I have serious issues with Starfield's injury system
Starfield is Bethesda's attempt at a realistic portrayal of space. The developer referred to it as NASApunk, a phrase that previously had no meaning, ...
Starfield is Bethesda's attempt at a realistic portrayal of space. The developer referred to it as NASApunk, a phrase that previously had no meaning, to coin a term that accurately describes Starfield's more down-to-earth, realistic style of science fiction. In many ways, Bethesda succeeds in this endeavor. Starfield feels like one of many possible future visions, where humanity, as a space-traveling species, strives to colonize whatever it desires while still engaging in warfare against one another. Corruption and capitalism also maintain a firm grip on our societies, even after hundreds of years under the stars.
In many ways, however, its realism poses a hindrance. There are so many ways in which the fidelity to life ultimately leads to a gameplay system that has me tearing my hair out. For one, it takes an eternity to travel between planets in your spaceship, which is why I rely on fast travel everywhere—I'm not particularly bothered by it since I intended to do so anyway, but many players have an issue with it. I'm constantly on the lookout for ways to earn money because I never have enough credits to purchase a new spaceship. And damn it, the injury system gives me headaches.
In Starfield, believe it or not, there are a whopping 18 status effects called "afflictions," each requiring a specific remedy. I got frostbite because I lingered in the Red Mile for too long, and my healing paste was on the ship, so I had to brave the cold again to retrieve it. During a battle with a surprisingly large and hostile creature, I broke one of my limbs and needed an immobilizer to fix it. An infection? Antibiotics. A puncture wound? Bandages. A brain injury? An injector.
Each status effect has a prognosis that describes how likely it is for you to recover from it on your own. Over time, the prognosis improves, but you only start to recover from it at a certain point. Some ailments cause secondary effects, such as a cut that causes "pain" and depletes your oxygen every time you take damage. I understand that it's meant to reflect real life, but damn, isn't it annoying? Healing the ailments also doesn't restore your health, and you know how in Skyrim food is pretty good at healing you? Not so in Starfield. I've collected so many healing items to be prepared for emergencies where I run out of medpacks, only to find out that each healing item only restores a maximum of five health. At this point, it's easier to seek out a doctor and beg them to treat me. Mass Effect's omnigel, a strange medical gel that healed all sorts of ailments, would be preferable to Starfield's list of realistic medications.
It's not like everything in Starfield is realistic, and that's why this bothers me so much. The developers have obviously tried to balance realism with fun and practicality, but it seems like a large part of the game's realism is about making things slower and more complicated. Anchoring the game's story is important, yes, especially because the main quest sends you on a hunt for mysterious artifacts. But when it comes to actually playing the game, realistic mechanics burden the gameplay as much as having too many adjustable frames in my backpack.