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The giant world of Starfield: Bethesda’s closest look yet at the game standing between Skyrim and its successor

By Benjamin Bullard

From post-apocalyptic wastelands to magic-infused feudal landscapes: If there’s one signature feature that instantly identifies a Bethesda-developed game, it’s world building on an epic scale.

Traipsing around in Fallout 4 or Skyrim puts you in the thick of vast places where myth and history mingle, and their game lore runs deep — so deep, in fact, that even the present-day inhabitants of dragon-scorched Tamriel or the nuke-blasted U.S. can go off the rails with some pretty funny (and often misinformed) ideas about the vast culture they’ve inherited from their ancestors.

So as Bethesda slowly begins to pull back the curtain on its next new video game world, it’s hardly a surprise that the places and outer-spaces of Starfield, at least at first glance, exude that same sense of massive, yet well-worn, expanse. Perhaps lost amid the shuffle of this week’s big game news at Gamescom, Bethesda devs shared a trio of new videos that reveal more about location concepts for the upcoming sci-fi exploration game set in the distant future.

The clips don’t highlight gameplay. But coupled with the developer explanations, they do shed new light on the closest looks anyone’s yet seen at Bethesda’s world building ideas for Starfield. And no surprise here — Starfield’s game world looks like it’s gonna be huge.

Check it out:

In order, that’s New Atlantis — the capital of Starfield’s United Colonies, and the hub of interstellar commerce (and, apparently, of a major in-game faction group). Then there’s the sea-bound outpost of Neon, a pleasure retreat destination where the locally-legal drug of choice comes straight from the fish in the surrounding waters. Finally, Akila City is a walled-off compound that serves as the capital of the Freestar Collective — a group that values personal freedom (but at the cost of rubbing up against the hostile local wildlife).

Combined with the trailer Bethesda debuted during this year’s E3, these and other Starfield locations point to an action-RPG where no two places look or feel the same. And at least in these early glances, the vast distances that separate each area feel like they’re helping to lend Star Wars levels of super-detailed local culture to each distinctive port of call.

There’s still more than a year to go as Bethesda keeps dropping new hints. Barring any launch delays, Starfield is set to end its T-minus countdown to release on Nov. 11 of next year. After that, it's off to the hugely-hyped successor to 2011's Skyrim, as fans await more news on Bethesda's sixth entry in the vaunted The Elder Scrolls series.  

More Gamescom highlights

It’s been close to a year since we’ve heard much from LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. But Warner Bros. Games showed up at Gamescom this past week with a new trailer that makes good on the delayed game’s promise of stopping in on all the highlights from all nine of the film series’ main movies. From a dejected Luke pining for freedom from Uncle Owen’s mundane farming chores on Tatooine to Rey’s Force flip over Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter, all the big movie moments get the fun LEGO treatment in the new Skywalker Saga clip. 

Better still, Warner Bros. Games gave fans a fresh signal on when they can block out space for their next video game trip to the galaxy far, far away. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is now set for a spring 2022 release for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Leave it to TMNT to keep things old-school with a classic side-scrolling beat ‘em up — on the half-shell, of course. Publisher Dotemu hit Gamescom with a brand new trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, revealing the arrival of April O’Neil as a playable fightin’ character when the game arrives next year. Our favorite Channel 6 TV reporter is actually having quite an all-around spotlight moment in video games this week: April’s also gearing up for her new addition to the fighting roster for Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is slated to ninja-slash onto the Nintendo Switch and PC sometime in 2022.

Last but far from least, a pair of the most-hyped games of the new console generation confirmed their upcoming release dates as part of the week’s Gamescom news. 

Halo Infinite studio 343 Industries revealed that the long-delayed next chapter in Master Chief’s story is set to arrive on Dec. 8. as an Xbox exclusive (including a release on both the Xbox Series X/S platforms as well as Xbox One). In-house Sony juggernaut Guerrilla Games, meanwhile, surprised few fans by announcing Horizon Forbidden West has been pushed into next year from its originally planned release of late 2021. Aloy’s new sci-fi adventure is now set to arrive on the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on Feb. 18 of 2022.