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I’ve played a lot of Bethesda games over the years. I’ve got just a ridiculous amount of hours logged total in the TES and Fallout games. I’ve even done some light modding in the Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim titles.

When I found out that Bethesda was putting out a new open world IP, I was excited. Bethesda’s open world gameplay tends to be pretty good (although I’m not a fan of the MMO TES & Fallout titles).

I couldn’t wait to jump into the cockpit, metaphorically speaking

You see, you can pretty much assume it’ll be “Fallout in space”, or “Skyrim in space”.. Which is a good thing in my opinion.

While Ubisoft is trying hard to homogenize it’s titles down to a formula that’ll sell, Bethesda has made the effort to distill their open world titles into a formula that’s fun.

Be prepared for a lot of info dumps from me in this review

So, if you’ve got a limited amount of time and don’t want to read the full review, that’s the most important part.

For the rest of you, let’s break things down.

What is Starfield like?

If I had to give a synopsis of Starfield, I’d say take Fallout 4’s item customization and base building and then – minor spoiler yet not – add in a dose of Skyrim’s shouts, and wrap it in a Space Opera package with a story written like if Star Wars wanted to be 2001: A Space Odyssey but was written by someone who’s only read the cliff notes of the book.

Sage advice that the writers could stand to take to heart themselves

The story.. Sucks. You start out a basic miner riding an elevator down to a mine where you go to investigate a disturbance in the force.. Err, gravitational waves.

This starts the whole space opera storyline and gets you running all over the universe collecting mysterious artifacts (and later discovering temples with a weak minigame) and unlocking superpowers culminating in a big attempt at a twist and a final showdown.

Ooh, pretty shiny McGuffin

What makes the whole thing even worse is the major planetary cities are all pretty much “themed”.

You’e got a cyberpunk city, a western city, a mining town, a classy city, a vacation city, etc.. And they all feel small thanks to the game introducing a planet-wide scope.

Yeah, I could do without that whole obtuse western vibe, partner

It gets even worse when you run into some settlers from pre-FTL wanting to settle on a planet, but there is a tiny-ass little town on there and both sides think the planet is just too small for both to settle on there.


It’s got great gameplay and weak storytelling, basically, but honestly.. That’s a Bethesda open-world title for you. You can enjoy bits and pieces of the main story, but frequently the best experiences are going to be in the side quests and emergent gameplay. In fact, the best storyline I found was a faction vs. faction questline that you will most likely have to experience as part of the main story (YMMV of course).

And yes, there is a wide variety of excess junk loot for you to burden your companions with

You’ve got regular FPS combat (no VATS here), an RPG skill system, healthy amounts of exploration, base & ship building, and space combat.

The FPS combat is pretty solid; Run and gun, stealth, and more are all there.

Stealth isn’t quite the “Stealth archer OP” a-la Skyrim, nor can you VATS your way through and stealth kill everything like Fallout 4.

You eventually gain a power that will show enemies through walls

It’s actually fairly well balanced; even with the special powers, I never found myself being TOO powerful as a stealthy character (although there are a few ways to game the system just a bit to stomp your foes into silent dust).

One disappointing aspect that I’m not surprised about is that – yet again – Bethesda has ignored things like ballistics.

Pew-pewing from 100 yards or less

In a game where you can explore planets, you’d think maybe you could enjoy some longer engagement ranges at the very least.. But nope: The longest range I was able to engage in in this game was around 100 meters. Modders will most likely fix this to some extent by introducing new weapons and mods, but I doubt we’ll see any actual projectile systems with bullet drop and the like any time soon.

the lockpicking minigame is fantastic

Of course, not everything is about combat: You’ve got the classic zoomed-into-their-face dialog, an extremely well-done lockpicking minigame, a persuasion system and more that you’ll recall from other Bethesda titles.. But more often than not, you’ll spend a lot of time shooting (or slicing, if you go the melee route).

Yeah, the classic persuasion minigame is back

You can also build outposts literally anywhere (unlike in FO4) on planets; these can act as a home away from home, mining resources for you and sending them off to another location. Hint: Outposts are super useful in keeping your ships cargo hold relatively clutter-free if you’re like me and hoard resources like a doomsday prepper hoards MREs and ammo.

Let’s talk about the new system, though: Ship building & space combat.

What are the space mechanics like in Starfield?

First off: Starfield is not Star Citizen. As I noted before, this game is a space opera; no hard science here, and a lot of arm-wavy McGuffins glue it all together.

