Can Starfield win the Game of the Year award in December?

Bethesda's magnum opus will likely win a GOTY award or two, the only question is, will it go home with arguably the biggest one of them all?

For Starfield, accolades are just a bonus - what's important is how much impact it makes on the bottomline of Microsoft and in the eyes of its community.

Among a star-studded year for gaming, Bethesda Game Studios' Starfield emerges not as an astronomical anomaly but a familiar celestial body in the sprawling universe of role-playing games. Starfield arrives at a time when the hype orbits around other colossal releases like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Diablo IV, and Final Fantasy XVI. Despite its stiff competition, Starfield, one of Microsoft's most anticipated launches following their $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax Media, carves out a space for itself, both literally and figuratively.

As the progeny of Bethesda - a studio revered for its storytelling mastery in series like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout - Starfield had the weight of a neutron star's expectations on its shoulders, especially following the dismal reception of Redfall earlier this year.

Unlike some of Bethesda's other combat-centric titles like Deathloop or Wolfenstein, Starfield remains steadfast in its world-building and intricate narratives. Although you'd be surprised at how reviewers seem to love the game's combat system, for some reason. This comes as excellent news for gamers seeking a more adrenaline-fueled odyssey. Not to mention, for those who revel in the nuanced tapestries of side quests and the natural magnetism of complex characters, the game is a welcome addition to the Game Pass and the Xbox platform. 

You'd be surprised by how good the combat in Starfield is, as per the reviews.

Astoundingly, Starfield is not just another space-themed game; it's a vast cosmos teeming with possibilities. The game's storytelling has a grounded feel that's as close to reality as it is fantastical. While the main quest revolving around the collection of alien artifacts clocks in at roughly 30 hours, players can lose themselves in the cosmic ballet of customizing spaceships, exploring different planets, and battling ruthless pirates for hundreds more.

As much as every other Bethesda game before Starfield is a modder's dream, the open-world space opera takes things up a notch - the sky is no longer the limit here folks, you can create entire planets in Starfield.

Speaking of , the planetary diversity is staggering - from temperate worlds bursting with flora and fauna to gas giants inhospitable to landing, and even Earth, depicted as a desert wasteland choked by corrosive gases. It's an experience made more coherent by the uniformity of names, locations, and planetary characteristics across all players, which adds a touch of realism often missing in other RPGs. However, this immense world-building comes with its limitations. While visually stunning and heavily polished, the game stumbles when it comes to exploration, primarily due to the absence of vehicles that make traversing these expansive terrains a tedious task.

Modders will help give Starfield a few more years worth of gameplay while additional post-launch content will guarantee that its lifecycle is as long as can be.

Even with its shortcomings, there's something irresistibly compelling about Starfield, a quality that shines through even in its most frustrating moments. Its "flaws," so to speak, are merely cracks in an otherwise stellar facade - a reflection of Bethesda's formula being pushed to its outer limits. It's like an intricate piece of space machinery that mostly works but has a few bolts loose here and there. Even then, it doesn't deter the player from wanting to explore more, from wanting to find out what lurks in the dark corners of its universe.

As Game of the Year discussions gain momentum, the stage is set for a fierce intergalactic battle, but the question is, will Starfield reign supreme?

In an ideal world, at least for Xbox fans, Starfield clinging the prestigious title in December at The Game Awards in Los Angeles, would herald a new age for the gaming industry, incentivizing Sony to up its game. It's certainly an intriguing premise, given the earlier exclusivity of role-playing hits like Final Fantasy XVI to the PlayStation 5. Whether Starfield emerges as Xbox's crowning jewel remains to be seen, but what is undeniable is that it's a significant and potentially transformative release for Microsoft's Game Pass service, which is shifting the gaming landscape towards subscription models.

As long as Starfield moves units - both copies of the game and the Xbox Series S/X - everybody will be happy.

Keep in mind, it's been a couple of years since Sony saw one of its first-party titles get more than just a mere podium finish at Geoff Keighley's annual event. Even though the likes of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and God of War: Ragnarok got nominated and won a few awards, it's still different when they go home with the biggest trophy.

Unfortunately, we're not expecting Marvel's Spider-Man 2 nor Starfield to go home with THE award. Most likely, the honor belongs to Nintendo for Tears of the Kingdom or Larian Studios for Baldur's Gate 3.

But, that's not necessarily bad news. Starfield isn't the cosmic game-changer many were perhaps yearning for, but it does secure its place among the stars - a shining beacon in a galaxy full of other lustrious celestial bodies, offering just enough gravity to pull everyone into its orbit and keep them there. 

Bethesda deserves to take a break after working on Starfield for so many years.

Speaking of orbits and gravity, Starfield's fast-travel option is relatively straightforward but if you find yourself getting confused, don't worry: we've got you covered

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Ray Ampoloquio

Ray Ampoloquio // Articles: 5840

Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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