Starfield: Exploring the Vast Universe
Starfield’s vast, empty spaces feel like a betrayal. I’ve spent days exploring Bethesda’s new RPG, and despite leaving my mark on the universe in many ways, I’ve encountered very few people and even fewer cities. It’s a shock, because Starfield’s scale feels like a betrayal. After all, some planets don’t even have a moon. What am I supposed to do with myself on those?
The most disappointing thing about Starfield is that its scope isn’t its greatest asset. After all, Skyrim’s breadth was what made the game so special, but its depth was lacking. Starfield has the same issue, except its scope is far, far greater. As I explore a galaxy filled with thousands of planets and space stations, I realise that Starfield’s map is so big because it has to be. It’s a consequence of trying to map a universe with no compromise, and it’s amazing.
In Starfield, you play as Constellation, a rugged Captain with a chequered past. The game’s narrative is about mapping this universe and finding meaning in the people and places you encounter along the way. That’s it, really. There’s no big bad, no big conflict, and no world-ending threat. It’s just Constellation and her crew searching for alien life.
Because of this, there’s no need for seamless travel to exist between planets. It’s not like you can just walk from Manhattan to Tokyo, so why should you be able to travel between planets? Instead, there are loading screens and fast travel. It’s a little disappointing, but the scope of Starfield is so large that it doesn’t matter.
I realise this is a matter of opinion, but similar to Skyrim, Starfield offers breadth instead of depth. There are many locations that you’ll visit repeatedly, and they’ll all start to feel the same after a while. This is especially true of the dungeons, which make up the bulk of Starfield’s gameplay. It’s not a new problem for Bethesda games, but it’s even more apparent in Starfield because of the sheer scale.
Despite all this, Starfield’s emptiness is its greatest asset. Bethesda’s first foray into a fully-fledged sci-fi universe is filled with heartwarming stories and lonely planets. It captures the sense of discovery and exploration, planting your flag on decaying space rocks and battling strange creatures. The sense of wonder that comes from exploring a world as big as this one is unmatched.
In truth, Starfield is one of the largest RPGs ever released when it comes to sheer scale. But not everything is worth exploring. There are many places in Starfield that I won’t be visiting again, partially because they’re filled with enemies that can wipe me out in seconds, but also because they’re devoid of anything interesting. A planet might have an interesting quest, but is it really worth exploring if it’s just a small settlement filled with NPCs that I’ve met a hundred times before?
The sheer scale of Starfield is one of its most exciting features, but it’s also one of its most disappointing. The emptiness of Starfield’s universe is a consequence of its scope, and while it feels like a betrayal, it’s actually a strength. While it may not be the stuffed RPG heaven we were all hoping for, there are many hidden gems and memorable stories to uncover, making Starfield’s empty universe well worth exploring.