By Pablo Vargas |

"Humanity was born on Earth, but it is not condemned to die on it."

February 3, 1994. The classroom remains silent. The teachers hold a rosary in their hands. On the screen of an old television the space shuttle Discovery starts up its main engines. The Costa Rican National anthem plays in the background. And a dozen children watch with wonder and pride as Franklin Chang-Díaz becomes the first Costa Rican and Latin American astronaut to reach outer space and set foot on the MIR Space Station.

For that generation of children who grew up admiring astronauts as true modern heroes, who crossed the skies and carried with them our childhood dreams of being able to one day reach the stars, 'Starfield' is a dream came true. Yes. Todd Howard's new work emerges as a triumphant exploration of the cosmos. This is our review, without spoilers, of the new gem from 'Bethesda Games'.

Starfield: a wonderful and unforgettable cosmic adventure

Set in the year 2330, in a future where humanity has expanded to the stars, 'Starfield' invites players to embark on a deeply personal journey through the unexplored reaches of space. In a truly interesting, emotional, bold and deep story that quickly connects with us, due to the studio's ability to make each step we take in our adventure unique, different and personalized.

In a world in which we can be whatever we want, from doctors, engineers, chefs, artists and diplomats, to mercenaries, cyber agents, soldiers and bounty hunters, the game, from the first moment, gives us absolute freedom in the construction of our own story, with more than 17 classes and more than 300 combinations of skills in which, like any good RPG, we can choose every detail and trait of our character, context, skills, background of their motivations and aspirations.

We are part of an incipient space civilization, teetering on the brink of discovery and danger, in which the search for an artifact will be the spark that ignites a wonderful narrative, which unfolds with grace and good rhythm, as we explore the mysteries. of the cosmos, discovering thousands of secrets that close the gap between human ambition and the infinite expanse of the universe.

Each main mission that reveals the mystery behind the artifacts, each secondary mission - which can take up to 2 hours to complete -, each work of the more than 10 factions and ideological, political, anarchist and religious groups that exist, each event that we discover randomly when talking with various NPC's, each activity of our profession or hidden mission that is activated when having a conversation or finding a document is unique; and this is not something that is said lightly, really, they are different in each game.

"Do not go gentle into that good night"

To give an example of this, in our adventure, we have done three different runs, with three different types of characters. And each mission is different in the way it develops and even in its resolution. The dialogues change. Actions change. The decisions we make make big differences, both in history and in our crewmates. The magnitude and obsession with detail of this personalized space journey, like the universe itself, is unfathomable.

A simple letter, in the middle of nowhere, that we found on the corpse of a repentant father who remembered the last time he caressed his little daughter's face, has taken us on an incredible journey of strong emotions, which has made us cry in more than one occasion. And the most shocking thing is that we are not talking about a main or secondary mission of the game, it is a simple detail in one of the most inhospitable corners of a planet 'x', completely random that has changed the destiny of our game. And like those types of details, there are thousands. Literally thousands. And all perfectly connected to its main story. 

'Starfield' offers a narrative that rivals the great science fiction epics. Without going into spoilers, it's safe to say that the story weaves a captivating tapestry of intertwined stories that keep players interested throughout their cosmic journey, with a group of main, supporting, and even random characters, completely multidimensional and truly memorable with those of us who can have an intimate relationship, get married - and even get divorced - each with their motivations, peculiarities and unique backgrounds. 'Bethesda Games' has skillfully balanced the grandeur of space exploration with character-driven storytelling, taking and narratively perfecting everything they've done as a studio over the past 25 years.

I don't remember, frankly, that level of obsession with details in secondary missions and random events, since 'The Witcher 3', 'Red Dead Redemption 2' and 'Cyberpunk 2077', three of the reference works that I have in the highest esteem. And what 'Bethesda Games' has done is truly to be standup ovation, by offering a completely immersive role-playing game experience set in the immensity of space, full of references to the best of science fiction in literature, the cinema, television and video games. Without spoilers, I think it's one of the best stories we've ever played in our lives.

"We are not meant to save the world, we are meant to leave it..."

