Was I excited for Starfield? Nope, but that’s why I’m writing this Starfield review.
Honestly, not even a little. I have been burned by Bethesda time and time again, I guess I finally learned my lesson. I committed to playing it on launch primarily because somewhere in the back of my head I had hope that this game would surprise me. Maybe all of the issues that Bethesda has hit me with in the past would be… different this time?
Call it Stockholm’s, but I’m trying to build up my Twitch stream again and without a doubt Starfield was going to be a hit. So I booted it up, and within 2-3 hours of gameplay realized something that would sour the rest of the experience.
It’s just Fallout 4 with a “NASA-punk” skin, and a ship builder haphazardly bolted onto it. There is no space exploration. There are only a handful of interesting planets to “explore”. The weapons and weapon mechanics are just a Fallout 4’s weapons and mechanics, down to the very same crafting system. This includes the upgrade system, mod system, etc.
Tired and abusive story design
Starfield’s story beats are tired and retreads of games that have done it better. The new mechanics are all ripped directly from better games.
You think you’ll fly through space and explore planets? No, you will fast travel everywhere, experience a load screen every few minutes and hit an invisible wall if you see something in the distance and ask yourself, “I wonder what’s out there”. The cells for each procedurally generated planet are random in size it appears.
I never realized how important the idea of “if you see it, you can go explore it” was in Skyrim. That game stole well over a hundred hours from me in my first playthrough and I directly attribute it to this mechanic. The game wasn’t as large, it’s story was also tired and boring for the most part, but the experience of exploring locations that you could see was invigorating. You could return to that for years and either forget you’ve already explored something, making it new again, or legitimately find new and interesting locations that you could share with your friends.
Starfield has none of that. As everything outside of the main city hubs and a few quest locations, everything is procedurally generated. And each of these procedurally generated locations has a handful of hand made locations to explore dotted about.
When I say a handful, I mean it. Within the first 3 hours of gameplay, I had experienced EVERYTHING Starfield had to offer in the way of old mining depots, old ship yards, and old settlements. You quickly realize that although the designers are magicians to do with this engine what they’ve done, clearly there just isn’t enough content to showcase their works.
But it doesn’t get good until hour 20!
I put 55 hours into Starfield, finishing it – and very mild spoilers ahead – the New Game+ mechanic is interesting. It’s actually a great idea on paper, and some of the end game story beats are very intriguing. Which made me so incredibly angry. The fact that these ideas are wasted on such a mid, low effort, lazy game as this deeply saddens me.
I had fun for the first couple hours, after that I completed it out of spite and to stream it. It was a terrible experience. My experience was only made moderately tolerable by UI mods and fixes because Bethesda cannot release a game with good UI. I’m not sure they ever have.
If you only liked the loot part of loot and explore mechanics in previous Bethesda games. If you are looking for a giant time sync with very little substance, you may enjoy Starfield. Unfortunately for me, looking at it and seeing Fallout 4, a game that also disappointed me due to it’s dumbed down and simplified general mechanics in favor of a settlement system, just made Starfield nearly impossible to enjoy.
Once you know how the soup is made, the whole game’s illusion falls apart.
As always, if you enjoy this Starfield review or my rants you can watch them live over on my Twitch channel. I generally stream Monday-Friday starting around 5pm Central. See you there! https://www.twitch.tv/flamegoat
Like reading about what games I’m playing? Check out the reviews section where I’ll be writing up games as I stream them. Check out https://www.flamegoat.net/category/reviews/ or checkout my Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 review here.
Starfield is a massive disappointment.
Tired rehash and retread of a story other games have done better, the graphics are passable at best and the mechanics fall short of previous Bethesda titles - which is really saying something. The designers did what they could with the NASA-punk style and some of it was very impressive, too bad the engine greatly hampers any actual visual intrigue. Audio is nothing special, but I did not have any issues with it on the whole. If you can stomach the first playthrough, there are some interesting yet relatively shallow mechanics in NG+ which make the replay value high, but is pulled down by the drag and length of the game. Gameplay is standard, mid, Bethesda affair, with gunplay that's almost decent, but never quite hits the mark.