The Lack of Friction in Starfield: A Trivialized Space Travel Experience
If there’s one thing science fiction and actual science have taught us, it’s that space travel is an incredibly difficult feat. It requires immense resources and poses significant risks. However, in the upcoming game Starfield, the experience of flying across the galaxy seems to be as easy as doing donuts on a tricycle in your parents’ driveway. This emphasis on convenience and lack of challenge raises questions about the true nature of space exploration in the game.
Fast Travel and Simplified Landing
One of the most obvious ways Starfield minimizes the challenges of space travel is through its fast travel system. Instead of manually piloting your spaceship, you simply press a button to initiate a cutscene of your ship docking. This streamlined process removes the excitement and danger typically associated with landing on unknown planets or satellites. It turns the experience into something more akin to using a transporter in Star Trek rather than piloting the powerful Millennium Falcon.
The Vanishing Spacesuit
Another example of Starfield’s trivialization of space travel is the automatic equipping of a spacesuit. In the game, your character’s spacesuit is equipped automatically, and you can even make it disappear at indoor spacesports to blend in with NPCs. While this may seem like a convenience, it removes the need to actively protect yourself and adapt to different environments. In contrast, games like Outer Wilds emphasize the hostile nature of planets by requiring players to remember and put on their spacesuits at all times.
Unlimited Fuel and Lack of Challenge
Starfield’s approach to spaceship fuel is also noteworthy. Unlike games such as Outer Wilds, where fuel is finite and forces players to strategize their journeys, Starfield offers infinite fuel. This eliminates a potential challenge and removes the need for careful planning. Similarly, Starfield’s regenerative oxygen and jetpack fuel further diminish any sense of danger or scarcity. These mechanics, which are typical in games like Metroid, add excitement and friction to the overall experience of space travel.
The Thrill of Small Frustrations
In the world of video games, small frustrations can actually contribute to a thrilling experience. While no one wants constant oxygen depletion or accidental asphyxiation, the possibility of these events occurring adds tension and a sense of risk. The absence of inconveniences and dangerous elements in Starfield dampens the excitement of space exploration. It presents space travel as a triviality rather than a captivating adventure.
Questioning the Essence of Starfield
Considering the lack of friction and the simplified nature of space travel in Starfield, one may question why the game even focuses on this theme. Characters in the game treat traveling to another planet as a simple task, yet the experience of doing so fails to capture the awe and danger typically associated with interstellar voyages. The absence of satisfying challenges and the reliance on loading screens create a disconnect between the game’s premise and the actual gameplay experience.
Ultimately, the inclusion of inconvenient and risky elements is what makes sci-fi stories about space travel so thrilling. By trivializing these aspects, Starfield misses an opportunity to deliver a truly captivating space exploration adventure.
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