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Starfield Review

In this Starfield Review, we dive into the full release of Betheda’s most ambitious project to date, and tell you if it was worth the 10 year wait. With many fans disappointed by the Studio’s latest releases, everyone is wondering if the game will actually deliver on the quality that made Bethesda famous. Read on to find out.

Starfield Review

Genre: RPG
Developed by: Bethesda Game Studios
Published by: Bethesda Softworks
Release date: September 6th, 2023 (Early Access September 1st 2023)
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Xbox Series X/S
Price at time of review: $69.99 – Free with Gamepass

Starfield Review – Story and Setting

Starfield is set in a universe where humanity has conquered space travel and spread across what is known as “The Settled Systems”. It is the year 2330, and around 20 years before the start of the game (2310) the 2 largest factions in the Settled Systems, the United Colonies and Freestar Collective, engaged in a bloody conflict called the “Colony War”. Today, the major factions enjoy an uneasy peace, but the Settled Systems are still pretty dangerous. There are plenty of human threats out there, like the Ecliptic Mercenaries, Pirates of the Crimson Fleet, Violent Spacers, or even the Fanatical Religious Zealots of House Va’ruun.

Starfield Review factions

Bethesda has done a good job of creating unique factions and fleshing out their histories and actions, providing world-building that will set the proper stage for your adventures. If you are a fan of sci-fi and want to get an idea of how this was approached, think more The Expanse meets No Man’s Sky rather than Mass Effect.


Since this is an RPG, your character will take on the role of an explorer, and travel the galaxy in pursuit of its secrets or riches, fueled by your own curiosity, righteousness, maliciousness or even greed. Along this journey, you will find Companions and recruit crewmembers, giving you the opportunity to experience their backstories and hear their takes on Locations, history and current events.

Starfield Companions

Overall, the story of Starfield sets off in typical RPG fashion with a blank slate of a hero that you fill in, and a variety of options to become whatever kind of character you may fancy. That is, fortunately, where the “typical” part of the story ends, as I have to say I was incredibly surprised by the originality of the story itself.

Story Experience

I went into this game 100% blind to what may be awaiting me, with some basic knowledge of what was revealed by Bethesda. I thought I had it all quite figured out for a good 20 or 30 hours, and then it all took a leap that sent the game in a really fun direction. Whilst I usually prefer fantasy to sci-fi, I have read a considerable amount of methaphysical sci-fi, social science fiction, space operas and space westerns. I feel like Starfield has a bit of all of them, and all in the right amount, and it made following the main story a very enjoyable experience that was worth traveling the universe to complete.

While not perfect or mind-blowing, and featuring some unfortunate narrative clunkiness to comply with gaming mechanics or gaming moments, this is a very enjoyable ride for those seeking to experience the story and universe itself.

Gameplay in Starfield

Starfield’s Gameplay is at the same time so similar and so different to so many other games that I find myself having a difficult time explaining it. My preferred summary for this is that there’s a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of little bits. How does that all combine and does it create a congruent experience? Let’s find out:

Starfield RPG Mechanics

Most people will be playing this game to engage with its roleplaying mechanics, and to interact with this universe in their own unique way.

The game has a decent character creator with many options, but I found them a bit weird and could not really create exactly what I wanted, perhaps because the interface itself is not intuitive and I got tired of accidentally rolling back changes I had made. You’ll get the expected physical customization options alongside the opportunity to pick a background, which gives you your first 3 Skills, and some Traits that give you both benefits and demerits based on your choices. The variety of backgrounds and traits is nice, although I did find that I had no idea what would be good or wouldn’t based on the vague descriptions. Since these cannot be changed, if you want to know, we have a beginner guide that goes over the best backgrounds and skills.

Starfield Character Creation
Character Creation let’s players choose a few skills and traits

Once you’re out in the world, your character development will come from two sources. One is skillpoints, that allow you to unlock more skills and complete challenges to power them up. Other is roleplay, where you slowly develop your personality and relationship with companions to create your impact in the world. You will also be able to customize your Equipment and Armor, install mods on them, and purchase and customize ships based on the activities that you like doing. Overall, I felt like my character was always progressing in some way, and there was always something to do to polish or improve.

Starfield Quests & Exploration

Exploration and Questing is the main focus of Starfield, and it will be the core of your gameplay. Discovering new locations, responding to distress signals, or being a space pirate are all viable paths for you, and you will slowly engage with each aspect and learn how it works and how to master it. It is incredibly overwhelming when you begin, as you’re bombarded with information on what you could be doing, and dozens of Quests and activities pile up on your mission log. I found myself having to purposely take a deep breath, relax, and pick just one thing to do and learn at a time.

