I want to start by saying I’m not proud of myself or what I’ve become. I’ve never been one to indulge in collector’s editions or limited-edition gaming peripherals. In fact, before 2023, I had never purchased merch: not from a game release, streamer, or publisher. But that changed thanks to Volvy, and now I’ve slid down a very slippery slope.
It began on June 11, 2023 — the Starfield Direct. Until this showcase, I was only moderately excited about Bethesda’s space opera. The gunplay looked okay at best, and still frames of concept art don’t really do much for me. However, all it took was a 40-minute deep dive to hook me like no game has before.
Hype has never led me down the path that Starfield has. I have already spent hundreds of dollars on this game and tens of hours preparing for its release. I feel as if I’ve taken a hit on a Fallout death stick and am hurdling toward my demise – and the only thing that will make my endeavors worth it is if the game is good.
Giving myself to the idea of a game
When I really like a game — and I mean really, really like — I can become obsessed. But this is the first time I’ve had this much passion for the idea of a game.
Starfield is a Bethesda game, so we can assume it will be riddled with bugs at launch. But outside of that, we don’t know how the game actually feels to play or if it offers the level of freedom a space simulator needs to feel fully realized. Yet, I am anticipating Starfield with far more hype than any game ever before.
Why? Well, I love space exploration. I used to work the 3:30 PM to midnight shift at a grocery store, and some of my fondest gaming memories were when I’d clock out, drive home, slink up the stairs in the earliest of the AM, turn on my Xbox One, launch Elite Dangerous, and cruise through space, hauling parts across the cosmos.
I eventually grew frustrated with the lack of planetary explorations – which the game now has -, but No Man’s Sky would swoop in to scratch that itch. As the game has evolved over the years, my love for NMS has grown, but there’s still something about its infinite procedural generation that feels empty.
Knowing the density of previous Bethesda games, my favorite of which is Fallout 4, I have high hopes for the density of Starfield. Do I know it will be dense? No, and there’s reason to believe 1,000+ planets won’t be, but at this point… it has to be.
For all, into my bank account
So everything I’ve said up until his point probably reads like a hyperbolic Reddit post. My issue is that a game that has yet to come out has already managed to rob me of hundreds of dollars.
Directly after the Starfield presentation, I decided to buy an Xbox. I needed one for work, anyway, so it wasn’t really an unintended expense. And, of course, with Starfield being over 100 GB in size, I had to get extended storage. That’s a $450 entry fee right off the bat.
Shortly after its arrival, I discovered my headset didn’t work for the Xbox, so I’d have to get a new one. I could have bought the slightly cheaper Xbox Gaming Headset, but the Starfield edition was calling my name. Above all else, the glowing microphone and the unique sound effects were the deciding features for me. $125 more dollars on the pile.
Now… what kind of spacefarer would I be if I didn’t pair my headset with the Starfield controller. It’s a limited edition, people. “Limited”. Meaning it won’t be around forever. Yes, it’s $80. But it’s gorgeous. Even if it weren’t related to Starfield, I love the pseudo-ergonomic Nasa Punk design.
And, while Starfield will be available for free on Xbox Game Pass, I would be robbing myself of five extra days of play if I didn’t purchase the Starfield Premium Edition. Add $100 to the bill.
So here is the most embarrassing purchase so far. I was served an ad for an Etsy seller who was offering custom Starfield-inspired backgrounds for your phone. And for just a few more dollars, you could tack on a pack of 72 app icons that would match the aesthetic. It was only $5 total… but I’m not proud of it.
So we’re $760 in on Starfield, but that’s just the start of the amount of time I’ve spent prepping for this game.
The space race hasn’t started yet
Replacing the background on your phone takes a handful of seconds. Replacing every app icon via the iPhone’s Shortcut app is a whole different monster. With the app icons that came in the pack, it took me three hours to replace the ones available. But they weren’t all available. So instead of shoving all of those apps inside a folder and calling it a day, I made my own.
Granted, I only had to make 15 icons. Making those and swapping them out on my phone took three hours. All in all, it took about six hours to customize my phone to look like a control panel in Starfield, a game I have not played yet.
This was when I started to question whether all my efforts were futile. I stare at my phone, and I’m not instilled with any sense of pride. I mean, if I spent six hours painting a figure or even throwing my head at a brutal boss in a video game, I’d probably feel better than looking at my Starfield phone.
Of course, six hours isn’t very long in the grand scheme of things, which is why my tragedy doesn’t end there.
Upon hearing that there wouldn’t be but one radio station in the galaxy, I took up my mantle and started putting together a playlist. I wanted it to be reminiscent of Fallout’s iconic radio stations but with a space twist. So I spent several hours researching music from the 1940s and 1950s that referenced space, aliens, the stars, rocket ships, anything.
Then I listened through the entire playlist and cut out any tracks I felt “messed with the vibe.” Then I listened to the whole playlist again, this time while playing Fallout 76, to see how it felt in-game. It was perfect, but it wasn’t enough.
What if I wanted to explore space to a more sci-fi soundtrack? I wouldn’t fly through No Man’s Sky listening to Clarence Henry or Sinatra, and I doubt I’ll always feel like it in Starfield. The only solution: build a second playlist for spacefarers who want a taste of the cyber side.
And the steps for the first playlist repeated. Listen to five hours of music, cut songs, listen while playing No Man’s Sky, and finalize.
All the while, I’ve watched the Starfield Direct more times than anyone reasonably should. I know some of the lines bar-for-bar as if it were my favorite movie I’ve watched a few dozen times. Every time I boot it up, I do hear a small voice saying, “Hey bud, that’s probably enough.” But then I read the top comment — “Each time you watch this, you get 45 minutes closer to the release date” — and press play.
All of this to say, I need Starfield to be good. I don’t know what repercussions it will have on my mental health if it’s bad. I honestly can’t think of a time I’ve ever been disappointed that would match the level of embarrassment a flopped Starfield launch would be.
Todd Howard, if you’re reading this, please don’t let me down. For my wallet… for my sanity… please let Starfield be good.