You wait for a game long enough and more times than not, it fails to meet expectations in the review stage itself. At this point of my life, I am more relieved than disappointed by this fact because it saves the game from getting added to my stagnant backlog of games.
So, when Starfield released and multiple critics thrashed the game, I was kind of relieved. Furthermore, as I played Fallout 4 to get my fill of a Bethesda RPG in the time, I found myself sucked into the world created by the studio and tided over my need to play Starfield. But then I focused closely on the gameplay of Starfield and the points of contention the critics had, it all seemed on some expectations not being met rather than an actual take on the reality of the game. There was a trend in thrashing the game and many were riding it.
I dug deeper and what I found was the potential of a Bethesda RPG. I read between the lines of reviewers and complainers and found equally as compelling as their other worlds. Plus the game seemed much much more stable on launch than its counterparts.
The main story in a Bethesda game does not matter. It was in the exploration and the random encounters in the world, the side quest that leads you off the beaten path to explore nooks and crannies and reward you. That is what made the game up. Back in 2015, Fallout 4 received a similar cold reception (albeit it did have its fair share of bugs), and yet it stands the test of time.
So, even though I tried my best to keep myself away from Starfield with a dose of Mass Effect 3 and Fallout 4, I couldn't resist the temptation.
So, reluctantly I booted up the game.
Right into the game, Starfield drops you into a mine and after a bit of mining, you discover an artifact that causes you to see visions and you lose consciousness. The game uses this opportunity to get you to create your own character and choose a background and starting traits.
The Character Creator in Starfield has a fair share of options and was much more easy to use than the one in Fallout 4. I chose to go with Raven Snow, as it felt appropriate for her journey into space, having already made a trip to Andromeda (in Mass Effect: Andromeda).
Considering how much time I had at hand and the time I generally spend in character creators, I was worried this would delay my start of the game. However, I discovered to my joy that I could keep my progress in character creation by leveraging the Series X's Quick Resume feature. So, bit by bit, I designed my character and finally came to background screen.
I chose to go with Cyber Runner as it had the set of skills I was looking for, Stealth being a top of it. It also fit into the origins of Raven Snow hailing from the streets of Neon.
I debated with MaximusSteel about the choice of traits and whether to have them or not. Considering it was a feature unique to this game with the downsides, I chose to have all 3.
- Extrovert, to give me a boost when I take along companions (definitely was going to have one with me)
- Neon Street Rat, tying my origins to Neon
- Taskmaster, for a crew who could restore my ship at double the cost of hiring.
I was excited to get into the game and start out my journey across the stars.
The Main Story
Once I could explore the mines, I was lost looking at the details of the world. I couldn't help but admire the number of items I could interact with and pick up in true Bethesda fashion. I even stole someone's half eaten sandwich right in front of them and they reacted to it.
Soon after, I was given my ship and I was free to travel to space. Although the mission mandated that I make a stop at New Atlantis and deliver the Artifact I discovered to Constellation, a group whose primary objective was to explore the mysteries of space. After dealing with a few pirates and getting to New Atlantis, I was amazed at this city built among the stars.
I met the members of the Constellation and I was keen to understand the mystery of the artifacts. I remembered sections of the launch trailer then and how intrigued I was with the visuals. Now I have the chance to explore and solve the mystery myself. I was not going to miss this opportunity.
I learnt about the other factions in the Universe: the United Colonies (of which New Atlantis is a part of), the Freestar Collective and House Varu'un. It was interesting to learn of how they all came to be though there are still many more mysteries I am to unlock on their motivations, esp. House Varu'un.
Constellation seemed to be one smaller group among others like Aegis, UC Vanguard, Freestar Rangers, LIST,... which had their own set of associated missions.
Activities & Encounters
Once the game opened up, I did what I usually do in RPGs and ignored the main mission. I spent my time exploring New Atlantis and all that it had to offer. Unlike most games which populate their maps with question marks, I could overhear conversations as I explored New Atlantis, which gave me activities to do. As I dug deeper, I was rewarded by my inquisitiveness by missions.
I helped people with deliveries, items that they wanted, even solved the mystery of a brown-out in an area called the Well. I met a range of interesting characters, including the elusive looking Hunter. I had quite an engaging conversation with him.
Choices & Persuasion
As with every RPG, you have your style of play and can make choices on how to handle each and every situation. Most of my recent RPG builds have been built around Persuasion and Charm so I can talk my way out of most situations. Starfield features a robust Persuasion system and you have to have a keen understanding of the situation to get the right dialogue in a conversation to keep things calm.
Stealth and Pickpocketing also return in the game and as always are very nuanced and difficult to pull off starting out. I am yet to figure it out and get it to work perfectly. Some choices which involve illegal activities will attract the dislike of your companions esp. Sarsh Morgan. That is what I hate about her character. She is quick to judge and even in situations, where I am looking to diffuse tension or talk my way out through persuasion, she is quick to form her opinion. This made me ditch her as a companion as soon as I could.
Starfield features both first person and third person camera and a wide assortment of apparel. So, you sure can appreciate your character in their various outfits esp. with the photo mode.
Not only does the game allow you to dress your character up, but you can also change the apparel of your companions along with their weapons and spacesuits, giving you the freedom to pimp out your space crew.
Capture 16 Times the Detail in high resolution with the in-game photo mode.
I was so excited to discover the game had a photo mode and couldn't help myself capture some interesting shots. However, at first, I was disappointed that L3 + R3 did not open up the photo mode. It was when I stumbled onto the shortcut in the hand scaner that I was overjoyed. To get a chance to capture the fashionable outfits and space is a whole lot of fun.
It is good to see books made it to space. It is very reminiscent of Skyrim, however in this case, the game does feature a mix of our world books Charles Dickens (a lot of Charles Dickens) and originals written in the world of Starfield.
I even spent some time capturing the whiteboards in the game that seemed to hold some important sciency stuff and key reminders like "Run".
And then there the paintings and the artwork that adorn the interiors. They seem to predominantly abstract with an occasional portrait here and there.
Starfield is brilliant. It is a Bethesda RPG through and through, filled with amazing little encounters and a sense of discovery. It may not be in the line of the compact Fallout or Elder Scroll series, but it does have a level of detail raved about. You can choose to build your character and play the role you wish to and live with the consequences of your choices.
Having to span the breadth of the universe does tend to stretch out the game, and with it comes its fair share of advantages as the terrains you get to explore are vastly different. The gravity of the planets varying as it does adds that additional element of dynamism on traversal.
There are things I wish for in the game like space travel and the ability to go from one planet to another (like travel there instead of fast travel) because it seems so calming in space, a space radio, a proper surface map (for now will have to make do with the hand scanner if I am lost) and surface vehicles to speed up land traversal. Yet its more of a bunch of wants than needs. I am finding quite a fill of fun with what the game currently does have.