Starfield PC Review: Does It Soar Through the Stratosphere?

User Rating: 8
Starfield PC Review: Does It Break Through the Stratosphere to Greatness?

Recently I was wondering which games I spent the most time in, and I realized that I have not spent more time in any game than in Skyrim and Fallout 4. In these games, I explored every inch of the map, completed all the add-ons, built incredible houses, and started a family. Therefore, Bethesda’s new game seemed like a dream adventure with spectacular battles in space, unexpected twists, and interesting enemies. But in fact, Starfield quickly destroyed the expectations and hopes that were placed on it – and this is not a problem because this game, although it seems strange and different at first glance, is capable of surprising and will make you spend many hours in it. Does it hit the heights of the stratosphere? Let’s find out in our Starfield PC review.

This game is not “Skyrim or Fallout in space”

Remember the missions from Skyrim? Remember the beginning where the hero is about to be executed, but the executioner is prevented by a powerful dragon? What do you think of the Dark Brotherhood quests? The Emperor’s face at the sight of the murderer and Cicero’s antics are unforgettable. Also, random battles with dragons were so addictive and addictive!

There is nothing like this in Starfield: no super exciting missions, no epic and exciting plot from the first moments, no enemies that stand out in any way. Only huge worlds of the planet that are sometimes half empty, a decent amount of grind, and a huge number of quests and quest lines. That is why the game seemed to everyone to be mediocre, where all the mechanics work, but none of them stick. Only after 10 hours I realized that Starfield is an excellent and addictive game, which was spoiled by comparisons with Skyrim and Fallout.

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The ending of the game does not change the gameplay, but it shows the essence of the game

In the first days of the game’s release, there were those who immediately began to discuss a lot about the ending, after which the sensations from Starfield changed. This may be true, but it’s not about the gameplay.

But it turns out that the entire story campaign only replaces training: namely, it talks about mechanics such as bounty hunting, shows some abilities no worse than screams from Skyrim, and introduces you to your partners. And then Todd Howard seems to say: “Well, that’s it, we’ve shown what you’re capable of. Now live with it.” Don’t “worry”, don’t “dig into history”, don’t “pump up,” but simply “live” in this game.

Skyrim and Fallout were role-playing games where the gamer was somehow entertained, but Starfield is a life simulator. There is complete freedom and a million things to do: fly through space and capture or rob ships, become a miner and mine iron, visit your parents, throw a wedding, take out a loan, work as a debt collector, keep order on the streets, transport contraband, get rich in an industrial craft – and this is just the beginning of the list. Not a single activity makes you scream and rejoice, but everything is addictive and this is not a joke.

Every gaming session, I made a promise to myself: Now I’ll fly to the merchant, sell illegal goods, and go to sleep. But there’s a pirate ship circling over the right place – you need to capture it and sell it at a good price. Wow, now I have enough money for a new cargo compartment – I’m heading to the engineer. I also increased the level – now I’ll level it up and try that skill related to the outpost that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. And now I’m already on a random planet, and here is a point of interest 500 meters away from me, I can’t go to it quickly to check… And so on for another 3-4 hours. Then I get distracted for a second, look at the clock, and understand that I’ll have to get up soon, and then you remember that you had exactly these feelings in Skyrim or Fallout when they first appeared.

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It would seem that the activities are banal, but I began to live by them and do not plan to stop. Fortunately, Starfield is an almost endless game, and it’s not about generated tasks like Skyrim. Unlimited duration is built in as a basic mechanic, with which you can change sides with impunity and make new decisions to see “what happens.”

What is Starfield for those who are not familiar with Bethesda

This is a new adventure set in the distant future in the year 2300, in a unique setting that the developers themselves call “NASA-punk”: an optimistic view of the prospects for humanity in space, streamlined shapes, pure white colors, and cubic apples as an astronaut’s diet.

Thousands of planets to explore, the ability to collect valuables or steal them, the ability to build bases and build relationships with factions, shoot moon pirates, and roam the universe on your trusty starship.

Someone wanted the long-awaited big release from Xbox and Microsoft: in the market of console-exclusive wars, this side of the conflict is clearly lagging at the very end, especially after the tragedy with Redfall, and they got it, by the end of the year it will definitely be one of the biggest releases of this year.

In general, this is a great sandbox adventure in a large open world with the ability to level up everything in the world, improve weapons and armor, collect hundreds of types of garbage (pens, cups, plates, food, food wrappers, toys, souvenirs, etc.) and hundreds of dungeons, or rather, mines and laboratories with loot.

