Starfield: A Vast Universe to Explore
Starfield, the upcoming space RPG from Bethesda, is a game that will require a considerable time investment to truly understand its gameplay. The head of publishing at the studio, Pete Hines, admits that it took him around 50 hours to finish the main quest, with another 80 hours sunk on side quests before the game “really got going.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Hines explains that Starfield's vastness is both exciting and overwhelming. With over a thousand explorable planets and potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay, it's easy to see why players are eager to jump in and explore the galaxy.
However, expecting players to spend hundreds of hours on a game before it reveals its true essence is a cause for concern. Hines admits that, after around 150-160 hours of playtime, he still feels he hasn’t come close to fully experiencing the game.
“Starfield has been a real eye-opener for me in that it’s a game I think I’m going to be playing for a long time,” Hines explains. “I’m not done with it and I don’t feel like I’m done with it. It’s a game that, like I say, I’m not even close to being done with and I’m not even close to figuring out everything it does.”
With so many planets to explore, and potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay, this is certainly true. However, having played many of Bethesda’s games myself, I can say that they are typically sprawling and time-consuming – so much so that the addition of a New Game+ mode to Starfield, a peculiar choice given its single-player focus, feels like a concession to players who might otherwise be concerned about sinking so much time into the game.
On the one hand, demanding players to invest countless hours in a game before it reaches its peak is unrealistic. Not everyone has the time or inclination to devote years to a single game at the expense of other releases, hobbies, and outdoor activities. On the other, we are in the midst of a year filled with countless enticing releases, many of which will be competing for the time of the same players who might otherwise be drawn to Starfield.
Ultimately, we won’t know whether Starfield lives up to the anticipation until we play it for ourselves. However, describing a game that, at its core, promises to be similar to Skyrim and Fallout 4 in its open-ended, go-where-you-please approach as one that requires hundreds of hours to “get going” strikes me as a cause for concern.