The beginning of Starfield is clearly the worst part of it | GAME3A

The beginning of Starfield is clearly the worst part of it

Starfield is the largest game ever developed by Bethesda, hence it is natural that it desires to shed its training wheels and immerse us into its expa...

Hirun Cryer Aug 31, 2023
The beginning of Starfield is clearly the worst part of it

Starfield is the largest game ever developed by Bethesda, hence it is natural that it desires to shed its training wheels and immerse us into its expansive universe as swiftly as possible. It has been captivating to spend countless hours embarking on quests with various factions and exploring each new planet I encounter, all while shaping the personality and relationships that will define my character's story. However, all of this would have been far more powerful had the foundations not been so superficial and if more time had been devoted to setting the stage before handing me my first spaceship and urging me never to look back. Starfield is excessively hasty.

It takes less than 30 minutes to explain our character, the world around them, and the general circumstances of the upcoming adventure, so attempting to digest everything presented to us is nothing short of overwhelming. You begin the game as a miner working for the Argos Corporation, under the guidance of Overseer Lin, which is a nice reference to the doctor who delivered you from your mother in Fallout 3. She instructs you to follow the orders and not to do anything foolish as you descend into a nearby mine in search of the mysterious artifact that sets the narrative in motion. After a brief stroll and the extraction of some random minerals, you are sent down a dimly lit corridor where an artifact awaits your arrival.

Accept it, and you will experience a vision, lose consciousness, and awaken in a nearby facility, ready to create your character. After making a series of decisions about your background story and attributes, you will be led outside where a ship piloted by Barrett, a founding member of a peculiar group called Constellation, lands. Without hesitation, he invites you to join. Pirates emerge from orbit to initiate a battle, you are given a ship, and the universe is essentially at your feet. That is the entire setup, and I'm fairly certain I have explained it here in real-time. Your initial journey to New Atlantis and the introduction to The Lodge - an extensive home base where all your companions and equipment reside - could be considered part of the setup, but since it is a new planet with multiple other quests and characters to discover, I do not classify it as such.

Starfield’s Opening Is Easily The Worst Thing About It

Starfield clearly signifies that you are intended to be like a blank slate, with your entire life up to this point being decided by yourself. I appreciate this level of narrative and mechanical freedom, but it hampers immersion when your circumstances are so open-ended. Even Fallout 4 took some time to establish that you have a loving spouse and/or an infant, only to witness them vanish during a nuclear apocalypse attack. Skyrim also has a more substantial, script-based introduction that prompts you to join either the Imperials or Stormcloaks in an exciting action sequence featuring fire-breathing dragons. Fallout 3 is the best of them all because it doesn't shy away from being self-contained for a significant amount of time. Most of its crucial mechanics are explained as you grow from an infant to an adult, and tragic events then compel you to step out into a post-apocalyptic wasteland that you and your character have never seen before.

We proceed with a simultaneous goal and necessity, discovering everything for the first time with a sense of awe-inspiring curiosity. It is a marvelous fish-out-of-water approach that a game like Starfield could have benefited from. Instead, it begins with an obvious whimper. My colleague Ben Sledge agreed, and during the testing period, we quickly developed alternatives that would have significantly improved the initial impression. What if we could create our character first and then be offered a home planet based on selected traits and background information, encouraging replayability and providing a reason to be different? Take the origin stories from something like Dragon Age: Origins and push them further ahead.

Starfield’s Opening Is Easily The Worst Thing About

Suddenly, we come across an ancient artifact and bring a member of the Constellation to our doorstep. We are told that this is our destiny, and we can choose whether to join them or face the consequences. This would create personal stakes that connect us to the impending story and justify our decision to either join the cause or approach it with reservations. I would like to spend time getting to know my friends, family, and culture on my home planet instead of being labeled as a stranger in a foreign land, confused for hours. Ultimately, what we end up with is a great role-playing game, but the freedom it offers would have benefited from an initial phase of orchestrated isolation. Without it, it suffers.