Starfield – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, Adventure
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PC, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PC, Xbox Series X/S

Starfield – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: So many things to do and discover, Overall satisfying gameplay loop
Bad: Dated engine, More bugs than one can count
User Score
7.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Starfield was probably one of the most anticipated titles of 2023, if not the most anticipated title. The game has been kept under wraps for quite a long time, and players knew very little of what the game would actually look like until it was almost released. Many expected this title to be the next big thing, and while it does have all the necessary elements to become one of the best Bethesda releases ever, there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to ironing out the kinks. Now, with the game being out for a few weeks already, we feel as if we have seen almost everything Starfield has to offer, even though we still have so much left to do in the game.

Story

Starfield takes us all the way to the 24th century, where you’re playing as a regular Joe performing mining duties on a faraway moon. During your last job, you uncover a strange artifact that has caused you to experience a vision of sorts, and this puts you on the radar of an exploration group that is actively searching for these artifacts. It doesn’t take too long before you are recruited by them to find more artifacts, which may tell you more about the vision you saw, as well as whom they might belong to. The story does take a while to get going, and there is no real sense of urgency. This casual atmosphere does mesh well with the overall exploration-driven gameplay that is present in Starfield. It’s nice to simply be able to explore to your heart’s content, to then squeeze in a few main missions from time to time if you wish to progress the story.

Graphics

Graphically, the game left us with mixed feelings. While there are certainly a few breathtaking views when exploring multiple galaxies, you’ll also see quite a few underwhelming sceneries, NPCs that look as if they were directly ported from older titles, and so many graphical bugs. We often found ourselves talking to the back of the heads of the NPCs we were engaging in conversation with. At other times we experienced loads of clipping issues in different environments, and these even got to the point where we encountered enemies sticking through the walls firing at us. It’s all these little things that break the immersion from enjoying an impressive space opera and eventually being treated to more bugs than should be allowed in a triple-a release like this. That being said, when things do run smoothly, you’ll encounter quite a few interesting NPCs, that look carefully crafted, as well as awe-inspiring alien lifeforms when out exploring. There’s a clear quality difference between somewhat important NPCs and those who have no real significance in the bigger scheme of things. The spaceships also look neat, and it’s fun to create your own builds, which often look a bit less attractive than some premade ships.

Sound

As a whole, Starfield’s sound design is great. You’ll be treated to a somewhat atmospheric soundtrack for the most part, with satisfying weapon SFX during combat. The main highlight of the game, however, is the impressive voice work. All dialogues in the game are fully voiced, except for your own replies during conversations. We didn’t notice a bad performance throughout the game, and this even includes the minor conversations of shopkeepers or somewhat insignificant NPCs. Those who originally played Skyrim and encountered the Adoring Fan will be rather pleased (or annoyed) that Craig Sechler is also continuing his role as the dubious NPC in Starfield. Small nods to other Bethesda titles such as this do add a lot of charm to the equation.

Gameplay

If we described Starfield as Fallout 4 or Skyrim in space, we wouldn’t be too far away from the truth. This action RPG is made by the same people behind those two aforementioned games, and it does take the formula up a notch. In Starfield you’ll be playing as a character of your own creation to explore multiple galaxies, be it to complete the story missions or simply by doing your own thing. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock or build spaceships, while attracting new crew members, building outposts, finding new weapons, and so on. The offset is fairly simple, but it does take you a while to get used to the game’s many mechanics and its somewhat dated engine.

In Starfield you’ll be constantly exploring the different galaxies and planets around you, and you’re pretty much free to choose in what order you’re tackling quests, side quests, or exploration. There is no defined path, except for the fact that certain missions will unlock in sequence. If you’re a fan of exploring every nook and cranny, you may find interesting side quests early on, which may give you an advantage when clearing them. We tackled the Mantis side quest rather quickly, and this also gave us a nice boost to continue on our quest. There are similar options for players to try, but this game is a lot more fun when you’re open to exploring and simply experiencing all Starfield has to offer. Overall, Starfield is a very expansive experience, and at times we were actually overwhelmed as to where we should go next. As the game involves interplanetary spaceflight, you’ll have to work with the map a lot, and we did find this system to be somewhat clumsy. Those looking to actually fly around a lot and explore may be disappointed that this part of the game does feel a bit underdeveloped. Like us, you’ll probably also simply use the quick travel option all the time, rather than actually manually traveling.

Starfield also involves a lot of micromanaging when it comes to your crew, your ship(s), and the loot you wish to keep or sell. The dated mechanics come into play here, as the menus feel a bit more cumbersome than they could have been. You’ll constantly be over-encumbered, and when you are, you won’t be able to use quick travel anymore. This means you’re often dumping excess loot on the crew member who is with you out in the field. This wouldn’t be too big of an issue if you could access said crew member’s inventory when storing items in your ship’s cargo or when selling loot. Sadly, you’ll always have to talk to the crew member, and then a manual transfer can begin. It’s small things like this that also slow down the game, and it would have been nice to have a more user-friendly system in play. We also found that certain mechanics are not explained properly, such as shipbuilding and outpost construction. You do get a tiny text pop-up that serves as a tutorial, but these feel very bare-bones.

Gunplay in the game is very satisfying. You’ll have a fairly impressive arsenal of weapons at your disposal, and you can also upgrade your gear with mods, which alter certain stats. We loved being able to work with different rifles and pistols during our adventures, and we appreciated the fact that ammo doesn’t weigh you down. This means that you can always properly prepare before venturing out with enough ammo. Healing items can also be found at regular intervals, which is always nice after a few intense battles. Vendors in Starfield do sell a lot of the necessary items, but selling your loot can be somewhat tedious at times. Vendors only have limited credits, which means that when you have a lot of high-value items to sell, you’ll either have to go vendor-hopping or always wait until their funds regenerate. Not that long into the game you’ll notice that picking up every single lootable item isn’t really profitable, and after a while, you’ll start making choices of what to loot (or steal). There’s a lot of loot to be found, which remains entertaining throughout the entire experience.

Sadly, this game does have the same issues as other titles by Bethesda, namely an endless supply of bugs. From start to finish, you’ll constantly encounter small bugs, ranging from simple clipping issues and NPCs not even facing you during dialogues to enemies shooting through walls and NPCs teleporting back to their original position. We could go as far as to say that some of these minor issues can be entertaining, but there are more glaring issues present as well. We have had crew members not following us on missions, but also we’ve had our precious loot disappear when adding items to our weapon racks or other storage units of our home ship. This is rather upsetting when valuable items are lost, simply because of issues such as this. Those who have been following the game have probably already seen loads of clips online that also show a lot of peculiar situations. These include being able to clip through buildings to loot storekeepers’ loot chests or even ship builds that omit the middle part so that enemies are unable to hit the rest of the ship due to their programming. All of this combined can cause for frustrating and annoying segments while trying to enjoy the game.

Conclusion

For our review, it feels like we only scratched the surface of all the things you can do in Starfield, and that’s probably also the game’s biggest strength. There is no defined way of playing Starfield, and you can pretty much tackle every part of the game in a manner that suits your playstyle. Sadly, what could have been a contender for ”game of the year”, ultimately gets held back by an uncountable number of bugs and a very dated engine. Even so, we can easily recommend the game for space exploration enthusiasts and fans of other titles such as Fallout 4 and Skyrim. We ourselves will still be spending a lot of time exploring every nook and cranny of multiple galaxies for months to come.

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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Starfield - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

1 Comment

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