I grew up a sci-fi nerd. The first time I ever saw Star Wars on VHS at a family friend’s house, I was hooked for life. Star Trek came next, and the passion for exploration of both the unknown and ourselves was powerful storytelling for me. When I played Starfield for the first time, it instantly struck me as a combination of the best of Star Wars and Star Trek. The result is a universe and lore I can’t get enough of.
Science fiction is at its best when it’s both aspirational and inspirational. Star Wars and Star Trek have these traits, as they each strive to create a better existence for the universe’s inhabitants. How each one gets there is very different, however. Star Wars is rooted in the hero’s journey, a struggle between good and evil, and strong religious themes. Star Trek seeks a better future by embracing science and knowledge to move past things like prejudice. At the same time, its core struggle is often waged within the bureaucracy of political and military institutions. Starfield‘s greatest strength is its ability to capture all these elements and inject them into a vast universe that feels alive at every turn.
To Boldly Go
At the beginning of Starfield, you are but an anonymous miner working to survive in the universe. You then become exposed to an artifact that has mysterious power. Soon after, events will launch you on a new adventure as part of something much bigger than anything you had known hours before. It sounds a lot like how the hero’s journey in Star Wars begins. Of course, that’s not unique to Star Wars, but the comparisons are inevitable when it happens in space and results in a mystical journey.
Soon after you embark on this grand journey, you meet the fine folks of Constellation. That’s where the Star Trek comparisons start to come into Starfield. Constellation is a faction dedicated to exploration and discovery. There will be some parallels if you’re a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan. The vision and mission of Constellation are reminiscent of the Jean-Luc Picard era, but the “wild west” feel of much of the vast universe reminds me a lot of the Kirk era of Star Trek. Additionally, Bethesda has placed many exploration and discovery tools into Starfield. Research and general discovery of worlds and peoples is a great fix for those who want to live out their Picard-era dreams.
The More You Dig Into Starfield, the Better It Gets
If you only play through the main story in Starfield, you’ll have an okay time. You might even think the space RPG is pretty good. But you’ll also most likely wonder what the hell I’m talking about so far. Starfield’s secret sauce is in the game’s side quests and exploration. That’s where I feel like I’m living in some of my favorite sci-fi series ever. Some of the best moments in the game are entirely random. If you haven’t met the tour group yet, they’re a great example of small, unexpected events in Starfield’s world, giving it both character and the feeling that the world is alive.
You’ll meet the group when orbiting a planet, and the tour guide asks if the passengers can ask you some questions. Think of it as Star Tours with a Q&A session attached. Assuming that a space pilot lives a life of riches and adventure, they ask questions about your wealth, love life, and more. In the end, you even meet Starfield’s version of the uncle at Thanksgiving who watches way too much cable news. It’s a small interaction in the game that adds character and makes you feel part of an adventure rather than just hopping from one quest to another.
Another side quest finds you traveling to a planet where you will meet clones of famous historical figures. On Charybdis III, you’ll meet clones of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Genghis Khan, and more. It’s part of the hidden Starfield mission “Operation Starseed,” which is a clear nod to the Star Trek episode “Space Seed,” in which the Enterprise meets Khan for the first time. You’ll have to investigate evil cloners and complete the mission in what feels resemblance to a great Star Trek episode.
Use the Force in Starfield
Maybe the hero’s journey of Star Wars is more for you — or maybe you just want to yield the Force. Starfield has you covered. Building up the Xenosociology skill will essentially give you the ability to perform Jedi mind tricks over alien species. Xenosociology is in level 4 of the social skill tree, so the upgrade won’t be cheap. But when you get it, you’ll be able to exercise some mind control over your foes in the vast universe.
However, the part of Starfield that felt more like Star Wars than anything else so far is the Mantis mission. It’s almost like a mix of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Unvierse, as when you get the datapad that triggers the “Secret Outpost!” mission, you embark on a grand journey that ends with you assuming the identity of a hero known as the Mantis.
Over the course of the mission, you’ll travel to a remote planet and enter the Lair of the Mantis, where you will fight your way to the central part of the lair and get some pretty amazing rewards. The Razorleaf, which is a significant upgrade over your first ship, will be yours, as well as a really high quality suit and jetpack. Better yet, when you have the items equipped, it will change how NPCs refer to you later in the game — they will refer to you as the Mantis.
The Best of Both Worlds
The cities and settlements in Starfield also add a ton to the Star Trek and Star Wars feel of the game. Walk through New Atlantis on Jemison, and you will feel like you are exploring a futuristic city built on ideals and innovation. It’s strongly reminiscent of the utopian vision of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Meanwhile, the worn, wild west feel of Akila City feels a lot like the lawlessness of the Outer Rim in Star Wars — especially in the new post-Rebellion era. At the same time, the seedy underground of Neon has the same feel as the lower levels of Coruscant, far beneath the glamour of government and power.
Does Starfield remind you of Star Trek, Star Wars, or any other sci-fi franchise? Let us know what you’re having fun with in the vast space RPG.