Starfield Is the Best Reason to Have Xbox Game Pass Right Now
To the stars.
Zeitgeists are typically unpredictable. In a world full of so many movies, shows, games, and gadgets, it’s almost impossible to predict what will sweep through the collective consciousness and coalesce into almighty trends. There are rare exceptions. Sometimes we know well in advance that a colossal cultural force is coming and are still taken aback by how popular it becomes. And right now, that means Starfield.
An epic space RPG released by Bethesda Game Studios on September 6 (or August 31 for the early access bourgeoisie) Starfield is already boasting upwards of 6 million players. It is the subject of countless memes and takes. The internet is stuffed with guides and advice. It’s the game everyone is talking about right now. Is it worth playing?
Unequivocally, yes. There’s a lot to like about Starfield. Anyone who’s ever spent time in a BGS game like Skyrim or Fallout 4 already has some idea of what to expect. You’ll play the role of an anonymous hero with basically no past (although you can have parents if you want) who finds themselves tussling with destiny as they attempt to unlock mystical secrets and acquire unimaginable power. You can also fill your spaceship with potatoes.
What Starfield promises is in line with the promise of every BGS game: immersion. You can play however you want, consequences be damned. While it doesn’t have the narrative responsiveness of a Baldur’s Gate 3, a game that reacts with a mind-boggling amount of precision and specificity, it does have much more approachability. It’s a simpler sandbox, one that’s easier to enjoy if you aren’t ready to commit dozens of hours to learn how it all works. Starfield charts a clear course from A to B, even if it is full of menu screens.
The charm at the center of Starfield is how often it can surprise you. Initially, gamer discourse chipped away at the lack of bigness to it all. No, you can’t walk the circumference of every planet in one uninterrupted journey. No, you can’t fly your ship around and land wherever you want. It seemed disappointing until people dove into the game and realized that it’s actually fine to not have to spend hours schlepping around everywhere and that fast travel lets you get to the good stuff.
And the good stuff is bountiful. Starfield is full of found narrative and exciting moments that feel unique to you and your experience. You’ll land on some random planet and find a resort or a casino that wasn’t marked on any map. A random spaceship encounter can set off a new questline, or a strange NPC will send you on a silly errand. All the while, there are space pirates and nefarious factions everywhere delivering shootouts with the best gunplay the studio has ever produced.
Then there’s the spaceships. A robust ship builder allows you to create custom designs, or you can buy (or steal) one. Ship-to-ship dogfights are a new mechanic for BGS, and they’re awesome. You do need to unlock some basics on the skill tree, like targeting systems and defensive thrusters, but once you have the fundamentals at your disposal it is an absolute blast to pick space fights. You can even disable a ship’s engines and board it in true pirate fashion, taking the whole vessel as your prize. Got too much loot? Don’t worry, you can build outposts to store your stuff, collect resources, and jumpstart a small economy that will fuel your adventures for a long, long time.
Starfield is the Costco chicken of Game Pass. An absurd deal that doesn’t make sense, but the real purpose is to get you subscribed and keep you around once you’ve had your fill. But unlike the Costco chicken, this doesn’t stink after a week.