Much like your first ship, the Creation engine is showing it’s limitations in space

Overall, it’s pretty weak. You can expand your abilities to be able to do more in space combat, pilot better ships, and upgrade your existing ships. There’s a light power management system, and you can eventually unlock system targeting, but for the most part.. It’s a really light gameplay loop that feels more tacked-on than a core mechanic.

Flight systems and exploration are all a pale shadow of even No Man’s Sky, so if you’re interested in Starfield for the space stuff you’re going to be disappointed. Going from system to system, planet to planet, landing, takeoff and more are all basically fancy loading screens.

Expect to see this cutscene a lot

Ship building, on the other hand, can be a huge time-sink and a lot of fun if you like building a ship like Legos.

I can’t tell you how many hours I spent working on my ships out of the 42 hours it took me to beat the game. It’s seriously a lot of fun, and it’s a shame that the actual space combat is so comparatively weak.

Yeah, I shamelessly ripped off another users’ design based on something from the Expanse, but it looks cool

Let’s move into the other gameplay loops, however.

Starfield: The Space RPG

Each Bethesda title tends to tweak the skill system a bit from the previous ones, and Starfield is no different.

The skills system here is basically Fallout 4’s perks with an additional mechanic for unlocking the next level of a skill (rather than using levels to limit skill upgrades); For example, In order to go from Persuasion Level 1 to Level 2, you need to successfully persuade 3 people.

Leveling up for fun and profit

This works well in ensuring you actually make use of your skills at a lower level, but you’re never stuck being unable to level a skill if you decide to invest into it much later in your character’s life.

Character creation itself is entertaining, but I will say this: Why Bethesda can’t seem to implement proper UX for slider-style systems or a good color selector I’ll never know. The interface itself is.. Atrocious (actually, the whole UI tends to be pretty bad, but there are already mods out working on that very issue).

Yeah, I’m pretty, so what?

You can also pick optional traits that have a positive/negative aspect.. And you’re not stuck ith those, FYI. All those optional traits you earn can be removed later (I went with “Introvert” and “Alien DNA”, but decided to remove the “Introvert” one later), typically with some clever dialog at certain NPCs depending on the traits you chose.

As you progress in the game, you eventually begin to unlock those special shouts.. Err, Star Powers that will remind you of Oblivion’s gate system alongside Skyrim’s shouts.

Get ready to be annoyed by a minigame somewhat when you see this

Unlocking them is a fairly natural progression, although I really found myself sticking to just a couple aside from at the final fight.

Speaking of progression, let’s take a minute talk about the elephant in the room: New Game Plus.

Starfield’s Unique New Game Plus

Alright, it’s hard to avoid spoilers here, but I’m going to try. 

Starfield is the first Bethesda open world title to include New Game Plus, and it was done in quite a unique way..

..It’s actually a part of the story.

No spoilers, so you’re just getting a random screenshot of something that may or may not be important here

Essentially – once you finish the main story – you’ll be able to open up the game even more with NG+.

While the writing tie-in is rather.. Stilted, it’s a nice implementation vs the standard “Hey, now you can play as a powerful jerk and do things differently”.

You lose all your gear and ships, but you retain your skills and powers.. And that’s all I’m going to say, except for NG+ makes me not want to start over with a new character like I normally would in a Bethesda title. No, I’m going to keep playing in NG+, and maybe even do a few more NG+ loops.

Coming back to the first city you land at in NG+ presents you with some fun and interesting dialog

Side quests have always been a staple in Bethesda’s games, many times much better than the main story, so you’ll definitely be enjoying those in NG+. There is even a decent radiant quest system that lets you do randomly generated deliveries, hunt bounties and more infinitely just to earn some extra money and experience.

You do have the staple fetch quests and the like, but I actually saw relatively few of those in my first playthrough, sticking moreso to the larger side quests and main story.

These folks are about to have a bad time, so here’s the conclusion of the review

Enough about that, though.. Let’s get into the summary, shall we?

Should you play Starfield?

If you like Bethesda’s open world games and want to experience them in a new (literal) universe, then yes. Starfield takes the existing formulas and builds something new and fun (although the space combat may frustrate some of you).

If you want an immersive space experience like No Man’s Sky or Star Citizen, are expecting a rich story like Control, or want some hard science in your sci-fi, then.. You may want to skip this.

Perpetually falling character bug I encountered, and it only happened twice

Also, as a special kudos to Bethesda: I encountered very few bugs in Starfield, and the ones I did see were all relatively minor.

That’s impressive, especially considering the scope of Starfield is so much larger than Fallout 4 or Skyrim.

So, that’s the review, folks. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go run around and enjoy some side quests.

The Score:

Stealth Mechanics


Weapon Mechanics


Combat Mechanics









4/10 (normal)