Remarkably, just two weeks since Starfield’s early access launch, the PC release already has had an incredible amount of mods. Some are minor and some make considerable changes to how the game works. This isn’t actually too surprising, of course, given that Bethesda games are some of the most moddable of all time. Yet, the speed with which they’ve appeared has been very notable indeed. More to the point, they’re arguably fixing a bunch of issues and filling in missing content that many believe should have been included from the off. So, is Bethesda relying too heavily on mods to realize Starfield‘s vision?
How Can Mods Improve Starfield?
Starfield has a lot going for it, but there are tons of issues that Bethesda likely won’t touch. Such problems include the exploration of planets, which has been the subject of widespread discussion since its launch. Currently, you have no option but to run around to explore. For some, this is fine and adds to the immersion of planetary exploration. On occasion, though, points of interest are so few and far between that you can be running for minutes at a time without a single interesting encounter. This is a problem because it leaves players with large amounts of time where there is simply nothing happening in the game.
Why is this such a huge problem in Starfield? Compare it to Skyrim, where exploration is required to progress in the game. You start from Helgen and travel to Riverwood and eventually to Whiterun, moving from one map marker to the next. Along the way, you encounter at least ten different points of interest that might pull you into various dungeons or side quests. You don’t have a choice but to explore in Skyrim, and when you give in to the exploration, your effort and time are well rewarded. In Starfield, all the points of interest are already mapped out for you. You don’t discover them organically; you just go to them. Once you arrive at these locations, there’s an expansive and unique site to explore, but the time and drudgery it takes to get there feels purposeless.
Mods for Bethesda’s space RPG Starfield could fix this in a variety of ways. First, the addition of land vehicles would make sense in a sci-fi setting. Such a mod could reduce the feeling of solitude in an open and unknown world, but it would speed up these patches of nothingness considerably.
That’s just one of the major complaints so far, but there are many smaller ones that mods can fix as well. In my case, at least, I’ve already fired up mods for better eyes (they are rough-looking), a dot for an aiming reticle, a mod that removes the greenish tint on the game, and descriptive skill menus. These have combined to make my game immeasurably better despite seemingly minor. This is just me; other players have created mods for tons of other things that increase the quality of life, combat AI, and so much else that you can easily see there being 1,000 mods by the end of the year.
What Mod Would Complete Bethesda’s Vision?
There are many options here, but the biggest one would be the mod that allows us seamless space travel or, at the very least, grants us the ability to land our spaceship on a planet ourselves, which would gain a lot of people back on the Starfield is good side of the fence. Can it be done? Well, let’s think about what was done that was similar in previous Bethesda games. The mod that is closest to what fans are looking for is Open Cities Skyrim. This mod allowed the previous loading screen required cities of Skyrim to become enterable by simply walking through the front door.
This mod adds an immense amount to the immersion of the game and runs fairly well to boot. We would need this same style of mod and to replace those cities with entire planets and not just a few planets, but 1000’s. Is that even conceivable at this point for Starfield mods? Probably not, but you know there are modders out there who are chomping at the bit to give it their best effort. Looking at Skyrim right now, it looks like a completely different game than when it was first released, so I’m not going to doubt the power of these modders. In fact, a former Fallout 4 modder is now part of the development team for Starfield, so the talent of these people is not to be underestimated.
Is Bethesda Letting The Players Do The Work For Them?
This question is a tough one because if you look at Fallout 4 and Skyrim, the answer seems like it’s clearly yes. But keep in mind some of these choices that we as fans have problems with are intentional choices. Whether it was a good one or not doesn’t matter; the point is it was an artistic vision. Now, the ability to mod the game is a huge boon that Bethesda has provided, and seeing as how fast they’re coming, it appears to be easier than ever. Adding to that is the fact that in 2024, we will get official modding tools from Bethesda, including ones for the Xbox, which will allow mods to Starfield on a console.
So, did they slack off in certain areas because the modders can fix it? I don’t believe so; in fact, this game is a labor of love in so many areas that expecting them to have 10/10 ratings in every single area of the game just isn’t realistic. Bethesda did what they thought this game engine could handle. The result? A game theorized to be at least 300 hours long with a unique take on New Game Plus. Within is some of the best RPG gameplay in the last 10 years and wonderous worlds to explore with some impactful shooter combat to support it all.
It’s not perfect, and mods to Starfield would definitely help. But even the 10/10 games in existence are not perfect. Everyone will always have an issue with a game, especially one they love. Bethesda is one of the only developers out there that purposefully allows its game to be modded, so in that way, it’s not that they let modders do the work for them but that they allow their fans the ability to put what they want to see in the game become a reality.
I’ve put over 800 hours into Skyrim since its release in 2011. 200 of which was all done in vanilla Skyrim because it was a great game on its own. Starfield is also a great game and will receive the same modding treatment that Skyrim and Fallout 4 got before it. Can you imagine this game in a few years? Those barren planets filled with custom add-ons, filled with new characters, stories, weapons, and enemies? We should be happy that the game is as good as it is and even happier that the community is already making Starfield mods and will continue to do so until the heat death of the universe, probably.