There’s an old saying: The devil’s in the details. But when you’re making a massive game like the sci-fi space opera action role-playing game Starfield — which is out now for Xbox Series X/S and PC, and is easily one of the best games of the year — sometimes it’s the little details that get lost in the shuffle, especially when you have so many big details to worry about. But in playing Starfield, I noticed a couple little things that I wanted to applaud the good people at Bethesda Game Studios for including, things that won’t make a big difference to a lot of people, but things I noticed and appreciated.
Music Playing Where Music Should Be Playing
One of the first things I usually do when playing a game is turn off the music. Mostly because I find it distracting. It’s hard to hear a zombie sneaking up behind you if the game is blasting some stupid song. Music can also kill the vibe, like when you’re playing a post-apocalyptic game, and having stark silence really adds to the loneliness of your situation.
But one of the bummers of turning off a game’s music is that it kills all of the music, even when music is playing in the game’s world. Turn off the music in a Mass Effect game, for instance, and then walk into a bar…and watch as people dance around to nothing.
But Starfield doesn’t do this. While I turned off the music after playing the game for a few minutes, there was still music playing in places where characters would be hearing music. Like in this bar you visit, and a ballroom during a fancy event. It’s the first time I’ve had this happen in a game, but I hope it’s not the last.
In Starfield, you visit hundreds of planets, and often have to go from one to another in the course of the same mission. This, however, can take a bit of time, since you often have to walk back to your spaceship, take off, plot a course, and then land at your destination. Depending on how far you are from your ship, this can add as much as half an hour to your trip.
That is, unless you utilize some of the game’s handy shortcuts. Like how, instead of walking, you can fast travel to your ship. Or, if you prefer, you can just pull up the starmap from the main menu, and use it to go directly to your next destination. Or you can just pull up the main menu, click down for the “missions” section, and click to go right where you need to be.
That said, there are some restrictions. You can’t fast travel to your ship when there’s enemies around, or if you’re carrying too much stuff. Also, no matter how you go, you always arrive at your destination planet in orbit around it, which means you may be attacked by bounty hunters or pirates, so be prepared.
Color Coded Medicine
Like in their previous games Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you don’t just get hurt in Starfield, you also get sick, break bones, and suffer other medical emergencies. Including, in this game, having some of your internal organs damaged by a planet’s environment.
Thankfully, the health care industry in Starfield is much more patient friendly than what we have now, especially in America, because, as you play, you’ll often pick up medicines that can easily fix these specific ailments.
More importantly, these remedies are color coded, as are the icons that highlight your maladies in the menu, which makes it easy to self-medicate. Get an infection while exploring a new world and you’ll notice a purple triangle when you bring up the main menu. Good thing antibiotics, which “Treats infections” are identified with a nice purple triangle in your inventory. Or if an alien world’s radiation, or its angry spider-like residents, poison you, simple look for the item in the “Aid” section of your inventory for something with a yellow triangle. If only real medicine was this easy to identify.
Large Menu Fonts
One of my pet peeves about the current generation of games is how the text — be it the subtitles, the menus, or other messages — can be really, really small. But while that’s also sometimes true for Starfield, the game does offer an option to “make the menu text bigger.” Granted, it doesn’t make the text a lot bigger, but considering how many games don’t have any such options, I’d like to thank the Starfield crew for what they did do.
That said, it’s too bad the good people at Bethesda Game Studios didn’t go further with the accessibility options. For instance, you can’t change the size of the text in the subtitles. Or place them on an opaque background. Or change their color. Compare this to something like the PS5 version of The Last Of Us, Part I, which had dozens of accessibility options, and, well, Starfield seems a bit lacking.
Sadly, this is not the only thing I wish they had included in Starfield…
An Instruction Manual
Starfield is a very complicated game. There are a lot of systems, and not all of them are easy to figure out. I’m still not 100% sure if my ship has the new guns I bought for it, or if they’re sitting in the cargo hold, waiting to be installed.
Which is why I really wish Starfield had some kind of a searchable how-to guide. Or came with an instruction manual. Something that could tell me how to customize my ship, or use the persuade mechanic when talking to someone. Sure, I can always just google it, but it would be so much easier if I could access this information from the menu.