During the months prior to the release of Starfield, what was known about spaceflight was repeated over and over again in various media. For example, the point that you couldn’t take off and fly through the atmopshere into space like you can in Elite Dangerous or No Man’s Sky, was been regurgitated endlessly.
As a huge fan of both ED and NMS, it made me weary. As much as I like Skyrim, the Fallout series and other RPG’s, I’m also a huge fan of ED and NMS. I was concerned, as many others, that the space flight experience wouldn’t be up to par.
Now that I’ve had a chance to play Starfield for about a week, I readily admit that spaceflight is nowhere near ED and NMS. In fact, spaceflight feels almost like a tacked on feature that’s there only to take you from point A to point B, with a little side mission in space here and there. The fact that you can fast travel from a ground location on one planet to another without even setting foot on the spacecraft makes that point even better. In fact, I have to admit, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to it.
When you actually do fly in space in Starfield, the jumps between systems, the take-offs and landings, as well as docking and undocking from space stations, is serviced primarily through short cutscenes.
But, after putting in almost 18 hours, that’s ok. Because ultimately, Starfield isn’t a space flight simulator like ED.
As much as I love ED, one of my main gripes with ED is actually the space travel. I don’t mind it, per se. Quite the contrary. However, it’s hard to deny that going through the full flight sequenece of flight from one station to another takes a lot of time. If you load up your ship with cargo to go to another system, you have to take off and exit the space station. Then you need to put some space between yourself and the space station before you can jump. The jump itself, although not very long, does add a bit of time, especially if there’s an interdiction. Then, approaching the station, docking etc. Yep, it all takes time.
Although I like this part of the game, as I mentioned, it does take time. It’s also one of the main reasons I play ED very little these days. I just don’t have the time. In fact, my play sessions are often less than an hour at a time because of work, family etc. ED isn’t practical with those kind of timeframes.
Starfield, however, is. One of my favorite aspects of Starfield at the moment is the fact that it doesn’t take long to get into the game. From the point I click Play in the XBox app, it’s less than a minute to get into my last saved game. With the ability to quickly get from one place to another, it’s easy to keep up with the game because it can be played in shorter sessions than other games. The ability to fast travel helps immensely in these situations.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I rarely fast travel from planet to planet. I do enjoy the process of heading into space and all that. But, I like that I have the option available to me when I’m pressed for time, and although I do feel that it diminishes the space faring aspect of Starfield by quite a bit, the game as a whole gains from it. Considering Starfield is an RPG, not a space flight simulator, I think that’s ok. In fact, for me, it just means I get more done in the game, I progress quicker and it’s just more enjoyable.
What do you think?