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A story you needn’t pay too much attention to

Starfield opens up its story by putting you in the shoes of an ordinary space miner. While working in the mines, you come across a mysterious artifact that gives you strange visions and hallucinations when you touch it. You will then be tasked with reporting to Constellation, an organization that has dedicated itself to collecting and studying these artifacts, all in the hopes of one day figuring out what it all means. This is a call to adventure and you are, of course, the chosen one. The artifact has never reacted to anyone like this before, and it’s up to you to collect the remaining artifacts and see where it takes you.

I’ll say this right away: Constellation, to be honest, is not particularly interesting. There are several standouts, including Walter, an elderly entrepreneur who sometimes struggles in his strained relationship with his equally entrepreneurial wife, and Sam, a strapping young father who travels through space with his daughter while trying to avoid his wealthy father. The rest of the gang are kind of blah, often falling into predictable, one-dimensional tragic arcs that aren’t all that enjoyable to follow.

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I guess that’s par for the course for most Bethesda games – as much as I love Skyrim and still consider it the best open-world RPG the studio has ever made, I couldn’t name a single companion from that game, even with a gun in my hand to my head.

The good news is that Starfield is not going to punish you for leaving these comrades. One of the many traits you can start with is Introvert, which gives you a small stat boost when traveling alone. On the other hand, there is the “Extrovert” trait, which gives you the incentive to travel in groups.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the Adoring Fan, who becomes available as a recruitable companion if you choose the Hero Worshiper starting trait. Described as your biggest fan, he appears in random places in the game to shower you with gifts and compliments, which on paper sounds great if you can put up with his incessant chatter. I mean continuous.

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Delightful Fan will greet you with such pleasure whenever you return to your ship. He worships the land you walk on; he dreams of one day reading a book about all your exploits, and every time you dock or land your ship, he tells you that he has never seen anyone dock or land a ship so perfectly. Like you just did. And look, you know what? I think we could all use a little more positive reinforcement in our lives these days. In my opinion, Adoring Fan is a good guy. Hire him.

That being said, while the game does take a while to get going (and I mean time), the turning point in the story is worth getting to. At some point in the game, Starfield’s narrative really begins to open up when you realize that its scope is much broader than you think. Unless you plan to rush through the main story like I did – which I don’t recommend – it’s likely that a significant portion of the player base will never reach this point. However, we are talking about a Bethesda game. Even without the main plot, we still have a lot of other things to chase.

As you’d expect from a typical Bethesda game, Starfield has no shortage of side quests and faction missions for you to complete. After completing the prologue, you land on your first real planet, Jamison, meet Constellation and set off. Suddenly, hundreds of quests are thrown at you as NPCs you pass on the street start talking to you and telling you what to do. Before you know it, your quest log is an endless list of things to see and do, and the best part is that you never know what kind of shenanigans you’ll get into while pursuing them.

There are a staggering number of planets and systems to visit. Of course, not all of them are suitable for living, and only a few have suitable cities you can visit. But outposts, farms and stations can be found on the loneliest moons or in orbit.

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So whenever I visited a real city for the first time, it was always a nice change of pace. From the old-fashioned Western aesthetic of Aquila City to the cyberpunk, neon-infused grit of, well, Neon, Starfield is determined to hit every sci-fi trope you can think of while keeping its story grounded in some semblance of realism.

Shootouts and modification

When you’re not running around cities talking to people, you’ll probably spend your time piloting your ship through space and taking down those rowdy astronauts. Combat-wise, there’s really nothing to write home about. The gunplay itself is as straightforward as you’d expect, although it’s worth noting that Starfield’s gear system takes a page from Diablo and Destiny’s book and introduces a rarity system that you can interact with.

Rarer items tend to have more mods and add-ons that improve that piece of gear, but make no mistake; Starfield also has a very deep modification system that allows you to upgrade your base gear with materials and resources you pick up along the way. You can have three copies of the same pistol but equipped with completely different modifications for different purposes – one for stealth, one for sniping at close range, and one for sniping a little further away.

While I was disappointed that Starfield seemed to have done away with truly unique weapons, I was pleasantly surprised at how fun the modification system can be. It gives you a level of freedom and customization rarely found in other games of its kind, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of satisfaction that comes with finally getting that last part or resource you need to mod the perfect gun of your dreams.

