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

Finished at 53 hours. Sorry to those who didn’t enjoy it, but I had a blast. I have no idea what to do now. Give it a rest? Continue on? Start Cyberpunk over again? Jump back in to Grim Dawn (which I’ve totally forgotten how to play)?

Seems like after Fallout 4, it was pretty much guaranteed that all their future games would have base building.

Well, let’s not fall on that. FO4 had perfectly serviceable writing, characters, and plotting. There were of course, lots of flat notes (BOS Clooney comes to mind) but we also had interesting characters like Valentine. The handling of the main quest was OK until the “you must die… [organization name] is best!” ending. The side quests showed some love.

Starfield, on the other hand… just shows an utter lack of enthusiasm. The major NPCs are basically the same but with (boring) backgrounds and have no endearing quirks whatsoever. Bethesda’s lauded “environmental storytelling” fails to make any impact here (hard to do when they dish out the same POIs over and over again in their procen worlds). The main quest is “visit the samey temples over and over and do the same thing until we tell you the quest is about over”. No unique dungeons or challenges.

Bethesda really just went through the motions here. I think we’re looking at a Volition situation here - a studio just burned out creatively without anything else to say. The time-honored mechanics and comfortable, familiar gameplay carried me through Starfield, but I really have zero interest in anything else Bethsoft has after this.

Yeah this is me, I enjoyed my time with this for the most part. But I feel like I’ve fallen out of love with this Skyrim/Fallout/Starfield copy paste thing that Beth have going on. It just feels very dated now.

This doesn’t seem entirely accurate. There’s always a right off the bat “Yes” answer if you just want to move to the quest. Then there is always a similar “No” answer. But then there is usually a choice where you can just learn more info - either about the NPC, their faction, or more details about their quest. There is a “flirt” option, but only with romanceable companions as far as I know but I may have missed something. In addition, you failed to mention that various traits, backgrounds, factions, etc. can at times provide other dialogue options (notably Empathy and Extrovert). Lastly, there is the whole persuasion mini-game which by any measure is much more interesting than Fallout 4’s simple charisma check which people rightly complained so much about. So to say that this is nothing more than Fallout 4’s dialogue system doesn’t seem entirely accurate. Most reviewers seem to think this is a step up from Fallout 4’d dialogue system.

Welcome to the future where the main city of a faction that fought another power to a standstill in an interstellar conflict can’t figure out how to pave roads, and don’t even bother cobblestone most of it.

C’mon Space Abilene is cool, LOL

My vote is for Cyberpunk, plus the DLC. It’s just a different and vastly better game than at launch.

Barbarians without paved roads conquered the Roman Empire :)

I completely agree with that. In fact, not only the dialogs don’t bother me, I find their short terse nature and the almost fixed-width font somewhat comforting. The loading screens don’t cause any loss in immersion for me either, as long as they are very brief (which they are on an NVMe stick). The overall gameworld which is the abstraction of these hundred or so star systems and the missions spread out around them, looks like one connected whole thing to me. It may sound counter intuitive to some that moving through areas of interests spread over a very large physical space via loading screens makes the world more real to me than having a large land mass (province) where I can move from one edge to the other in tens of minutes.

I am glad Bethesda tried a slightly different formula for the gigantic RPGs they normally build. I’d be happier if they had tweaked the formula a little more (or made some of the gameplay systems more consistent and accessible) but it’s fine.

Since I can play again I am back in. I hear all of your criticisms they just don’t hamper the fun for me. This is the best Bethesda game so far. It’s not the best RPG, or best Open World game, or best Looter Shooter. But it’s the best space exploration Bethesda game. To me Bethesda games are their own genre. There is nothing comparable to them around. I love this game. It gives me entertainment in a way no other game does.

I am enthusiastic for the decade long journey that this game will hopefully have. How it will look like once all the expansions are out, and especially of course what the modders can do with all the great base we have here.

Still haven’t started the main quest proper, 100 Hours in.

After my 3rd temple, I just gave up and said I don’t want to do them anymore, lol.

I did all the temples to see all the powers, but the fly through the magic foozle thing got old fast. Like you, I can’t see why they thought it was a good idea to make the player go through that more than once. After the first one, you should have just clicked the door and popped out on the exit door side with the power acquired thing.

Starfield is just a bland, repetitive experience. Every game mechanic has been done better somewhere else and there was no attempt made at improving anything. You can probably site each game mechanic and see how some other game does it better.

I think this game is going to die off fast over the next year. I have been watching the BG3 player numbers vs Starfield, and already BG3 is more than 2x as much concurrent players on steam as Starfield.

I wonder, if in several years from now, if Skyrim’s concurrent player count will outpace Starfield’s. The only thing that can save this game in the future is if the modding community makes some really good overhaul mods that change a lot.

The temples were a metaphor for what BGS got wrong. The first one is cool, an interesting little puzzle. But then the next 20-odd are the exact same thing, in the exact same place, copy-pasted onto nearly identical locations. It’s super lazy.

The Skyrim shouts were all at the end of interesting, unique dungeons. Starfield isn’t Skyrim in space. It’s pretty Daggerfall.

In several years? I bet it will happen by the end of the year.

(Though it’s not an entirely fair comparison, since I’d imagine a huge proportion of gamers got Starfield via Game Pass rather than buying it, while basically everyone owns Skyrim on Steam.)

This bodes well for the sequel; it means we’ll get pretty Morrowind next!

Even ignoring the Game Pass issue I agree but I also think that was going to be a given. The NASApunk, near-future, lower tech, more grounded SF was never going to be as wildly popular as dragons, magic, and all sorts of fantasy aesthetic. Isn’t FO4 a better comparison?

For me Skyrim is a better game but Starfield is a better toy. Modders might make it into a good game later with new mission chains, new NPCs, and a reworked economy but for now it is a big sandbox of parts. Like No Man’s Sky and (way, way back) Minecraft it is a universe in which self directed goals are the important things.

Or it could be going in the opposite direction: I wonder how many newer (younger) gamers will be playing this as their first Bethesda game, not having their opinions influenced by Skyrim/Fallout, and finding it to be “the shit”?

Honestly, I’m not really getting the “this is so bland” vibe when I play it.

I’ve had a ton of fun flying around in space and finding all kinds of random encounters and stuff. There are tons of interesting things to find out there.

Yeah, actually it’s pretty cool how many versions there are of Starfield out there. That was pretty sneaky of Bethesda.