Originally announced back in 2018, Bethesda’s brand new IP – Starfield has finally been released to the public. While most gamers would immediately draw comparison to The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and the Fallout series, there is more nuance than what is on the surface.
Without spoiling anything, Starfield is set in the distant future where mankind has made space exploration viable, resulting in colonisation of large swathes of the universe. Your character is a miner, and upon discovering an artefact, you are immediately thrown into a space adventure.
While the plot points are interesting and engaging, sometimes I find the characters to lack depth. At later stages of the game, I sometimes struggle to bring myself to care about these characters. To their credit, the NPC dialogues are well-written and voice acted.
If you have played Fallout 4 you should feel at ease with the core mechanics of the game, from the character creator to the combat system (with quite a few refinements over past games of course).
First, let’s address character creation. The level of customisability is top notch, giving players quite a lot of options to tweak the character’s aesthetic. You can also select between backgrounds, that gives a few starting skills to suit your playstyle.
Starfield’s dialogue system is also similar to past Bethesda games, and now you get to choose between standard dialogue, attack, persuasion and more. The latter is also much improved, as you get to explore and understand the NPC as they state their opinions and viewpoints. You then get to choose between a few options, with the lowest value indicating lowest risk, while the riskier options yield more ‘persuasion points’.
Another key gameplay element would be exploration, of which I find the overall experience to be a mixed bag. Like No Man’s Sky (when it launched at least), Bethesda has opted for sheer scale rather than quality. Sure, there are tons of planets to explore, but most of them felt bare and were done only for the sake of numbers.
As for the first person shooter elements, this is by far Bethesda’s best implementation ever. Soon after you start the game, you are immediately thrown into a hectic firefight with space pirates, and the gunplay feels responsive, albeit not yet on par with other FPS games in the market (it is an RPG after all).
Of course, you can’t have a space opera adventure without space combat. At first I found it a bit disorientating as the ship’s controls were poorly explained. It did take me a while to get used to it, and frankly it’s quite good. You can also customise your ship to suit your own playstyle.
Despite still being built on the Creation Engine (albeit a newer one), Starfield looks leaps better than previous Bethesda titles. From the characters to foliage, everything looks at least a generation or two ahead when compared to past titles. That being said, NPCs can still look a tad uncanny, and some seem to look like duplicates.
Graphical fidelity aside, Starfield’s art style is also gorgeous to say the least. Starfield has captured the 70s version of sci-fi futurism quite well, giving us a sense of technological advancement yet still retaining a sense of familiarity (think Alien and Cowboy Bebop), as opposed to more modern sci-fi takes with holographic touch screens and what not.
At this point, I have to address the elephant in the graphics optimization room. Starfield is not that well-optimised. I find my mid-range PC struggling to hit even 60 fps in 1080p. 8GB VRAM seems to be the minimum requirement, or you would have to opt for FSR. Yes, Starfield only supports FSR, no DLSS here as it is an AMD sponsored title.
Starfield – Final Verdict
Like past Bethesda titles, Starfield managed to keep me engaged despite some noticeable flaws. However, it has to be said that if you are not a fan of Bethesda-style RPGs, you may find it hard to enjoy this game as the pacing tends to be all over the place.
Regardless, I find Starfield to be a rather enjoyable role-playing game, and I like how they put their spin into a sci-fi adventure.