Starfield, one of the most awaited video games of the year, launched worldwide this month on September 6. This game universe is US-based developer Bethesda Softworks’ hard work on a single-player open-world role-playing experience set in a futuristic space. In Starfield’s fictional setting, the possibilities are many, and the experiences are meant to be rich and diverse. So, we’re looking at a quick Starfield review for those players who aren’t sure about buying the game yet.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — Bethesda’s mega-hit that’s still popular over a decade after launch — is set in a fantasy land abounding with magic and dragons. Conversely, Starfield features a technologically advanced civilization of the future with helpful robot companions and hostile alien species. There is interplanetary travel involved too, with danger escorted by pirate fleets, so one needs to be on the lookout.
As for the scale, Starfield is massive, with over a thousand planets to explore. This is something you can expect from people at Bethesda, who spent 25 years building the space RPG.
Since Starfield is easily one of the biggest and most anticipated games to come out this year, we are naturally going to spend a lot of time with it. But first off, here is our take on Bethesda’s latest open-world RPG to help the gamer in you better understand the ride you are in for. We should warn you though, our review contains spoilers, so if you don’t want to know the story of the game even the least bit, you can skip to the gameplay part. Here we go.
Starfield: How The Story Begins
➡️ Learning the Ropes of the New Job
In Starfield, the story begins on Argos Extractors Mining Outpost situated on the Moon of planet Vectera. It is May 7 of the year 2330. You are a new recruit in the mining agency and seem to be somewhere underground as it is dark. Supervisor Lin, the boss of the miners, will come to check in on you. She’s the first NPC you meet in the game.
She will instruct you on how to be a useful employee of the company. You just have to follow one simple rule of hers: to listen to her as she knows best.
There is a guy called Heller sitting far ahead of you on the left. He is the one who tells you the rule.
In short, just be a hard-working miner concerned only with the credit you get at the end of the day. Don’t poke your nose in any agency-related business. If you get curious, cull that curiosity.
But this is Starfield, and you know already that your character is not going to have that simple a life. Something of vital importance is going to happen which will influence the destiny of your character.
Let’s get to what happens next.
Heller has had some experience with mining, but you see that he always voices his concerns. And brings out his candor in conversations, something which Supervisor Lin doesn’t exactly approve of. But he seems solid, and the two of them engage in some banter.
Wait, I haven’t told you where all three of you are going. You are descending in a lift and being taken straight to the mining site to do some digging. It’s not your first day on the job, but you are still new to the Argos Extractor’s Mining Outpost and need to be under close supervision.
You would notice that Supervisor Lin stresses a lot about miners just concerning themselves with what they dig out and the corresponding pay. The credits are all that you should care about. You found a job, and you are getting paid for it. Just don’t get curious if things don’t seem alright. We are coming to that right now.
➡️ Things are not Alright
Very soon, you will be interacting with a Cutter Crate and get your own Cutter from it. And then, using the Cutter on a mineral deposit.
The Cutter is fairly easy to target at the deposits and use.
You are a newcomer and will see that some of the other co-workers at the mine are not exactly chummy with you; it’s too early for that.
After you have taken enough deposits as Lin asked you to do, you have to follow her to the area where Heller is using a tank-like drilling vehicle to open up a space. This is the part where things get interesting.
➡️ Should a Spike in Gravity Readings be a Problem?
Heller thinks so. Just after the new area opens up, Heller voices his concern that he has noticed a spike in the gravity readings. He is cautious and senses some danger. Lin does not think that should be a problem. And here you realize that Lin is hiding something from her subordinates.
She says that what she is after should read as an anomaly. Someone or the people she’s in touch with told her that. And asks you to go deep into the cavernous area and check it out. And tries to reassure that if there is some danger, they will come and get you.
➡️ The Strange Object
When you reach the place you are expected to mine at, you find a light blue, semi-transparent crystalline object that looks like some exotic, icy blue rock fragment. It is in the center of the cavernous place and is easy to locate with the help of the blue marker.
Now, you have to take the object in your hand, and once you do, you lose consciousness. In front of your eyes (or your mind’s eye?) spins the whole caboodle of tiny star-like things, and they form a certain geometrical pattern by the end of the whole lights-and-sound show.
From the looks of it, the object somehow connects to some unsolved (and maybe unobserved mystery) of the universe. And by the end of the show, you have blacked out.
You regain consciousness, and that’s when you get the chance to build and customize your character. There is a lot of detailing that’s available to you across categories like Body, Face, Background, and Traits.
Once you are done here, you will get to know that the object that caused you to pass out is worth more than what the Argos mine has dug in a month. Is it some sort of a Tesseract from the Marvel Universe?
➡️ The Constellation and the Attack of the Crimson Fleet
It turns out that the contract for this object was given to Lin by the Constellation, a group of space explorers. Barrett of this very same group arrives on a ship and meets with Lin and you.
Lin just wants the payment for the strange artifact, no questions asked. Barrett is cool with it, but then the landing dock comes under attack from another ship. The ship belongs to the Crimson Fleet, a group of pirates.
You will have to hold off the pirates, which here means to kill all of them who deboard from the invading spaceship.
But why are they here? You learn that the pirates are looking for the same object and have followed Barrett.
After all the pirates are dead (thanks to you mostly if you racked up 3-4 kills) and peace descends to the landing area again, Barrett would want to give you his ship as a loan. He would want you to take the magical artifact to The Constellation.
