Starfield Review | Games Rants
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Starfield Review | Games Rants

After the success Bethesda enjoyed with Skyrim and Fallout 4, the company could have played it safe and moved right along to The Elder Scrolls 6. Instead, Bethesda has decided to gamble on Starfield, an ambitious open-world sci-fi game and the first original IP from the company in over 25 years. The gamble has paid off. Starfield is a landmark release that totally absorbs the player, transcending the Skyrim-in-space comparisons and establishing itself as one of Bethesda’s greatest games.

Starfield‘s first hour is a touch slow, but things pick up significantly after players are given the freedom to explore its many galaxies and planets at their leisure. The Bethesda magic kicks in, and the game becomes impossible to put down. Players can play however they want, and the way they play dictates the skills they can unlock. For instance, someone who wants to avoid combat encounters and skip certain objectives will look to persuade as many characters as possible, in turn leveling up their speech skill and making subsequent persuasion attempts more effective. Someone who would rather take a guns-blazing approach to Starfield‘s various conflicts can do that instead, earning the right to level up their proficiency with certain types of weapons.

At first, Starfield combat is nothing particularly special. It’s almost like Fallout without VATS. But as players level up, unlock new abilities, and expand their arsenal, Starfield combat becomes infinitely more exciting. What starts as basic shoot-outs evolves into explosive action sequences with players flying around with their boost packs, blasting enemies in the face with shotguns, and then sliding behind cover to reload and heal for the next fight.

Starfield combat

Starfield‘s on-foot combat becomes wildly entertaining if players spend their skill points on the right abilities, and the same applies to ship battles. Depending on the traits one chooses while creating their character, ship combat can be slow and clunky at the beginning of the game. But with the right skill point investments, it can become an absolute thrill, with white-knuckle space battles that have players zipping through asteroid fields and blasting away at enemy ships. There are entire games built around space combat that fail to make it as exciting as Starfield.

Starfield‘s space combat is amazing, but some players won’t care to engage with it. Those players can turn down the difficulty during space battles to make quick work of their opponents, and luckily, don’t have to spend much time in their ship at all if they don’t want to. Starfield makes a big commitment to player convenience, incorporating game-changing quality-of-life features like the ability to fast-travel basically anywhere from almost anywhere, stripping away many of the restrictions found in Bethesda’s other games. Players can be standing on one planet in one galaxy and immediately fast-travel to a completely different planet lightyears away, without ever having to back-track to the ship.

Another example is how players can immediately jump into their cockpit when boarding their ship, removing the need to walk through it and cutting out the filler. These quality-of-life features are everywhere in Starfield and while they may not seem like a big deal on paper, they make a massive difference in the long run.


While fast-traveling around Starfield‘s planets, players will meet a wide variety of individuals, all with their own unique backstories and motivations. Some of these characters can even be recruited and assigned to the ship or outposts that players build. Building up one’s crew is a rewarding experience, as the crew members are fleshed-out characters that feel like real people, making it easy to get attached to them. This is especially true of Starfield‘s companion characters, who come with their own quests and in some cases, the option to romance them.

Starfield lets players customize their own ship, recruit their own crew, and choose their own sci-fi adventures as they explore its vast worlds. Bethesda wasn’t kidding when it said that there are over 1,000 planets in Starfield, and while it’s true that some of them are barren wastelands, other planets are brimming with interesting plant life and dangerous alien creatures. Players are free to go basically anywhere they can imagine in Starfield, though the near-endless quests ensure that players never have to go anywhere that isn’t interesting or doesn’t have some kind of meaningful content to engage with. Players who want to go off the beaten path and explore all of Starfield‘s procedurally-generated planets are free to do so, but those who would rather stick to the hand-crafted content can do so as well and still be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to do in the game.

