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4/5 (great)
Fairly brief but very creative game centered on the ability to carry and seamlessly jump into orbs that hold different areas, and using them to figure out how to progress. It wasn’t too difficult for me, but the concept is cleverly executed and makes full use of its time by quickly adding new puzzles with each orb you collect, along with an atmospheric setting that isn’t much explained but is fascinating nonetheless (much like Limbo and Inside as well). Definitely worth checking out!

(Overall: 3/5)
So Starfield… everyone knows what this is and everyone knows how Bethesda RPGs usually turn out, so will just give thoughts on what their new IP supposedly “25 years in the making” does well and what it falls short on compared to their other games. I’ve done all the main and faction quests in my playthrough, and pretty much got my fill of it aside for NG+
First off since it’s likely to be the biggest point of contention about it for most, this isn’t much of an exploration game despite Todd’s unsurprisingly exaggerated marketing claims. In fact I’d even say that despite being set in space with “unparalleled freedom” to explore, this felt like the most constrained and segmented game Bethesda’s made so far. As unlike their previous titles, the gravitation toward just going out on your own and getting lost in their open world was very limited to me for a few reasons
For one there’s no actual overworld like in Elder Scrolls or Fallout, and space itself is not seamless like say No Man’s Sky. Planets you land on and space stations are broken up into hub areas, with central attention clearly going toward the various cities in the game. It may technically be true that there are over 1000 planets, but that’s pretty much meaningless to me as I’ve had little reason to ever venture away from the main systems. If you do decide to land on any procedurally generated planets that aren’t connected to quests, you’ll likely find little of interest on them other than sticking around for outpost building or resource gathering (both of wish I didn’t care for much)
You do own and control a ship which is cool, but it’s only used for dogfighting in zoned areas or docking onto stations. Thus you can’t actually use it to travel directly to planets without going into your starmap and selecting it in the menu. On land you also aren’t able to venture too far from your ship without hitting a map boundary, and obviously this means there are no land vehicles of any kind. Though this honestly didn’t come up enough to matter in my opinion
And on the topic of not being seamless, Bethesda’s made no advancement on limiting how frequent load screens are in their games. They’re still pretty much everywhere, from going into your ship to landing to just opening random small stores in the cities. It’s thankfully just a few seconds at least cause of the SSD, but would probably be unbearable otherwise. So sufficed to say it’s still very dated in this regard, and probably isn’t going to change as long as they stick with their everlasting Creation Engine
I guess a more accurate comparison for how this game actually is would be The Outer Worlds (albeit with a much bigger budget). I don’t exactly think this is a bad thing, but it’s also not really what it was advertised as either. Starfield’s universe tries to give off an impression of how vast in scale it is, but compared to before it ironically doesn’t feel anywhere near as sprawling
Having said all that, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time with it. What it actually does well is different than I expected, it’s kinda as if their focus flipped entirely from exploration to just taking quests. The majority of time I spent was just in dialogue talking to characters in the city areas, which are generally well done and surprisingly dense with a lot of side content. The game does make a pretty poor first impression (the intro especially is not good and jarring in how quickly it pushes you from being some random miner to a member of Constellation), but did get sucked into the game the longer I played once I started focusing on faction questlines or the smaller side ones
There are caveats to this, for one Bethesda’s writing can still be hit or miss and quest design itself is still behind the likes of other RPGs. The main story is… eh, the ideas it has are cool but feel it goes by too quickly to really leave much of an impression. For most of it though I think they’ve improved especially compared to Fallout 4 which bored me to tears with its quests. The Settled Systems is fairly interesting and while the lore isn’t quite as extensive next to Elder Scrolls, it’s solid enough as a sci-fi setting. In regard to companions there’s only 4 main ones, but they’re definitely better than before also. Especially since there’s an affinity system and how they can talk about your decisions often, I mostly stuck with Andreja in my playthrough and she had comments for basically every quest I’ve done which was cool
Starfield is still combat heavy of course, but it’s decent. If you were fine with Fallout 4 then this is pretty close to that with a few improvements in mobility. You get a boost pack and can actually climb ledges which is nice, plus combat slides if you unlock it. Few issues though, not sure if it’s just busted right now but stealth felt pretty worthless. Enemies always seem to detect you regardless of your stealth level or equipment, which got especially annoying when doing stealth focused missions and you can’t avoid getting caught. In those cases I just stopped trying after having to reload a bunch of times
Aside for that, third person combat remains supremely janky to control for me so I only used it just to look at my character. The enemy AI is also as you’d figure if you’ve played their other games (not good), little improvement’s been made there. I also didn’t like how clunky it was to browse the inventory and encumbrance which I’ll forever hate as a mechanic
In regard to visuals Starfield is… mixed? In general it’s a pretty great looking game, the art design for most locations is pronounced and lighting is strong especially with interiors. There are a lot of NPCs walking around in the cities which is cool, but they aren’t exactly detailed either. And when you look at faces (which is very often), it has Oblivion energy with the exact same close up zoom and dead stares when talking to NPCs. It’s an odd thing to still have when even Skyrim didn’t, but I guess has nostalgic charm somewhat
It was said that Starfield’s their most polished game and that’s mostly true in my case, though only relative to their standards. On Series X it’s only 30 FPS and there’s still a fair amount of minor bugs throughout with occasional slowdowns in the city areas. But for the most part it’s fine and not as bad as it could get before
I guess that’s about it for now (this review’s already super long). Ultimately I wouldn’t really say Starfield lives up to the hype it’s built all these years, as it still feels like not enough’s evolved with Bethesda’s formula compared to Fallout 4 almost a decade ago, which holds it back from impressing me more along with its general flaws. That said I did enjoy it more than F4 overall, and if you go in knowing what to expect it can still grab you if you let it, seeing as how I’ve managed to put in over 50 hours already lol

(Overall: 4/5)
Somewhat burnt out from reviews for a bit so I’ll write something for this at some point, but still want to note that this is easily one of my favorites this year. So many great games