Review: Starfield – Riding Through the Space Frontier


Humans have always been fascinated by space. Being able to explore the great unknown and discover more beyond our solar system borders is an appealing concept that almost every human being can relate to. This is why the concept of Starfield is very good. But while the game doesn’t deliver on every promise it sets forth in it, that’s the least of its concerns. Unfortunately, the ambition to put together a very solid game set in space is held back by numerous bugs and glitches that may pop up. But if you manage to be lucky enough for everything to go smoothly, there is a wondrous experience to get fully immersed in, but it depends on how much you enjoy exploring outer space.

Starfield on the Xbox Series X (also available on PC) is very similar to many other role-playing games developed by Bethesda. The major difference here is the setting, but a lot of its core gameplay mechanics and story elements are recognizable. Luckily, Starfield has no shortage of deep RPG elements that will have you wanting to play through it multiple times, which is the hallmark of any good Bethesda game. You won’t get to see everything in one playthrough, which may or may not be a great thing for some people. But if you’re fine with that and willing to try things out from a different angle a second or third time, there’s a ton of content to go through. Whether you want to be a space ranger, galactic explorer, bounty hunter, or greedy corporate hitman; there’s a path for you to take and make your way around the universe.

Within all of that is an ensemble of gameplay and story beats that will be different for everyone. Depending on how you want to go about it, you might find yourself getting into firefights or stealth combat more than others, especially if you decided to build out your character towards one playstyle or another. Starfield definitely gives you a lot of room to experiment and try out different approaches to problems with multiple solutions. Taking the smartest or easiest path toward a goal may not always be the most ideal or morally acceptable, but you’re still able to do so. And the game doesn’t judge harshly you for it, but your actions will have an impact on the storylines you follow.

Luckily there are a ton of weapons and helpful tools at your disposal. Firing guns feels pretty good, especially when you’re using a powerful rifle or blaster that can deal heavy damage to foes. You can also upgrade and modify weapons you obtain, often with boosts to damage and other effects that shift the momentum of combat to your advantage. In addition, you can develop items and space suits at research stations with resources you find, giving you a further edge on either combat or exploration when you need it. Although most encounters will end up feeling like running into groups of duplicated enemies in some cases, you’ll also find a ton of items and goodies as you take them down. Fighting creatures on planets is the most interesting part of combat, especially when you run into some truly weird wildlife that may or may not be hostile.

When it comes to story, Starfield has a lot of characters and places you’ll come across on your space travels. While it can be argued that there’s a lot of depth to almost every character you meet, especially if you take on quests that detail their backstory, the majority of them will be forgettable. You probably won’t be remembering the finer details about some characters and their questlines unless you really connect with them on a deep level, which is not often the case. This is a shame because there are characters with quirks and personalities that play right into storylines that seem interesting. Regardless, you still obtain a lot of loot and credits for completing quests. You just might not always be getting a great story to appreciate afterward.

The same can be said for the many environments you visit throughout Starfield. Although there is plenty of diversity among the types of towns, landscapes, and cities you visit, they lack any sort of charisma to make you want to revisit them. You’ll often go to one location for quests you need to complete and probably never visit the locations again, even if you need to explore them some more. With certain planets you go to, you’ll have to travel around on foot across long distances to fully explore the area, discovering hidden structures and other key points of interest to you.

One of the most annoying aspects of exploring in Starfield is the menus and lack of helpful maps. Whether you’re looking to land on a planet, start up a new quest, or get back to a previously visited area; Starfield makes things hard to do so at times. Despite the heavy emphasis on fast-traveling to places, backtracking to a prior area is made tedious when you can’t easily access an option to do so. You might have to tinker with the star map you have to jump to a different system. At the same time, it would’ve greatly helped to have a better map to reference when exploring. The planetary map you have access to through your scanner is very inconvenient to use, making it difficult to judge distances and mark out a path to where you need or want to go. This is especially true in towns and cities where you can’t easily find shops or key locations that you might need to visit frequently. Having a menu with quick travel options to points like these would’ve easily solved this issue, but Starfield makes you search around with your scanner to pinpoint where those places are.

