Starfield Honest Review
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Originally Posted On: https://gamemastershq.com/starfield-review/
As someone who has adored Skyrim all his life, the moments leading up to Starfield felt as if I was about to make exciting new memories, and to an extent, that assumption was right. Starfield’s a hugely ambitious title that rolls Bethesda’s iconic role-playing formula into a ball and whirls it into outer space.
It’s the ultimate sci-fi adventure game where you go anywhere you want, do anything you want, and be whoever you want to be, though that doesn’t mean every step of the way is a fun part of the ride.
Spectacular visuals, a sense of intrigue about this fascinating universe, and smooth gameplay instantly set a nice pace for Starfield. Past the prologue, you’ll have multiple questlines to pursue and each of them is as good as the next one.
All in all, the first few hours are overwhelming, yet amazing to play through. It’s incredible what Bethesda has accomplished with Starfield and it’s an experience well worth the 70 bucks. However, while it’s a phenomenal achievement, Bethesda has missed quite a few targets by many light-years. Here’s a comprehensive and honest review of Starfield, featuring all of the good, the bad, and the convoluted.
Starfield’s Top-tier Quest Design Is A New High For Video Games
As soon as you begin your journey as a miner on Vectera who found an alien artifact, Starfield’s giant scope starts unraveling itself. Minutes later, you find yourself in a spaceship halfway across the galaxy, stargazing planets, and joining a group of nomad space explorers called the Constellation.
And from there, it’s you, your ship, your companion, and your rifle on an unforgettable journey. That’s textbook Bethesda prologue, and boy does it work every single time.
From here, you have multiple quests to embark on, and during each of them, you’ll find newer ones. The quest system snowballs rapidly, but the handy mission journal never lets you lose track of them.
The main story is about 25 hours long which can easily be stretched to well over 150 if you’re a completionist.
I never felt like I wasted time on any quest. There was always something unique happening, let it be massacring hundreds of bystanders for the ragtag Crimson Fleet or investigating the Mantis’ secret lair, there was always purpose and pleasure in actions.
There are over a quarter-million voiced dialog lines. The words are quantity and not quality for the most part, but Starfield’s gigantic scope lets you overlook that bit. Overall, that quest design is a new high for the industry, but surprisingly, it’s also Starfield’s biggest enemy.
Great Quest Design Is Starfield’s Biggest Enemy
Starfield is not completely open-world. It consists of thousands of large regions with invisible walls bound together. Entering or exiting a building, or fast-traveling anywhere kicks in a ten-second loading screen, so there are thousands of those.
One of Starfield’s major problems is exploration. Xbox and Bethesda sold the idea of traveling anywhere in the galaxy and having a blast but outside of following quests, this isn’t the case. Exploring the wilderness and Space on your own terms, there’s practically none of that.
If you go trekking on a whim, good luck, you’ll never find anything fun. In essence, you’ll always have to do quests since every amazing adventure in the game revolves around them.
Realistically this isn’t Bethesda’s fault. Over 99% of the real-life universe is empty, so technically Starfield is a great adaptation. Having said that, instead of shoving 50 galaxies in the game with 1000 planets that have almost no content, 3 galaxies with 30 planets filled to the brim would’ve made Starfield tenfold better.
Planets have things to do, but the chances of you randomly bumping into the genuinely fun stuff are nearly non-existent. Because of that, at times Starfield feels like Microsoft’s Flight Simulator but in space.
A compact scope would have made Starfield a darn good game.
Starfield Review: Spaceships Are A Novelty Feature
Interstellar travel is a major beat in Starfield. Randomly encountering space pirates and potential enemy aircraft is an enjoyable part of the game. You never know what will happen the next time you grav jump.
Spaceship combat is pretty decent, and so are the mechanics, but I’d still say it’s more of a novelty feature.
Just like thousands of planets, there are thousands of space orbits surrounding them where you can fly your ship. The concept is basically an elaborate illusion.
You always need to fast-travel between orbits, and since they look exactly similar, going into space becomes meaningless very quickly.
If it weren’t for the quests and some random encounters here and there, flying your ship in Starfield would be the most boring thing you could do.
Exciting stuff always happens either on the surface or inside enemy spaceships. The concept of flying around is nice to have, especially in a space game, but it’s just there for the sake of it.
Building Ships Is Fun Even If Flying Them Isn’t
To start off, the Ship Builder has a horrendous UI. It is extremely complicated to get the hang of, though once you do, you can lose yourself in designing the ultimate spacecraft for hours, no kidding. Just take a look at what these guys made:
It’s an amusing aspect of the game and many of you will spend hours here if you’re creative. There’s also an Outpost system in Starfield.
Since every planet in the game has unique resources needed for crafting, you can build outposts on planets and assign crew to keep them running. Unfortunately, the Outpost Builder UI is far worse, so best wishes for figuring that out.
Starfield Review: A Graphically Impressive Game With Underwhelming Gameplay Diversity
Starfield’s presentation is wonderful for a Bethesda game. It’s beyond an improvement over Fallout 4. The textures are clean, crispy, and absolutely eye candy. They make you reminiscent of Remedy’s stunning art style in Alan Wake 2 and Control.
Gameplay on the other hand – while smooth – is subpar.
Facial animations and voice acting are just fine. They don’t work that well together. Nothing too compelling or comparable to the likes of Christopher Judge from God of War or Cameron Monaghan from Jedi Survivor.
In name, Starfield is an RPG, yet the weapon class diversity apart from firearms is so poor that using guns is the only way that feels natural.
