Starfield Desperately Needs More Unique Locations

Many people were surprised when the initial reviews for Starfield came out and its Metacritic aggregation landed in the 80s. Bethesda had such a high pedigree that many expected the score to average out in the low 90s, but that wasn’t the case. For the first week and a half after release, I definitely thought the critics were wrong, as playing through the main story, faction questlines, and plenty of side quests was the best experience I’ve had all year.


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I aim to get all the achievements in games that I really enjoy, and one of the trickier ones in Starfield is exploring all 120-star systems. I was pretty excited to explore more after focusing mainly on quests, but unfortunately, this is when I started to see where the critics were coming from.

Related: What Was Bethesda Thinking With Starfield’s Temples

After clearing the main story, all faction quests, and a bunch of side content, I’d explored about 45-star systems. This leaves 75 I’ve yet to set foot in, and I thought I would see a truckload of awesome locations, enemies, and quests, especially in those high-level areas, which promised something big in store. If you’ve played video games for a long time, the highest level areas should indicate that you’re going to face some serious opposition.

Starfield Temples

My game plan was to go to every star system and land on at least one planet in each, while also looking for unique locations. I didn’t really want to seek out all the procedurally generated areas, AKA anything with Abandoned in the name, unless they were incredibly uncommon, like Abandoned Farms, which yielded one of the few unique handcrafted areas I found.

When all was said and done, and I’d explored the remaining 75-star systems, I discovered about six unique handcrafted locations. This is unacceptable. Starfield is empty. While there are locations to find, almost all of them are procedurally generated areas that you don’t want to see time and time again.

Yes, shooting and looting is a core gameplay loop of Starfield and many other Bethesda titles, but there’s at least a story present in each location. There are often unique files around, and the story hooks you in to encourage you to progress further. You don’t get that 90 percent of the time with Starfield’s procedurally generated areas.

Starfield New Atlantis

I was pleasantly surprised to find a developing story in the Abandoned Farm, complete with unique audio logs. Why isn’t there more of this? These unique locations are what players are looking for, especially Bethesda fans who have been raised on the books of Morrowind and townships of Fallout.

Starfield is very much a spiritual successor to Daggerfall with its procedural generation, but most of Starfield’s audience hasn’t played this old 1996 PC game. The realistic travel time in both games is incredibly impressive, but the huge reliance on procedural generation to fill in most of Starfield’s 120-star systems was a bad call. That simply isn’t what most Bethesda fans are looking for in 2023.

It’s a shame there aren’t more unique locations because the ones that are there are phenomenal. Vulture’s Roost is an awesome and challenging area. Essentially a huge Ecliptic hideout, it’s fun to explore and packed with stuff to find. These areas are of such high quality, it becomes frustrating that there aren’t more. It’s a bad sign when you eventually resort to looking up more cool locations to visit.

Not even the star systems reserved for players level 75 and over have much to offer. I was expecting the equivalent of a Fallout: New Vegas Deathclaw nest, but that isn’t what I found. Maybe it is different in New Game Plus, where enemy levels are heightened? I can hope.

After I’d explored the whole galaxy and got my 1,000 gamerscore, I understood why Starfield ended up averaging in the 80s instead of the 90s. All the quests and core areas are phenomenal, but the moment you start exploring areas you don’t need to go to, the cracks start showing.

There is no excuse for over 60 percent of the game world to be largely filled by procedural generation. Hopefully, game updates and expansions don’t add more star systems but instead add quality content to the 120 we already have. Handcraft planets in each of these, and Starfield might become a truly legendary game like the Bethesda titles of old.

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