- 1 Introduction
- 2 Getting Lost in the Cosmos
- 3 Ship Building: An Addictive Vice
- 4 The Bethesda Formula: Freedom and Exploration
- 5 Diverse and Captivating Cities
- 6 Varied and Creative Missions
- 7 Endless Exploration and Discovery
- 8 Solid Mechanical Foundations
- 9 The Odd Decisions and Minor Annoyances
- 10 An Eye-Popping Cosmic Environment
- 11 The Rocky Start and Familiar Bugs
- 12 The Perils of Being Over Encumbered
- 13 Conclusion: A Masterpiece of Cosmic Exploration
Rating 8 out of 10
Bethesda’s highly anticipated space epic, Starfield, is an invitation to explore an expansive interplanetary environment full of wonders, surprises, and distractions. This game provides players with a unique exploration-focused experience. You can spend hours exploring this cosmos, shooting space pirates, romancing companions, and embark on exciting adventures. In this comprehensive review, we’ll examine every detail of Starfield and get to the bottom of its many mysteries.
Getting Lost in the Cosmos
The sheer abundance of options available in the Starfield cosmos is immediately apparent. You may start a play session with a clear goal in mind and end up disappearing down the rabbit hole of options and adventures presented to you at every turn. Getting sidetracked and having fun while doing so is in essence what Starfield is all about. Sometimes, even when you go out on a mission with the best of intentions, it can take hours until you return to your original planet, where you might find yourself wondering, “Wait, what was I supposed to be doing?” as you recount your many space fights, fascinating encounters, and unexpected experiences.
As one of its most appealing features, Starfield allows you to become completely engrossed in its world as you travel to different planets, interact with a wide variety of inhabitants, and experience random, unpredictable events. The main story quests pale in comparison to the side content and characters you’ll interact with along the way. Many a wise person has said, it’s not about the destination but the journey along the way! Getting lost in space has never been more fun.
Ship Building: An Addictive Vice
Ship construction is one of the many projects that might tickle your fancy and lead to countless hours spent tweaking and perfecting your very own ‘Firefly’ or ‘Millennium Falcon’. Searching the spaceport for accessible engines can turn into a six-hour marathon during which you add an entire deck to your ship. The process of constructing ships in Starfield is both enjoyable and absorbing. You may customize your ship down to the smallest detail, including the number of rooms, the power of your engines, how you distribute your ship’s weight, and how efficient your systems are. You can even stick a plushie toy on your main console to keep you motivated during space battles! Building enormous spaceships is tempting not just for the power they provide, but also for the fun of exploring the interior and taking in the view.
But the game’s compelling loop includes more than just ship construction. Planet surveying is also fascinating because it entails scanning the flora, fauna, and resources of different planets and then selling the information. You may find yourself scanning 70 percent of the Earth before you realise how much time has passed and decide to just finish the mission. This side quest is representative of Starfield’s charm; the game’s many attractions make it difficult to focus on the objective at hand. Did I mention building Outposts and farming a planet’s natural resources? The amount of well developed niches on offer in Starfield are staggering. And although completely optional, one or two of these ‘side hustles’ are bound to appeal to all gamers which will lead to countless more hours spent off the beaten track.
The Bethesda Formula: Freedom and Exploration
If you’re familiar with Bethesda’s games, you know what to expect: expansive open landscapes packed with things to do and see. Like most open-world games, Starfield features a cosmos with a wide variety of missions, tasks, and objectives that can be discovered practically anywhere. While there is a primary storyline and a series of goals for each group, the game’s greatest appeal is in the myriad side quests and adventures you can experience.
Depending on the complexity, these missions can last anything from a few minutes to several hours. The Starfield experience is defined by the freedom to pick your own path and the realization that, avoiding the main mission, is the best way to play a Bethesda game. The game wants you to live inside its world, so it gives you free reign to explore everything it has to offer without any obligation to achieve any particular goal.
One gripe we have with Starfield over other previous Bethesda titles is the disjointed journey experience. You don’t really fly between planets exploring along the way so much as select where to go from your menus. Far cynical reviewers are calling it ‘Fast Travel’ the game which is a little mean spirited. Flying from A to B manually would have been a nice inclusion although I imagine many players would grow tired of the long gaps in gameplay and possibly opt for the fast travel menu option anyway. Either way, I’m sure the modding community will most likely add this into the game soon.
