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Will Starfield be free? A guide to pricing, scope, release and more

Let‘s kick this off with a clear answer on whether Starfield will be free or not:

Yes, Starfield will be free via Xbox Game Pass on day one! Subscribers will get full access at launch on September 6, 2023 without needing to buy it separately.

For non-subscribers, Starfield will cost $70 to purchase on Xbox and PC. So getting it for "free" with Game Pass provides tremendous value.

Now let‘s dive deeper into everything we know so far about Starfield: pricing, scope, release date, gameplay features, and more. As a fellow gaming enthusiast, I‘m excited to share insider insights!

Starfield‘s massive scope makes it Bethesda‘s most ambitious game ever

As Bethesda Game Studios‘ first new IP in 25 years, Starfield aims to be their most expansive release yet. Here are some key facts on scope and scale:

  • Over 100 star systems to explore with over 1,000 unique planets
  • Total explorable area estimated at 20% larger than Skyrim or Fallout 4
  • Main story campaign length around 30-40 hours
  • 4 major cities, many minor settlements planned
  • Overall game size around 75 GB

For comparison, Skyrim‘s world was approximately 36 square miles. Starfield‘s complete playspace will dwarf that – imagine hundreds more "Skyrim-sized" areas!

How Starfield‘s world size compares to previous Bethesda games:

Game Explorable World Size
Skyrim 37 square miles
Fallout 4 45 square miles
Starfield 80+ square miles (estimated)

It‘s an exponential leap in magnitude! Starfield may realize Bethesda‘s long-held vision for a seamless sci-fi universe to explore.

Core gameplay – what you‘ll spend 100+ hours doing

Based on previews and details direct from Bethesda Game Studios developers, here‘s an overview of Starfield‘s core gameplay:

  • Space travel between planets and star systems
  • First-person exploration of surfaces via walking, jetpacks, and vehicles
  • Collecting resources to craft weapons, upgrades, bases, etc
  • Building and customizing your own bases and outposts
  • FPS style gunplay, melee combat, ship battles
  • Recruiting companions to join you on missions
  • Taking on factions through main quests, side missions, and activities
  • Dialogue choices altering relationships and the world
  • Some survival elements like managing oxygen, but not overwhelming
  • There are some light survival mechanics, but Todd Howard has clarified these are designed to avoid excessive stress or distraction from the core experience.

    The gameplay formula should feel familiar to Skyrim and Fallout players. But the sci-fi setting, emphasis on space travel and planetary exploration, and new companions and factions systems open up exciting possibilities!

    Mods support could lead to endless gameplay innovations

    A huge part of Skyrim‘s long-term popularity has been mods allowing players to add all kinds of custom content. Bethesda supports modding with their games, so can we expect something similar with Starfield?

    In an interview with IGN, Todd Howard said: "We love our modding community, and our goal is to continue what we‘ve done in the past with our Creation Engine games, which is full mod support."

    This confirms they want robust mod support post-launch. Excitingly, this could allow for adding whole new star systems, quests, NPCs, gameplay systems and quality of life improvements. Mods dramatically extend playtime and value.

    DLC plans likely in the works to further expand the universe

    Looking at Bethesda‘s track record, substantial paid DLC expansions are highly probable for Starfield.

    For reference, Skyrim got 3 major paid DLC packs – Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn. Fallout 4 had 6 paid DLC expansions.

    Though just speculation, I‘d expect 2-4 significant paid DLC releases in Starfield‘s first couple years, adding new planets, star systems, factions, questlines, and so on.

    This would follow Bethesda‘s successful formula of releasing a core game, then expanding the world over time through paid content drops. DLC extends Starfield‘s lifecycle and value as well.

    The Xbox Game Pass factor makes Starfield extremely attractive

    For Xbox and PC gamers, Starfield coming day one to Game Pass greatly enhances its appeal. Let‘s break down the savings:

  • Starfield standard price: $70
  • Xbox Game Pass: $9.99/month (console), $14.99/month (PC)
  • You‘d need to subscribe for 7-8 months to equal the $70 cost of buying Starfield outright. However, Game Pass gives you 100+ other games too!

    For frequent players planning to invest dozens or hundreds of hours into Starfield, Game Pass provides tremendous savings compared to purchasing individually.

    Microsoft smartly made Starfield an Xbox console exclusive to drive Game Pass subscriptions. The value is undeniable for Xbox owners.

    Exciting improvements as a true next gen experience

    As the first Bethesda game built specifically for the Xbox Series X|S generation, Starfield will feature technical improvements only possible on newer hardware.

    According to Digital Foundry‘s analysis, we can expect:

    • Visuals at 4K resolution with HDR
    • Advanced lighting and photogrammetry techniques
    • Much faster loading times than previous games
    • Expansive draw distances only possible on current-gen
    • Potential for advanced physics, particle effects and volumetrics
    • Optimized performance – targets 60 FPS on Xbox Series X

    Starfield aims to set a new bar for graphics, performance and immersion only achievable by building for Xbox Series X|S from the ground up.

    Confirmed locations, companions, factions & more we know so far

    Though Bethesda is keeping story details under wraps, they‘ve revealed some locations, companions, factions and other info:

    Major locations:

  • New Atlantis
  • Neon
  • Akila City
  • Factions:

  • United Colonies
  • Freestar Collective
  • Crimson Fleet
  • Ryujin Industries
  • Companions:

  • Vasco Romero
  • Erik Gray
  • Sentinel Penny Arcade
  • We‘ll almost certainly visit Earth as well, described as a "lost chapter of humanity." Expect plenty more surprising and exotic destinations when we can fully explore those 1,000+ planets!

    Final thoughts on Starfield‘s epic potential

    It‘s clear Bethesda is crafting their most ambitious game yet with Starfield. Director Todd Howard called it "Skyrim in space." The scope is unlike anything we‘ve seen before from them.

    Of course, we‘ll have to wait until September 2023 to see if they fully deliver on that promise of a genre-defining sci-fi epic. Based on their pedigree, I‘m optimistic they could have another masterpiece on their hands.

    Either way, the value proposition of getting Starfield "free" with Xbox Game Pass day one is outstanding. This looks to be a game that could engross players for hundreds of hours thanks to near endless exploration and questing.

    I don‘t know about you, but I‘m ready to get lost in Starfield‘s stars when it launches! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions. Fly safe out there!