Starfield Review Roundup – Shoot for the moon

Starfield has achieved a strong mix of positive reviews on launch, with many praising the game's worldbuilding and atmosphere.
Starfield Direct Xbox Game Showcase Bethesda

Starfield reviews have officially hit the web, with a range of opinions from critics illuminating more details about the spacefaring adventure. In ready and analysing reviews, it’s always important to remember these are subjective, opinion-based pieces that will differ vastly based on critic preferences and enjoyment. They don’t impact your own experiences – and the simple fact is that everyone brings their own gut feelings to the game.

That’s likely why there’s such a vast array of review scores for Starfield – with the game achieving everything from five-star scores to less-effusive 7s. There appears to be strong variance, with some praising the game’s atmosphere and aesthetic, and others criticising its emptiness, and lack of true open-world exploration.

In GamesHub‘s four-star Starfield review, we called it a game of “stunning set pieces”, but one that required some imagination to become truly immersive.

“With an impressively ambitious scope, Starfield is a playset that encapsulates our entire known universe and several more beyond it, stuffed with innumerable concepts, stories, characters, and possibilities. Much of it is compelling,’ reviewer Edmond Tran wrote. “Starfield’s ideas provide a fantastic spark of inspiration – a big bang, even – but your own enthusiasm and imagination are ultimately needed to realise the full picture.”

Read: Starfield Review – Across The Universe

Let’s dive in with what the critics are saying about Starfield.

IGN – 7/10

Dan Stapleton of IGN claimed he felt “lost in space” while exploring Starfield, with the game requiring him to “work hard” to get through its dense opening stretch. Even beyond this, Stapleton outlined a range of challenges that impeded his overall enjoyment of the game.

“Even when it mostly righted the ship and I was loving the story, sidequests, and launching boarding parties on enemy ships, there were still too many problems that constantly popped up, forcing me to curb my excitement,” Stapleton wrote. “It’s a bit like Starfield’s own elaborate shipbuilder tool: even though you can slap a bunch of high-end parts together and it will technically fly, sometimes it’s just not the best fit.”

Despite this, Stapleton shared high praise for the game’s roleplaying-style quests, and its robust combat system.

VGC – 5 Stars

On the opposite side of the pond, VGC reviewer Jordan Middler shared a strong review for Starfield, awarding it five stars for its sense of grandeur, wonder, and adventure. Middler called its possibilities intoxicating, and praised its jaw-dropping scale, which inspired the game to “invade [his] dreams”.

“There are few games as overwhelming as this. Starfield feels like that moment when you first emerge from Vault 101 in Fallout 3, gawping at its scale, expanded across an entire game.  The sense of wonder, adventure, and possibility is an intoxicating trick that never wore off during our 100+ hours with the game,” Middler wrote.

“The result is what’s easily Bethesda’s most accomplished title. While nothing Starfield does is truly revolutionary to the genre, what it does do it does so well, and at such a jaw-dropping scale, that after we’d started playing we thought about it every morning, every night, and then it even invaded our dreams.”

Press Start Australia – 9/10

Brodie Gibbons of Press Start Australia shared a similar sentiment to VGC, praising the game for its ability to inspire wonder in players, and allow them to explore vast and impressive worlds. Gibbons also noted the game’s strong combat, and the deep narrative and lore of its world.

Starfield isn’t just a tremendous role-playing game, it’s one giant leap for a studio that has graduated from creating worlds for players to explore to creating a whole cosmos,” Gibbons wrote.

Starfield has all of the hallmark design of a Bethesda Game Studio game, to the point that if what you’re after is The Elder Scrolls or Fallout in outer space, this is it. Fallout depicts a world torn apart by an unending war, while Starfield presents a united mankind, who have ventured beyond what’s known to discover what’s out there and what’s next for its people. And it’s that spirit and sense of curiosity that’s prevalent throughout every moment of Starfield, through its near twenty-hour mainline quest, and the countless stories that await your intervention across a staggeringly big universe.”

GameSpot – 7/10

GameSpot reviewer Michael Higham shared a different take on the possibilities of Starfield, calling its RPG systems shallow and uninspired, leading to the overall journey feeling somewhat empty. While he praised the scale and ambition behind the game, Higham found its sense of wonder wore thin quickly.

“Starfield is undoubtedly impressive in scale, from the sheer number of star systems and planets you can explore to the multitude of gameplay mechanics that tie the experience together. But once you start to see how all these big ideas are interconnected from a narrative perspective and technical standpoint, the illusion of a grand cosmic voyage shatters and the veneer starts to wear thin,” Higham wrote.

“Somewhere along my 55 or so hours spent playing Starfield, I dropped the notion of finding that wondrous space adventure and accepted Starfield for what it is: a shooter-focused RPG in the traditional Bethesda framework that has its wild and fun moments but one that’s ultimately a mile wide and an inch deep.”

PC Gamer – 75/100

Christopher Livingston of PC Gamer liked Starfield overall, calling it a “fun collision” of structured quests and unpredictable RPG systems. But he did find the game “unusually straightforward” – and confessed to lacking a sense of love for the game.

Starfield’s introduction is unusually straightforward for a Bethesda RPG, and the first handful of places you visit, including the game’s capital city of New Atlantis, are pretty dull,” Livingston said. “It took about a dozen hours before I started really enjoying it, but after rolling credits on the main quest with one character and ignoring that quest to become an aspiring drug kingpin with another, I can finally say that, in the end, I like Starfield.”

“But I don’t love Starfield. And that’s genuinely disappointing because with the exception of Fallout 76, I’ve loved each of Bethesda’s RPGs since 2006’s Oblivion.

GamesRadar – 5 Stars

Rounding out the major critic scores, Leon Hurley of GamesRadar also gave Starfield the coveted five stars, for its “expansive and beautifully crafted open world”, and its sense of adventure. Hurley particularly enjoyed Starfield‘s worldbuilding and characters, and its strong combat – and while he noted the game is frequently overwhelming, this didn’t dampen his experience.

Starfield isn’t really a game you play to complete, it’s more about living whatever sort of life you want in the literal universe Bethesda has created,” Hurley said. “Whatever you’re thinking of doing, you almost certainly can do it, and the scale is almost a release in a way – you’ll probably never see or do it all, so just enjoy the moment. There’s months, if not years, of discoveries buried away in here, and even after 80 hours I can’t wait to see more.”

Starfield is now available in early access. Its general release on PC and Xbox Series X/S is dated for 6 September 2023.

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Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.