In the world of space RPGs, there are a few games that immediately come to the minds of fans everywhere. Some of those games include No Man’s Sky, Mass Effect, The Outer Worlds, and Bethesda’s latest release, Starfield. When it comes to these titles, they are constantly compared to one another in what they have and what they lack, creating a rift among fanbases. Considering that, in the argument between Starfield vs. Mass Effect, which space RPG franchise is best?
Who Does Space Better, Starfield or Mass Effect?
For those unfamiliar with Mass Effect, it is a four-part story in which the first three follow the adventures of Commander Shepard and their crew of interspecies mercenaries aboard their ship, the Normandy. The games give the player the chance to create a male or female version of the commander and customize them to their heart’s content. As the campaign progresses, your decisions and actions have consequences on the story, and other characters will act differently towards you, depending on the circumstances.
During each Mass Effect entry, the player also has the opportunity to romance and build relationships with other characters on the ship that could transfer between games if you so choose. The series has much more of a story underneath it than what we’ve noted, but that story is layered with the personal decisions that you make for yourself, your crew, and the different people and aliens you meet across the different planets that you visit.
Starfield has a lot of similar qualities, which is a given considering the fact that it was released in a world where the former exists. Considering that, as well as the fact that there aren’t too many games that manifest the concept of space travel as well as Mass Effect does, it makes sense that people would make comparisons. However, there are far too many differences that, when lined up, give the impression that the two are entirely different games covering the ideas of space travel and what players want to be able to accomplish in their gameplay in separate ways.
Mass Effect’s Consequences vs. Starfield’s Exploration
The entire Mass Effect franchise hinges a bit on the decisions that the player makes and the relationships that they forge with the others. The setting simply happens to be space and science-fiction themed. The games rely on the idea that you can be good or bad, and the people in the universe will react to you according to those decisions and their own beliefs.
Regardless of the justification of good or bad, these decisions dictate how the rest of your experience will pan out. This makes it clear that irrespective of how you feel as a player, your in-game choices must reflect the game’s perspective of good and bad. So long as you played the entirety of the game with that idea at the forefront of your mind, then you had a great experience forging relationships and getting what you want.
Starfield, on the other hand, also takes the idea of decision-making into deep consideration. Still, the world isn’t nearly as black and white. Bribing a person or lying to them won’t bring you the same negative consequences because it would depend more on the reason why it was done, as well as if anyone saw you do it.
These decisions also don’t necessarily affect your bottom line in the same way that it does in the Mass Effect series. Sure, someone might be upset with you and will now make it a little harder to get into a specific area due to a failed bribe, but that doesn’t mean that the end of the game is being jeopardized because you’re progressing toward a “bad ending.”
The Way You Travel Is Important
The idea of space travel is also far more concrete in Starfield than Mass Effect could ever hope to achieve. If anything, one could make the comparison of Mass Effect to the different Star Trek television series in which the concept of space travel was always a background feature because you already know that they are aboard a spaceship of some sort.
In Mass Effect, you were always at the Citadel, Thessia, or Tuchanka, spending the majority of your gameplay at those hub locations. Space travel was but a means of getting between planets and only occurred during cutscenes. Starfield does a great job of melding space travel and the planets that you visit as one.
Travel does genuinely take place in space if you so choose it to, with space battles and even ship capturing being an entire aspect of the game. Similar to the Mass Effect series, you can select the galaxy to explore in Starfield. You can even choose to research those planets, but Starfield lets you hover in the space around those planets, whereas Mass Effect limits you to a star map on your ship.
Which Is the Better Space RPG Franchise?
Suppose you’re looking to dive into the dark expanse of space, getting lost on planets, and discovering what it means to be alive in an era of space travel. In that case, Starfield is more than likely for you. If you prefer creating intricate relationships and focusing on the complexities of interspecies affairs in relation to the idea of morality, then Mass Effect is the ideal experience.
They offer completely different experiences that really drive home the idea that genres are meant to be explored in all aspects. Regardless of which you think is best, you’d be enjoying one of the greatest space RPG franchise games of all time with Starfield or Mass Effect.
Starfield will be available on Xbox Series X|S and PC on September 6.