Starfield officially arrives on September 6, but it’s already started breaking records on Steam. The sprawling space RPG reached an all-time high of 248,632 concurrent players, at the time of writing, showing just how eager players were for Bethesda’s latest. For the uninitiated, those who are not willing to wait for the official launch can purchase the Rs. 9,999. $6,699/100 Premium Edition of the game and play it early. This is applicable on Steam and Xbox platforms, with even Game Pass members willing to shell out more than $31.49/Rs. 2,519 for early access, although the title is essentially free for them.
The early access strategy is a great way for Bethesda to make extra money from Starfield sales, given that the Xbox Game Pass logo has been on it since the very beginning. During Microsoft’s lawsuit against the US FTC in June, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan claimed that the video game publishers he spoke with were not fans of Game Pass and that they were unanimously agree with the fact that it was “destructive of value”.
In addition to online multiplayer access and free games, the subscription service makes its first-party exclusives available from day one on the service. Given that this clearly affects sales – as evidenced by Xbox’s price increase – adding paid bonuses such as early game unlocking seems like the right move. According to VG247, Starfield’s Premium Edition upgrade is currently the best-selling product in Microsoft stores worldwide, and is only available to Game Pass subscribers.
In addition to impressive sales figures, players around the world experienced the limits of the game, with speedrunner “Micrologist” managing to blast his way through Starfield in less than three hours. Meanwhile, others tried to manually land their ships on planets by flying through space for hours, only to then just clip it and encounter a void that is not properly textured. Exploration in Starfield has been a subject of debate, where instead of letting you move freely through space, the game forces you to fast travel and move to new solar systems or planets. The same goes for taking off from a planet and heading into space, where you have to open a menu and select a destination on the map before a cutscene and loading screen play.
Despite its limitations in terms of exploration, Starfield was generally well received, earning a Metacritic score of 88% for the PC version and an 86 for the Xbox Series S/X. According to director Todd Howard, the game is best described as “Skyrim in Space’, and happens to be Bethesda’s first new universe in 25 years, taking you on a futuristic journey to explore 2,330 outer spaces, its planets and its inhabitants. After humble beginnings as a space miner, you will join the Constellation, the last group of space explorers searching for rare artifacts across the galaxy. It also has a prison system, religions to follow, and brings back the persuasion system from Fallout 3 to help advance the story without combat, although a fully pacifist run is impossible.
Starfield is already available in Early Access for those who own the Premium Edition; for everyone else, the game will be released worldwide on September 6 for PC, Xbox Series S/X, and Xbox Game Pass.