Bethesda Softworks released Starfield on September 6, 2023. After an initial announcement at E3 in 2018, it finally hit stores exclusively to the Xbox Series X/S and PC.
During the early access, some gamers got to play before it was officially released. This, unfortunately, created some controversies, with people finding find the weirdest ways to denounce the game. For example, pronoun options clearly means the game is itself terrible, right?
Actually, we think Bethesda made something very special.
Starfield might not be the Fallout game fans wanted. Yet in some ways, it rivals Fallout at its own game. We’ll look at Starfield in depth to see what makes this new space adventure so epic. Strap into your seats, ladies and gents, it’s time for hyperdrive!
Starfield: Man Has Gone To Space
After Earth’s atmosphere collapsed into something uninhabitable, humanity ventured out to the stars to colonize planets. Clearly, we didn’t learn. The result? The advancement of technology, alien extermination, and civil war. The United Colonies and the Freestar Collective fought for decades until they reached a stalemate and settled their differences.
While the factions of the UC, the Freestar Collective, and the House of Va’ruun have come to terms, tensions don’t quell that easily. Mechs and alien weapons are now outlawed. Space pirates roam the galaxy.
You are now caught in the middle of all of this.
Gamers play a miner hired by a group called Constellation to recover a special mineral known as the Artifact. After you come in contact with the Artifact, players receive visions of the universe before waking up. Plus, after you build your character, you meet the buyer only to be ambushed by pirates.
Barett then gives you a ship and directions to a planet to meet with the rest of Constellation. You find out that the Artifacts are something that contain an unknown power that begs a lot of questions but gives very little answers. Your task seems simple: Find the Artifacts, figure out their meaning, and profit from them.
A New Look But A Familiar Tune
Every world in Starfield differs from the others. Actually, one of Bethesda’s marketing campaigns hung on a promise of 1,000 planets to explore. Most of these planets are accessible with unique atmospheres, creatures, resources, and weather conditions.
This feels all familiar to Skyrim and Fallout players. Like the aforementioned games, Starfield contains several factions. Some are hospitable. Some are hostile. The main gameplay takes the form of a roleplaying shooter with space exploration and base building. Compared to Fallout 76, however? It is done very well.
Apart from the primary campaign, hundreds of side quests offer the chance to earn extra cash and points, as well as learn some new storylines. However, Starfield‘s story progresses in a unique way. Many players recommend sticking with the main story up to a certain point before spending time on the side content. Why? Well, the main story missions end up unlocking newer features that make the game much easier.
So many planets and solar systems to explore could overwhelm players.
Actually, people populate only a handful of planets. These hub worlds contain most of your your main and faction missions.
New Atlantis feels like a utopian planet with a clean atmosphere and amazingly artistic buildings. Constellation operates on New Atlantis, so you explore it quite a bit.
Akila City, however, creates a huge contrast with the neat New Atlantis. Boasting a dusty Wild West feel, Akila City’s frontier justice houses Freestar and feels like a town that would belong in Fallout New Vegas.
Neon looks like it was ripped straight out of Night City. Any fan of the cyberpunk genre will be right at home at this place, with plenty to explore.
A Realistic Approach
Many of these planets contain resources, hidden bases, and even temples that hold mysterious powers. In fact, Starfield takes an almost realistic approach to how other planets operate outside of Earth. Well, the keyword here being almost.
Each planet has its atmosphere, their temperature, gravity, and main resources. Some require you to wear your space suit and helmet to walk on the surface. Some pummel you with the effects of radiation, extreme cold, and other elements that hurt your status.
Scanners help you survey the wildlife, local fauna, and minerals. Players use these craft or sell for profit. Fans of No Man’s Sky will feel right at home.
There is even a base-building mechanic, allowing you to make as many as half a dozen bases for mining resources. Not as interesting as it was with Fallout 4, but it has its merits.
The Secret To Starfield: Your Ship
Each player gets a spaceship at the beginning of the game. Make sure you keep it, too.
Your ship starts as nothing special. Eventually, however, you can buy weapons and parts to upgrade it. In fact, if you have the patience and desire, players can ever build their ships. Some have even been able to build crazy stuff like a Star Destroyer from Star Wars and the Banshees from Halo. With enough money, you can buy other spaceships too. Building your own’s just more fun for many.