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Again, this doesn’t necessarily enhance the gunplay in Starfield; like a first-person shooter, nothing special, and you can’t even really take cover! But the combat can feel quite fast-paced at times, especially if you’re diligent about weapon modification and using a booster pack that allows you to fly into the air to avoid enemy fire while still getting a line of sight on your opponents.

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However, ship combat can take some getting used to, especially in the early hours. Starfield starts with a fairly simple ship, and all dogfights usually play out the same way: capture an enemy ship and start throwing lasers and ballistics at them, and once the target opens, finish them off with your missiles. The catch is that enemy ships can also target you, and trying to evade target acquisition can be quite difficult.

I often felt like I didn’t have enough resources to keep my shields up while trying to destroy and evade enemy ships, and it certainly doesn’t help that the game doesn’t teach very well. you how to improve your ship.

The ship upgrade UI feels awfully intimidating at first, and you won’t be able to access higher-quality ship modules until you invest some skill points in the appropriate sections of your skill tree. Again, it’s not very intuitive, and if there’s one thing I absolutely didn’t like about Starfield, it’s the poor tutorial.

And it’s not just about the ships; there’s outpost construction and a lot of status effects that you can randomly use while exploring. The more you play, you’ll learn to notice a lot of these little nuances and deal with them, but it’s worth noting that Starfield can actually be a bit of a frustrating experience when you’re first starting out.

What surprised and liked the game

The level of detail and atmosphere in Starfield is truly pleasing and amazing. It never ceases to amaze me how much effort Bethesda puts into little things like plush galactic space toys and processed space food can create so much

In 50 years, we could very well live in a world where we eat ramen out of a square package labeled “Classic Taste.” I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to leave behind the gastronomic delights of the 2020s, but Bethesda’s vision of the near future always seems uncanny and frighteningly realistic, which makes Starfield all the more exciting.

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The good thing is that Bethesda is still damn good at what they do, which is creating a world so immersive that you just can’t help but want to spend all your time in it. While Starfield certainly doesn’t compare to games like Baldur’s Gate 3, which to be honest is on a whole other level, Starfield does offer quite a few ways for you to play and get closer to its inhabitants. Whether you choose to play the role of a secretive thief who steals or breaks things, a skilled communicator and master of persuasion, or just a heartless brute who shoots first and asks questions later, there is never a “wrong” way to play a game.

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Even your methods of making money vary: you can become an out-and-out space pirate who collects bounties across multiple systems by killing pursuers and selling their ships for massive amounts of credit, or you can be honest and shrewd in your accumulation. Valuable items and sell them at a fair price. Starfield is a handcrafted RPG that never lets go once it hooks you.

The character’s background has also returned: at the beginning of the game, you can choose your starting skills and background. A city resident, a bandit on the run, a participant in experiments with alien DNA. There are also fun perks: bonuses from constant jumping, a crazy fan chasing you for no reason, or a loan for a luxury apartment that you have to pay off.

All other innovations are just an increase in the breadth of the old. Was there crafting for weapons, costume upgrades, and outposts? Now, you can create ships. Was there any skill leveling? Now there are more of them and as many as 100 levels. Were there a lot of weapons? There was a heap. Were there a lot of quests? Now, there are several types of side, quick, and procedurally generated quests. Bethesda fans are treated to an absurdly huge game that (especially with mods) can potentially burn thousands of hours.

Starfield is aesthetically very good, but it does not have its own style and vision, except for the elements of this very NASA-punk. This game has a neon cyberpunk city (literally called Neon), a cowboy colony in the spirit of Firefly, and a futuristic city from Mass Effect or Anno 2205. Starfield has a whole bunch of marker settings for every taste, but there is nothing “Starfield”. The game has no face of its own.

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But unfortunately, the developers did not live up to it

Starfield is a game that seems to have everything. RPG, crafting, leveling up, research, elections, building bases, flying in space, and missions for transporting goods and passengers, like in “Space Rangers”.

But at the same time, none of its elements can be called outstanding. And sometimes just good. Everything, except the excellent environmental design, is done passably at best.

The main thing that catches your eye is the terrible facial animations and animations in general. The reason remains the same – it is left to algorithms and generation rather than manual development and mockup. This decision causes NPCs to widen their eyes, make faces, and speak with a paralyzed jaw.

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Combat in space is inferior to any simulator. The magnificent Everspace 2 was released in the same year, which reveals the theme of space much better, from battles to various assignments and cargo transportation.

