Space Odyssey

Starfield rumors suggest an earlier-than-expected release date

Bethesda's mysterious space game might be just over the horizon.

The current gaming landscape is full of mystery. Pragmata? Ghostwire: Tokyo? Elden Ring? For every big upcoming game that we have tons of news about, there's some major release that fans are dying to hear more about. Case in point: Bethesda's sci-fi epic Starfield.

First announced all the way back at E3 2018, the game looked like it would be the first next-gen console game to launch with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. We've gotten zero details since then, leaving fans to wonder if the project is still in development at all.

If a recent rumor is true, the game is not only still in the works, but it could be arriving to a solar system near you far sooner than previously anticipated.

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An industry insider who posts under the name NateDrake popped into a ResetEra thread about Bethesda's future plans to share some information about a potential launch window.

"There has been a strong hope & desire to have Starfield launch this yr," says NateDrake. "How major the impacts due to COVID have been on the title is anyone's guess, but 2021 was the intended goal for release as of a few months ago."

Later down the thread, NateDrake admits that he's not "100% certain" that the game will hit that launch date, but that word on the street is that 2021 was Bethesda's goal. What's uncertain is exactly when that goal was put in place and what may have changed since.

While this is one of those situations where you can't help but be skeptical, there is some reason to believe that could be the case. Reporter Jeff Grubb recently pointed out that Bethesda isn't likely to announce much of anything until the company is officially acquired by Microsoft. That deal finalizes in March, which means that some sort of grand presentation could be coming this spring shortly thereafter.

"Once the deal closes, they will talk about it in a big way,” Grubb speculates. “I don’t know if it will be a full Direct-style event, but they will make note of it, and they will talk about it extensively, and they will explain what it means to everybody."

It's reasonable to assume that Bethesda might be holding some information back at the moment as it finalizes plans with Microsoft. That's especially necessary since the deal will have a major impact on what platforms a game like Starfield are ultimately released on.

On top of that, we did get a tiny morsel of actual Starfield news this week. Bethesda announced that it's running an auction as part of Make-A-Wish's Evening of Wishes event where one bidder will get to create a character for the game (and get an elusive Xbox Series X to boot). At the very least, that confirms that the game is still very much in development.

While the evidence is a little shaky, Starfield launching in 2021 — or at least originally aiming to — does make sense. Considering that it was the first game to kick off the next-gen game hype wagon, it's not unreasonable to assume that it's far along in its development. While a 2021 release feels less likely with every passing minute, all eyes will be on Bethesda as soon as Microsoft officially closes its landmark acquisition deal this March.

At the very least, we may learn a whole lot more by April.

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