From the moment we set our foot in the cosmos, 'Starfield' surprises with its powerful, emotional and beautiful story, but it also does so with its impressive graphics, which at least, in the Xbox Series review, harnesses the full potential of next-generation technology and delivers a visually stunning interpretation of space and celestial bodies.

Planets, star systems and spaceships come to life with an impressive and completely realistic level of detail that makes it feel like what we are experiencing is a future genuinely achievable by humanity. The influence of masterpieces like 'Interstellar' or gems like 'Ad Astra', which show us a distant but realistic future, are perceived in every section and detail of the game, evoking the same feeling of isolation, wonder and scientific curiosity that is found in these cinematic masterpieces.

From the panels of our ship, the propulsion systems, weapons, space suits, helmets, equipment, stations, tools and thousands of objects that we will find on our adventure, it transmits that perfect mix between constructions and designs of our time -with a brilliant obsession with realism and detail-, which show the traces of new advances in terms of materials and technology, making everything feel realistic and genuine, especially the possibility of decorating even the smallest detail of our rooms.

That realism has been transferred to each of the details of its vast and interesting universe, which, being a space RPG, shares more characteristics with titles of the genre such as 'Mass Effect' with each planet created with care and detail, which the generation procedural of planets that we saw in 'No Man's Sky', allowing an experience more focused on narrative exploration, rather than open and unlimited exploration; which makes the planets -divided into grids and landing regions- better designed and secret, making the entire process of discovering new planets, moons, asteroids and satellites more interesting and authentic.

"I don't know how long I've been here...

The atmosphere of 'Starfield' is incomparable and a triumph of the meticulous construction of the vast universe they have created. 'Bethesda Games' has meticulously designed each space station, colony, and planetary surface to immerse players in a universe that feels lived-in and authentic. Each planet is unique. Just as it is also unique, its geography, vegetation, fauna - each with its own programming and unique life -, mutations, mineral resources, night/day cycle in which some last more or less, depending on the distance from the Sun. closest and atmospheric characteristics that affect the character's physics, gravity, state and condition, as well as a huge number of environments.

Whether you're navigating space stations, colonies, or planetary surfaces, each location feels like a living, breathing entity. Exotic species, diverse cultures, and bustling ways of life contribute to a universe that feels genuinely authentic. The attention to detail in the construction of the game world is evident in the various cultures and factions that we will find in every corner of the map, from the technological and neat 'New Atlantis', through the paradise of perversions that is 'Neon', to the sea of planets and worlds full of life that we will find on our adventure.

From small towns, research camps, scientific laboratories, and military bases, through caves, dungeons and material extraction mines, to abandoned ruins, crashed ships, space pirate settlements; Each and every one of these locations is full of random events, stories and secrets that enrich and magnify our experience, one that will take us countless hours to complete in its entirety.

Traveling through a planet from start to finish, depending on the weather conditions and difficulty of the areas, could take us 2 to 3 hours. And if we say that there are at least 1,000 planets, spread across 100 solar systems, each of them with their own moons -which we can also explore-, well, the math takes care of itself. Completing 'Starfield' 100% can take us a lifetime. And we wouldn't regret a single second of it. And yet, exploration is only 25% of the game. 

"When one chooses the path of Mandalore, he is both hunter and prey..."

The combat in 'Starfield' is one of its main strengths and one of the most fun features we have found in the game. Establish our role as 'Bounty Hunter' in the game, and unite them with the initial traits of 'In Search' -which makes our head always have a price and want to be charged by other Bounty Hunters in the game -, mixed with a style of play in the fact that we are neutral mercenaries who have done work for enemy and allied factions alike, has made our adventure a cocktail full of high and strong emotions, which has given free rein to the most spectacular random events and combats that we have enjoyed in years.

Attack and hunt a ship in space, break its shields and defenses, and then make a pirate boarding, enter the ship, eliminate the entire crew in 'Inception' style antigravity combat, capture the target or rescue the hostages of the ship, returning to our ship, only to see that another Bounty Hunter has wanted to collect the price on our head, to engage us in another epic interstellar battle, has been a constant injection of adrenaline that has not only made our adventure more interesting, but it has allowed us to quickly gain experience and, in the process, line our pockets with well-earned space credits with the blood of our enemies.. 

