Our review of Starfield went live last week, and to say the least, we absolutely adore Bethesda’s newest sci-fi RPG, thanks to its incredible setting and worldbuilding, the boundless level of player freedom and agency it provides, its deep and engaging role playing mechanics, the excellent ship building, and so much more. But no game is ever perfect, and Starfield isn’t a game without its issues either. Many of those issues have been pointed out and highlighted by players in recent days, and here, we’re going to talk about a few in particular that have stood out.
Encumbrance can be a divisive mechanic among gaming audiences, to say the very least, and while BGS games have always made players contend with inventory limits, they feel brutally strict in Starfield. Given the amount of things you’re picking up in Starfield at all times – from weapons to armor to resources and much more – it’s surprising how quickly your inventory can max out. Even if you expand your inventory to the max, it still feels a bit too limiting, while even using companions as mules and dumping your excess items in your ship’s cargo doesn’t do too much to help, because those quickly get maxed out as well.
NO LOCAL MAPS
The lack of local maps in Starfield is perhaps one of its most confusing omissions. When you’re on a planet, while you can pull up a surface map, it’s basically just a grid that’s completely lacking in detail and only shows the spots you can fast travel to. Navigating cities without having a map that you can look at can make for some confusion, especially when you’re trying to look for vendors that sell specific items.
QUEST LOG AND QUEST TRACKING
Starfield’s quest log feels a bit barebones in what it presents. While it does categorize quests across groups like main missions, faction missions, activities, and the like, basic sorting options – like sorting missions based on location – aren’t available, which, given how much you’re hopping around from place to place in the game, seems like an oversight. Additionally, the log itself isn’t very descriptive about where you’re at in a quest- though you do get a brief description of the mission when it initiates, that description doesn’t update as you progress further, which means that if you’re coming back to a quest after a while and don’t quite remember at what point you’d left its particular story, there’s no real way to get your bearings again.
ENEMY AND COMPANION AI
BGS has crammed Starfield full of an impressive variety of weapons, ranging from shotguns to rifles to pistols to laser pistols to electromagnetic weapons and so much more. That variety, combined with the tightest and punchiest shooting mechanics in a BGS game to date, makes for solid, consistently enjoyable combat. Every now and then though, the AI starts acting up, which can take away from the combat experiences. Both your enemies and your companions have the tendency to randomly start behaving quite erratically, from standing out in the open as target dummies to running through a storm of gunfire without any regard for safety. Thankfully, the AI has received some significant upgrades from past BGS titles, though instances like these do still pop up every now and then.
One thing that a lot of players have noticed is how quickly you can run out of ammo in Starfield– though that’s not because there’s a shortage of ammo to be found. No, the problem is that there’s a multitude of different ammo types that can be used, and not all of them work with every weapon. When you pick up an ammo type or buy more ammo from a vendor, the game also doesn’t really tell you which of your weapons it will work with, which can make for plenty of unnecessary confusion.
NO LAND VEHICLES
Starfield goes above and beyond in terms of letting you be the spaceship pilot you’ve always dreamed of being, thanks to its tight and enjoyable spaceflight controls and the level of freedom you’re afforded in building whatever ship you want to build. When you’re on land, however, things are a little different, because the game doesn’t give you any traversal options other than walking or sprinting to your locations (other than using your boost pack, that is). Of course, in dense city hubs, that isn’t really a huge issue, but on the hundreds of uncharted planets scattered throughout the Settled Systems, exploration and traversal does suffer due to the lack of land vehicles.
CLUNKY UI AND MENUS
Starfield’s user interface and menus need plenty of work in the coming weeks and months. For a game that has this much going on, designing a UI that’s simultaneously clean, quick, and informative is always going to be a massive challenge, but Starfield doesn’t necessarily succeed on any of those fronts. Menus are often too cluttered, and yet they’re not always as informative as you want. In addition to the aforementioned lack of detail in the quest log, for instance, the game also doesn’t show you details on weapons or loot that you can pick up, so you don’t really know if it’s even worth picking up. You just have to pick it up and check out the item in your inventory to decide if you want to keep it. Meanwhile, simple actions can also require multiple button presses and more menu navigation than they should. Fast travelling from system to system, for instance, has you going in and out of multiple menus and sub-menus, which maybe wouldn’t be as big of a problem if you weren’t doing it as often as you do in this game.
BUGS AND TECHNICAL ISSUES
Starfield is, without a doubt, the least buggy a Bethesda RPG has been in a long, long time, if not ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s not buggy at all. Severe issues like crashes and bugs that block progress in quests are, thankfully, not nearly as common as you might expect from a BGS game (though you might still encounter them if you’re unlucky), though more minor issues can be found pretty frequently. That can characters walking into each other or into objects, NPCs speaking to you with their backs turned, faces not animating properly, and the like.
Starfield is a ridiculously massive game, and has a multitude of systems that players can lose themselves in, which, given how much depth they all boast, never fails to be immensely rewarding. But getting to that point can be a little rough for some, because the game also isn’t great at tutorializing. While you can pick things up on your own once you start testing things out for yourself to see how they work, ideally, the game should do a much better job of introducing players to different systems and mechanics and getting them familiar with how they work.
NOT A SEAMLESS OPEN WORLD
Unlike most other things that we’ve spoken of here, this isn’t an issue that BGS can address with post-launch patches (short of redesigning the whole open world, which they obviously aren’t expected to do), but it is an issue that many have pointed out. Starfield, like all prior BGS RPGs, isn’t a seamless open world. Interiors of buildings, planets, space, and often even single rooms are separated from each other by loading screens. Moving from one instanced environment to the other is something you’ll be doing a lot of in this game, which means you’ll encounter plenty of load screens (though thankfully they never last more than a few seconds). Having a massive open world game where you can seamlessly fly through space, land on a planet, and take off again, all without ever hitting a load screen, would obviously have been the dream scenario- though Starfield, sadly, hasn’t taken that approach.