I know I’m not alone and saying that I’ve been salivating for a game that would let me explore the reaches of the galaxy for a very long time. Ever since seeing my first Star Wars movie, I’ve been aching for a game that would let me live out a space fantasy where I can manage my ship, Go on adventures with a memorable crew, and freely explore an abundant amount of different planets and galaxies. Skyrim to this day is still one of the most explored worlds in video game history so many had heavy expectations were going into Starfield. Now that I’ve grown credits numerous times I have so many feelings that I can’t wait to share with you in this Starfield review.
Let’s talk about it.
In typical Bethesda fashion, you play as a custom-made character that embarks on an adventure where you meet a crew, battle foes, and hoard everything you can get your grubby hands on. This time you’re a space miner, who finds themselves in an adventure unlike anything they’ve ever dreamed of.
Bethesda showcased that they know how to start a story because damn I was invested right from the jump. As I continued with the story enthusiasm started to sink like a rock in water due to some weird main quest issues, however, that beginning is a good tone-setter.
There game’s writing in general is a mixed bag. The curated missions which you can tell they spent their focus on are great. On the opposite end of things are the everyday NPCs who are devoid of any personality traits whatsoever.
In Starfield, most of your time is going to revolve around exploring planets, joining factions, embarking on a slew of side quests, solving the mystery of the main quest, and managing your spaceship. All of that sounds like the open-world space game that many gamers have been dreaming about for decades, and some of the aspects are as good as we imagined. Others though are marred with weird design choices that hamper my enjoyability of the experience.
You can’t talk about this game without talking about the space exploration and the spaceship combat. Let’s start with the spaceship combat it is a little bit of a learning curve to kind of vibe with but once you do it is satisfying to do these dog fights with a ship that you either bought or created yourself. You can tinker with so many aspects of the ship. I honestly feel overwhelmed but I’m so glad that the game gives you that many choices.
When exploring space you can basically go to your menu and then pick out a location that you want to travel to either in space or on specific planets and then you can hyper-jump into that location. The hyper-jump effect is cool however I hate that I have to keep going into constant menus to get to that option. It doesn’t help that there isn’t any map that tells you where important locations are. You have to remember where important locations like cities are as opposed to them having a bookmark system where you can easily go to it and hyperjump to important settings in the game.
How is the Exploration:
In the lead-up to Starfield’s release, it was boasted and touted that we’d get over 1,000 planets to explore. They keep their word. You can truly go to each world and see everything that it has to offer. The majority of the world of nothing but emptiness except for crafting materials. To make matters world you have to traverse the entire world on foot. When you run you get gassed and have to stop running to catch your breath. As you can imagine it takes an insane amount of time to get to places on each planet. You don’t even get a vehicle to help you get around.
On the flip side, when you get to areas that are populated there is a lot to see and do. The cities contained the content that I wanted more of. The well crafted worlds that gives you more things to do and lore to learn about. All the rest of the game feels like things that you can do in No Man’s Sky.
How does the Combat Feel:
A critique that I’ve had of Todd Howard’s games has been how the guns feel. With they were serviceable they always felt behind compared to actual shooters. Thankfully this isn’t the case with Starfield. It feels good to run and run no matter which weapon you equip. The laser weapons feel as you would imagine and the real-life inspire rifles, pistols, and snipers feel closer to Call of Duty than they have previously.
I was surprised but I’m happy to report that is the least clunky a Tom Howard game has every felt. With games in this engine there is a inherent janky feeling to them and while it’s still there, this game feels like the most polished jank that I’ve play in 2023.
As you probably guessed, the faction missions are easily the best feature out of this game by a long mile. Each faction feels different in its own way and contains cool focused missions that you can embark on. You can join a pirate faction, you can join a corporate espionage faction, you can join a police faction, and you can join a space sheriff-style faction that allows you to go on some cool curated space western-type journey. These faction missions live up to the legacy of Todd Howard’s Bethesda games.
Another feature that I want to give kudos to is the sound and soundtrack of this game. The sound effects are all expertly done. The score in the soundtrack is absolutely sensational. The game’s centralized main theme song appropriately makes you feel like you’re in a spy epic. I found myself humming the jingle throughout the day even when I wasn’t even playing the game.
I will say that this is the least buggy open-world Bethesda game that I’ve ever seen at release. That said I did encounter a fair amount of bugs including some characters clipping, some characters teleporting to random locations, and some falling down from the sky. I also, unfortunately, experienced many crashes while playing on the Xbox Series S and X.