There’s no magic/melee contrast like in Skyrim. Sure, superpowers, grenades, and more tools are introduced later on, but there’s no way to go about approaching a situation that doesn’t involve a gun, not even during stealth – which to be honest, is a joke in Starfield.
Excuse Me, Where’s The Stealth
Stealth is virtually non-existent in Starfield. There are no critical attacks from behind. Guns with silencers sure work, but it’s always guns, guns, and more guns.
Sneaking is useless unless you have upgraded it to the max, but even then it is soulless. Pickpocketing is another thing added just to further expand the feature sheet.
Guns blazing is the only playstyle Starfield pushes for most of its course, and that’s disappointing when you look at the wasted potential.
Starfield Review: Terribly Convoluted, Disastrous UI, And Incoherent Immersion
Now here’s everything wrong with Starfield. First off, the loading screens are massive blows to the immersion. In a game of this scale, you’re always going into and out of buildings, entering your ship, and visiting outposts constantly.
Getting bombarded with loading screens whenever you enter and exit places feels terrible. Every time I see a cave or a building I want to go in, it pains me. You’ll say to yourself “Ah, not again”.
I get that there’s attention to detail here, but come on, many games have done it better. Batman: Arkham Knight, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 for example.
Even the most GPU-intensive games never put loading screens between a shop and its surroundings. It’s bewildering why Bethesda didn’t find a way to counteract this.
For a game built on thousands of miniature regions, making transitions seamless should have been a top priority, and unfortunately, Starfield utterly fails in that regard.
Navigation And Inventory Management Is Ridiculous
Starfield has innumerable settlements, however, none of them have a map screen. While sign boards in cities do exist, they don’t help much. If you want to visit a shop, it’s either wander for hours or search for a guide on the internet.
Likewise, Inventory management is an absolute disaster. There are a bazillion different types of ammo, and when you’re purchasing some from a shop, there’s no indication of which ammo goes with which of the 500 weapons.
I was constantly shifting back and forth trying to figure out which gun needed which ammo, and I had dozens of them. It’s such a small thing, but the fact that you have to do this often makes it infuriating.
Then there are those looter-shooter values applied to inventory items. All items have a million different stats, and they all make your brain freeze.
A simple weapon system with only modifications as a bonus would’ve been fine instead of the sensory overload that Bethesda has opted for.
Digipicking Is My New Most Hated Feature
Unlike in Skyrim, I avoid locks as much as I can in Starfield. The new digipicking system is like you’re solving a Rubik’s Cube, but there’s the added torture of it being a different type of cube each try.
I opened 2 master locks after spending 30 minutes and the crates had nothing inside. It was a neat prank the first time, but not the 70th.
Digipicking desperately needs to be removed, it’s cumbersome and the time-spent-to-reward ratio is bitter.
Luckily, none of these are things that community mods won’t fix.
Starfield Review: Mod Support Will Make Starfield Endlessly Playable On PC
Vanilla Starfield has some problems, but so does Vanilla Skyrim. With official mod support for Starfield coming in 2024 across all platforms, it will become one of the top PC games of all time.
Hundreds of new weapons will be added, better facial animations, ship designs, NPCs, and many new community-made quests. Those empty worlds will be filled and stealth will be fixed.
For Xbox owners, I’m not sure whether the mods will be of the same quality as on PC. Because of that, I recommend playing Starfield through the Xbox Game Pass on consoles and purchasing the full game if you’re on PC.
With the right mods, a first-timer would say Skyrim came out yesterday. Starfield’s likely going to receive the same treatment. Despite its numerous flaws, it still has so much untapped potential.
I have no doubt Starfield will establish a devoted fan base in due time, and when that does happen, you can expect mods for it to drop hourly.
Some fans have already made a mod on PC that allows you to travel to the surface of a planet without any loading screens, something which is impossible otherwise. Albeit the game fails to load properly.
The point is, Starfield has a bright future ahead of it thanks to Bethesda’s cult following.
There’s A Little of Cyberpunk 2077 In Starfield
If you haven’t played Starfield and have developed a distaste due to reading reviews, I’d say to not judge it until you’ve had first-hand experience.
Some folks on X are bashing Starfield for being “lifeless, dull, and bad”, yet, ironically, I see them praising Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty expansion as the holy grail. Like if Cyberpunk had smooth sailing.
Cyberpunk has perhaps the worst AAA launch in history. Years of beloved support by CDPR changed that, and now Cyberpunk 2.0 might arguably be better than The Witcher 3.
To me, Starfield is in the same boat. Not because it is broken. On the contrary, Bethesda has delivered on what it promised, even if it occasionally feels lifeless.
With future updates, the Shattered Space DLC launching soon, and community mods, I see the Cyberpunk 2.0 phenomenon happening to Starfield too.
If people say it’s a 7 now, in about two years it has the potential to become a 9, and I’d say odds favor that outcome. In any case, this is a game I highly recommend you to play no matter which genre you are a fan of.
Focus on the main and side quests and you’ll always have a hell of a time. And with mods, you’ll be able to turn that up to infinity and beyond.
Starfield Review: 8/10 – Good
Starfield is an epic space adventure that lives up to the promise of being the ultimate space simulator. It successfully manages to deliver the euphoria of Bethesda’s iconic role-playing recipe, however, unlike past entries, its overly complicated nature and near-infinite scope make it look incomplete at times, despite there being a lot of heart put into it.
Amazing quest design, stellar RPG variety, and lovely attention to detail are easy hooks for the game, even if they are toned down by the innumerable loading screens, complexity, and lack of playstyles. Starfield is far from perfect, but thanks to a breath-taking blend of masterfully crafted quests and thrilling occurrences, you’re sure to be on the odyssey of a lifetime.