Starfield: a dream of space
Starfield is a big game. Physically big. It has a lot of content, star systems, storylines, additional tasks, secrets, etc. I started playing Starfield 40 minutes after the Premium version was released, because the authorization servers were a bit glitchy for the first 40 minutes, but in 5 days I played only 30 hours (unfortunately, adult life has its own priorities). On the one hand, 30 hours is nothing, just a little scratching the surface of the game without diving into the depths, on the other hand, in 30 hours you could have completed the main storyline if you didn’t get distracted and didn’t look around. Unfortunately, but rather fortunately, I was distracted, so I don’t know how the story will end. Here are my impressions after 30 hours of playing.
|Platforms||Windows, Xbox Series X/S|
|Developer||Bethesda Game Studios|
I’m warning you, I’m a person of interest. I’ve been waiting for this game for fourteen years. Since the days of the Ukrainian Starfield, i.e. The Forerunners (2009), which Western players almost never saw due to bugs and the “strange” policy of the Russian publisher. Since the days when in 2013 Andriy Prokhorov and 4A Games tried to get rid of Metro and create a game about space (it was a really cool concept, I saw the prototype).
In 2016, after a week of playing No Man’s Sky, I tweeted: “That’s why you can’t make a star cluster of 20-30 systems, but with ‘pens’. Skyrim in space, with the search for lost ships, abandoned bases, and codebreaking.” Interestingly, Starfield had been under development for almost a year at the time.
I am a really interested person. Starfield was one of the main reasons that made me finally upgrade my computer. Well, I was right to do so. Yes, yes, I remember that I promised to tell you about the upgrade, I just need to find time and break away from the games that finally worked properly on my system.
What I managed to do in 30 hours
So, what did I manage to do in 30 hours of play?
а) I met the worst war criminal in the United Colonies. A nice guy, although there is something unnatural about him.
b) Established a base on Earth, somewhere near the place where the Dnipro once flowed. I probably won’t build it, because survival and colony building are not my thing.
c) I visited two dozen planets and satellites, “talked” to the local fauna and bandits. Unfortunately, only three planets were thoroughly explored. They are really big, some of them have several different biomes, so you need to make more than one landing and work hard. And that’s when you realize that you really miss something like the M35 Mako from the Mass Effect trilogy, or the Nomad from Mass Effect: Andromeda. Hopefully, Bethesda or the modders will eventually add an all-terrain vehicle to the game.
d) I killed my first theromorph. Then the second. Then a few more. In general, this story about elusive deadly creatures that appear out of nowhere on inhabited colonies when they reach a certain level of development interested me greatly.
e) I bought my second ship. And then my third. The latter turned out to be a stupid thing to do, because I simply don’t have the ability to fly such a complex starship, so I left it to gather dust in the hangar. I simply hijacked my current ship. The pirates who landed in a remote area didn’t put up enough security, so I just broke in through the airlock and killed the entire crew. By the way, the corpses of the previous inhabitants are still lying in the cockpit and on the command bridge and are a bit upsetting to my team. I haven’t figured out how to remove them or throw them away.
f) He became a citizen of the United States and had the right to own property, but he did not buy an apartment in New Atlantis because he was saving for a new ship. As it turned out, in vain. By the way, the citizenship of the United Colonies is not granted by birthright, but only after serving in the army. It’s an interesting practice.
g) I broke into the embassy of another country and beat up the security service there. The ambassador was very grateful to me.
h) I found several artifacts and two churches (of the Forerunners?). Impressive buildings. This is the main quest of Starfield and I didn’t make much progress.
i) Collected several unique and powerful weapons at some godforsaken outposts in the middle of nowhere.
j) Was caught smuggling and was “voluntarily” recruited to participate in a very risky undercover operation.
k) I took hundreds of screenshots. Starfield is really a very beautiful game, despite its “outdated” engine and problems with supporting some modern technologies.
My God, it’s full of stars
The style of the 60s and 80s of the XX century, in which Starfield is made, is really impressive. The way all this machinery works, how you sit at the control console and prepare the ship for launch, how the heavy airlock doors work, how the ships take off and land… it seems that you can watch it forever.
The same can be said about the design of space stations, ships, bases, buildings, and their interior decoration. This is really cool work by designers and artists. It’s just incredible. It’s like Firefly and 2001: A Space Odyssey in a square, in a cube. A real treat for the eyes.
The story is a bit different with the landscapes of alien planets. They are also beautiful, and you can find many picturesque places to take pictures. But the landing zones are really very large, so it’s mostly empty (as it should be in real life) and boring. By the way, you can land anywhere in the world in Starfield, the zone will be generated based on the biomes and minerals present, but there will be no named locations.
