Xbox Series X

Published on September 19th, 2023 | by Andrew Bistak

Starfield Review … a universe is born (Starfield XSX Review) #XSX @bethesda @StarfieldGame

Starfield Review … a universe is born (Starfield XSX Review) #XSX @bethesda @StarfieldGame Andrew Bistak

Summary: If you have the time to spare, Starfield is a worthy investment into another gaming universe that delivers a truly immersive experience


A universe born

One of the most anticipated sci-fi games of 2023 has arrived with Bethesda Game Studios’ Starfield. Fun fact: It is also Bethesda’s first new intellectual property in 25-years and at its heart, is an action role-playing game that takes place “off-earth” in the distant future… 2330 to be precise. Starfield also feels like an amalgam Masterchef recipe of their games Elder Scrolls and Fallout that is mashed with Mass Effect and No Man’s Sky. Or as director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios Todd Howard aptly called it “Skyrim in Space” and yes, a universe is born.


As a game, it’s scope is epic and I can thankfully report that Bethesda have succeeded in creating their next big gaming epic with over 1000 procedurally-generated planets (besides those imperative to the main story that use handcrafted elements) to explore in this PC and Xbox Series X|S exclusive. However there is a limitation to this feature and like No Man’s Sky, the caveat with the planets that while all are able to be explored, don’t expect planet Earth-type environments (more so like Mars) but nonetheless, the illusion of vastness is impressive as are the areas you scout.

To keep you on point with missions, there are markers to assist with navigation so you don’t become lost. And if you do get lost exploring, you will sometimes stumble upon an item or quest that really highlights the exploration mechanics of Starfield. While you could make comparisons with the equally excellent The Outer Worlds, Starfield is considerably more open-world with its ability to go almost anywhere.

While the story is clichéd, it features the classic sci-fi trope of your character being one of the very few beings in the universe who can unlock the powers behind this mysterious artifact that you unwittingly activated. And yes, you need to uncover its secrets but thankfully you have the group known as Constellation, the last of the space explores to help you, including embarking on a variety of different missions as you explore this large sci-fi universe.

So while are you linked to Constellation, you can also choose a variety of different allegiances’ that open up additional story pathways and some are more interesting than the main story. Additionally you will captain on your own starship, including recruiting your own crew (romances are also on the cards) and engage in dogfights with enemy space combatants. This definitely brought back fond memories of Wing Commander, Star Wars Squadrons and more recently Elite Dangerous.

However before engaging in this new IP from Bethesda, the first step it to create your own character from their appearance to various traits and their affiliation. There is also quite a bit of scope in your “character class” such as a bad-ass bounty hunter to something totally on the opposite end like a diplomat. So whether you’re playing as Pilgrim, Bounty Hunter, Soldier or Xenobiologist, these classes go back to the origins of RPG character such as fighter, cleric, thief and wizard but with a modern sci-fi twist. Adding to that is the 300+ skill points that really allows you to become master of your own character’s destiny, including further playthroughs.

When you have completed your character, the first few moments in the game serves as a very rough tutorial, including uncovering the artifact that gives you a spiritual vision that brings you to the mysterious organization called Constellation…welcome to Starfield!

Initially in the game, I felt quite small and insignificant due to the open-world and open-space nature of its design, however as you progress from humble miner, you encounter new characters that helps introduce you to the universe building behind the worlds of Starfield. So yeah, the game is massive and it’s also up to you on whether you want to follow just the main missions or go off on your own tangents.

Like the other IP’s from this gaming development giant, missions range from extraordinary to a little ho-hum but thankfully for the more engaging missions more than make up for this shortfall. Further, the main characters that you meet are well written to help immerse you into both the story of Starfield and their own personal trials and tribulations.

I also like how your affiliation dictates quite a bit of the gameplay such as being a “space” sheriff for the Freestar Rangers or on the flipside, a space pirate with the Crimson Fleet. And right in the middle, there is even a Cyberpunk element that allows you to hack your way through various missions much like the thief character class of Dungeons & Dragons. You can also make a ton a credits in the game that allows you to create bases for your character that again adds a sense of place to this new universe.