In terms of the scope and infinity of the galaxy, Starfield is inferior to No Man’s Sky and Elite: Dangerous. The shooting is worse than any passable shooter, and in terms of interesting scenarios, it is inferior to Fallout 4: although the feeling of recoil and hits has become more pleasant, you will be fighting mainly with people, robots, and sometimes with aliens playing the role of attack dogs. No intelligent alien races or anything that changes your normal enemy pattern. There are some, one might say, mutants and even those are rare.

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You remember Morrowind – and there is immediately a tart taste of some swamp dope in your mouth, and before your eyes there are ashen forests of mushrooms. You remember Fallout – the stuffiness of the wasteland, the atmosphere of post-apocalypse hopelessness against the backdrop of the absurdity and positivity of the culture of retrofuturism and the 60s. When you remember Skyrim, frost immediately hits your face, the starry sky stands before your eyes, and Secunda by Jeremy Soule plays in your ears. You remember Starfield – and all you see is a loading circle in the corner of the screen.

And although this is a common practice for games, these are studios, but I’m talking about mods now. This could be said to be an additional improvement for all the studio’s previous games, but here, I needed them almost immediately, which was a first for me. Usually, I always go through the game in its “pure form”, and then change and improve it. But then, almost before reaching the second planet, I downloaded mods for the Quality of life type.

What’s the end result?

In all the time I’ve played Starfield, I’ve never reached the same heights as other games from this studio, but whether I like this one is undeniable. However, there’s no denying this is Bethesda’s most impressive game to date, perhaps even its most special.

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While The Elder Scrolls delved into medieval fantasy and Fallout explored the possibility of life in a post-modern nuclear wasteland, Starfield moves further down the timeline and asks how humanity would actually live in outer space. The idea of ​​living among the stars still seems far-fetched and incredibly far from where we are now, but somehow Starfield manages to stand out as the most personal and realistic game of them all.

Of course, it’s just NASA punk. Instead of sleek, futuristic Mass Effect-style space armor, we’re still wearing astronaut suits and big, clunky helmets. Our ships still resort to “archaic” weapons like missiles and ballistics, and we still work jobs we hate to lead lives in space we didn’t even ask for.

I believe the hero’s journey story structure is popular because it has just the right amount of ups and downs to keep the audience engaged, and watching our hero learn something and become stronger at the end never gets old. Starfield doesn’t necessarily break any new ground here, but it probably doesn’t need to.

The game only reveals its cards close to the middle of the game when you finally understand what it’s all about, and the revelation is amazing. You won’t have to fight dragons or super mutants in this game, but Starfield doesn’t need that kind of glamor or spectacle to succeed. The beauty of Starfield lies in its humanity and how deeply it cares about the future we live in and what we will do to survive as a race.

Starfield suffers from many serious problems that undermine its achievements. It feels like a game that was, if not a couple of years late, then a whole console generation late. While expecting some absolutely ridiculous minimum from the studio (“Just make Fallout 4 in space, but more!”), Bethesda was unable to realize even this in seven years of development.

For some studio fans, everything voiced may seem like empty quibbles. “That’s how it was in Fallout,” “That’s how it was in Skyrim.” This is partly true, but on Starfield, these fanatical mantras are broken down by banal logic and an understanding of how video games work.

Overall, Starfield is fine. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of other sci-fi games and references, and it doesn’t do any of those things better than existing products. The battle? Cyberpunk 2077 is smoother. Mining and geological exploration? This is all No Man’s Sky. Controlling the ship? FTL still reigns. RPG story? Can’t compare to Outer Worlds. But even after all this, the game is good and will keep players engaged for a long, long while.

Our copy of Starfield is a verified Steam purchase.

Overall, Starfield is fine. It's a Frankenstein's monster of other sci-fi games and references, and it doesn't do any of those things better than existing products. The battle? Cyberpunk 2077 is smoother. Mining and geological exploration? This is all No Man's Sky. Controlling the ship? FTL still reigns. RPG story? Can't compare to Outer Worlds. But even after all this, the game is good and will keep players engaged for a long, long while.
  • Huge open world
  • Nice detailing
  • Many quests and plot branches
  • Opportunities for different passages from tycoon to thief to pirate
  • Bethesda's best gunplay and gun variation
  • Stunning views that amaze the senses
  • Not optimized and a lot of bugs
  • Outdated mechanics that were "improved" since last use
  • Boring main plot
  • Mods absolutely needed
  • Constant loading screens
  • No training or quests to instruct how to find difficult things

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