Game Review: Starfield

With over 200 hours into the game Starfield, I thought a review would be useful. Overall I think the game is well worth the price and was interesting for the first 80 hours. However, after a certain point in the game everything becomes incredibly easy, to the point of putting it away. While the game has some great concepts, its far too easy and offers poor consequences.

Good Concepts

The game does a lot of great things. The ability to explore unknown worlds is fascinating. It combines both a procedural application of world generation (like No Man’s Sky), but also offers hand crafted worlds. Beyond the main quest line, there vast amounts of side quests. Even at level 60 I discovered a side quest for Galbank on the main planet of Jemison, which I hadn’t done before. 

There are factions you can join, war lords you can save or kill, and unique outcomes crafted to your decisions. Do you join the pirate group Crimson Fleet? Do you side with the UC Security Forces? Do you choose to kill a war lord for his war crimes, or save him so he can give you kill list quests? Do you slaughter innocent people trying to colonize a planet or offer a better solution for them? These decision based quests are too numerous to mention and give a feel of a living breathing game.

The Bad

While there are bad aspects to the game, I still want to emphasize how fun the game was – at least up to 80-100 hours in. At some point you’ll finish most quests, and realize all you have left is to reboot everything with a NG+ (New Game Plus). By level 45 you’ll become a killing machine that no one can stop and if you upgrade your ship to a class C (with a bit of skills in piloting, weapons, and shields) you can take on entire armadas. 

NG+

The idea of this game is a lift from No Man’s Sky. If you follow the main storyline you’ll end at a point of choice: to start everything over again (loosing all you’ve accomplished) gaining new options in the quests and some armor and a ship. 

NG+ can be repeated many times, and it appears it maxes out after the 10th time you complete the main quest and choose to go NG+. That’s right, after 10x you get the maxed out Starboard armor and ship – but as it turns out, you can farm as good equipment in a single play through! 

By the time I was completing the main quest line, I had too much time invested in my character, and had no interest in rebooting it (loosing all progress, items, etc.) So I stayed in my single play through and in a short time I couldn’t be defeated. 

Undefeatable 

When I hit level 38, I found a superior version of the Orion laser rifle. I was a sniping killing machine. I was doing the main Jemison quest at that time and was one-shotting Xenomorphs! 

By level 45 I had completed all main missions and quests. I started farming level 75 systems (the hardest systems in the game), and was killing off level 94’s! Looting the level 94’s I ended up with weapons that had a base damage of 480, 500 and even 600! Most of these weapons fit into my skill line, so my skills added modifiers to where I was doing over 1,000 damage per shot. 

I had accidentally racked up a minor bounty and this was questioned when I tried to fly to a major planet. By this time in the game I was bored. Nothing on land could kill me, so what about space? In my class B, I flew to a planet that called me on the bounty and I decided to fight. They killed me, but I took out 80% of their fleet. After upgrading to a class C ship (the best ship class in the game), and getting a powerful ship (Narwhal), I was able to slaughter every security force armada in space (except for Jemison’s.). 

In other words, I was nearly unstoppable in space now as well! 

Deimos Station

I flew my class C to Deimos and opened fire on a settler ship. That spawned the wrath of 30+ ships, which I destroyed! The level range for these ships was between 8-25. I docked on Deimos and they opened fire on me, so I slaughtered the staff at the station. The only survivors being quest NPC’s. My bounty was now large, but still payable.

Hopetown

I went to hometown and they flagged my new bounty. I refused to pay and fought my way through it, slaughtering another 30+ ships. After landing, I was greeted by security forces that were already shooting me. Surprisingly security forces were mostly level 1. A few level 30’s appeared and were easily neutralized. I went through the main offices and buildings, annihilating everything. 

Akila 

Stepping up to the big time, I went after Akila itself. Without answering a hail to be scanned, I started bombarding the first Freestar Collective security vessel. Dead in seconds. So many ships spawned in. I thought I was dead. I was running off shields for most of the battle, popping ship parts every 5 min or so. After killing the high level ships, the minor ones were easy prey. Landing at Akila, security forces attacked and I responded. A few level 50+ showed up to the fight, but since I can already kill level 94’s it was a breeze. Now when I land at Akila, it’s a weird experience: there are no guards, no security. Just civilians. 

Endgame Too Soon

As a casual gamer I didn’t feel I should be able to do all this crazy chaos. I’ve hit level 60 (out of 100 levels) and I feel like I’m a god in the game. There’s no motivation at this point to push it. Exploration is now in the level 75 systems, which are procedural. Missions are random. No one can harm me on land or in space. By level 60 I picked up equipment that is FAR BEYOND anything the starboard offer. I have a particle beam rifle that now does 1,500 damage and I can get 2.5x that if I’m sneaking when shooting. High level NPCs (level 94) can be annihilated in a single shot, but this rifle shoots rapid fire. I’m like robocop. 