As you encounter NPC’s, you will access dialogue trees that allows you to interact with them that like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, it will dictate how some of the interactions will unfold, including the story. This also helps unlock further parts of the story and the universe that Starfield is based in … and there is a lot. Given that, saying the wrong to those you encounter can cause combat to begin in classic Bethesda fashion. Planet based combat is super fun, especially as you progress and build your character with its particular traits and weaponry. Depending on difficulty level, it can range from easy to at times, frustratingly challenging but again, Starfield offers a variety of different ways on how you face combat, not to mention a wide gamut of weaponry at your disposal.

Space combat is fun, although the mechanics are not as complex as Elite Dangerous but they are engaging, challenging and more importantly, feels how a dogfight in space should be. Supporting the battles in space is the intuitive controls on the Xbox Series X controller as you channel your inner Rogue One. However don’t get too fond with your ship as you can upgrade it or sell it to buy a  more powerful one, including plenty of customization options to “level-up” your combat prowess. Speaking of customisation, crafting plays a key component to Starfield that is not only complex but thoroughly detailed in the items that you can create based on various research streams.

Unlike Skyrim, Starfield creates this blockbuster sci-fi epic from its space exploration to planet exploration, interaction with a plethora of characters, a detailed leveling system and combat that works both on the ground and in space. Sure, solar system mechanics are a little unrefined but the ability to just go anywhere you want and explore is worth the admission price alone. Combat is another highlight and it works almost flawlessly on the Xbox Series X and gives you as a gamer, a considerable amount of freedom.

Graphically the game looks fantastic on the Xbox Series X and Bethesda have definitely outdone themselves in creating a new living breathing universe that for the most part looks next-gen on the XSX. Some of the planets look quite stunning and detailed, including a fair share of barren ones but hey… creating that many planets is no easy feat, especially when it comes to computing power and storage size.

Nonetheless, Bethesda succeeded in creating a game that is set not only in our solar system but also the distant future of space exploration and the wider galaxy. Add in a plethora of special effects and realistic lighting and seeing this game unfold on the XSX is a pure treat. Voice acting, music and the sound effects also go hand-in-hand with the graphics and of course gameplay. Speaking of voice acting, I really loved Jake Green as the robot Vasco who brings this warmth and humour to this AI character.

Final Thoughts?

Starfield is a game that needs time and I do mean time. Without time, you cannot do the game justice due to the complex story pathways and exploration mechanics. While the game mechanics are sturdy, there are definitely parallels to Skyrim, however it’s solely a sci-fi experience that fortunately works well with the Creation Engine that was used to build the Bethesda titles of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 76.

So if you enjoyed any of the aforementioned games in this title and you want to boldly go where no gamer has gone before, then Starfield meets this criteria perfectly. And with every new universe, there are bugs but thankfully none were game busters for me and in the end Starfield is an enjoyable new RPG that requires a considerably amount of time to get the most out of this PC and Xbox Series X|S exclusive… I’m still playing it!

Starfield launched September 6 for PC and Xbox Series X|S


    In Starfield the most important story is the one you tell with your character. Start your journey by customizing your appearance and deciding your Background and Traits. Will you be an experienced explorer, a charming diplomat, a stealthy cyber runner, or something else entirely? The choice is yours. Decide who you will be and what you will become.
    Venture through the stars and explore more than 1000 planets. Navigate bustling cities, explore dangerous bases, and traverse wild landscapes. Meet and recruit a memorable cast of characters, join in the adventures of various factions, and embark on quests across the Settled Systems. A new story or experience is always waiting to be discovered.
    Pilot and command the ship of your dreams. Personalize the look of your ship, modify critical systems including weapons and shields, and assign crew members to provide unique bonuses. In deep space you will engage in high-stakes dogfights, encounter random missions, dock at star stations, and even board and commandeer enemy ships to add to your collection.
    Explore planets and discover the fauna, flora, and resources needed to craft everything from medicine and food to equipment and weapons. Build outposts and hire a crew to passively extract materials and establish cargo links to transfer resources between them. Invest these raw materials into research projects to unlock unique crafting recipes.
    Space can be a dangerous place. A refined combat system gives you the tools to deal with any situation. Whether you prefer long-range rifles, laser weapons, or demolitions, each weapon type can be modified to complement your playstyle. Zero G environments add a chaotic spectacle to combat, while boost packs give players freedom to maneuver like never before.”



About the Author

When he's not trying to save the world, Andrew enjoys travel (although loathes turbulence), going to the movies, reading and being a dad to his two dogs (and now twins) with his wife.

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