Once I got into the groove of the controls, that unfortunately are somewhat lacking, I was able to get into my preferred rhythm for exploration gaming. I gathered quests and activities at a hub, then set off for another system and completed objectives, gathered new quests, completed those, then returned to the main hub to progress the story. Along the way, there were hundreds of small “distraction traps” or “Shiny object” moments that conspired to lead me astray, and thus my play hours slowly extended deeper and deeper into the night.

The slowly forming addiction of scanning planets and “landing just once to see what’s in the surface” simply demonstrates that the exploration of new worlds and locations can be very compelling to those who, like me, enjoy open world games. I had some reservations about how it would all work out given the sheer size of the game, and the mention of “procedurally generated” that usually means “copy pasta”.


Thankfully I felt like the planets and their exploration fit the universe and made logical sense, much like Mass Effect planetary adventures. Scanning, mining and creating outposts is a side activity that can consume hundreds and hundreds of hours, but it’s entirely skippable for those that are not interested in it.


What everyone will surely be interested in is the questing, and it is very good. I really, really enjoyed the depth of interactions and opportunities of intervention. Quest storylines are well crafted, have opportunities for persuasion, bribery, intimidation, theft or righteousness, and weave into the world and events seamlessly. Your actions affect the characters and world, your perception of the world and other’s views on you. It’s all done quite well and you’ll find it a lot closer to the excellence that was Mass Effect.

Starfield Combat

The gunplay and combat in Starfield is probably one of the weaker aspects of the game. Lacking the pause-and-dismember features of Fallout, free-gunning on low gravity systems against floaty targets while you yourself jump around and without a cover system was not quite my favorite activity.

Weapons & Mods

There’s a good variety of weapons and mods to customize the experience, and you can opt for mines and frags or even close quarters with a hatchet or sword, but overall the combat was something I wanted to get done with and not what I looked forward to.

Starfield Review Weapon and Mods Customization
Customization for weapons and mods provide a lot of variety

There are some later game mechanics for combat that do spice things up and add to the fun, but it wasn’t enough to make me actually enjoy going into conflict. Perhaps it is all my fault because I didn’t roll a stealth archer, but we’ll figure that out when we get around to making builds.

Ship Combat

Ship Combat is on a similar vein somewhat mediocre, with confusing controls and a lot of turning around that can be very overwhelming when you start. I eventually figured out what worked and what didn’t and leveled up my ship parts and skills to a point where it became a lot smoother. Your lack of skill will make your ship feel bulky and unresponsive, which is an initial turn-off, and eventually you will realize that ship combat is simply “ok” and does not change much from one encounter to another.

Starfield Review Ship Combat
Ship combat is not a stand-out experience and just ok

You can also buy a wide variety of ships that will act very differently in combat, and can upgrade parts and even design your ship to look one way or another. All this tinkering does enhance the overall ship experience, but the core combat remained “just ok”. There are some exceptions of larger ship battles that happen for some optional small side quests, and those can be fun due to the “intergalactic warfare” feel they bring about.

Starfield Review – Design, Audio and Visual

Starfield has a “pragmatically futurist” design that gives the game a feel of realistic or mundane sci-fi. There’s no shock and awe at the technology you’re using, it’s ancient history and owning a ship is not dissimilar to owning a boat in the real world.

This approach to remove the player from the concept of “final frontier” to “backyard” works well within the game to match the more mundane nature of your activities. After all, you would not be able to access or use these amazing tools just to carry out a mission to plant some documents on another planet.

Most of the spaceships you use are the “clunkers” of The Expanse, with wire chairs, small bunkbeds and tiny messy galleys. The cities you visit will go from feeling like The Citadel to Cyberpunk to The Wild West, with factories, mining outposts and utilitarian facilities speckled about.

Starfield Menu

This design philosophy carries over the game’s UI, and in my opinion does leave something wanting. It is extremely simple and clean, to the point it lacked personality, and at the expense of needed features like a mini-map or better inventory tools.

Graphically, the game is beautiful and the cutscenes are actually gorgeous. The in-game renders of activities and such are of course lower quality, but given the amazing expansiveness of the content and incredible amount of options that can pop up, I feel the graphics are at the very top of what can be expected out of even the best developers.