When I fast landed at Jemison (avoiding space combat), I was able to slaughter every security NPC on the surface, in all the city zones (outside of quest NPCs). Jemison is effectively “mine,” as is Akila City and Hopetown. Since Jemison has a trader inside its own zone, it doesn’t run from their post. So I can still buy/sell from the UC store there!

It’s all absurd and considering how the game mechanics start to break when you get this powerful, I think the game dev’s didn’t count on this. 

If you’ve played Skyrim and you remember how the game became easier when you became a vampire, well this is very similar. But even in Skyrim a vampire had consequences (couldn’t go out in daylight, had to feed). There are no consequences here. 

  • I can still buy goods/services on planets I’ve slaughtered.
  • I was still friendly with the UC even after joining Crimson Fleet and destroying the UC SysDef fleet.
  • Factions don’t care that I kill off their people, or join rivals.
  • Slaughtering The Clinic, doctors there still sell to me and offer me services
  • Cities are now strange places where citizen NPCs randomly walk around with no guards

How I Got Here

For me, my path to power started at character creation. When creating my character I picked the trait for introvert. That allowed me to use the Isolationist skill line, which I maxed out. Maxing it out I get 80%+ damage output and 160 damage soaking (as long as I do missions without a team member). As I detest the character personalities of Constellation crew, this was an easy path for me.

Other skills I put points in were:

  • Lasers
  • Rifle
  • Sniper
  • Ballistics 
  • Stealth 

The skills above offer modifiers and bonuses on headshots, using laser and ballistic weapons. Sneak offers a 2.5x modifier of damage when surprising an enemy while sneaking. Sniper gives critical bonuses of 50%+ on headshots. Combined, this can take out much higher level NPCs.

Getting weapons of mass destruction wasn’t hard. I picked up a supped up Orion on a mission on Neon. After doing a mission for the mayor of Akila City, I got a ballistic sniper that was very impressive for my level. That gun made my missions a breeze and I switched out to a high level ballistic sniper rifle that I found in a level 75 system, which made me unstoppable. That was replaced by a particle beam rifle that made me even more unstoppable (being unstoppable faster). 

Farming high level planets (in level 75 systems) allowed me to get armor that was better than all the quest armor. I wear armor that is comparable to Starborn armor that comes after the 10th NG+! I found it in a vent on a level 75 planet. 

Forced Romance

As my kids will be playing near me, I didn’t want the game to go all Cyberpunk 2077 and I wasn’t sure how far romance would go. I avoided all the romance dialogue options and I realized that Bethesda wants to push the romance angle on anything with two legs. Ugh! 

Even if you’re into virtual romance, these options are gross. For me, the first romance option I had was the blond. She’s old. She looks like she could be a professor at Hogwarts. Sure they dress her in skin tight leggings, but her face with the dead eyes… I feel like she’s fighting back dementia. What a turn off. Every time she “Loves” something I say, I get the creeps. So I ditch her. I pick up this cowboy dude and think, “this is safe.” We talk about stuff like killing, shooting, and then one day he starts telling me all about his ex-wife and daughter. Come on. Next thing I know the romance options start popping up. It’s like every dialogue with him starts to turn into some love triangle (and I’m avoiding the [Flirt] option). It starts to feel creepy. Like someone is trying to push romance on me with everyone. If you think you’ll be into the cowboy… well think again, he’s another dead eyed character model who looks like he’s been through life’s ringer a few times. Again he’s old. Some 40 something dude all worn out. In fact every romance option is with people who look like old sacks that teach at Hogwarts. Whether you’re gay or straight, I can’t imagine anyone would find these characters attractive. If these models looked like Cyberpunk 2077, maybe I’d feel different, but then it might not be appropriate for family viewing. 

Conclusion

It’s a great game, but will it hold your attention? For me, I stayed in the game for 200+ hours. I’m now at a point of giving up. Sure I probably didn’t do all the missions available… but I’ve done a lot. I have no interest in NG+ and the constellation team members you encounter are terrible personalities. My game time is mostly spent farming level 75 planets for loot, but now I feel that there is likely no loot better than I have. I have titanium guns that weigh 0.5 lbs. I have sniper rifles that do 1,200 damage and particle beam weapons that do even more. My ship is kitted out to take out 30+ ship armadas. I think I’ll call it and uninstall until the first DLC is released. Good game, but if you push it, you’ll become overpowered quite quickly.

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