Starfield is an epic game, a monumental achievement, and everything we love about Bethesda
While we don’t write many game reviews, most of us at INFLUX Magazine are gamers and do play! A game like Starfield, however, cannot receive a fair review after a weekend of play. It is a world that has to be explored, lived, and experienced extensively to justify a fair review.
I have been playing Starfield since its early-release availability, and now, I believe I can give it a fair and in-depth review.
I had very little interest in Starfield until just before its launch, then I was suddenly and unexpectedly very excited to play it. Previously, I had put many hours into my original playthrough of Skyrim as well as the expansions, and the re-releases for next-generation consoles.
While I came to the Fallout series relatively late, it has grown into one of my favorite franchises. I ultimately find Fallout 4 to be my favorite, and Fallout 76 to be a disappointment. Nevertheless, I enjoy the storylines, the gameplay, the side quests, and the immersive worlds created by Bethesda.
With Starfield, this is not just a game you play, it is a world you can absolutely “live in” as a character. Without even realizing it, playing an hour here and there, with the occasional longer stretch, I have amassed (almost embarrassingly) more than 200 hours exploring the settled systems within this galaxy.
Many years ago, Half-Life showed us the way video games could tell a story. Games like Skyrim and Red Dead Redemption showed us they could essentially be a form of literature combining media, giving us more depth than a novel or movie ever possibly could with an enormous emotional impact as well.
Starfield does all of these things. It is an expansive universe with detailed backstories and fully developed characters, and a variety of choices that make this one of the most comprehensive choose-your-own adventure stories ever.
Where Starfield differs from many games is in its protagonist. Not only do you design the character, you can add traits that impact the character throughout your playthrough. This isn’t a character with a sense of purpose as in other Bethesda games, but rather, a character whose purpose the player gets to create while engulfed in the main questline.
That is, if you even want to play the main questline. It is relatively easy to spend hundreds of hours in this game and entirely avoid the primary goal.
There are additionally four faction quests that are, in themselves, individual games in their own right. Whether you join the Vanguard, go undercover in the Crimson Fleet, become a Ranger, or journey forth in the world of corporate espionage, each of these faction questlines are extensive and emotionally rewarding.
The main questline involves the protagonist joining an exploration group named Constellation, where you then proceed to hunt “artifacts” that lead to special powers, and eventually discovering something called “The Unity” as its final reward.
If a player chooses to go into the Unity (which isn’t required to keep playing), you then get a variation of the New Game+ restart. Your character keeps their traits, level, and skills, and is also given a few rewards, but beyond that you begin anew with a clean slate.
However, this clean slate isn’t just a fresh start — it’s a journey into the multiverse with a variety of different ways to play again that are variations of the initial playthrough. Some primary NPCs may no longer exist, they may be angry with you, or they may have a different life altogether. And, your character will have different dialogue choices to affect the new outcome.
As a member of Constellation, you have the opportunity to have multiple different companions and can even romance (and marry) four of them. There are lots of surprises along the way with hidden quests at every turn.
You can vacation on Paradiso, have a xenomorph Alien-style adventure on an abandoned starship named The Colander, and aid a lost colony of interstellar explorers. You can even have a random encounter on a settlement with clones of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Genghis Kahn.
My character has journeyed through the Unity three times. Now, on this current playthrough, I am taking things very slow, mostly ignoring the main quest, and patiently approaching each faction, making different choices, and exploring alternate outcomes. I am content to thoroughly explore the world, develop relationships, build outposts, and simply exist while continually finding new surprises.
While the emotional attachment to characters and the outcomes isn’t as impactful as the Fallout franchise, the gameplay (bugs aside) is simply everything I love about Bethesda games.
In fact, I want more. Give me mods, give me DLC, give me expansions.
When Skyrim was released in 2011, I can’t imagine anyone thought it would have the longevity and staying power it has since gone on to gain. Where Starfield will be in the zeitgeist 10, 15, or 20 years from now, who knows, but I imagine it will be a universe still worth exploring.
Brian’s Grade: A+
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