A New Atlantis Penthouse saved my Starfield Experience – Opinion
I’m starting to believe that massive space games have some type of curse. No Man’s Sky, Star Citizen and now Starfield, all couldn’t live up to the galactic promises that they made.
I mean, how can they? It’s called the Final Frontier for a reason, it’s not supposed to be easy. One of gaming’s biggest nosedives also became one of gaming’s biggest comebacks when No Man’s Sky started surpassing their initial promises and eventually became a fully-fledged, feature-complete game. But even then, it merely scratched the surface of what sci-fi space games can be capable of.
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Starfield, on the other hand, had Bethesda’s legacy behind it. Decades of planning started leading up to a monstrous release. Todd Howard was parading in the streets and Microsoft put all their support behind it (those billions aren’t going to make themselves back). When it was released it was met with a collective, “we don’t really know what to think of it, but it’s what you can expect from another Bethesda game”. It’s merely a “pretty alright” on Metacritic. So, not the grand space extravaganza we were hoping for, then.
I went into the game with these preconceived notions and pass-through reviews in mind and made the decision that I don’t care, I’m simply going to do what I want. It’s on Game Pass, so I had no friction in playing it and no sunk-cost fallacies either. I wanted to go on space adventures and this game certainly offers that in droves. However, my first impressions fell in line with a lot of the discourse I’ve been hearing.
Loading screens everywhere you go, empty-feeling planets, a general sense of purposelessness and that Bethesda magic spark that enchanted me as a kid just wasn’t quite there. I felt a tiny bit dejected, but I was still having a good time blasting dudes in the spacepack and seeing them violently bounce to the ceiling. And I stayed true to my initial promise, I am just going to go with the flow and see where the stars take me.
Where it all started
I accepted a straightforward combat mission at the UC when I first arrived on New Atlantis and had no idea that I accidentally embroiled myself in a galactic-level threat. There was a definite sense of “I don’t know, I just got here”, but I was enjoying the space drama that was unfolding around me. To cut a long story short, I saved the galaxy and for my efforts, I got a penthouse suite with one of the prettiest views in the game. This is where things got real.
I had this gorgeous yet starkly empty space and I had the problem of completely sucking at doing anything aesthetic. I’ve played hundreds of survival games and I always end up with way too many rocks, living in a square rock building with a bunch of chests and a single bed in it (men live like this and think it’s okay). I was completely out of my depth, but I was determined to make this house a home.
Extreme Makeover Starfield Edition
I started with the necessary furniture, a few rugs to tie the rooms together and some nick-nacks that looked cool. The building system isn’t the most robust or intricate I’ve ever used, but it was simple and easy to navigate. I then discovered that you can freely move things around that you drop on the floor which changed the decorating game completely. I can now take all those trinkets and baubles I’ve collected on my travels and put them proudly on display wherever I want.
I started to get invested in my humble penthouse. The space adventures I was going on felt more exciting because I would browse around random areas and look for things that would look good in the kitchen. I’d get excited by seeing a cool lamp or an oven glove, even though the game classifies them as “junk”. It’s not what the game was going for whatsoever, but this is what gave me that initial investment into this crafted world. Making it my own.
Then the game started to blossom. All those problems I spoke about before started fading into the background and I really got to see what Starfield has to offer. I discovered that the game needs time to get going and you decide what you get out of it. Everyone I’ve talked to who’s also played it had wildly different intentions or playstyles. Some wanted to get as max-level and resource-rich as they could, some wanted the many interesting stories that you can find, and some chose the seedier side of space piracy. I’m a smooth-talking dude who takes succulents covered in the blood of wrongdoers to decorate my front room.
In the miasma of conflicting opinions, rage threads on Twitter and everyone jumping on the chance to see something mighty fall, you start to lose that childlike wonder of getting lost in a digital world. Starfield rekindled that for me while teaching me how to make my digital dwellings look nice at the same time. Go out there and make your own stories, don’t listen to the noise.
P.S. If you’re wondering where my decorating journey has taken me, I’ve bought a second home and have a wife now. I’m going for a more rustic motif with my Akila home to counteract the opulence of my New Atlantis penthouse manor. I still need to get going with the story quests.