Starfield gives players the tools to experience the game their own way. Players can purchase a giant ship and explore the stars with their crew like they’re the captain of the Enterprise, or they can focus on building outposts on isolated planets, all the while collecting valuable resources for crafting. Players can be an intergalactic menace if they want, wreaking havoc on the Settled Systems and fleeing from authorities with their Grav Drives. Any given quest can be solved in a number of ways, with players able to talk their way out of situations, kill whoever is in their path, or sneak into highly-guarded areas to steal important documents or items. The possibilities are endless, and it’s hard to see how any sci-fi game is ever going to come close to matching the freedom Starfield gives its players at the scale that it does.

starfield spaceship

This doesn’t mean that Starfield is literally a perfect video game. Like any game, it has flaws, but the flaws aren’t necessarily enough to drag down the experience in any significant way. For example, Starfield does suffer from some dated mission design choices, like having players follow NPCs that walk much slower than the player character. Plus, there are some dungeons that look nearly identical to one another, which can break immersion and take some of the wind out of Starfield‘s cosmic sails. But even so, the game is still the most polished Bethesda game at launch to date, and in fact, we didn’t encounter a single game-breaking bug in our time with Starfield. There is still some general jank, frame drops, and the occasional visual/audio glitch, however.

Despite some odd happenings, Starfield is actually very polished, especially for a Bethesda game, though there is one particularly annoying technical issue that will hopefully be patched out in a future update. After a certain threshold was met, whether that be time played or some other factor, the scanner started to cause a weird hiccup whenever it was used. This stutter didn’t happen earlier in the game, and while it wasn’t hugely detrimental, it was still an annoyance.

Besides potential technical problems, the game’s biggest flaws are most apparent while playing through Starfield‘s main quest. In some ways, Starfield‘s main quest line is the best main quest in any Bethesda game, with some truly ingenious missions filled with fun combat encounters, engaging narrative beats, and hugely important decisions that have a dramatic impact on the game world and its characters. In other ways, the Starfield main quest can be somewhat of a letdown.

Sarah Morgan from Starfield

There are a series of very repetitive missions in the main quest line that repeat the same puzzle and enemy encounter every time. The purpose of these missions can’t be discussed without venturing into spoiler territory, but they are quests players will feel compelled to complete, making their repetitiveness all the more disappointing. The story in the main quest is filled with well-written, believable characters and some interesting developments, though mileage will vary when it comes to the ending. Some fans will be blown away by what happens, while others may not be satisfied with the answers Starfield provides for the game’s biggest mysteries.

Whether one enjoys Starfield‘s main quest line or not, it’s such a small part of the game that it doesn’t matter too much. Anyone tired of completing its more repetitive missions can ignore the main quest and have an epic space adventure of their own making, traveling from one galaxy to the next, exploring planets, and completing the far more consistently-compelling side quests and faction missions.

In typical Bethesda fashion, Starfield has four main factions for players to interact with, each with their own dedicated quest lines. Players can find themselves wrapped up with the nefarious space pirates that make up the Crimson Fleet, or they can engage in some corporate espionage with Ryujin Industries. Others still may decide to join the Freestar Rangers and live out their space cowboy fantasies, while some will join up with the militaristic Vanguard.

Starfield Ship Combat

Out of all the factions in Starfield, the Crimson Fleet quest line was easily the most exciting, with serious stakes and an incredible finale that stands out as one of the game’s greatest moments. But it’s only one great moment in a game full of them. Whether it’s the tense Star Trek-style ship standoffs or simply taking in the awe-inspiring sight of a massive planet against the black vacuum of space, Starfield delivers one memorable moment after the next. The issues with the game, while they exist, aren’t important in the grand scheme of things. Players will still find themselves wanting to play Starfield as much as they possibly can, and daydreaming about it when they’re not playing it.

Like Bethesda’s other games, Starfield has enough content to keep players lost in its world for hundreds of hours, but it has even more replay value than expected. Starfield has a New Game+ option, giving players the opportunity to continue their adventures in a way that hasn’t been possible in any other Bethesda game. Starfield‘s implementation of New Game+ is brilliant and while we can’t share details about how it works, rest assured that it will make Starfield even harder to stop playing than Skyrim.

Starfield delivers on everything it promised and then some. It’s the ultimate sci-fi game, giving players an incomprehensibly massive world to explore and letting them play however they want. Starfield has what it takes to be another Skyrim-level game that’s played religiously for the next decade. It’s utterly engrossing, an absolute must-play, and the best Xbox console exclusive in years.

starfield game


Developed by Bethesda Game Studios, Starfield is a sci-fi action role playing game where players interact with multiple factions, engage in combat, customize their main character and ship, as well as explore a universe that features over 100 systems and 1,000 planets.

Starfield launches September 6 for PC and Xbox Series X/S. Game Rant was provided with an Xbox Series X code for this review.

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