Starfield’s May Update Comes a Little Too Late

You can’t help but get a bit excited when a new update arrives. There is a small thrill that comes with the prospect of jumping into an old favorite, especially when you haven’t played in a while. The latest Starfield update promises improvements and new features but for me, it has been a real letdown. It’s not because the additions are necessarily bad, it’s all just arriving a little too late.

As I searched for info on the new Starfield update I saw so many articles stating how it is ‘a game changer‘ and ‘the most exciting update yet.’ So imagine my surprise when I see a list of bug fixes and a few features that should have been part of the game when it was first released.

I quickly updated the game and jumped in to see what the fuss was about. Surely there was more than just a mini-map with signposts and a few pieces of furniture to decorate the ship? The first thing I did was check out the new ship decor feature. According to the update notes, we can now decorate our ships in the same way as our outposts. If you loved building ships and decorating spaces, this is a good addition, but it doesn’t add anything special to the gameplay. The list of available items is ok but lacking in variety and style options.

Starfield decor ship
Image Source: Bethesda via Twinfinite

I’d enjoy this more if I didn’t first have to go out and harvest materials for the privilege of placing an armchair in the living quarters. Am I missing the point in what is a game of crafting and resource gathering? Perhaps. But those aspects are secondary to me. To be honest, I didn’t do a lot of crafting during my first playthrough, so why start now?

There’s so much more that could have been done here. What about having the ability to create specific areas on the ship? Or being able to assign a job to a crew member, such as medic or armorer, and have them stationed permanently. That way, you could go to the medbay to be healed or visit the armory for upgrades to the ship. As it is right now, it still feels unfinished. For a truly immersive roleplay as a ship’s captain we need a fully crewed-up ship, don’t we? If this became an option you would have players recreating any number of famous space crews from Captain Mal on the Firefly to Picard and the Enterprise.

Starfield jemison surface map
Image Source: Bethesda via Twinfinite

The best part of this update is something we should have had from the very start: surface maps. As someone who struggled to find their way around Jemison, this should be a welcome change but it does make me wonder: why didn’t we have this feature in the first place? And why has it taken so long to get it? The lack of a surface map has been an issue since the game’s release in September last year, and for it to take eight months for Bethesda to add them is frustrating, to say the least.

Surface maps are great for when you are in a city with lots to explore. They can help a player find their way from point to point. The only real problem is that they highlight one glaring issue Starfield has always had: planets with vast, empty lands. Now you can use a surface map to see how flat and boring a lot of the places are. Compare this with Fallout 4 environments and Starfield is severely lacking.

Starfield planetary surface map
Image Source: Bethesda via Twinfinite

The increase in environmental damage has made for a more immersive planetary exploration. All we need now are more varied planetary surfaces and interesting POIs. Also, fewer copy-pasted decor items inside buildings wouldn’t go amiss to help with the immersion. I cannot count the number of times I have noticed the console or desk cluttered with the same four items in the same positioning.

The list of bug fixes was a welcome sight but this was a short-lived pleasure. It seems bugs are alive and well in Starfield. I jumped back in for the first time in months only to be confronted instantly with a new bug.

As I explored a building and fought with enemies, they seemed to die too easily and without the usual XP notification. To test if one Va’Ruun Zealot on the ground was truly dead, I aimed my weapon at her body. My gun’s sight was red as if I was aiming at a live enemy so I shot her again. Nothing. Intrigued, I shot her with my cutter instead and she got back up! Maybe I restarted her heart. Maybe I was unlucky enough to encounter a brand-new bug. Either way, it seems Bethesda hasn’t quite finished picking out all the bugs just yet despite the huge list of fixes.

The added changes to settings are great to play around with but many players wished this feature was implemented the first time around. You can now increase the challenge of combat — be it among the stars or on the ground — or lower the settings. Almost everything can be altered to suit your mood and these can be changed mid-combat too. Damage dealt, damage received, and even carry capacity, can be switched from Very Easy to Extreme and everything in between. Those brave enough to go for Hard or Extreme are rewarded with a small XP percentage boost too.

Starfield game play options
Image Source: Bethesda via Twinfinite

Another bonus I enjoy is the ability to alter Traits and appearance after entering Unity. I didn’t do a lot of post-story play as it seemed very repetitive. The addition of these changes makes further play a little more enticing but is it enough of a change? These little adjustments all add up to what is essentially an improvement however, it comes too late for those players who binged the game when it first launched.

Starfield’s graphics and performance clearly needed the improvements offered in this update. These will make a significant difference to your game if you are still playing regularly. I’m not sure the small polishes are enough to draw in players who have since stopped playing, however.

Perhaps it is my fault for having such high hopes for this update. Maybe these smaller changes mean the Shattered Space DLC will be more polished and exciting than expected. For now, I feel slightly let down by this ‘major game-changing update’. Still, I await the upcoming DLC with bated breath. I really want to jump back into a new and improved Starfield but at this moment I am left unconvinced.

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