The new IP from Bethesda Game Studios which has been in the making for the last few years is finally here, but is it worth the wait? Bethesda has been through many changes as a studio in the years since the Starfield name was aired and the biggest was the merger with Microsoft/Xbox in 2021, which has led to this game being an exclusive title to Xbox and PC. Starfield is a hybrid of games that combines its IP from the Fallout and Skyrim series with space, and takes inspiration from games such as No Mans Sky. Starfield is an RPG based on interstellar exploration where you are travelling between galaxies to try and understand the universe and artefacts that you find and how they relate to the original Grav Drive (this is the device which allows for moving at light speed).
Like many of Bethesda’s previous titles and games such as Half-Life, you start as a humble worker, in this case a miner, where you stumble upon an artefact that when you touch it weird things happen to you. Here is where you start your journey with the Constellation, the company who are investigating these strange artefacts and what they mean. You are quickly recruited to this team and because your character didn’t have any negative effects handling the artefact, you help the company find more and help gather more knowledge. I won’t spoil the rest of the plot, but this is the main story thread throughout Starfield. However, you are not forced to follow this and you can pick the core thread up whenever you see fit.
Once the intro is completed, you are given a ship and are on your way. There is so much to do in Starfield, so if you are like me and easily distracted this game could take you a long time to complete… if you do at all *cough* Andy *cough*. While exploring the universe you will visit major cities such as Neon located in the Volii system – think of this as Hong Kong inspired which is very bright with (you guessed it) neon lights, and is very shady. This is the home of the Xenofresh Corporation where you can be recruited to help their cause, and these missions require you to be stealthy and persuasive to give this corporation the advantage over other competing corporations. Another notable location is Akila City which has a western vibe to it with a saloon! This is the home of the Freestar Collective which you can also join to help their cause, and the way you join this group is by helping with a hostage situation in the city. The Freestar Collective are like the sheriffs of the galaxy and they don’t hide this as you are recruited as a deputy. Of course, their outfits are extremely cowboy-esque.
This is a small sample and there are multiple missions and interactions to find within the game – some of them are their storylines in their own right with some great rewards such as ships at the end of them, and others are just little missions to help people where they approach you in various towns or space. Granted, like with a lot of games there is an ongoing meme within the Starfield community where some missions could have been an email; maybe they will abolish this by the time we reach the period the game is based in? If the missions don’t keep you busy, creating your outposts and crafting items will most certainly. Most planets and moons have resources on them where you can land, drop an outpost and start mining so that you can use them to upgrade your armour, weapons and build your little settlement. You can set up to eight outposts anywhere you want to and it’s up to you if this is purely somewhere to harvest the local resources, or somewhere you are building a home. Other crafting comes from food which gives you additional benefits and then medical supplies to keep you alive.
As with all RPGs, there is a skill tree for you to follow, and in Starfield this is split up into Physical, Social, Combat, Science and Tech. To be fair, there isn’t anything game-changing here however, there is a nice little mechanic to stop you ploughing all your points into one area right away. For example, to fly higher-class ships you need to increase the Piloting skill, though in order to add each individual point after the first you need to complete a task, so in the Pilot’s case you need to destroy 5 ships. These challenges increases with each point which I like because it means you can’t overpower yourself too quickly, and it makes figure out whether you actually use that skill at all, or do you need to go out of your way to use it.
I have saved the best until the last though, and that’s the shipbuilding. Whilst you can be rewarded with ships for completing missions and you can steal them too, you can take them to various shipyards to customise the ship. Some of the parts are locked behind a skill called ship design, but it’s easy enough to level up. There are loads of options for upgrading your ship and although it takes time to build your dream vessel (like from Aliens or Battlestar Galactica) it is possible if you put enough time into it. Not only can you customise how the ship looks along with weapons, shields and engines; you can change the internals of the ship with habs. These are habitation units for areas such as a captain’s quarters, mess hall, battle stations and so much more. Not only do you have all of these options to hand, but there are 5 or more different manufacturers around Starfield which give a different look and feel. The part I love the best are the cockpits and then the bridges which all look different, and take the game from this is fun to WOW when you get your first bridge.
I could talk about Starfield for hours because there is so much to do, whether it’s your cup of tea or not I am sure everyone can find something to enjoy… as long as you like Bethesda’s back catalogue in the form of Fallout and Skyrim. It’s not as infinite as No Man’s Sky yet sometimes that can be too much and at times I load up Starfield wondering what I am doing to do, but then a random encounter might happen which takes me down a rabbit hole; or I simply just do what takes my fancy. This is the kind of game I believe gamers will leave installed and keep coming back to because there is just so much to do and will only improve with updates and any additional DLC. There is so much to do and no real rush to get to the end, if an end even exists due to the amount of missions there are to complete, and you can even have multiple characters with different play styles. Give it ago as I truly believe there is something for everyone here and with it being on Game Pass for both Xbox and PC you have nothing to loose if you are already a subscriber, or even picking up a free trial.
Starfield is out now on PC and Xbox for around £70, or available at no additional charge if you’re a Game Pass subscriber.