports title was revealed with astonishing ray-traced visuals and a new dynamic day-night cycle as well as intricate road surface and tyre physics, and realistic car damage. Forza Horizon 5 is getting Hot Wheels-based new content on 19 July, and a 40th Anniversary edition of Flight Simulator will add helicopters and gliders as well as other aircraft.

But in the absence of any news about Fable, a new Elder Scrolls or other rumoured appearances, the star of the show was definitely Bethesda’s big new sci-fi franchise. Comparisons to No Man’s Sky, Mass Effect and Bethesda’s own previous RPGs are rife, but the ambitious scope of the game felt cutting edge and as an Xbox and PC exclusive, it represents the next stage of the competition with Sony to dominate the coming mid-phase of this console generation.

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