Starfield – First Impressions

I can’t quite believe it – Bethesda finally released Starfield.

Damn, I remember this being rumoured so many years back, and that reveal from E3 years back feels like eons ago.  The Elder Scrolls VI is going to make that feel like generations past. Whenever that lands.

But it is actually here, right now, on Xbox and Steam. And I am already so heavily invested. It just feeds an inner nerd dream I’ve had since I was a kid, growing up watching Star Trek, eventually becoming obsessed with Star Wars. Always having a fascination with space.

This is the game I’ve always wanted to play. Planet hopping, deep exploration, taking on far too many quests, getting into ship battles and having a giant robot companion at my heel, saying my name and calling me captain.

Right from the get-go, this feels like a Bethesda RPG. The up-close conversations, the multi-choice dialogue, you can pick locks, try to persuade people into or out of things. Get into massive scraps. There’s even that blinding of the eyes moment when the game opens up. And the whole thing of you being a chosen one, setting you up for a massive quest across the universe.

Starfield goes further than Skyrim and Fallout, though. There’s a No Man’s Sky feel to this – and actually, if you’ve played that game to death, you may not feel quite so at home here – but also a little bit of Cyberpunk 2077 and Everspace 2.

It’s a combination of so many different elements, honestly, and it comes together like glue to make the most polished, enriching, awe-inspiring Bethesda RPG to date. In fact, I’d say this is their best combat yet. It feels properly refined and suitably rewarding.

Walking around New Atlantis felt like taking a trip to Tomorrow Land at Disney, quite honestly. The sweeping music just put me at ease, made me want to zip around and just take in everything, talk to everyone, explore in finite detail. It feels like a giant theme park and it’s just wonderful.

Is it perfect? Of course not, the sub-cast of characters still look a bit weird in a traditional Bethesda kind of way. There’s some weird physics from time to time, I’ve had a couple of hard crashes, the controls take a minute to adjust too and I’m still not completely sold on the story or the space battles themselves. I’m still early in, though, and I’ve got so, so much to do.

Just the tip of the iceberg of this game is vast, the ship customisation possibilities, crafting on your benches onboard ship, even dumping your junk all over your ship floor or giving it to your droid to hold for you. Not to mention the amount of planets that are out there.

Starfield is not groundbreaking, it doesn’t need to be. Where Baldur’s Gate 3 feels more cutting edge and like it’s ready to move the genre and industry forward in many ways, Bethesda so far seem to have stuck with what they know. But the appeal is so broad, the scale is much bigger and the foundation is so wonderfully refined, you feel this is the one people will be talking about more in years to come.

There’s almost certainly going to be a Starfield TV Show or Movie at some point. Todd Howard is already talking like there is going to be a huge amount of DLC, likely going beyond the two packs already confirmed. And being blunt about it, I don’t think anyone has done space and on-planet exploration quite as well as Bethesda have managed to marry them up. At least so far, I’m around five hours in.

We weren’t provided a copy of this to cover, so it may be a while before we get around to doing a full overview. That’s ok, and it’s probably that’s for the best. I want as much time as possible to explore the game top to bottom, I need to know if my early impressions still hold up 70, 80, 100 hours from now or if I get bored.

It’s certainly possible boredom will set in if the game stays in the same lane and you’ve seen most of what it has to offer in the early stages. But for now, I’m hooked, invested, engaged, inspired and enraptured by what Bethesda have built here.

Starfield is quickly becoming my comfort game. Something I’ll throw on to listen to the music, to take in the scope and scale of the world, to mess around my ship and do some missions. The worlds I’ve visited are both beautiful and barren, but also beautiful in how barren they are. Nothing feels too samey, everything has an identity, and there’s so much surface to cover.

I’ve seen the discourse. I’m tired of the discourse. Maybe it’s the pedestal people put the game on, maybe it’s the expectation that it’ll be an industry-changing moment. It isn’t that. But it is, without question, the best thing Bethesda have done since the Xbox Acquisition. So far, at least, and exactly the exclusive the hardware has needed to announce itself on the grand stage.

Starfield has a huge future ahead of it. And it deserves it. Bethesda could spend years building and crafting in this game, giving us new things to see and do and I think I’d be pretty happy. They’ve just gone and built the game they know very well, are comfortable with, and they’ve polished it like never before, added new bells and whistles which enhance the experience, and put an entire galaxy at your fingertips, to explore as you see fit.

It’s as simple as that. It’s as vast as that. And so far it’s making for a fantastic video game in a year that all video games decided to be fantastic.

Starfield is out now in Early Access on Steam and Xbox. It releases officially September 6th

Played on Xbox Series X

Full overview to follow

About the author

Sam Diglett

Sam grew up with a PS2, spending hours howling at the moon in Okami and giving students wedgies in Bully. Fortunately, she also likes Pokemon because otherwise life could have been quite annoying for her.
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