(Photo courtesy of Bethesda) “‘Starfield’ is one of the most highly anticipated games of 2023”.
The new Xbox exclusive, “Starfield,” is Bethesda’s first new RPG release in 25 years since the groundbreaking success of one of the most revered games of our generation, “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” Set amongst the cosmos, the year is approximately 2330, 20 years after what is known as the Colony War. This was a deep conflict between the two largest factions in the space system, which has currently been left frozen with no true peace between the two. The player enters the landscape as a space explorer with many different story paths to pursue, over 1,000 planets to visit and a plethora of interactive NPCs for countless opportunities of exploration.
The game has received mixed reviews since its release on Sept. 6, proving to be generally favorable, but certain gameplay features leave players frustrated at the limitations in such a limitless landscape. Some users praise the game for offering an entirely new world with such vast opportunities that are completely new to the previous successes of the franchise. However, others are disappointed that despite how impressive the universe is, the gameplay standards fall short in terms of the methods offered to explore it fully.
While there are over 1,000 planets to explore, critics note that when you land on a planet, the game generates a number of pre-created landscapes that puzzle-piece together to create the larger map. This is what makes it possible to create so many different locations, with each of them tailored to the interests of the player and how they have progressed in the game. However, these planets have a large amount of open space on them. Players lament the fact that much of their “exploration” time is spent walking through barren landscapes with no encounters or opportunities until you reach a populated sector. There are no traversal aids or surprise interactions that fans of the developers are familiar with in their other video game titles.
Others argue that what makes the game great on its own is separate from what people have come to love about Bethesda’s other successful worlds. The basis of this game is different in that your discovery of newer, more interesting places is contingent on the players completion of the main storyline. The writing is sufficient for what it is, but each of the characters you interact with takes it very seriously. The game is not entirely trying to be as serious as most people may be expecting from it. The combat is incredibly engaging, the quest options are fun and the game still offers many different modes of character experience so each player can have their own unique take on exploration.
Overall, the game offers a great experience in a completely new sci-fi space. The NPCs are engaging, the dense areas of society are well crafted and there’s plenty of exploration the game does offer. However, the expanse of the universe has left many open spaces that have held players back from having as deep of an explorative experience as they could within the amount of time they’re putting into the game. Almost comically so, many would argue that if the game offered some mode of space transportation after landing on a planet, this vast expanse would not feel like such a heavy hinderance on the game’s story or experience. There’s certainly hope that the game will continue to develop with updates and downloadable content for players to upscale their gameplay with, but even as is, Bethesda has still created an incredibly tantalizing universe for players to have fun with. The game is available exclusively on Xbox and PC.