Menu Close

Starfield PC Review – Epic and Immersive Space Opera

Starfield – what a game. It’s Bethesda’s first new universe in over 25 years and has been the best performing Bethesda game release to date. My PC specs are from 2019 with a ROG Strix 3080 GPU and zero mods, and the game runs superbly for me. I have been through the rough and tumble of almost all the Fallout and Elder Scrolls games and this is by far one of the most impressive single player games I have played. There are some glitches with character movement that were not game breaking, but I am continually impressed with Starfield the more I play it. It’s the most engaging and visually impressive Bethesda game for me since 2011’s Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and my best single player gameplay experience since 2015’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. There’s so much to see and do, and the best thing is it allows you to play your own way at your own pace.

When creating my character, I chose the combat medic profession as from how it read, it sounded like it suited my playstyle the closest. I like having the ability to heal myself and others while also being able to handle myself in combat situations, and you will occasionally get a conversation option that relates to your profession and skills which adds to the immersion. When playing through the introductory missions, surveying, and harvesting resources, meeting Barrett and Vasco, and getting into my first combat scrap with spacers, I was enjoying the feel of the first-person combat. I love that you can switch from first to third person view and back again with ease both in ground combat and in space.

Once I took command of the Frontier ship and got into my first space combat scenario, memories flooded in of playing space games over the years. Games such as Wing Commander: Privateer, Freelancer, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw and of course, No Man’s Sky, all had references for me. However, this is not No Man’s Skyrim. We cannot infinitely explore everything and go everywhere. While you can manually fly between planets (but why would you with such a great fast travel system) and you can make landfall anywhere on any of the 1000 planets in the game, when you do pick a landing spot, there is only a finite area that you can explore, and that suits my playstyle just fine.

The primary story missions in Starfield are epic and intertwined, with awesome voice acting from the various companions and npcs we meet along the way. The NPC facial features are recognisable if you have played Fallout 4 or Fallout 76. I don’t recall any character sounding the same as another and the choices you make define how others perceive you and your actions. Your companions will have an opinion on how you are playing (or dismiss them if you want to be sneaky), and there have been some moments that made me laugh and genuinely surprised me.

I joined the Ryujin Industries in Neon City, and the first mission was to collect coffees for a meeting. Mundane right? When I got to the coffee bar, I was accosted by an ex-employee that I unknowingly had replaced. I tried to pursuade him to back off but failed, so blasted him in the face. The shopkeeper was like “meh, it happens”, and when I went back to my new boss she basically said, “right, so you’re now my new influencer manager.” Twenty hours of gameplay later I came across a npc that explained how he had sent off an employee to get some coffees a while back and he never returned. I had a quiet evil chuckle to myself over that one.

I have gone down some crazy rabbit holes with quests that I completely stumbled on. Whether it be a conversation I overhead as I ran past a npc that popped an activity into my log, or it was a mission that I discovered by reading a book or listening to an audio log. The main story missions are galaxy spanning, but it is the side quests and faction quests that I got the most action and excitement out of. They took me to places I hadn’t planned to visit, and uncovered awesome loot like new suits, helmets, guns, and more importantly new ships that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. Joining the multiple factions has you playing good cop, bad cop, where the need arises, and there were clear benefits to being connected to some of these factions who had sway over others.

It is the seemingly random quests that, depending on how you play them, can turn into some fun side activities that add more engagement based on how you choose to play. The beauty is where you get to choose from some valid choices that can have measurable benefits and consequences both for your relationships with factions and npcs but more importantly with your companions. You can also hire technicians who can be stationed on your ship to manage repairs or have them posted to your outposts to increase the yield of resources you are collecting.

This brings me to inventory management and my tendencies to loot absolutely everything started off well until I quickly became over encumbered. As you walk or sprint, your oxygen meter depletes fully and then your carbon dioxide meter starts to rise, and at full CO2 you will then start to take damage. A solution is to then fill your ship’s cargo hold, with the default Frontier ship able to hold 450 units of weight. But this stuff adds up fast with resources, spare suits, weapons and helmets that I couldn’t bring myself to sell, and repair kits for space combat are 10 units of weight each which I relied on. I have seen some players’ ships where they have just chucked their spare items in the floors of their ships and just wade through the loot pile, but I can’t stand a messy ship. Your companions are always chiming in with statements like, ‘do you really need to carry that?” I was constantly on the prowl for the nearest vendor so I could sell some items and get back under the weight limit.