With every well-earned penny and material collected, we can use it to create new equipment in our laboratory, develop new technologies, buy ingredients to make recipes that increase statistics, modify our weapons to completely adjust them to our playing style, and of course, immerse ourselves in the bottomless sea of hours, which has been the customization, down to the smallest detail, of our spaceship, which without a doubt, is one of the highest points of the game and a section that is going to turn upside down, more than a user passionate about engineering and mechanics.

To do this, we will have two paths: go the easy route and look for a specialized technician in one of the major cities and manage the change, or the difficult path, which is longer, but also more realistic, genuine and pleasant, by giving us a whole independent adventure, which is almost another game, within the game and that has captured us from the first moment and has been a bottomless pit of hours, in which we have invested a large part of our game.

"I've seen attack ships go up in flames beyond Orion..."

Our initial ship is modest, but functional, however, as we progress in the game, we can access different types of ships (combat, transport, cruisers or stations) and as we obtain resources we will have the possibility of increasing the capabilities of the ship. vehicle, modify its appearance and also vary the statistics, modifying even the smallest details, both on a technical and visual level.

To do this, we will have to find an abandoned space base and restore it -or find an inhabited one, "empty" it (wink, wink) and take control-, obtain the materials -which we will extract from the different planets we explore-, buy or steal plans in space bases or shops - and which, in turn, are divided according to the type of parts of cabins, engines, wings, weapons, shields, etc. -, unlock design, mechanics, piloting and engineering skills - by accumulating experience points or using these initial skills to level them up -, and finally, get down to work.

With all of the above, like a space aeronautics mechanic, we will be able to dissect and modify the flight cabin, the gravitational and impulse motors, the electrical generators and even the warehouses in which we store our resources; all, without leaving aside, that we can add additional wings for more stability, weapons and improvements to ammunition, defensive shields, sensors to go unnoticed and take our enemy ships by surprise, propulsion systems and even internal decoration that makes our ship, our second home.

Even from the beginning, if we play our cards right and choose the initial skill of 'Dream House', we will have a luxury house. The problem? The mortgage, which at first appears scary on paper, having a weekly payment installment, but in practice, as a 'Bounty Hunter' money, will never be an obstacle. Do you have cash problems to pay the mortgage? Space pirates are like an ATM. Go hunt a few and pay the fee. If you enjoy eliminating enemies, before the first third of the game, you will have paid off your mortgage and the house will be yours. 

"They are not bugs, they are premium features".

We are not going to cover the sun with a finger. It's true. 'Starfield' is not perfect. Yes, it is the least buggy 'Bethesda Games' game they have ever created. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have bugs. There is. In bulk. Most of them are fun, curious and without harm. For such a big and ambitious game, in 50 hours of adventure, I don't think I have found more than 20-30 bugs in the entire game. And furthermore, they are not bugs, they are features that the company's hardcore fans, I am sure, would miss and are never at all annoying.

What can be -for some- like a real stone in the shoe, are the loading times. For every place we explore. We land on the planet, loading screen. We enter a cave, loading screen. We enter a store, loading screen. We open a door, loading screen. This not only cuts the feeling of fluidity and immersion in the game, but also generates visual bugs, where our companions disappear and then appear by magic. These are situations that do not take away the shine, but they do not go unnoticed either, although this can be solved if we take advantage of its spectacular photography mode, and add the option to replace the loading screens with the photos we have taken on our trip. 

A point of success of 'No Man's Sky' was its space exploration system that allowed us to enter and leave planets at will; turning on our ship, jumping into the stratosphere and flying freely, both inside and outside the planet, being very fun and interesting to travel from end to end, finding areas of interest from the ship itself and feeling closer the effect of space adventurers.

In 'Starfield', the above is not possible. To travel to a planet, we must do it from the menu and from there, we make a kind of quick trip, which takes us to 4 or 5 delimited areas -like biomes-, that we can travel and explore; So to travel the planet, we must take off and land from area to area with the ship, without being able to travel freely. The latter is aggravated when, despite being a game from 2023, the title does not have a basic transportation system that allows us to travel inside the planets, as, for example, 'Mass Effect' did have in 2007. , with everything archaic that the M35 Mako was.

