Starfield Has Everything You Could Want, Yet Lacks a Reason to Continue Playing
Starfield, set to be released in 2023, has been generating substantial buzz among gamers, primarily for two compelling reasons: it’s developed by the same team behind the immensely popular Skyrim, and it promises an expansive experience in a fully navigable Milky Way galaxy. In this upcoming game, players will have the opportunity to construct their spaceships, recruit their crew members, establish relationships with diverse companions, create outposts for resource extraction on over 1,000 planets, and align themselves with various factions.
On paper, Starfield boasts an impressive spacefaring adventure, and in practice, it generally lives up to its ambitious promises. However, after dedicating 20 hours to exploring its universe, some players have found it challenging to discover the excitement they anticipated. Starfield appears to be a colossal playground without the expected thrill rides or engaging activities. Paradoxically, there’s both too much to explore and not enough captivating content to engage with. Additionally, it falls short in conveying the true peril and wonder of space travel.
In essence, Starfield feels like a collection of features brought to life, rather than an inherently enjoyable game experience.
The game’s initial hours do evoke a sense of awe and intimidation as players are thrust into the role of a “Very Special Person” with their own spaceship, crew, and the mandate to explore the vast galaxy. As Starfield introduces its various systems, from an intricate upgrade tree to shipbuilding and outpost management interfaces, it impresses with its sheer scale.
However, the illusion quickly shatters when players delve into the actual gameplay. Despite boasting over 1,000 planets to explore, many of them offer little more than barren rocks fit for resource extraction. While some procedurally generated outposts or caves with loot may be found with patience, the majority of Starfield’s playable spaces lack engaging content.
This disappointment may stem from Bethesda’s choice to embrace a more scientifically realistic aesthetic over the space-fantasy style seen in games like Mass Effect. While it’s true that Earth’s abundance of life is a statistical rarity, this choice doesn’t necessarily translate into a captivating game world.
Another drawback is how Starfield undermines its realism by making the player character seemingly impervious to the actual dangers of space travel. Extreme weather on planets like Mercury poses no real threat to the player, which ultimately diminishes the uniqueness of each world from a gameplay perspective.
Furthermore, the inability to seamlessly transition between a planet’s surface and space via the ship leaves players feeling as though outer space is surprisingly small. The reliance on fast travel for interplanetary transit eliminates the opportunity for aimless exploration and appreciation of the grandeur of space.
Starfield finds some redemption in its hand-crafted spaces, such as major cities like New Atlantis and Neon. These urban centers offer more to see and do, but even this quality is relative. Questing in the game follows a familiar pattern from previous Bethesda Game Studios titles, involving running to objective markers, talking to or shooting NPCs, and experiencing moments of emergent gameplay.
While Starfield does provide some fun, such as unexpected encounters with robot dogs and city guards, the majority of gameplay consists of uninspired quests that lack significant highs or lows. It can feel like a constant, monotonous stream of content.
In conclusion, Starfield’s immense potential is somewhat overshadowed by its inability to deliver on the promise of an expansive, immersive spacefaring adventure. While it offers glimpses of brilliance in hand-crafted spaces, it falls short in providing consistently engaging content and fails to capture the true essence of space exploration and danger. Players may find themselves navigating a universe that feels more like a checklist of features rather than a captivating gaming experience.