To kick off the new year, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the biggest and most anticipated games of 2022 across all platforms and genres, next up including Starfield from Bethesda. We’re looking at these games’ journey so far, why we’re so excited for them, and what we expect out of them in the new year. So here’s everything you need to know about Starfield, including its history, (speculated) gameplay mechanics, and release date.
It seems fitting that Bethesda’s Starfield, an open-world RPG about exploring the vast reaches of the cosmos, is the most important game of 2022. Now, I don’t mean “important” in terms of sales or reviews, and I’m not trying to compare it to the massive anticipation surrounding games like Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok. Rather, Starfield is important in that it needs to be more than just a good game about exploring space – it needs to be proof that Microsoft made the right move in its massive acquisition of ZeniMax back in 2020, as well as proof that Bethesda can recapture the once-in-a-generation magic it found in Skyrim back in 2011.
It’s wild to think back to E3 2018, where we saw the reveal of both Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI via little more than teasers with logos attached to them. Starfield and ES6 felt like promises of something far off in the distance – with the latter still being many, many years away, and Starfield’s release date of November 11, 2022 being announced this past summer.
We’ve already seen some of the fruits of Xbox’s purchase of ZeniMax, such as having a massive chunk of the publisher’s library available on Game Pass. And though it exists in a strange place from before the acquisition, Deathloop’s critical success on PlayStation 5 bodes well for the future of Arkane, both in terms of Deathloop coming to Xbox this fall and in projects like Redfall. But let’s be honest – as great as these things are, you don’t spend $7.5 billion for them. You spend that kind of money for these incredibly talented studios to make massive games like id Software’s Doom, MachineGames’ upcoming Indiana Jones, and whatever it is that Bethesda Game Studios has cooking with its core, genre-defining RPGs.
Starfield is meant to be a third pillar for Bethesda alongside Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, making it clear why it’s one of the biggest and most anticipated games of 2022. Instead of post-apocalyptic wastelands or vast fantasy realms, Starfield is set amidst the inherent hope and optimism of space. And that theme of hope and optimism is fitting, especially when you look at Starfield’s place from a more zoomed-out perspective. There’s a lot riding on this game.
Starfield is the thing that can help Bethesda win back trust after the rocky development of Fallout 76 – just like Dragon Age 4 for BioWare after Anthem. But aside from even this, Starfield needs to act as a new first-party tentpole for Microsoft in the same way Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite did this past fall. Xbox wants to keep its recent momentum going, and the projects from Bethesda’s stable of teams – with Starfield as its center – are vital to this.
If it seems like we’re talking a lot about what Starfield needs to be at a macro industry level, that’s because we honestly don’t really know what Starfield is at a micro gameplay level. It’s almost stunning how little we know about the game, despite being nearly four years from its reveal and having its release date set in stone last summer. We haven’t seen any actual gameplay, have no idea what the breadth and depth of the Starfield universe is going to look like, and don’t know what we’ll actually be doing when it comes to our time in this world. We’ve been drip-fed some really neat pieces of concept art and told that Starfield will have over 150,000 lines of dialogue, which is one of those facts that gives us zero information other than “big game is big.” It’s also the first game running on Bethesda’s new Creation Engine 2, so it remains to be seen whether Bethesda’s iconic glitches will be present going forward.
Obviously a lot of answers can be extrapolated from what Bethesda has delivered in the past with Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, including Todd Howard explaining that Starfield has “100s of hours” of “hardcore RPG” gameplay, and calling the game “Skyrim in Space.” It’s also been described as a “Han Solo simulator,” which honestly sounds pretty wonderful on paper. But like with most things in life, it’s worth keeping your expectations a bit grounded, even though we’re calling Starfield the most important game of 2022 and generally one of its biggest, most anticipated games.
My guess is that this slow drip continues throughout the first half of the year, culminating with Starfield as a pillar of Xbox and Bethesda’s E3 2022 conference. Starfield will be the first major game since the acquisition that’s going to be exclusive to PC and Xbox Series X | S, and though all parties involved are still being cagey with information, expect this to be the norm with most tentpole Bethesda games going forward.
Starfield is the first game to plant its flag in the sand for this fall, with its November 11, 2022 release date. Though we’re almost assuredly getting a Call of Duty game that month, as well as something from Nintendo, there’s a good chance that Bethesda and Xbox are going to own a bulk of the video game conversation come the end of the year. What the tone of that conversation will be remains to be seen, but it’s clear that, one way or another, Starfield is the most important game of 2022.