In an endless sea of video game genres and developers, it can be hard to find the ones that leave you totally invested and intrigued. I’ve of course had my fair share of games that I feel have not been entirely worth my time. However there are definitely some that I have poured an embarrassing amount of hours into; Starfield tops this list.

Starfield, Bethesda’s latest release, has been a subject of criticism among gamers since it came out on September 6, 2023. Lately, its reviews have become mostly negative, comparing the game to Bethesda’s other successful hits like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout.

Does it live up to the high expectations of Bethesda fans? What’s the gameplay like? How does it compare to other Bethesda games? In this review, I will address these questions and more; keep reading to find out!

It should go without saying, but this review contains spoilers.

What is Starfield’s Backstory?

In the early 21st century, around present day, humans on Earth discover that their planet’s hospitality will soon come to an end with the pending collapse of its magnetosphere. By 2100, humans have sought refuge among the stars, with several factions colonizing star systems all around the galaxy.

Starfield contains almost 1700 planets and moons, each with detailed flora, fauna, and landscape. (Screenshot of gameplay)

Your story begins in the year 2330: during a typical day of work as a miner, you come across a mysterious artifact that causes you to have strange visions of the cosmos. You are consequently appointed to a group of explorers known as Constellation, who strive to learn more about these artifacts.

Alongside the Constellation storyline, there are tons of other factions that need your help across the settled systems, providing you with endless options and choices to make.

Interface and Controls

As of now, Starfield is available for purchase on Xbox and PC. As an Xbox user, I’ve found the controls to be more or less manageable and suitable for the gameplay. Overall, I haven’t had many problems with the physical controls themselves.

The main interface for your character, including your inventory, the starmap, quests, and the skill tree. (Screenshot of gameplay)

The in-game interface can be quite tedious at times, especially when navigating the starmap. Consisting of 120 star systems, the starmap offers an interactive 3D view of the Milky Way Galaxy that is remarkably true to life, though scaled down in size.

However, Bethesda also made some improvements to their inventory system showcased in Starfield, making it easier to identify new items and understand weapon stats.

Interface and controls: 7/10

Sound & Visual Design

One of the most impactful components of a video game is its music and artwork. The effort that goes into these design choices can greatly affect the game’s atmosphere, and this is especially true for Starfield.

While the soundtracks that accompany the planets, cutscenes, and even the main menu enhance the futuristic, hopeful impression that Starfield gives its players, I found the music to be underwhelming. It’s certainly iconic, with its spacey, futuristic sound, however I was never blown away by the compositions themselves.

I have mixed feelings about the graphic design showcased in Starfield. When introduced to the metropolis of the settled systems, New Atlantis, I was immediately astounded by the realistic and detailed quality of the architecture. With this modern aesthetic being a relatively new scene for Bethesda, they definitely accomplished the innovative look of the city beautifully.

My biggest issue with the graphic design, and one of the first things I noticed about the game, was the lack of effort put into the skill tree: a visual progression of all the skills you can acquire in the game.

Starfield’s Skill Tree offers a multitude of routes you can take with your character, requiring investment into minor skills before progressing to more advanced and useful skills.

Starfield’s Skill Tree offers a multitude of routes you can take with your character, requiring investment into minor skills before progressing to more advanced and useful skills. (Screenshot of gameplay)

Where Skyrim had a dynamic, intricate skill tree complete with sound effects, Starfield has five simple matrices with icons representing the skill choices. Gaining new skills is often a turning point in the game, so I was disappointed when I was met with a sub-par interface for doing so.

Sound and visual design: 6/10

Replayability

Even though I haven’t yet completed the game, I believe it will be less replayable than some of Bethesda’s other open world games. This is because of the physical repetitiveness of the galaxy itself.

With the game containing almost 1,700 planets and moons for the player to explore, it’s impossible for each to be completely unique in its structures. Players will often find themselves performing the same routine on every planet, simply because the loot is in the same place every time.

A ground map of a planet, displaying key locations you can travel to. (Screenshot of gameplay)

On the other hand, the sheer amount of side quests and activities available to the player make the game big enough that players may not need to replay it at all. Starfield has around 150 hours worth of total content.

Replayability: 4/10

Fun Factor

The thing about this game that has kept me hooked for so long is the questlines. The details poured into each character involved in the story are so intricate, engulfing the player into the game atmosphere.

I especially liked the amount of substantial decisions the player is forced to make as progress is made through the game. Will you side with the pirates to earn a steady income of cash? Or will you stay loyal to the corporation you initially agreed to work for?

These decisions ultimately made me question my every move, wondering how it will affect my relationships with other factions and the future of my playthrough.

Overall, I’d say the fun factor of the game is fairly high, just because there is so much to do. I’ve never ended up bored when I sit down to play Starfield.

Fun factor: 8/10

Is it Worth the Price?

Currently, the standard edition of Starfield costs 64.40 Euro (319.88 Ron) to purchase for PC on Steam; however, it’s also available on Xbox Game Pass.

Personally, I think the price is too high. Still, the developers can get away with it because of how long this game has been in development, and how eagerly awaited it was by Bethesda fans.

I’ve really enjoyed my time playing Starfield, and I still have a lot left to explore. If you’re someone who wants a genuine open-world experience with a multitude of options and storylines, Starfield is probably worth buying.

Even if it doesn’t seem worth it right now, don’t forget that the game will only get better from here, as the developers roll out more updates and improvements included in the price.

Fun Factor: 8/10

Interface and controls: 7/10

Sound and visual design: 6/10

Replayability: 4/10

Overall: 6/10

Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or a casual player, the boundless galaxy of Starfield has something to offer for everyone, and I think it’s a solid addition to the gaming scene.

Let us know in the comments if there’s a game you’d like to see reviewed next!