Starfield - one of the most anticipated games of 2023 - had already had its 2022 released date pushed back into this year, with its developers saying they need additional time to realise their "incredible" goals.
The delay was seen as a blow for the Xbox platform - Starfield was to be the first major game from Bethesda after the studio was acquired by Microsoft in March 2021.
It was to be an exclusive game for Xbox, which has struggled in recent years to keep up with the quality of Sony and the first-party titles it creates for its PlayStation consoles.
It still will be of course, but that delay meant that Xbox’s upcoming first-party slate for the remainder of 2022 looked rather barren.
Now, the game has possibly been delayed even further, with the game’s Steam page now saying ‘Coming Soon’, as opposed to the ‘2023’ originally given as a release window.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is Starfield?
Starfield is a sci-fi action RPG described as a wholly new, next-generation experience set in an entirely new space-themed world.
It takes place within The Settled Systems, a region of the galaxy that stretches outward from our Solar System for around 50 light-years.
Around the year 2310, the game’s two most powerful factions, the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective, fought a deadly Colony War, and the game takes place 20 years after this event.
With the groups living under an uneasy truce, players take control of a customisable character who is a member of Constellation, a space exploration organisation.
Starfield will be the first new intellectual property in more than two decades for Bethesda, the creators of critically acclaimed RPG series like Fallout and Skyrim.
Bethesda has been delving into space-themed games since 1994, according to director Todd Howard.
But due to several cancelled projects, such a game never came to be, and the studio was waiting for a concept that would set it apart from other science fiction games already produced.
When can I play it?
During the summer of 2021, a teaser trailer for the game was released, confirming that Starfield would be released for PC and Xbox Series X/S on 11 November 2022. The game remains an Xbox console exclusive, so PS5 players will have to get their hands on an Xbox console if they want to experience it for themselves.
However, Bethesda has since officially stated that the game’s release date has been pushed back to the first half of 2023.
And now, that release date may have been pushed back even further: the game’s Steam page now says ‘Coming Soon’, as opposed to the ‘2023’ originally given as a release window.
Additionally, MrMattyPlays of the Xbox podcast "Defining Duke" claims that Bethesda doesn't currently have a release date in mind for Starfield and that the game may have been delayed until the second half of this year.
"Starfield is getting a possible bump out of the first half [of 2023] because it's currently undated,” he said on a recent episode of the podcast. “They [Bethesda] could go through a test and go 'you know, it is ready', it's just very up in the air in that regard."
It's best to take this information with a grain of salt, because neither Xbox nor Bethesda have officially confirmed any of it at the time of writing. But Starfield won't be appearing at Microsoft's new Developer_Direct showcase event, which the company recently announced for 25 January.
Why has it been delayed?
Upon Starfield’s first big delay into 2023, Bethesda said in a statement that it needed more time to realise its "incredible" goals.
“We can’t wait for you to play Starfield, but we need some more time,” it said. “We’re so thankful for all the support and encouragement and are excited to show you the game soon."
In another statement, Bethesda advised that "we want to ensure that you receive the best, most polished version" of the game, which will be getting a gameplay deep dive "soon."
Following the revelation, Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox and Microsoft Gaming CEO, turned to Twitter to express his disappointment with the delays.
“These decisions are hard on teams making the games and our fans,” he said. “While I fully support giving teams time to release these great games when they are ready, we hear the feedback.”
According to one industry insider, developers working on Starfield were apparently concerned that the 2022 release date might result in a rocky launch, or perhaps the "next Cyberpunk," referring to the long-awaited 2020 sci-fi game that failed to live up to its own promises.