Researching stuff also helped lose some item weight. I really enjoyed the research system to open weapon and suit mods, but only once I understood just what it was doing with it. I will say that the game doesn’t do the best job at explaining everything you need to know about things. I fumbled my way through the research system but also didn’t realise I could build an outpost until around 10 hours into the game. On the plus side though, this meant there was an excitement around discovering and unlocking potentially better things through my direct input and trial and error. I felt more in charge of everything I did rather than a system telling me to put this here and go do that over there.

I chose not to do too much work on outposts as I wanted to keep knocking missions out of my ever-growing mission log and also do missions that had me exploring new systems and taking out targets in space combat. Though as I levelled up the ability to craft weapon and suit mods, I needed an outpost to mass produce things like adhesive that was super rare to find in my travels. Then there was ship customisation which was critical to the experiences I had with space combat. Space missions started off frustratingly hard. Even in the combat training missions, I was struggling to take out ships to meet the minimum quest requirements, and I only made one attempt to survive longer but died quickly.

There is a mission early on where you can cut power to all ship systems except two bars of engines so that you could sneak to a relay and avoid the three pirates nearby. I really wanted to just kill them and tried many times to go head-to-head with these three pirates but got obliterated. The best I could do after 10-minutes of trying was to kill one and half kill another, but they were too powerful. I was getting annoyed but chose the stealth pathway instead to continue the mission.

After several more hours of playing, I had built up a nice pool of credits so headed to a shipyard to buy new parts, and this had a vast improvement over my survivability but also my shooting power. It’s best to leave ship customisation and buying new ships to the late game once you have built up enough credits as it gets expensive. Some ship creations that players have made are awesome, especially ones inspired by Star Wars and other sci-fi ships.

Space combat in Starfield is awesome fun and I prefer flying inside the cockpit, seeing all the instruments and sparks as you get damaged. The sound design is on-point, especially when you’re watching your ship landing on a planet, and explosions are fantastic. I really liked the target locking mechanic enabling you to target a ship’s system to disable their engines so you can board them. Be aware though that different classes of ships require higher piloting skills, so you may not be qualified to steal a ship you’ve come across if you don’t have the piloting level.

My only other real complaint is when you need to escort or follow an npc. Sprinting is too fast, ordinary walking pace is too fast, and pressing caps lock to go into walk-mode is too slow. I ended up having to press forward once every second, or just running circles around them until they got into place. I did have a chuckle when I tried to initiate dialogue before a npc had got to his position and he said something like “at least let me get to the gate first”. I had one npc slowly sink below the ground so I couldn’t interact with them, so had to reload my quicksave. Then a npc on Mars started floating up into the air. Luckily with Mars’ low gravity I was able to jump/climb up onto metal beams and interact with him before he went through the roof.

My final comments are around the visuals of the cities you visit. Atlantis was awe-inspiring the first time I went there. The city of Neon in the Volii system had a fantastic cyberpunk feel to it, as well as completing missions and dealing with local gangs in Ebbside. Then there is Akila City in Cheyenne which had a gritty feel to it like those found in Fallout: New Vegas. I also enjoyed flying into a system and using my scanner to see if there were any stations I could land on or ships I could talk to. One such station turned out to be a casino that was being robbed by a spacer gang. I killed the spacers, found a computer with a code for the safe and eventually got myself some credits and a legendary helmet. You really do get rewarded for exploring outside of the missions.

Overall, Starfield exceeded my expectations and is the best launch of a Bethesda game to date. The depth of immersion that you can experience is vast and dynamic as you side with factions, stumble on quests, and visit distant locations that can send you down rabbit holes of hours of fun. The game ran very well on my PC with only minor glitches that either fixed themselves or resolved with a quick reload. The best part is that you can play this game anyway you wish, and you will be rewarded for it. Take your time, explore the galaxy at your own pace and lose yourself in this new universe from Bethesda that will be around for years to come.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Bethesda ANZ and Starfield is available to play now on Steam, Xbox Series X|S and Game Pass.


Related Posts