Starfield’s introduction didn’t immediately hook me; it took a little bit of time to feel like I understood the galaxy and my place in it. But there was one thing that drew me in and convinced me to keep playing: the simple joy of killing a base full of raiders, picking up 1,200 pounds of loot from their bodies and shelves, and throwing it all over the floor of my ship before heading to the next base.
This is a pretty common thing in Bethesda RPGs, and I insist that if the developer doesn’t want me to pick up 12,800 brooms, it simply should not add 12,800 brooms to the game. There are definitely drawbacks to this play style. Once I’m encumbered, I move forward at a snail’s pace, my suit struggling and building up lethal amounts of carbon dioxide with every tiny step.
You might think that sounds unbearable — and it is, which is why I’ve devised a brilliant solution. I just throw everything on the floor of my ship and everyone else can deal with it. There’s a man and his daughter living on my ship along with six other people; there’s only one bathroom, and I have no idea where anyone is sleeping. As long as they don’t disturb my big piles of copper and coffee mugs, I’m happy.
Perhaps this is part of why I’m enjoying the exploration aspects of Starfield. If I drop down on a planet and see a couple of bases, I feel a boost of serotonin. Will there be pirates there? How about a bunch of plates, shot glasses, and trays that I can mindlessly gobble up? When every man’s trash is my treasure, my journey is regularly punctuated by showers of riches.
Unfortunately, my companion Sarah doesn’t agree with this. There’s a growing divide between us as we trek around the far reaches of the galaxy. Part of this is that she doesn’t like my casual acts of petty crime, and the rest of it is that she keeps making snide comments about my gear. “Do you really need all that gear?” she’ll snipe at me in the middle of a gunfight. It doesn’t exactly foster camaraderie.
I’ll be enjoying the experience of finding a doomed illegal organ harvesting operation and plucking syringes off counters to put in my pockets like I’m the Grinch on Christmas, and she starts passive-aggressively asking me if I’m carrying too much. I don’t tell you how to live your life, Sarah. Now shut up and help me rob this import station to steal booze supplies for some lady.
Do I need to pick up every single binder in an observation post? No. Will I keep doing that? Yes, because then I get to waddle over to a vendor absolutely laden with Lawgivers. It’s a simple pleasure that hooked me into the rest of Starfield, and now I’m actually enjoying the rest of the game. Ultimately, Starfield is an ode to human ability and optimism, and to me that looks like filling the entire floor of my ship with a carpet of bullshit.