It's been clear since the first proper reveal that Starfield was going to be Bethesda's most ambitious RPG. A thousand worlds, fully customisable space ships, a new level of sandboxy freedom—there's certainly a lot of potential here, but every time it's been shown off I've been unable to shrug off the feeling that it's all going to be a wee bit dull. Big, sure, but also dry.
This was really typified in the recent Starfield Direct when we were promised that we could land on a planet, "collect resources, do a mission and maybe even stumble upon something unexpected". What the video actually showed us, though, was Starfield's space explorer stumbling across an abandoned mine—the kind of thing you can find in nearly every RPG that's ever existed. OK, I thought, maybe there will at least be something weird and memorable in this abandoned mine. Nope. Just some space bandits.
I get it: you can't fill a sandbox like this exclusively with thrilling, bespoke diversions. And if the combat is good enough, there are still opportunities to make a mine-delving adventure a good time. Maybe there's some killer loot in there to make it all worthwhile. But it definitely doesn't feel showcase-worthy.
Where things really clicked for me was the sandwich heist. You can play Starfield as a dirty, rotten scoundrel, flitting through space and not just blowing up any ships you encounter, but boarding them too. Now, that alone was enough to pique my interest. This turns every ship, potentially, into a sort of dynamic dungeon waiting to be explored and looted. Space is an evocative setting, but since it's largely empty there's the risk of it becoming incredibly dull. Turning ships into locations you can visit helps avoid that issue.
One developer admitted that they just liked boarding and taking over ships specifically to steal sandwiches. They have a place in their cargo hold dedicated to their ill-gotten snacks. Just a big pile of sandwiches, spilling off the table. It's kinda delightful. I also find it incredibly funny, and so typical of videogames, that it's just one type of sandwich. White bread, cheese, lettuce, ham. The most generic of all sandwiches. We're in the far-flung future but we're still eating the same thing. Maybe the ham comes from a space pig?
The sandwiches are also pretty big. Massive, really. What's going on in the future that demands such huge loaves of bread? I really hope we'll be able to find a book that explains the lore behind this. I need it.
It's this kind of pointless but fun personal quest that makes me love games like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Filling homes with big wheels of cheese or bones. And until now, this kind of whimsy seemed to be missing from Starfield. I'm not all that invested in fantasy civil wars, prophecies or finding my lost child—if I'm playing in a sandbox, I want to do some weird shit. And to see someone already doing this fills me with hope regarding the potential for shenanigans.
There are some fun traits, too. Oblivion's adoring fan returns, following you around on adventures and driving you nuts with their overly-enthusiastic running commentary. Even from the brief glimpse during Starfield Direct he already seems like a nightmare. I love it. The Kids Stuff trait also gave me a laugh. This one makes you send back a portion of your income to your parents, who you can then go and visit while they dote on you. It's all kinds of adorable. And it makes Starfield's universe feel so much more tangible. If you pick this trait, you've got history and a real connection to the world around you—a past that's more than just a bundle of stats.
We always knew Starfield was going to be big, but now I'm more convinced it might actually be fun, too. And really that's what I want more than anything. The scale is largely irrelevant to me. I just want to go on stupid adventures and have a lark. If Starfield can live up to that, I might be converted.