Likewise, there is room for improvement, in the issue of rigid and unnatural facial expressions, designs of the NPCs - those of the missions, feel lovingly made, but some seem taken from the NPC library of 'Fallout 3' -, and movements of the enemies and secondary characters are forced, with few realistic physical expressions and even with cold and strange eyes, sometimes they are quite disturbing and show the seams of a graphic engine that in these aspects, can sometimes feel out of date with the current level with other references of the genre.

For example, the in-game conversations with our crewmates, while we are walking, lack that magic, timing and naturalness that the dialogues of games like 'The Witcher 3' (2015) or 'Red Dead Redemption 2' do have ( 2018) or 'Guardians of the Galaxy' itself (2021), which makes them feel dry, and sometimes empty, interrupting or ruining epic or truly emotional moments; or almost non-existent NPC routines, which remind us of the NPC's pre-patch next gen version of 'Cyberpunk 2077'. And don't take this the wrong way, they're not bad. They are great dialogues, but they need a little magic. Although they are not a disaster either. The level of detail of the conversations with other NPCs complement and fill out this section. But there is room for improvement.

"Humanity was born on Earth, but is not condemned to die on it".

And despite all of the above, the impact of 'Starfield' on the video game industry cannot be underestimated. Todd Howard has created a beautiful piece of work that shines in all aspects of the game. From the incredibly rendered planets to the minutiae of spaceship interiors, it's clear that 'Bethesda Games' has pushed the boundaries of what is possible, within its own framework of possibilities and expectations, giving us some of the most beautiful and powerful images ever. we have seen in years.

The concept of an open-world space RPG isn't new, but 'Starfield' takes it to another level. The ability to truly forge your own destiny in the cosmos feels fresh and exhilarating. His attention to detail and realism in creating the vast expanse of the cosmos and the intricacies of various celestial bodies is simply breathtaking. Yes, 'Starfield' is not perfect, it has its flaws, but its situations, although they do not go unnoticed, do not diminish its shine and affect our adventure globally.

The freedom to explore the cosmos at your own pace, trade goods, take on various roles, and shape your character's destiny is a unique and exhilarating experience. Push the limits of what's possible in open-world and space exploration RPGs. And at the same time, it sets a new standard for storytelling, immersion and player freedom. It serves as a testament to what can be achieved when a talented team of developers combine cutting-edge technology with a deep passion for their craft.

With everything and its small failures, today, we suddenly return to February 3, 1994 and that school room, full of children, who saw Franklin Chang-Díaz become the first Costa Rican and Latin American astronaut to reach outer space; while we put on our helmet, we turn on our gravitational engine and we see 'Starfield' be a true dream come true for that entire generation that grew up admiring astronauts as true modern heroes, who sailed through the skies and carried with them our childhood dreams. , to one day be able to reach the stars too.

The good

(+) 'Starfield', along with 'The Witcher 3', 'Ghost of Tsushima', 'Cyberpunk 2077' and 'Red Dead Redemption 2', is one of the titles with main mission systems, activities, secondary missions, orders and most interesting and addictive secrets we have ever played in our lives.
(+) Despite the technical limitations of its graphics engine, 'Bethesda Games' has managed to create a game that borders on perfection, with a very low degree of bugs, stable performance in 90% of the game, which always feels fluid and well built.
(+) The planets, star systems and spaceships come to life with an impressive and completely realistic level of detail that makes it feel like what we are experiencing is a unique experience; Its photo mode has given us some of the best postcards we have ever seen in our lives.
(+) A true gem that instantly becomes a true modern classic, with innovative and completely addictive gameplay, which stands out as one of the best space games ever created.
(+) Offers a narrative that rivals the great science fiction epics, with a plot full of memorable characters that weave a captivating tapestry of intertwined stories that keep players interested throughout their cosmic journey.

The bad

(-) The issue of fast travel full of loading screens, the impossibility of freely navigating the planets and being restricted to biomes, as well as the nonexistence of means of transportation are situations they don't take away the shine, but they don't go unnoticed either.
(-) Despite being the most polished game from 'Bethesda Games', we have found a little number of bugs in our game, most of them fun, which do not ruin the experience.
(-) There is a margin for improvement, in the issue of facial expressions of the NPCs.

Final score: 9/10

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