But what about space travel? Does the game do that perfectly well? Yes, it does, including space combat between starships. The moments where you find yourself entering orbit and facing down enemy ships looking for problems are exciting. You definitely need to make the time to prepare for most engagements, however, especially if you don’t try to upgrade your ship or find a better one beforehand. Some fights in space can be very short if you find yourself mismatched. This is why completing some of the quests that reward you with resources or new ships to command is very helpful. You can even create your own spaceship with the ship editor in-game, but you need to level up specific skills to open it up. Creating your very own unique starship adds another layer to the exploration in space, which is time-consuming but very satisfying if you go through with it.

Unfortunately, flying around space isn’t as exciting as it could be. The views of planets from orbit are amazing when you don’t go too far into them. You cannot fly to a planet from a great distance, nor can you enter orbit manually. For a game that is set out in space, it would’ve been ideal to have the ability to do this, rather than rely on fast travel options through the menus to get in and out of planets. It’s a bummer not to have a high level of freedom when flying in space, even though there are most likely technical reasons for it.

Despite some of the best parts of Starfield, the game is almost ruined by its worst aspect, horrible bugs and glitches. While not always consistent for everyone’s game, Starfield does suffer from bugs that can happen randomly and prevent you from progressing forward. This can affect main quest lines, how you interact with some NPCs that are important, as well as combat. Some of the worst examples of this are quests that require you to scan certain areas or objects in order to move forward in a questline, only to be completely stopped because something won’t appear or trigger the next event.

This can be tedious to deal with in some cases and massively frustrating in others. Minor bugs can be fixed by reloading a previous save, which is helpful because Starfield autosaves your game whenever you enter a new area. However, the more devastating bugs will often require you to reboot the whole game. This can come from bugs and glitches that lock up your controls, prevent certain characters from appearing, and when the camera locks up after some dialogue scenes have finished.

All of this happens alongside other minor problems like drops in framerate, which can happen when you’re moving around a planet and there are many effects and characters within the area. Other smaller issues include difficulty spikes for enemies in some random locations that make no sense, especially when you’re overpowered and should be more than capable of going through. For some, this is business as usual for any Bethesda game upon release. However, there are enough issues that happen frequently enough that will definitely require an update to address. While not every person will experience the same kind of problems in their game, there’s definitely enough reason to pause to wait for any sort of updates to iron them out.

Starfield definitely has a high bar for what it set out to accomplish. And for the most part, it delivers on being a detailed Bethesda role-playing game set out in deep space. Every point that it hasn’t fully realized can be improved through extra downloadable content over time, which will only enhance the foundation laid out. But in order for all of it to fully captivate players in the best possible way, Starfield needs to have all of the bad technical issues it suffers from fixed. They hold back Starfield from being a truly otherworld experience for those who love outer space.

What do you think about Starfield? Have you gotten to play it yet on Xbox Series X or PC? What type of starship would you pilot to fly around in space? Let us know your thoughts about everything in the comment section down below!

Starfield
  • 70%
    Starfield - 70%
70%

Good

This is a role-playing game with a good concept and sense of scale. There are many places to go and explore, along with characters to meet and stories to follow, although not always memorable. While there are some quality-of-life aspects that can be improved on, the combat is good and the environments are interesting. But there are very rough bugs and glitches that can impact the experience in many harsh ways.



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Jakejames Lugo
Jakejames Lugohttps://muckrack.com/jakejames-lugo
Jakejames Lugo is a writer and content creator that has been covering video games, movies, and various sides of entertainment for over a decade. He has published reviews and articles on many different outlets and continues to make content for different platforms. Jakejames also makes video content regularly for places like YouTube and TikTok, and share daily posts about gaming on social media.

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