In the vast cosmos of the gaming industry, anticipation for Starfield reached interstellar heights long before its release. After all, it was the first new IP from the renowned studio in over 25 years, promising to take players on a spacefaring adventure unlike anything seen before.
On the graphical front, it’s a mixed bag. Starfield boasts some stunningly detailed spacecraft and celestial bodies but on the other hand there are some terrible looking planets and NPC’s.
The lighting effects, in particular though, are fantastic. Whether it’s the radiant glow of a distant star, the shimmering reflection off a spaceship’s hull, or the ethereal beauty of a nebula, every aspect of the game’s lighting is designed to immerse players in its otherworldly setting. It’s just a shame the the graphical details on the planets and outpost themselves are average at best. This is most likely down to the game using procedural generation for all of its locations outside of the games main hubs.
However, while Starfield excels in creating an immersive universe, there are occasional minor graphical glitches that can momentarily disrupt the experience. These glitches are infrequent and usually not game-breaking and by fat this is the most stable Bethesda game at launch (which is saying something).
The heart of Starfield lies in its exploration, and here, the game truly excels to a point. Players are given their very own spacecraft, the Constellation, and set loose in a fully open, procedurally generated universe. This freedom to chart your own course among the stars is exhilarating.
The sense of discovery is palpable as you explore the countless planets, moons, and space stations scattered throughout the galaxy. Each celestial body feels unique, with its own landscapes, ecosystems, and secrets waiting to be unearthed. But then you start to notice things. The outpost all have the same layout and the only difference being the enemies and items you find there. The strange alien lifeforms you encounter, after the first dozen or so that are unique, the rest only differ in colour and size. It’s a little disappointing but hey, procedural generation….
The game’s navigation system is intuitive, making it easy to jump between star systems, land on planets, and explore their surfaces. The Constellation’s controls are also user-friendly, allowing players to engage in dogfights, trade, or simply take in the awe-inspiring vistas. But the whole space travel thing is negated by the fact that you can fast travel to any location from anywhere.
The main storyline is ok, the central mystery of the game, involving ancient alien civilizations and powerful artifacts, keeps players engaged from start to finish. As you delve deeper into the storyline, you’ll encounter intriguing characters and factions, each with their own motivations and secrets. However, where the game truly shines is in its side quests and emergent gameplay. Whether it’s uncovering lost artifacts, aiding stranded travelers, or battling space pirates, there’s always something exciting to do on your journey through the stars.
One minor drawback is the occasional repetition in side quests and encounters, but the sheer vastness of the game world more than compensates for this. Additionally, some players may find the learning curve steep when it comes to managing their spacecraft’s systems, but mastering these mechanics adds depth to the experience.
As with most Bethesda games, character development is well done, with well-written dialogue and memorable interactions. The choices you make throughout the game have meaningful consequences to a certain extent within the story. Choices you make outside of the story have no effect on anything. Which is disappointing. Factions you align to don’t care what other factions you like, NPC’s don’t react to the things you have done or reference anything. It’s a little bland to be honest.
Starfield boasts an exceptional sound design, with every spaceship’s engine roar, laser blast, and planetary ambiance contributing to the immersion. The attention to detail in sound effects, combined with the dynamic audio system, makes space feel alive and unpredictable.
The musical score complements the game’s atmosphere perfectly, transitioning seamlessly from hauntingly beautiful melodies while exploring uncharted planets to intense, pulse-pounding tracks during epic space battles. Finally, the voice acting is fine, the usual Bethesda standard. Some great, some ok, some terrible.
On the Xbox Series X, Starfield generally performs admirably. Load times range from lightning fast to did this crash kind of slow, and the game rarely experiences significant frame drops or crashes. The glaring issue is the locked framerate of 30fps. No, it doesn’t ruin the game or make it unplayable, in fact it probably makes the game playable. So the decision is understandable. But how we wish for a super silky 60fps mode. Maybe one day.
Starfield is an epic space adventure that just about lives up to the immense hype it generated. With some breathtaking visuals, deep exploration mechanics, captivating story, and exceptional sound design, it offers an unparalleled journey through the cosmos. It just feels a little dated. There is nothing on display here that is a progression in gameplay and mechanics from Fallout 3. Bethesda seems to be stuck in the past.
Whether you’re a fan of space epics, RPGs, or simply crave the thrill of exploring the unknown, Starfield is a must-play title on the Xbox Series X. It invites you to embark on an unforgettable interstellar odyssey, where the stars are the limit, and the universe is yours to discover. Just don’t expect a fully explorable universe where you can go and do whatever you want.
Starfield is available now on PC and XBOX Series S | X through retail channels and Gamepass.