I’m sorry Todd. I’m a big fan of your work. Fallout. Skyrim. All that good stuff. Legendary games that are some of my favourite AAA open-world experiences, period. Hundreds of hours invested on multiple platforms. Fallout 4 was one of the first games I installed on my Steam Deck, just for the novelty of being able to take it along with me on a journey. The Elder Scrolls Online is a living, breathing masterpiece set in the expansive world of Tamriel. That also works great on my Steam Deck, after some tweaking. Don’t really like the monetization side of it, but I’ll let it slide. Fallout 76 was straight-up disappointing. Starfield though? The most painfully boring game of 2023.
When does the fun actually start?
Editor’s Note: potential light very early game spoilers start here.
I know a lot of time and money was invested in it. I know that it’s the first new franchise in however many years. But an hour into the game, and almost nothing has happened? A weird acid trip caused by a magic crystal on a dead barren moon. Some time fiddling with spaceship shields, followed by the dullest space battle imaginable. Then a loading screen to land on another barren planetoid. And not even a patented Bethesda open-world reveal. Kinda lame.
I’ve played indie games that tell a more heartwrenching and compelling story in less time. I’ve played a more engaging space sim that takes a while to get started. Yes, I’m talking about No Man’s Sky. I will be honest, a fair portion of my first hour in Starfield was spent picking up every single little item that wasn’t bolted down. Because I always become an obsessive kleptomaniac in games like this. In the back of my mind, I was preparing myself to be invested in a massive time sink of a game. Plus, I needed Credits to pay off that fancy villa I gained thanks to the Dream Home trait. And to send off to Mum and Dad because I also picked the Kid Stuff trait. Why would I do those things if not in an attempt to become fully invested??
Editor’s Note: potential light very early game spoilers end here.
But I didn’t even go the distance. I shouldn’t really be surprised though. It’s a running joke at this point that modders mod out the first part of a Bethesda game. Does anyone really want to sit through the intro of Fallout 4 any more times than is strictly necessary? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
An epic universe… full of other games to play
My problem is this. My time on Earth is short. There are many games in the world. And my backlog is growing ever larger. Especially now I have easy access to a handheld that benefits greatly from places like Humble Bundle and Fanatical. Why should I waste my time slogging through a dull first few hours to maybe, hopefully, get to an interesting part of the gameplay?
I’ve been deep-diving into a bunch of smaller games lately. Subnautica Below Zero. Hell Pie. Kao the Kangaroo. Janitor Bleeds. Evil West. Horticular. All of which hooked me right from the start. Are they all the best games ever? No. But at least they are fun. And got me invested in their weird and wonderful worlds straight away.
The saddest thing is, I’ve felt zero hype for Starfield since I first heard about it. I sat through the trailers. Pre-installed it on my Xbox Series X. Even bought a month’s subscription to Game Pass specifically to play it. With the express desire to buy a physical version if I loved it. Much like I do with many games. Despite being granted review copies before the release of both, I bought physical copies of Arcade Paradise and Scars Above in a similar way. I wanted to be on board the same hype-train as so many other people. I wanted a big epic funtime space adventure. But I’ve just felt nothing.
Keanu Reeves and Jack Black are awesome
Let’s be clear though. This isn’t me raging over pronouns. This isn’t me taking part in the console wars. I’m not crying for a refund. I’m just a guy with a dwindling amount of free time left. A guy who has a chunky backlog of more enjoyable games to play. Someone who is in part lamenting that he doesn’t have hours upon hours to invest in a single game anymore. Or really has the desire to. Some people may argue that I’ve got to invest more time past the first hour to get to the good stuff. Why though? I’m not obligated. I don’t have a gun pressed to my head whilst the wielder demands I play Starfield.
And I certainly don’t need to have an obscene amount of time invested in something to have an opinion on it. I think Keanu Reeves and Jack Black are some of the most wholesome people of all time, but I don’t have movie posters of every single one of their films hanging up on my wall.
My opinion may be dismissed by people because of my lack of time playing. Not my problem. For some, Starfield is a solid game-of-the-year candidate. For some, it is a smoldering wreck of a game that justifies that the Xbox is a dead console, and that Bethesda and Microsoft should just die already. To me, it’s a big fat meh. Something that couldn’t hold my attention past the first hour. I dunno. Maybe I’m finally transitioning into a bitter old man. Next, I’ll be telling them damn kids to keep off my lawn. Good-for-nothing toerags!
What was I complaining about again?
Oh yeah. I think Starfield is boring. And I recommend you spend more time playing indie games. I guess that’s my point if you want something to take away from this article.