Properly, we lastly obtained an enormous, lengthy take a look at Starfield. It is nice to get a greater sense of what the game actually is, but it surely’s irritating to see Bethesda retreading a load of the identical outdated flaws its video games have been affected by for many years now. Nowhere is that extra evident than the companion system.

As quickly as Bethesda’s presentation moved to NPC mates, I obtained the heebie-jeebies. Although the studio boasts of improved animations, Starfield’s glassy-eyed characters nonetheless sit firmly within the uncanny valley, miles behind their contemporaries in different large funds video games. That is superb when all they’re doing is providing me quests or delivering exposition, however for the love of God do not ask me to kind relationships with them.

(Picture credit score: Bethesda)

Companions are the characters that’ll really comply with you round, have private quests, and so on. It is telling that the tasteless examples we’re launched to, together with “Sarah Morgan” and “Barrett”, appear to be outlined extra by their abilities than any clear character. However not solely are we advised we’ll be constructing relationships with this lot over the course of the game, Bethesda’s additionally threatening romance choices.

The instance love scene is transient however immediately insufferable. “I do not know that I’ve ever actually cherished anybody… besides you,” says Sam Coe, an area cowboy identified primarily for his piloting abilities and “rifle certification”, whereas the participant character stares blankly into center distance. Can you’re feeling the chemistry? No? That is no shock—Bethesda has at all times struggled to make companions really feel human, and by no means has it been extra out of its depth than when making an attempt to put in writing a convincing romance. 

If we’re sincere with ourselves, it is by no means even managed to make companions helpful, not to mention likeable. Dreadful AI has made occasion members a fight legal responsibility in each Bethesda game to date—bumbling fools who set off traps and run round in circles, and solely actually perform as pack mules. Starfield’s companions could not look extra like the identical once more, and this time they’re missing even the distinctive seems to be and gimmicks of these in Fallout or The Elder Scrolls. 

(Picture credit score: Bethesda)

The brand new crew system, at the least, looks like a step in the proper route mechanically. Crew members could be employed to man your spaceship, and fairly than following you in your adventures, they keep on board boosting the results of your numerous modules. That is a intelligent solution to have a way of group with out having all of them in your face on a regular basis, even when it’s going to really feel a bit like dwelling in a co-ed dorm filled with cursed mannequins. 

The factor I do not perceive is, why is Bethesda nonetheless specializing in these things? It is constructed a complete galaxy to discover—why does it assume I have to deliver a creepy cowboy with me? Is the belief that I will not be capable to get pleasure from seeing assault ships on fireplace off the shoulder of Orion except I can have a little bit kissy with a plastic-faced girl first? These video games are big, however they do not should do completely every thing—I want Bethesda would simply zero in on the issues it is good at, and jettison all of the stuff it has been doing poorly endlessly. 

I can not even simply hang around with the robotic who can say my title, as a result of they’ve given him a bunch of annoyingly sassy one-liners. There’d higher be a canine in a spacesuit I can take with me as an alternative of any of those losers, or I am rioting.