Starfield by Bethesda -- PC and Xbox exclusive -- 09/06/23

I’ve rarely used them, just like with the shouts in Skyrim.

Amen. The first time, cool. Second time, eh, ok. After that? Gaaaaaah! Not another one! As noted, though, many if not most of the abilities are disposable.

As to what @TurinTur posted, I think I generally agree, while also actually enjoying the game quite a bit. To me it comes down to this: Starfield is a collection of game systems and mechanical loops, many of which are very compelling and engaging in and of themselves. What it does not have is any compelling connections between the systems. It’s a collection of parts, not an integrated whole, at least as a game experience.

The only one I’ve used more than the one time to see what it does is the power that highlights the bad guys and shows me where they are even if they’re behind walls.

Here is a secret: I only did two of them. And basically I never used the two powers I had, my Special Magic Power ™ was the high caliber weaponry with level 3 crafted components I had :D

That doesn’t sound right, I’m pretty sure I put particle beams on the starter ship very soon after the start of the game. (I bought them at the ship upgrade guy in the dingy little western town capital city of the mightiest space empire in the galaxy.)

… Damn.

It never even occurred to me that the main quest is tied to the artifacts, not the powers, and you could just skip them.

But again, it is saying something pretty bad about the game (mechanically) that getting new special powers that let you break the rules of the game is a chore rather than something you look forward to and actively work to achieve. It is just crazy that they didn’t at least allow slotting in multiple powers at the same time.

LoL, everything you guys hate, I enjoy. I think the temples are fun, and I jump at the opportunity to do a new one. I have collected seven or eight powers, and I use three or four of them all the time. I use Gravity Wave when fighting critters and other melee attackers. I use Show Space Stuff constantly during stealth missions and when fighting ranged attackers. I use Precognition in dialogue-rich situations. I’d like to get the blood-oxygen one because Youtubers say it effectively increases your carry capacity by a very large amount.

I do agree that some of the writing is bland, but I think the faction quests and main quest are well-written and fun. I find I often choose dialogue options other than option 1.

It does sound like I need to try BG3. Maybe when it’s on sale. A whole game of turn-based combat sounds tiresome to me, but my aging hands would appreciate the break from all this FPS stuff in Starfield. I bounced off CP2077, but I guess it’s better now, so maybe I’ll try that again too.

Honeymoon’s ending on this thing akready based on the buzz, to wit:

  • The banal, boring NPC;
  • The banal, boring main quest;
  • The banal, po-faced AI-level writing;
  • Repetition of content (there’s like 30 POIs recycled through ALL of the game’s missions. None of them are randomized and you WILL run into the same POI in an entirely different location and yes that means a main mission POI will show up somewhere else) ;
  • Indications that, like a couple of recent Bioware bombs, a ton of gameplay systems were commented out or just left dangling, and that the game itself is a last-minute, compromised affair cranked out in the last year
  • Etc.

I had fun for my $55, but now that ive had the chance to wake up on the morning after and look over… yeesh.

Last night when retrieving one of the artifacts, the cave it was in was identical to the cave I got another artifact out of just like two artifacts before that. Like, that’s just… super lazy.

And that’s definitely my word for this game. Lazy. Either they need to hire more staff to make more consequential stuff so it’s not all seemingly generated by AI or they need to task the staff they have with creating more handmade content that actually impacts the story and gameplay they are attempting to sell.

We used to get more games like this where it was obvious that a company did a cut and paste with a new setting to save money/sell more games. SSI’s RPGs and their General series of games come to mind. This is the 3D AAA modern equivalent of that type of game making.

My current conspiracy head-canon is this:

some time in 2022

Todd: (handing over Starfield 2022, a hot spicy mess) "Check it out, Phil! Our first original IP in 15 years blah blah…)

Phil: (looks game over, makes a face like he stepped in fresh dogshit) “…”

Todd: “…”

Todd and co. Spend next year filing down all of Starfield’s edges, also neutering it the process

2023 Todd: “Um, boss, it’s ready…”

2023 Phil: (looks game over, observing lack of anything that might be called spice, nods approvingly): “Todd we call it ridin the gravy train.”

It feels like the original design was for No Man’s Sky, Bethesda edition, and somewhere about halfway through development they got the order to reverse direction and make a conventional Bethesda game, and they had a fixed schedule and release date, so do your best, and they kept a bunch of random stuff in because it was complete, and this is Starfield.

You think there’d be that much interference/involvement from MS? This is a seasoned studio with plenty of successes under their belt. I would think MS would do the opposite and leave them alone, for this, their first new I.P. in a long while.

Didn’t think it was from MS? It just seems like there was at some point a change of heart about what kind of game they were going to make. Stuff like Outposts feels like leftovers from game design 0.5.

That seems very unlikely to me. It seems much more probable that for the most part they built what they intended - a typical BGS rpg with lite elements from NMS and other space games bolted on, to varying degrees of success. But at heart, this was always going to be a BGS rpg. There’s seems to be no indication from the lead up that it was going to be anything else.

I think, from reading here, one reason I am enjoying Starfield so much (and enjoyed Skyrim a lot more than a lot of people at the time) is that I was “raised” on computer games in which you had to create a lot in your mind. (“oh, Dad, you’re not going to go on about the old days are you?”)

I was thinking about that when playing recently. When I see the dialog options, I fill in a lot more in my mind of what the conversation is rather than take it as literally just those words. I do a lot in my mind throughout the game. I suppose that’s why it doesn’t feel as “bleh” as it seems to for a lot of people.

Agreed. Inconceivable to do anything like a true exploration game with these game systems. And this massive investment in side quests shows what they really wanted to prioritize. They may be individually not all that much to write home about, but each one is at least a week of a designer’s time and a zillion times a week is a lot of weeks. Also there’s so much backstory and local social color, bland and dull as it may be, and that took a lot of designer and writer time too; such detailed stuff for just a few fleshed-out worlds is likewise inconsistent with exploring the galaxy.

You know, sure, this is all speculation (no matter how informed at this point). The one thing I wanted to know is: who gave the thumbs-up to the NPCs and dialogue? I mean, who actually nodded their head over the script and said, “Yes, this is acceptable. This is very interesting dialogue that will keep our audience interested. In addition, it is very similar to how a real human being would speak. Ship it.”

I’m playing PL now, which is souring me on Starfield even more. I understand there’s enormous design differences and priorities between CDPR’s single-role RPG and Bethsoft’s Skyrim 2.0 RPG, but shit Todd couldn’t you have hired someone who was maybe enthusiastic about writing the story and dialogue? Who maybe didn’t sit down in front of an empty Word window every morning, and say, “Fuck…”

Yeah, the writing is really godawful, and the dialog in particular is so stilted it sounds like a mockery of ChatGPT. As a writer I am strongly against the use of AI ripoffs of other people’s work to put sincere creatives out of jobs, but maybe this once I could make an exception…

The same people who gave the thumbs up the last few times? :)

(Have you played a Bethesda game?)

100% this IMHO.