Fast travel systems have been around in games for a very long time, and for large open worlds it is practically necessary. There are few places where you feel like running around the same locations back and forth to complete some quest or visit a merchant. So Starfield does not force the user to suffer – the game is already gigantic, so it allows you to quickly move between planets at almost any time. However, there is a feeling that Bethesda has placed too much emphasis on this mechanic, and this is no longer an option – “fast travel” is mandatory here.
Faster than light
Starfield , being a game about limitless space, is not too willing to allow this very space to be explored. Now you have been given another quest in which you are asked to go to one or another system. You open the scanner, point it at the marker pointing to the ship, and with the press of one button you are transported to it. Also, with one button, you take off and end up in space. Just open the scanner and again aim at the marker, look at the loading screen – and now you are there. All you need to do is call up a map of the planet, select one of the available points on it and click “Land”.
That is, the entire journey from point A to point B is using the same two buttons while viewing loading screens. Docking with ships and stations happens in much the same way: you fly up, scan, select “Dock”, and instead of a full-fledged animation, you are shown a pre-recorded video. After its completion, you can freely walk around the station or ship. It’s as if it wasn’t a connection, but you got into the teleport and ended up in another location.
Here we cannot help but recall No Man’s Sky , where the Universe is truly endless and while flying through outer space you can turn towards your favorite planet at any time. Look at the distance and approximate time until landing, jump through the exosphere, mesosphere and other spheres, see the surface of the planet, fly over it in search of the ideal landing spot. And then step on the ground and begin collecting resources and scanning living creatures.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas offered the same thing : you fly among asteroids, receive a quest, follow the marker to any planet and land a few minutes later. In both games there were no visible loading screens – they were skillfully disguised so as not to ruin the feeling that space is open for exploration and you are actually landing on a planet that a couple of minutes ago seemed out of reach.
Starfield is devoid of all this romance. What is much more important here is what happens on the planets, and not between them. Obviously, in reality, everything is not as simple as shown in No Man’s Sky and Starlink , but that’s why these are games, they don’t have to be realistic. And the action of Starfield takes place in 2330 – invent what you want and distort reality as you please.
Not so open world
Because of how tightly everything is tied to fast travel, the game doesn’t feel as big as it actually is. And can it even be called an open world game if it is not seamless? Starfield is rather divided into many large locations with the ability to move between them at any time, but this is not an open world in the spirit of past Bethesda games – it is simply impossible to start on one planet and fly to another without passing the loading screen. One streamer has already tried , but he spent several hours on it and was faced with the fact that the game did not allow interaction with the new planet.
Perhaps, if everything worked the way I want, traveling through space would be very boring and at some point I would start using fast travel more and more actively. But Starfield doesn’t give you a choice—it offers to play exclusively by its rules. It is possible that there would really be nothing to do outside the planets – in the same No Man’s Sky , until you reach the desired point, you only engage in shooting asteroids, which after tens of hours is no longer enjoyable. But you can make such moments interesting if you want! The developers didn’t want to.
Or they tried, but it didn’t work. Or the engine does not allow you to make the world seamless. Or that’s just not what the game is about. But it’s still about the exploration of planets, of which there are thousands, but the arrival on a new celestial body does not become an event – you just “teleport” somewhere and go. Here you cannot fly around the planet from all sides, see what is on its surface, what bodies of water are there, what kind of vegetation, whether there are acid clouds or anything else. In Starfield, even the NPCs seem to understand what game they are in, sending you on quests to who knows where – you will still get there in less than a minute by pressing a couple of buttons.
I have a similar complaint outside the ship, when someone gives you a task and the game allows you to instantly be transported to the ship, or even skip this part altogether and immediately fly to the point. On the one hand, this is very convenient – you don’t have to run back, controlling your oxygen supply while accelerating and looking for a shortcut. On the other hand, the temptation to immediately jump into the ship is very great, which is why exploring locations seems like a waste of time. Since there is such an option, I want to use it.
Other games solve this problem in different ways. Somewhere you can teleport only when interacting with certain objects – so that you can run around the location at least a little and find something interesting along the way. In Horizon Zero Dawn and its sequel, not only this “trick” was introduced, but also consumables, without which you cannot jump from one point to another – sometimes you save them and prefer to travel. In some games you can only ride a taxi or train. There is nothing like that in Starfield – you can’t “teleport” only if there are enemies nearby. This can be called nitpicking – here I still walk the streets and collect side quests, and at the same time pick locks in search of currency and cool guns. But it’s not just that there are modifications for Skyrim , disabling fast travel, and there will probably be something similar for Starfield .
‘In general , I like Starfield – this game, like any creation of Todd Howard, pulls you into its net and forces you to sit late into the night, sorting out your inventory and deciding what you will do in the next hour. But the number of situations in which the game forces you to use fast movement seemed too large to me, whether at the fifth hour or at the twentieth. From a modern game about space, where the main character almost immediately gets his own ship, I wanted an adventure in which you spend a lot of time in space itself, and not on the surface of planets.