Many of the game’s systems leave a lot to be desired. For instance, the weight-carrying mechanic is worse than it has been in any Bethesda open world. Instead of utilizing tech to give us a chance to carry more items this game’s carrying capacity is significantly lower than the base carrying capacity in Fallout 4. I can’t for the life of me think of a good reason why this choice was made.
Speaking of systems, let’s discuss the game’s skill tree and perks. There are 5 categories of skills Trees: Physical, Social, Combat, Science, and Tech. Between all those, you can unlock 82 skills and also level up each skill to reach a master level and proficiency in that trait. It sounds like an RPG fan’s dream. However, when you look into these skills unfortunately you see that some of them feel redundant. You have a persuasion skill that you’re going to lock and you also have a negotiation skill. If you are good at persuasion you are good at negotiation. They have a decontamination skill and an environmental conditioning skill. Both of which do very similar things. This is just a couple of examples and there are many more of these overlapping skills. The skill tree doesn’t feel well thought out.
Additional Cons Part 1:
One of my biggest critiques of Starfield has to be the constant load screens that you encounter throughout the game. You go into your ship there’s a load screen, you go into space there’s a load screen, you’ve got your ship there’s a load animation, you undock your ship there’s another load animation, you enter into a building, and guess what there’s loading to be done. While the loading in this game is fast it is still a constant momentum killer. I get that’s how these open-world Bethesda games operated forever but it makes the game seem like something that could have come out in years prior.
Keeping up with the theme of mixed quality comes the game’s visuals. There are moments where Starfield looks remarkable like when you catch a good screenshot of the moon and the stars around you. But then the other side of the coin hits and you see bland locations and these honest-to-goodness ugly NPCs that look like they were from a 2000’s game. Even the companion characters look worse than the companion characters from the Mass Effect trilogy which were games made in previous decades.
Additional Cons Part 2:
Another facet of the game that underwhelmed me was the main quest. It essentially boils down to you hunting down the same piece of metal in different mining locations. There is a cool moment that provides shock value that you experience later in the main quest but it feels like too little too late. Outside of two quests where you can interact with the central antagonist there really isn’t anything to speak of here. This is probably one of the most disappointing main quest storylines of 2023.
It is grating that after every quest you have to go back and report to each quest giver physically. This wouldn’t have been a problem in 2013, but it is in 2023. In Cyberpunk 2077, after you complete a quest you simply call the people that gave you the quest and they can transfer you your rewards. That feels like a modern-day way of doing these fetch quests. Instead, you have to go through sometimes up to eight loading screens to get a quest and then be additional loading screens to turn in said quest. All this could have been avoided considering that in Starfield you have a communication system where you can talk to other ships. Are you telling me you can’t talk to other people on other planets?
Overall/Should you Play Starfield:
Honestly, the answer is a bit conflicted. This is surprising because everything about this game is a tale of good aspects being held back by bad concepts and design choices. This game is the epitome One step forward two steps back. The things that Starfield does well, are so good that it almost makes up for the things that have you pulling your hair out. If you loved Bethesda games like Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Fallout 4, and the Elder Scrolls series and you want to play a game exactly like those games were back when they came out then definitely check out Starfield. However if you want to play an experience that feels like it is for modern-day gamers you may want to wait until they add additional content, fix some of the design choices, and mods become accessible for all platforms.
Honestly, I can’t believe after all this time and hype that I’m so mixed on this game. Unfortunately right now even though it is a premise that many video game fans have been dreaming about and it contains some incredible highs, Starfield it’s just a mid-game.
Where Should Starfield fit in your video game backlog:
Here at the ProNerd Report and on the Single Player Experience Podcast, we practice the 10 games backlog rule. In this practice, you log down 10 games, those games are gonna be your video game backlog. To be as productive as you possibly can be, we recommend that you only play three games at one time. One single player narrative game, one game that’s gonna be your chill and relaxed game, and another game that’s going to be your palate cleanser game, which is a game that you play when you’re not in the mood for your other narrative. When you complete or get tired of one game, it leaves the backlog list. Then you decide which new game is added to the list, and which game on the list advances to your active three games.
Starfield – If you enjoy Bethesda-style games then this one should be in your backlog. Keep an eye out for when DLC and a 2.0 version of this game release because I think when they fix all the problems this is going to be a cool game to play. Right now though I would wait and keep it in your backlog. The base game as it is right now isn’t anything I’d recommend to most people.
Contact Us/Join the Community:
If you’d like to talk to us about this Starfield Review you can do so here:
P.s. if you want to talk to us about any game join us at our Discord:
Reviewed on Xbox Series S and X/Steam Deck