One of the most interesting things about my relationship with Starfield is how it has changed over time. I held the game in my hands for a short time. At first glance, in the very early stages of the review, I was vaguely worried about Bethesda Game Studios’ latest release. It started out slow. The opening was boring. And the open world exploration experience is more menu-driven than in Bethesda games. I liked it, but I didn’t like it.
But then, a few hours later, it clicked. It didn’t take twenty hours or so like some people said – for me it was more like two. I began to find a rhythm and began to embrace the rhythm and pace of the exploration.
It’s interesting because it’s essentially the same game as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, but having to keep opening menus changes things up a bit. That old saying: “Do you see that mountain over there? You can fuck him” has disappeared, since nothing is really visible in the distance, except here and there during the exploration of the planets. Most often, you monitor waypoints, scanner signals, and other similar instruments. It’s different, and I dare say some may find it more boring – but I didn’t find it that way. I just found it different.
Anyway, the point is that it started clicking. But as I sit down to write this article, I’m approaching the 150 hour mark on Starfield – and the deeper I dig, the more I realize that it may be one of the most flawed games I’ve ever truly played. I loved.
Because yes, I love Starfield. A little dry, a little boring. I’ve heard people call him soulless and I don’t think that’s right – but I can see where someone is coming from. The other day I saw another game critic call it “boring” but said he stood by his 4/5 review – – and even though Bethesda’s concept appeared “Dull – 4/5” on the back of the box it funny says paper, but at the same time I completely understand it.
For me, Starfield started to scratch the same itch as things like Minecraft, Animal Crossing or Cities Skylines back when I had a serious addiction to those games. It would probably be even more fun to invest those hours of Minecraft or Cities into, say, Street Fighter or the replay of the Mass Effect trilogy that I never finished. But I liked the atmosphere of these games. I spent hours fiddling with the minutiae of the city’s road system, the layout of my home, or cultivating luxury for the completely uninteresting and completely useless villagers. I can’t explain why I wanted to spend so many hours on this; I just did. This caused some strange itch deep in my subconscious. I think that’s why people play games like Powerwash Simulator.
I think it’s an atmospheric game. I’ve gotten into the habit of putting on a podcast or audiobook while I play and just letting the vibrations wash over me. Time just disappears. By the way, a great wine pairing recommendation is the audiobook of the classic British space sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers. Which you can listen to, not entirely legally, on one or another video streaming site. But I didn’t tell you that.
So yes, it’s fair to say that I love Starfield. But the more I play it, the more I realize something else: it’s one of the most deeply and obviously flawed games I’ve enjoyed in this regard.
In many ways these are small things. Creepy, weird facial animation that puts me off getting to know more of the cast. Those damn walk and talk sections. Just like on Xbox, menus regularly freeze and take what seems like forever to open. The dialogue options are oddly uneven, so I (Ranger Freestar) can ignorantly ask someone what Rangers are, while other times being a Ranger significantly changes the storyline for the better. For example, every time I go to the Red Mile to sell my contraband, it takes about 30 seconds for the lady behind the bar to snap out of some sort of trance and animate to slide to the front of the bar so I can talk to her. . The list goes on.
This is also a picky list. But these things add up. Poke, prod, prick – death by a thousand cuts. Or it would be if the formula that Todd Howard’s team works by weren’t so consistent. As it stands, each of these attempts at downsizing simply looks the other way. Because despite all these things that seem lame or are starting to feel dated or both… for all of that stuff, Starfield has something that sticks out. Something that will suck you in for another twelve hours and then spit it out inches before you stumble upon something else just as exciting.
Sometimes you like things even if they have flaws. Starfield is one of those things – although it’s not a game I love at all due to its flaws. This is contrary to them. I see no end to my journey through the Starfield – my adoration goes beyond its weirdness. But when I think about the future, I’m not sure Bethesda will be able to release a game like this again. Time passes, technology improves, and expectations rise. Next time they may have to do better. However, for now, my love affair with sedentary systems continues.