Starfield Review – The more you give, the more you will get – Game Review

Spoilers

All views are that of the author and are not influenced by any copies of games provided by publishers for review purposes. Thank you to Bethesda for providing a copy for review purposes.

Starfield is the first new universe in over 25 years from Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. In this next generation role-playing game set amongst the stars, create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery. 

About the Game
In the year 2330, humanity has ventured beyond our solar system, settling on new planets, and living as a spacefaring people. You will join Constellation – the last group of space explorers seeking rare artifacts throughout the galaxy – and navigate the vast expanse of space in Bethesda Game Studios’ biggest and most ambitious game.
Currently only available on XBOX Series X/S and PC
Official website: https://bethesda.net/en/game/starfield
Twitter: https://twitter.com/starfieldgame
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/starfieldgame/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StarfieldGame/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/bethesda

Gameplay / Story
Starfield is a first-person role-playing game set in space. Players create their character and can choose to join one of three factions: the United Colonies, the Freestar Collective, or the Crimson Fleet. Players can also choose to be a lone wolf and not join any faction (which can also add to the fun).  Starfield features a vast open world with over 1,000 planets to explore, and the entire story can be ignored (but I suggest you don’t).  Players can travel between planets in their spaceship, which they can customize and upgrade. Players can also build their settlements on planets (more about that later). Starfield’s gameplay is similar to other Bethesda games, such as Skyrim and Fallout, and as someone who has not played previous Bethesda titles I did find it tough to begin with to understand the gameplay mechanics. 
So let’s begin with the story. It is both compelling and interesting and helps you to get a basic understanding of the gameplay mechanics before you go off and complete some of the sub-quests. Depending on the type of player you are I do suggest a mix between story and side quests as your first playthrough. I thoroughly recommend completing the story when you can because it’s when New Game+ arrives that Starfield will shine. Without giving away spoilers, New Game+ is where you will want to start to explore the 1000 planets available to you.
The shooting mechanics are pretty simple and easy to pick up and for those that don’t enjoy that aspect of the game it is possible to focus more on the exploration side of the game, unfortunately, there are a few unavoidable battles, but they are pretty easy to complete, so no need to worry. The key to winning these battles is searching your enemies, because it is possible to get some of the best guns in the game quite early on, depending on who you battle!
For players more into the exploration side of the game, you are in for a treat! This is where the game truly shines. Many times I got lost (in a good way) exploring what the universe had to offer and forgetting I had storyline missions and sub-quests to complete. With opportunities to build your ship from materials discovered on your exploration, or be a space pirate and steal everyone else. Or build a nice little home on a planet you’ve discovered, and explore the world for more materials. The only limit at times is your imagination.
However, there are two things which nearly ruined the game for me early on, but as time went on they did not spoil my overall enjoyment, and that was the inventory/weight and map. In Starfield you start with a very low weight threshold, so you can only carry so many items before you become encumbered, meaning you can’t run without endangering yourself. So if you find any decent items, guns or materials you are very limited on how much you can carry. With a lack of fast travel or areas to store items, you will find yourself travelling backwards and forwards between an area and your ship.  The inventory system is also not the easiest to manage, I know the game is going for realism, but this takes away from the enjoyment of the game. Finally, the map system is not very clear and travelling across the planet can be time-consuming and confusing when trying to find where you are going.

Visuals
Starfield is a visually stunning game, no one can argue with that. The space and planet exploration is both beautiful and fun. It features a vast open world with lots of different environments. You could be exploring a vast ice planet one minute then a lush jungle planet with dangerous wildlife the next. The environment on land and in space is mesmerizing pulls you into the world of Starfield and makes you want to explore more.
I am not a fan of the character interactions where they are standing right in your face, but this is a staple of Bethesda games and part of their uniqueness, so I had the accept and move on from it, or the game would not be enjoyable. The character models are unique and help to add to the realism of the game, even though they can be a bit distracting and emotionless at times.
There are a range of great graphical features that are used effectively to add realism to the planets and cities you explore. With impressive use of lighting and reflections to make you feel you are walking through these worlds helps add to the immersion.  
Sound

One of the main highlights of Starfield is the sound design. I played the game in headphones for full immersion into the game. If you have the chance I strongly suggest you do the same. With a mix of original score and existing music, it helps to build the scope and the journey you will take through the galaxies in front of you. Firefights sound real and intense and then you get the more subtle and atmospheric sound as you make your way across a beautiful landscape. Bethesda has really made a game that is both visually and auditory beautiful. 

Performance

There was a lot of complaints online on the fact that Starfield was locked to 30fps,in stead of the prefered 60fps, which most casual gamers would not even notice. As someone who values performance and seeing games run at faster speeds and look visually impressive, the lack of 60 fps did not bother me. There is so much to do within this game and it is so visually stunning I’d happily accept the lack of 60fps for the game to run as smoothly as it did on my XBOX.

Replayability

This is where Starfield excels in comparison to most games. For some games New Game+ adds very little to the experience other than you can play the game again but with all your power-ups. Starfield however allows you to continue to grow, explore and enjoy the experience. New Game+ is where Starfield is at its best, and it’s also where RPG lovers will get their value for money. If you are playing Starfield as a “finish the campaign and move on to a new game”, Starfield is not the game for you. The more you play the game, the more you will be rewarded!

Accessibility
Unfortunately, Starfield is lacking in accessibility options (which will hopefully be improved in future). It has the general large menu fonts, colour adaptions, and a feature which is love (due to motion sickness) is the ability to have a third-person view instead of a first-person view. For a game of the scale of Starfield, I would have hoped for more accessibility, and fingers crossed they had more in the future.
Starfield’s accessibility features are limited, especially when compared to other recent AAA releases. The game does have a few useful features, such as large menu fonts, high-contrast visuals, and a centre dot to help with motion sickness. However, several key accessibility features are missing, such as screen reader support, customizable subtitles, and auto-aim or auto-targeting.

Verdict
Starfield is the sci-fi fantasy game that you’ve been waiting for. To truly enjoy and get the full experience of this space RPG, you must fully invest your time and multiple playthroughs to get the best from it. With a compelling story and a vast universe to explore, Starfield will have you coming back for more. Some elements like the inventory and weight allowance take away from the enjoyment early on, but if you battle through, Starfield will take you on a wild adventure. One of the best games XBOX has released in many years!
Gameplay: 9/10 
Visuals: 9/10 
Sound: 9/10 
Performance: 9/10 
Replayability: 9/10 


Overall: 90/100 (Outstanding)


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