Having arrived in our galaxy on September 6th was Bethesda’s latest release since Fallout 76 in 2018, with their venture into a game 25 years in the making – Starfield. While this isn’t Bethesda’s first time dipping its feet into sci-fi, as seen with their other franchises borrowing elements to make their unique worlds – like Fallout, this time around, the game studio attempts to firmly cement itself in this gaming genre. Unlike most games under the science fiction umbrella, such as Mass Effect or Destiny, Starfield doesn’t find itself caught up in extragalactic threats of aliens that intend to destroy humanity. Instead, Bethesda makes a game based on a very real and potential future, which becomes a valuable message on human ambition.
Starfield, as expected from a role-playing game, offers a plethora of paths for you to take and often leads the player into daring conflicts against many groups — all of which can be resolved in numerous ways. Compared to previous Bethesda games, there is more emphasis on your level of choice, and whether or not you would rather talk your way out of problems or use blunt force. The main plot of the game manages to strike a balance of sci-fi and fantasy, as a modest group of space explorers called “Constellation” seek to delve into the mysteries of the universe — as they uncover an outlandish collection of artifacts — all of an unknown but evidently alien origin. These strange artifacts act as the primary introduction to the fantasy elements of the story, as they display spectacular feats of magic, and later the player themself will be able to harness such anomalies through unique powers.
Starfield’s story is rooted in human hubris rather than anything extraterrestrial, frequently demonstrating to the player the dire consequences of man’s desire to become gods. Upon humanity’s first excursion into the endless sea of stars, people immediately began to draw territorial lines across the void. These groups soon began to infringe on each other’s slice of eternity, and the fallout brought about a war between the latest colonists of space. Additionally, Earth has long since become a wasteland, leaving humanity just 50 years to escape their home, with millions having been left behind in the exodus. All of this due to resource wars that drove humans into space in the first place, thus kicking off the plot of this riveting space adventure.
This positive sentiment on the game world and story is shared by other reviewers, such as Benjamin Kratsch from PCWorld, where he describes the experience as having, “The incredible expansiveness and variance in design of No Man’s Sky mixed with the dialogue depth and creative quests of Fallout or even Mass Effect.” While there is much to praise the story for, Dan Rice for Windows Central noted the technical problems that exist in the form of, “Landscapes not loading in, to the ground flickering for no reason, NPC’s sinking into the floor and even Vasco floating up through the ceiling.” This leads to a bit of a game breaking experience, and may leave some gamers feeling less immersed in the world when the characters around them take the invisible stairway into the ground.
While the idea of a power fantasy in space may be intriguing to trigger-happy gamers, they might also be enamored by the striking cast of characters that offer to follow the player on their journey into the void of space. Joining you on your quest will be five main crew members, as well as a variety of other smaller characters. Vasco, your first companion aptly named after Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, isn’t exactly what one would expect. He often rather coldly although playfully reacts to the player with mild disappointment upon seeing you survive your most recent nap, or awkwardly fails at social attempts to interact with you before abruptly shutting down the conversation.
The Starfield experience is everything one could want from a traditional Bethesda RPG as well as so much more. With the dialogue vastly expanded, a new host of lovable companions to follow you on your spacefaring adventures, and a whole galaxy to uncover, it is hard not to be overwhelmed. Despite the mass of “bugs” that plague the game, Starfield still scores a 9/10 and is highly recommended.