Starfield Review - To Infinity, But Not Beyond
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Starfield Review - To Infinity, But Not Beyond

It's hard to ponder the infinite possibilities of space and not get romantic about it. Our imagination of the cosmos has taken many artistic forms, and the hard science behind the greatest discoveries on the final frontier has been just as enthralling. It's this sense of wonder that makes the prospect of Starfield so intriguing--even more so than if it were just Bethesda Game Studios' next major RPG. However, it's best to cast aside that love and fascination with space because, at its core, Starfield follows a very familiar formula without meaningfully engaging with its setting or the gameplay systems therein.

Starfield is undoubtedly impressive in scale, from the sheer number of star systems and planets you can explore to the multitude of gameplay mechanics that tie the experience together. But once you start to see how all these big ideas are interconnected from a narrative perspective and technical standpoint, the illusion of a grand cosmic voyage shatters and the veneer starts to wear thin. And so, somewhere along my 55 or so hours spent playing Starfield, I dropped the notion of finding that wondrous space adventure and accepted Starfield for what it is: a shooter-focused RPG in the traditional Bethesda framework that has its wild and fun moments but one that's ultimately a mile wide and an inch deep.

Starfield's main quest is the most emblematic of the game's shortcomings. Despite romanticizing the idea of taking to the stars to explore the great unknown, these narrative ambitions fall into shallow stories that undersell the spacefaring premise. You start as a lowly miner extracting resources for a faceless corporation and within minutes, come in contact with an "Artifact" that activates mysterious visions of something bigger out in the galaxy--a sort of leaving-the-vault moment like in Fallout. You're then shuffled into the ranks of a small organization called Constellation, whose sole purpose is to chase these Artifacts and uncover their purpose. With the handful of characters who make up the group, Starfield tries to instill personality into its story, but consistently weak writing and generic dialogue means these characters--who do have a few interesting moments along the way--largely fall flat.

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