Diverse and Captivating Cities
Each city in Starfield has its own unique ruleset, culture, and personality, making it feel like its own minigame. New Atlantis, widely regarded as the game’s epicentre, is a shining Star Trek–like utopia from which players embark on galactic adventures as members of the Constellation guild. The United Colonies Vanguard is also active in this metropolis, with members tasked with disguising themselves as Space Pirates and eliminating alien infestations. In Akila City, you’ll be upholding frontier justice against laser-wielding outlaws, giving off a vibe reminiscent of the Wild West. Neon is a cyberpunk dystopia where the protagonist engages in espionage for the rather shady Ryujin Corporation in a city very much ripped straight from ‘Blade Runner’. Last but not least, each location you visit feels vastly different from the last and it’s clear that the art department at Bethesda Studios poured their heart and soul into crafting unique microcosms for players to enjoy.
Varied and Creative Missions
The success of Starfield comes from the mission’s ability to surprise and delight. What awaits you around the next cosmic curve might be anything from a stressful combat scenario to a complex heist with various ways to succeed to an interrogation where dialogue is essential to acquiring information. Challenges in the game can be approached in a variety of ways, including through diplomacy, bribery, or brute force, and the game never fails to surprise. Different solutions to the game’s problems can be tried out in each playtime thanks to the game’s adaptable gameplay styles, such as its emphasis on Persuasion.
Endless Exploration and Discovery
Beyond the main story, Starfield also features a myriad of randomly created planets to explore. The game’s features are bolstered with the addition of outpost construction, gear crafting, modding, and other activities. There’s no way to become tired of playing because there’s always something new to learn or a different path to take, even after 60+ hours. Few major story missions make up the game’s loop, with planet reconnaissance, outpost crafting, research and ship building filling in the gaps. There is a lot of variety and fluidity in the gameplay thanks to the random missions, base raids for gear, smuggling for credits, resource gathering for upgrades, and confrontations with cannon fodder foes.
Solid Mechanical Foundations
When it comes to the game’s mechanics, Starfield really shines. While some of Bethesda’s past games featured floaty combat mechanics, this one gives a satisfying impact while using firearms. Guns are punchy and shootouts are frenetic and fun. Combat between ships is exciting, especially when daring manoeuvres are pulled off in order to use all of a ship’s firepower against an adversary. Targeting a rival ship’s engine to disable them and then boarding their ship is thrilling. Loot and the ship itself are your reward for a successful pirate takeover. But just like everything else in Starfield, this style of play is completely optional. Play in a style that fits your character and have fun!
The Odd Decisions and Minor Annoyances
Starfield has a lot going for it, but it also has some oddities. Skill trees make it so that players can’t use certain base abilities like sneaking and picking pockets until they’ve spent a skill point on them. This restriction can be limiting, especially if you frequently find yourself in predicaments where these abilities would come in handy. One of the quirks of crafting is that players can only keep track of complete recipes, which makes it difficult to balance inventory weight when amassing marked ingredients. You’ll find your character gets overburdened far too quickly while looting. So, early in the game it is difficult to know which items are worth keeping and what’s junk. These hiccups in the flow of the game are annoying enough that players need to make mental or written notes to help them get through them.
An Eye-Popping Cosmic Environment
In terms of presentation, Starfield excels. The game features a wide variety of stunningly produced landscapes, from the fantastical to the everyday. The cities are beautifully crafted, providing a plethora of sights and sounds to discover. There are alien jungles even on the most desert moons. The visuals and atmosphere of the game do a great job of pulling the player into their cosmic embrace. Photo mode is an added bonus, and you may find yourself blown away by some vistas on display across the galaxy. To put it simply, Starfield is graphically confident and gorgeous to look at. Bethesda’s prettiest game to date. But enough praising, what about the negatives I hear you ask? Read on brave space traveller…
The Rocky Start and Familiar Bugs
There’s no denying that Starfield has some bugs, but it’s unexpectedly more stable than Bethesda’s past efforts. The majority of the bugs experienced are minor and don’t detract from the gameplay bar some immersion breaking. During our rather lengthy playthrough we experienced things like: NPCs all spawning on a rooftop, dialogue audio overlapping, characters clipping through the environment, pop-up and occasional crashes on loading screens. IT’s important to note though, that none of these really hindered our enjoyment of the game and were mere annoyances rather than game breaking. For a Bethesda release, this low level of jank is actually a miracle and it adds a certain charm to the game. The Starfield experience isn’t complete without these entertaining quirks.
