Le fonctionnement sans planètes de Starfield : cinq raisons pour lesquelles Starfield est véritablement, incontestablement meilleur en tant que simulation spatiale pure

In every journal entry, there comes a moment where the comet of invention meets the Cowpat of diminishing returns, where the agency’s foot meets the secret hedgehog with limited design, where Fucking Around meets Finding Not Much Out. I fear we have reached that point with the life and times of Mary Read, my Starfield character and now accomplished space pirate who has sworn never to set foot on a planet again. Immediately after conquering the Chimera in the second part of the Starfield No-Planet Run, I requisitioned a UC Longsword II from the other side of the same system. The longsword proved to be an unmatched predator, charging directly through enemy ships even when they had multiple levels on me, its relentless automatic cannons forming the dominant bassline of every encounter. Frankly, it’s becoming repetitive, and while the obvious remedy would be to dive into a stellar system with a double-digit AI threat level, I doubt that would really change the combat rhythms of Starfield ships – it would just mean I have to do some grinding. Image credit: Bethesda/RockPaperShotgun

I am also struggling more and more to find colorful opportunities when I board ships. The most fun I’ve had in the past three hours was hijacking a sloop full of lower-level characters who wisely refused to open fire. I sat for a while as they fumbled around in the cockpit, like spiders rummaging inside a jar. I couldn’t bring myself to kill any of them. Farewell, UC Narcissus. Image credit: Bethesda/RockPaperShotgun

I need a mission. Not a scripted adventure, but a final game objective, to jumpstart the whimsical circuits of my imagination and get us out of this slump. It could be finding ways to build a base on an asteroid using Starfield mods, or taking a long journey to the surface of a sun and discovering what lies on the other side. What do you think? While we ponder on that, I have a collection of notes and anecdotes that unequivocally demonstrate that Starfield is absolutely more fun as a space simulation than a planetary exploration game. I may be losing momentum, but thanks to Mary Read, I have lingered on this overloaded space RPG for much longer than I initially thought, after spending my few opening hours on solid ground.

Inventory Clutter? What Clutter? Every now and then, Mary Read turns on the old interstellar communication box and listens to planetary radio conversations, with particular attention to the activities of Starfield critics. It sounds like an absolute mess out there, with confusing discussions about unbreakable story missions and « cactus buttplugs, » and, even worse, clutter limits that drain your O2 (i.e., endurance) when you run while overloaded. My God, how irritating! Thankfully, Mary Read doesn’t have to worry about that, being a Spacer through and through, she’s rarely required to travel long distances on foot. I’m not sure she’s ever walked more than 25 meters in one go since leaving Earth. Plus, ship-to-ship combat often takes place in zero-G. Image credit: Bethesda/RockPaperShotgun

Indeed, from the perspective of an incorrigible Void dweller, Starfield’s inventory system is liberating rather than restrictive, as while the game may penalize you for being too cluttered, it doesn’t actually limit what you can carry. Mary has found this helpful, as when her ship’s hold fills up, she can simply transfer the whole ship into her character’s inventory without penalty. The result is that Mary currently has a mass of 1361. That means Mary has a mass greater than that of a Warwolf-class Battle Cruiser. Her current ship is becoming nothing more than a sort of optical distortion or quantum interface surrounding an infinitely accumulating density point. It is conceivable that if Mary’s reign of space piracy continues, she will start attracting other celestial masses into her orbit. It is likely that in the future, hopefully far away, planets will attempt to land on her.

Everything You Need on Planets is Already in Space! I really thought never entering a planet’s atmosphere would impose fascinating constraints and spark a whole new idea for Starfield, but it turns out you can access all of the RPG and customization systems from space stations. You can rebuild and switch between the ships you’ve saved, buy and sell gear, fly into shops, and engage in deep dialogue with NPCs who are charming and willing to forget that you just massacred the security personnel because one of them made fun of you for wielding a particular brand of shotgun. There are even – gasp – quests here. Image credit: Bethesda/RockPaperShotgun

Remove planetary maps, and space in Starfield looks like… space? It’s amazing how the universe becomes coherent when you stay out of the atmosphere, even if you still use fast travel to move between orbits in solar systems. The cinematic transition feels smooth rather than jarring, partly because you can execute it from the cockpit of your ship by targeting a distant planet or system with the scanner mode (unless, annoyingly, there’s a planet in between you and the destination). It’s probably cabin fever speaking, but I want to propose Starfield’s astral volumes as evidence that a strictly level or zone-based design is better for the player’s attention span and, dare I say, immersion. Okay, so many of these orbital zones are empty, and others house unsatisfying quests and random encounters of the « Please help, our Grav Drive is broken – HUZZAH, we’re actually bandits » variety. But the feeling of a self-contained scenario is still invigorating, while navigating planetary maps is a lethargic exercise in distraction without any change of pace or clear point to break a gaming session. As for the sense of exploring each orbital expanse, Starfield is much more engaging when it gives you asteroids or wrecks to traverse. It’s about that, admittedly highly improbable, sense of relative size and momentum. It reminds me of how the under-sung Chorus and beloved Everspace 2 make use of vertical monoliths set against some kind of « galactic horizon, » or mix things up with huge abandoned interiors. They sometimes feel more like deep-sea diving games than space simulations. Starfield can’t compete with those games, ship for ship, but it whistles and stammers valiantly in their direction.

It’s the Most Sociable Way to Play Some would have you believe that you feel desperately alone in space, that recruiting companions and crew members is virtually impossible without setting foot on a planet, that solo pilots will eventually go mad and do unspeakable things for lack of human contact. Lies! Mary is not alone! It’s you who’s alone!! Just look at all the friends she’s made by hijacking spaceships!!! Image credit: Bethesda/RockPaperShotgun Here’s Freddie the Whip, a rower and gentleman crackman, clean as a whistle, sharp as a thistle. QUIET FREDDIE, I’M TALKING NOW. He’s a rank 4 sweep with a side bar in Mudlarking and cooks a mean horse leather stew. Image credit: Bethesda/RockPaperShotgun And here’s Hutch « Max » Starjumper, our valiant co-pilot, famous for… [continued]