Starfield Bugs & Performance Review

Performance-wise I found the game runs well on both of my computers, meaning my “gaming” dedicated rig with a 4090 handled the game flawlessly on mostly ULTRA settings, supporting FPS in the 90s consistently and sporadically over 120. My more modest 3080 ran well if with some lower fidelity. The FPS was considerably lower on the 3080, going on 45 or so and not really going above 60 on ULTRA. Reducing graphic quality improved this, of course, so plan to play on High or such if you’re in this range. There was minor texture pop in here and there, but it was not a persistent issue and I did not feel pulled out of the game from it.

Bugs & Glitches

I didn’t encounter crashes or game progress bugs, which was a very big relief as many recent releases have been plagued by such issues. What I did find are numerous instances of graphical glitches or small bugs that are typical to the fallout series: camera zooms into NPCs head when they are talking and the conversation is had from an unviewable angle, or the NPC keeps walking as it talks to you, or doesn’t turn to see you. A guard in the main town did a “My planet needs me” fly out into a ledge. Other characters or companions may get stuck in pathing and stop following you and then reappear by your side, or may get in the way of you and an objective button that you can’t reach because they are in the way.

These are all minor complaints and not the kind of issue that is when a quest doesn’t progress or an item crashes your game. Of course, I cannot be sure of all the possible combinations of possible issues so we’ll have to see what happens when more people get a chance to play with many different configurations and try out every level of each skill, etc.


Besides that, my only other complaint is one I would not have a good solution for. The game has so many systems and subsystems that I found the controls both complex and insufficient. There were too many things and menus to access or browse individually, without giving me some quality-of-life features that I really wanted. There are too many systems to learn management of via different controls, which is simply a function of the many sub-activities of the game.

Audio & Soundtrack

The audio and soundtrack for the game, on the other hand, are flawless. Each and every interaction you have is voiced, and voiced well. You can even overhear entire, convincing conversations as you walk by bars or hangouts. The music and tunes are a perfect match for the theme and setting and expertly set the mood for your adventures.

Pricepoint, Game Length & Replayability

Usually, when we talk about open-world games, we bypass the replayability option as the experience itself is so expansive that most people would simply go through it once and be done with it. Starfield is one of the rare games where, given the many choices and opportunities for player agency, there’s value to both explore extensively and reroll.


Starfield is a truly massive game that can mean thousands of hours of gameplay to those who want to deeply engage with the abundant systems made available for the player. Exploration and Outpost management, which will surely be enhanced by the community via mods, are one of those time-sinks that people can truly get lost in, much like the CAMP of Fallout.

But even ignoring outposts and the Scanning and exploration of the hundreds upon hundreds of worlds available, there’s an incredible amount of customized and engaging content to get through in the form of extensive, interesting and rewarding quests.

Starfield Locations

There are some activities that simply amount to “buy this person a coffee”, or generic repeatable missions to hunt down a pirate fleet and destroy them, or deliver cargo to another planet. However the vast majority of quests are actually contextual to the world and provide depth and nuance to where you are and what is happening. The faction quests are well defined, well done and I really wanted to see where they all went. The rewards for completing them also felt interesting, giving me options I did not have before and changing my standing with the world as I worked my way to the multiple endings. All in all, I spent 70 hours with my main character that was (mostly) gunning the main story, and another 30 on a secondary character that was messing around with mechanics and outposts and checking out what different choices did.

Pricing and Game Pass

So having played about 100 hours of the game, and given I don’t feel like I’m done with it yet, Starfield’s asking price of 69.99 feels justified, and it seems like an outright steal to get this with Game Pass as you’ll be getting incredible value for money.

Final Thoughts

Starfield is the game that Bethesda Game Studios needed to reassert themselves as creators of fantastic gaming experiences. Clearly a work of passion and the product of a decade of hard work, Starfield will surprise the naysayers with its good performance and relatively minimal bugs.

Delivering a solid story experience with fantastic graphics in an incredibly expansive universe that is free for the taking, Starfield is sure to become a favorite for many gamers and join the ranks of titles such as Mass Effect in the pantheon of sci-fi gaming.



Story & Setting 9
Gameplay 9
Design, Visual & Audio 9
Game Length & Replayability 10
Pricepoint 10


Starfield is a compelling and engaging interstellar adventure that successfully blends core RPG mechanics with open world exploration and deep questing. A complete delight from start to finish and an instant classic for any gamer that enjoys Sci Fi and is ready for adventure.

For more reviews be sure to check out next Blasphemous 2 Review and Atlas Fallen Review – Buried Treasure?.

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