Weapons, shields, engines, and grav jump drives share energy. The grave jump proves the most vital for travel. It’s the only way you can go between solar systems rapidly.
Dog fights in space abound and take a bit of strategy. Not only do you need the best weapons and shields, but you also need to learn how to switch power between units to better your chances. Most of the time, you’ll be outnumbered. As many as four ships with fight you at once.
The Power of Friendship
Throughout Starfield, you meet members of Constellation who join you and your ship’s crew. At the Lodge, you encounter leader, Sarah Morgan, the cowboy Sam Coe, the mysterious Andreja, and the charismatic troublemaker Barrett. This is just the team you meet at the Lodge. You recruit others to your crew, too. There’s even a robot!
Similar to the companions in Mass Effect, each crew member brings a unique talent or ability to help. However here, you can only bring one companion at a time.
Depending on how you get along with the characters, you can even get into relationships and marry them. When you bring one along during a mission you can see their reactions to certain people. Depending on your dialogue choices, they might grow to like you or to dislike you. Hence, engaging with them feels much more personal rather than just bringing another NPC along for the ride.
Combat Is Serviceable
Starfield’s a first-person or third-person shooter, depending on how you want the camera. Fans probably wonder about its comparison to other FPS games Bethesda has made.
Starfield works well enough. However, it’s not perfect.
Compared to Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, Starfield’s shooting works the way it’s intended, without needing to put points mainly into weapons. The game offers a variety of pistols, shotguns, rifles, assault rifles, and explosives. Plus, color coding for rarity, like in games like Borderlands and Deathloop, also exists. In addition, each weapon can be modified with added parts like scopes and silencers along with explosive, fire, or acid damage.
Energy weapons use laser rounds. EMP rounds incapacitate human enemies. However, most enemies get back up after incapacitation. Unless it’s stated in a mission to show mercy, you will always go lethal.
Melee combat, though? Alas, it’s laughable as the weapons are limited and unimpressive. There are only a handful of blades that can be used and most enemies usually carry guns. Hence, ranged combat will always be the main focus.
Finally, the weapons don’t have enough impact on what they do. You aim and shoot and do damage. Simple as that. There’s no feedback from the enemy from when you shoot them.
One of the most innovative parts of Starfield’s RPG mechanics is that it’s not tailored to be a jack of all trades. Over a dozen traits and backgrounds exist. Most of them prove very useful and require some thought. Maxing-out stats in one category doesn’t mean players automatically beat the game.
If you want to improve with pistols in the game, you’ll have to complete challenges. Unless you kill 20 people with a handgun, you can’t rank up those stats. The game rewards you for going through the challenges rather than challenges existing only as side quests.
Another example is certain abilities that could aid you in the long run. Space combat can be difficult, as is with exploration. Put enough points into piloting and maneuvering, athough, and you could be the next Han Solo.
The secret weapon? Persuasion. Like Fallout and Elder Scrolls, putting points into negotiating and persuasion gets you places.
In Starfield, players choose dialogue options when trying to persuade someone. These can be difficult, as you won’t know right away which choices work best. The difference between how a Neon Street Rat responds versus UC Vanguard is almost night and day. Even your own background can open up new dialogue options.
Bethesda games are notorious for having bugs and glitches and Starfield is no exception. NPCs often clip through the floors. Textures load incorrectly. Hair suddenly vanishes.
Starfield runs on the second edition of the Creation Engine, which carries a stigma eve since Fallout 76. Regardless of whether players run the game on consoles or PC, the performance stays the same. In fact, between both versions, Starfield runs fairly well, The bugs and glitches don’t break the game.
One Small Change, One Giant Leap for Bethesda
Bethesda took a huge risk making a whole new IP rather than sticking with their usual franchises. The gamble seems to have paid off well. 8s and 9s out of 10 litter review after review. Does this mean that the studio is heading in the right direction? Only time will tell.
Starfield takes a bit of patience before players actually get to the point where they make the galaxy their sandbox. Still, there’s a lot of replayability. There’s even a game plus mode that wipes out your story progress but lets you keep your stats. Hence, you can just keep playing the game over and over.
It’s very likely DLC will be made and the game has mod support which is going to attract a lot of people. Overall, Starfield is a game that has a lot of soul poured into it. At the end of the day, at least it didn’t end up in development hell like Star Citizen has been in for so long.