Starfield's space travel is much better than you think | GAME3A

Starfield's space travel is much better than you think

One of the most frustrating aspects of Starfield is space travel. I have invested far too many skill points into improving my spacecraft before realiz...

Bradley Russell Sept 04, 2023
Starfield's space travel is much better than you think

One of the most frustrating aspects of Starfield is space travel. I have invested far too many skill points into improving my spacecraft before realizing that, apart from space battles that could be straight out of Star Trek, my meticulously upgraded ship serves little purpose other than being another base for me to tinker with while on the go. Unless...

Starfield is quite lacking in tutorials. Despite the sluggish pace at the beginning, there are numerous game systems that would take hours to explain comprehensively. Whether you're building your own spacecraft from scratch or simply attempting to utilize your base for mineral extraction, you will need to experiment and make mistakes extensively before understanding how things work and what limitations you face. The same applies to navigating through the stars.

Many players, myself included, lamented the absence of "proper" space travel in the game. For good reason, one of our guide authors spent four hours flying from Mars' orbit to the planet itself, only for the game to halt him one kilometer away from his destination.


The only way to travel from planet to planet is through fast travel. The same applies to transitioning from orbit to the surface of a planet, from one planet to a moon, or (perhaps understandably) from one system to another. Open the menu, navigate to the map, select the desired system, planet, and landing zone, hold down the X button, and a cutscene and loading screen will follow. Et voilĂ , you have arrived at your destination. It is tedious, monotonous, and fails to immerse you in the universe that Bethesda has created.

While "exploring" Starfield, I often found myself reminiscing about playing Skyrim and the excitement of discovering new cities, camps, and caves while roaming. From the moment of emerging from the Helgen tunnels, one immerses oneself in Tamriel. You see the wildlife and streams, the people and quests; you kill a chicken and battle an entire enraged village. It immediately draws you in, and a significant part of that is forging your own path on foot. You gaze at the mountains themselves, perhaps attempting to ascend one. You follow a fox to prey. You explore the world of Skyrim at your own pace, on your own two feet, and see the world as you would explore it in real life.


In contrast, Starfield immerses you in its story by sending you deep into a mine. It's the opposite of what most people want to do in the game - I want to fly among the stars, not take on a second job in "mining" - and it's tedious. Immediately followed by a major battle that prepares you for what you can expect from this game, you are finally set free to travel swiftly through the stars. It is incredibly disappointing, and the lackluster travel is the biggest letdown in a dull introduction.

However, Bethesda hides a crucial aspect of space travel: your scanner. You know that device you use to determine if a pile of ore on a planet is made of aluminum or titanium? Well, you can use it in space too. And when you do, a multitude of new possibilities open up to you.

Press LB while piloting your ship to activate your scanner. Now you can check the composition of meteorites before blasting them to harvest their resources (yes, you can do that too). Additionally, you can view tags on visible planets within your system.



Would you like to travel from Earth to the Moon - I mean, from Earth to Luna? Open your scanner, and from the pilot's seat, you can simply press the X button to initiate this fast-travel sequence. It can take you surprisingly far within a system and is much more immersive than the usual menu-based method. Yes, you still travel via a loading screen, but it feels more satisfying to plot your course in real space rather than in a game-like menu.

You can also travel directly to your selected quest using this method by hovering over the blue quest marker displayed in the galaxy. Of course, you must adhere to the usual rules of fast travel, which assume that you have already traveled the route to the system, but it still feels satisfying nonetheless.

Space travel in Starfield is still not optimal, but utilizing the onboard scanner makes it somewhat more immersive compared to the menu-based fast travel method that most of us have relied on in our playthroughs thus far.