Barrett says that sending you in his place would make sense since the object affected you so as to make you pass out. So, under Protocol Indigo, Vasco, Starfield’s equivalent of Star Wars’ C-3PO, will go with you, while Barrett stays behind with Lin.
In Starfield, you can switch between first and third-person views. The third-person view can be zoomed out comfortably with the mouse wheel. Shooting is easy enough in first-person mode without having to zoom in on your weapon; you don’t have to necessarily aim down the sights for more accuracy.
You can also shoot in third-person mode. Long press and hold the right mouse button to aim.
Shooting is simple and easy to master in Starfield. You just need to stay in one place and shoot if you want the target to go down quickly. That, and aiming for the head, will ensure enemies like Crimson Fleet pirates are taken care of quickly by your bullets.
➡️ Sprinting and Jumping
In Starfield, when the character sprints, it actually feels like sprinting. When you jump, it takes 2-3 seconds longer to come to the ground than you would normally expect. It is like you are floating in the air, but that’s something to be expected as the laws of gravity on planets in Starfield aren’t like that on real-life Earth.
You can try shooting from midair after you’ve just jumped, but the aim won’t be accurate, and you might miss the target.
➡️ Space Combat
In space combat, the shooting part is smooth, but turning your ship so that you can chase the enemy ships is a bit slower, but not troublesome, which is realistic. To target the enemy ship, press E. Mouse Button 1 fires the Gatling Laser. You can fire in bursts or continuously. Pressing G will fire missiles.
➡️ Scanning the Environment and Earning
When on a planet or any moon, you can scan nearby objects by bringing up the scanner. Use the F key to bring up the scanner and then press E.
Did you know that you could sell the data you scanned for credits? Yes, you can do that in Starfield.
➡️ The Blue Marker Keeps You on Track
Your current objective will always show as a little turquoise-blue hexagon in the left corner of the display. It also shows in the front, on the screen, provided your back is not turned to it. The marker keeps changing as your character keeps moving ahead from objective to objective.
Equipping Suits, Guns, and Other Equipment
For equipping any kind of gear from your inventory, you have to go to the Starfield game menu. Hit Tab once, and it will open. Select or deselect the item you wish to equip/unequip and then hit Tab again.
Let’s say you are playing and want to check on a few things, like the map, something related to the ship, or your game items. Just hit Tab once. You’ll see a circle in the middle of the screen inside which your character is just standing. Notice that the circle is divided equally into four broad categories: Starmap and Skills at the top and Ship and Inventory at the bottom. In the middle of the circle, you can see your level and health bars.
When checking out the Ship category, you will see the option to repair the ship towards the bottom right. If you want to get a closer look at the ship, you can zoom in with the mouse wheel. For a more detailed look, hold both mouse buttons at the same time and rotate the ship. You can even get a view from the bottom side if you are interested in knowing what parts went into making the ship. Since this is a space exploration game, you’ll have to manage your resources and keep your ship in top shape at all times.
➡️ Looting Enemy Corpses
Yes, you can loot enemy corpses. In some cases, Starfield’s open world gives you the flexibility to loot as much as you want before proceeding with the main questline. Nothing wrong with adding a few spoils of war to your collection. The main story can wait.
➡️ Looting Enemy Spacecraft Debris
Starfield lets you loot useful items from the debris of enemy spacecrafts too. After you destroy them, just maneuver your space vehicle to the place where they are scattered and floating about. As they pass by your craft, you can choose to loot them.
➡️ Saving and Loading Saved Games
Saves are fairly easy. So is loading them. The game autosaves at critical moments, but you can also save manually. The saved games are easy to access.
Starfield is a well-polished and beautifully detailed game, with realistic-looking barren landscapes, like you would expect them to be, usually on planets with little or no vegetation. Some alien animal forms are thrown into the mix to bring more space ‘realism’. Shooting enemy ships in space might be easy, but chasing them requires a bit of smooth handling, so it’s not that easy when 2-3 ships attack from different points.
The storyline trains you for the Starfield life as you go from one place to the other, meeting new people and learning new things. The NPC dialogues are interesting, with much thought given to them, and the voice acting is quite impressive. The game immerses you into its politics and environment slowly and step-by-step like it would happen in real life.
Starfield is a game that wants you to take your time and interact with everything which is possible to interact with and yet keeps the action going. The lore is revealed through everyday interactions, journals, and eavesdropping on others. Starfield would be a good choice for people who are looking for a nice-looking medium-paced space adventure open-world RPG to sink their teeth in for a few hours every day.
Our view is that if you are going to play Starfield, you’re going to want to be in for the long haul. We wouldn’t expect anything less from Bethesda when it comes to open-world game experiences.
We’ll be covering Starfield in some detail, so stay tuned and keep watching the Sparkian space for more Starfield-related posts. Hopefully, this Starfield review (albeit slightly short) should help you gain a better understanding of this massive open-world RPG!
In the meantime, you can also check out our list of the best sci-fi RPGs that are worth playing today — apart from Starfield, of course!
Utkarsh has been in the ‘serious’ business of gaming for a long time and especially loves FPS and tactical shooters, co-op adventures, story-rich RPGs and RTS titles. Armed with a degree in engineering, he is passionate about writing, music,… read more