The Perils of Being Over Encumbered
The appeal of Starfield’s huge world and interesting missions is tempered by a noticeable gameplay aspect that significantly detracts from the experience: the problem of being overburdened. This mechanism, while intended to be realistic, is a consistent source of annoyance during play.
The hassle of careful inventory management is imposed on players from the very beginning. When you first set out on your intergalactic journey, you may notice that your protagonist has a hard time moving forward because his or her pockets are always full with random objects. This problem is worst in Starfield’s opening sequence and never really goes away. Selling things and clearing out storage space is a constant nuisance in the game.
Even in the first few minutes of the game, you’ll find yourself clicking through menus to determine which items are the heaviest, such as minerals or spacesuits, and then, against your better judgement, dumping them on the surface of a planet. Many people only make this decision when they have no other option; carrying heavy loads quickly depletes oxygen levels, making it difficult to go to a shop where they can unload their possessions. Although it seems logical to limit rapid movement when carrying too much gear, this rule can feel overly restrictive in practice.
The primary incentive for players to arrive on uninhabited biomes in Starfield is the promise of loot and resources from a galaxy overflowing with them. The inventory limit dampens the excitement of discovery, which can be partially alleviated by increasing your level, gaining certain perks, or finding a spacesuit with a little boost in carrying capacity. There’s not much use in ditching your spacesuit once you’ve found one, as doing so would likely make playing more difficult or boring. The worst part of Starfield’s inventory system is that it makes you feel punished for being greedy and it’s a constant concern niggling in the back of your mind as you play.
Consistently offloading unused items and resources onto allies or the ship’s cargo hold is a requirement of the game. Your comrades not only make good use of the weapons and armour you supply, but also courageously shoulder the responsibility of acting as humanoid pack mules. It’s a win-win situation that allows you to travel light and concentrate on your mission. While resources in your ship’s hold can be used directly in crafting, things from your allies will need to be retrieved first. This additional management is a chore and slows down gaming.
While the concept of managing several supplies across multiple individuals and vessels is in line with Bethesda’s ideal of immersion, in practice it often leads to chaos. Guns, minerals, clothing items, and perishable food items are randomly dispersed across numerous pockets and storage spaces, many of which you’ll simply forget about. This peculiarity in handling stock diminishes the overall appeal of Starfield. Not a deal breaker for us per say but it’s understandable why reviews of Starfield are varied across the interwebs.
Conclusion: A Masterpiece of Cosmic Exploration
Overall, Starfield is Bethesda’s best game since Skyrim and it’s easy to see why. The game captures the spirit of adventure and discovery beautifully, plunging players into a cosmos that’s rich with life and mystery. It’s the pinnacle of Bethesda’s decades-long experience in making open-world games, and it gives you a genuine sense of advancement as you explore the game’s immense galaxy. While not everyone enjoys Bethesda’s games, Starfield proves the developer’s skill at creating immersive worlds where players can make their own choices and experience the consequences.
The richness of missions and interactions, the sensation of wonder as you explore the cosmos, and the freedom to select your own path all contribute to Starfield’s appeal. Sure, it’s not perfect and some of our gripes might be enough to put some players off. However, it’s important to note that our experience was never dampened enough by the game’s shortcomings. At no point were we not having fun. Starfield is a joy to play and its many pros certainly outweigh its cons.
Instead of a goal-oriented experience, it’s an open invitation to immerse yourself in the world Bethesda has painstakingly crafted. The sheer size of the cosmos and the sheer size of the game are both freeing factors; you will probably never see or do it all, so savour every moment. The universe in Starfield is vast enough to keep you exploring for months, if not years, and the game’s truck load of content will just whet your need for more. New Game Plus anyone? So, aim for the stars and dive into the boundless opportunities that Starfield provides.
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