Personally, I am most attracted to Starfield by the atmosphere of science fiction from the 60s and 70s of the last century. When it seemed that distant planets could be reached by hand, and space exploration was something really important and vital. Something without which the future seemed impossible. This spirit of pioneers, explorers, and those who pave the way is very much alive in Starfield. No wonder space exploration is the main goal of Constellation, the faction you join first. By the way, there are many interesting things on the shelves at the Constellation headquarters.
I also liked the texts in the game, the way the characters speak, the stories in the books and in the briefings, the history of the colonies from the moment humanity left its cradle to the terrible wars between different factions of settlers and the establishment of a very fragile peace.
Starfield has a lot of weapons and very good shooting. It is an interesting and really complex role-playing system, in which I could even get a little lost. And most importantly, there is really a lot of content here. Not an infinite amount, like in No Man’s Sky or Elite: Dangerous, which only scares away, but a quite tangible, albeit large number of worlds, tasks, quests, etc.
If you want, you can ignore some of the content, as I, for example, ignore crafting, building bases and ships that I am not interested in.
Speaking of ships. In the five days since the release of the Premium version, players have built a bunch of interesting ships, including the X-wing Fighter, the Pelican from Halo, the space version of the SR-71 Blackbird, Battlestar Galactica, and, of course, the Millenium Falcon and Star Destroyer. People who like to play with the editors say that the ship designer is really cool.
Burn The Land And Boil The Sea
But yes, even despite the euphoria of space exploration, I realize that Starfield has enough problems.
For example, the game has a very clumsy interface. On the other hand, the crooked interface is a Bethesda trademark, I don’t remember a single game by the studio that had a really user-friendly UI. I hope the mods will solve this problem. Personally, for example, I miss a separate button for taking off/putting on the suit.
As has been said many times before, the enemies in Starfield have terrible, really terrible AI. But, to be honest, I don’t know of any single-player shooters, and Starfield is still an action/RPG with a shooter bias, where AI would be a really interesting opponent. Well, except for F.E.A.R., but that’s rather an exception, and it was almost 20 years ago. If you can think of games with normal bots, write in the comments. But yes, the bots in Starfield are really bad.
As for the graphics, the game uses the Creation Engine 2. This is a new version of the Creation Engine that was already in Skyrim. Creation Engine 2 supports global and volumetric lighting, but it does it quite clumsily at times. Bethesda games have never been known for their graphics quality, but they have been known for their support of mods, and users have already modified the graphics of these games to an incredible level.
It will be the same with Starfield. There is support for Creation Kit, and more than 500 mods have been created for the game even before the standard version was released. So far, they are simple, but more to come.
As for the allegedly terrible optimization, I can’t say anything about it. On my RTX4070, the game just flies in Ultra High, loads instantly, the FPS is high enough to ignore it, and there are no slowdowns.
But there are glitches. In 30 hours, I got: one crash on the Desktop for no reason (on the other hand, Forza Horizon 5 does this almost every day); one synchronization error with Microsoft servers; one important NPC that fell through the floor; several times my partners forgot to put on their spacesuits and ran into the wall; several times objects on the table “exploded” for no reason, flying in all directions. And that’s it. In fact, compared to other releases of 2023, this is just a perfect glitch-free game.
You Can’t Take The Sky From Me
Someone might say that Starfield is just Skyrim in space, an ordinary game from Bethesda, another clone of the same project with slightly updated graphics and a different setting. This is true, but Skyrim is one of the pillars of the 21st century gaming industry, and it’s cool to be like it.
For me personally, Starfield is the game of the year, or maybe even several years. Despite all the flaws and problems it has. I was waiting for Skyrim in space – I got Skyrim in space, with all the pros and cons of this combination. The ability to fly (in fact, you don’t have to jump, but you can really fly for a long time and get to the right place), dozens of stars, interesting locations and quests, interesting factions and characters. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for all these years. And it’s really hard to tear yourself away from the game.
It also has a really impressive visual component, and no, I’m not talking about graphics, but about art design, good music and good lyrics. It’s really science fiction from the 60s and 70s of the last century, something that seemed to have been forgotten for a long time, and which seems to be coming back into fashion. Somewhere on the horizon, there are a few more games in a similar setting, like The Invincible, for example. This is good.
Besides, I know very well that Starfield, like any Bethesda game, will have many years of community support, a lot of mods, total conversions, and brand new games in this setting. And one day Bethesda will definitely make a sequel. Well, we probably won’t get “Forerunners 2” or “Metro in Space”, but Starfield 2 is very likely to be. Judging even by pre-sales, the game, whose budget is estimated at $400-500 million, has already paid off.
After all, you all really wanted single-player story-driven games without loot boxes and additional services. Well, this is it.
I’m sure there’s going to be hell in the comments, just like with Diablo IV, it will be a real hell. This is normal and will not prevent those who really like Starfield from enjoying the game.
Space is calling!