It's shonky, it glitches, and it doesn't quite live up to the years of over hype, but Starfield has arrived and is a must-play.
The Xbox Series X/S and PC exclusive is now available on Xbox Game Pass and I've been playing it for the last week to get a grasp on its enormous scale and ambition. And, while I've encountered plenty of foibles along the way, I can honestly say that it has me hooked.
That's because Starfield is a Bethesda Softworks game through and through. It is Skyrim, it is Fallout, and it shares the same DNA as every other massively open-world RPG the studio has released. It also shares the oddities, too.
As soon as the opening "tutorial" mission is over and you arrive in New Atlantis, you soon realise that the gameplay engine propping up the whole shebang is just about the same as the one used in Fallout 4. Characters might look better defined and with smoother animations (and faces), but they still fill the screen during conversation in exactly the same way.
They even have a familiar tendency to start talking while looking in a totally different direction before turning to face you. And, they give you that old dead stare while you choose your response from the options on screen.
Then there are the glitches, which include enemies twitching madly like a convention of bird watchers when you kill them near a wall or object. And the irresistable urge to pick up every notebook and empty coffee cup you come across.
Finally, there are the fetch quests. Oh so many fetch quests. Side missions (initially, at least) often ask you to go somewhere on the same or a different planet, pick up something that may or may not involve a fight, then return it. This has been a staple of many role-players over the years, but is something Bethesda is renowned for, and Starfield is no exception.
But, even with all of this considered, it is an unmissable game – one with more scope and depth than the forebears it apes so completely. And, I've only scratched the surface of the vast story and exploration – not least because I've been too busy on mundane activities because, well, you know...
In all honesty, if the game had none of these quirks and Bethesda-esque features, I'd likely be less inclined to stick with it. They make the game instantly accessible for me, comforting even – like coming home after a long trip abroad.
And, to cap it off, I know it'll take weeks to complete. I'll do every mission I find, main or mundane, and that will more than justify its price tag - especially when available as part of an existing Xbox Game Pass membership.
You can't really say fairer than that.
Starfield is available now for Xbox Series X/S and PC as part of an Xbox Game Pass subscription. It can also be purchased outright from numerous retailers.