What to play while waiting for Starfield

 Alternatives to the big space RPG that are already out

After years of rumors, speculation, and anticipation, Todd Howard finally unveiled Bethesda's next big game in June 2022, the sci-fi RPG Starfield. The opinions of the players were divided. Someone calls the project a modification of Fallout 4, someone claims that No Man's Sky looks better and provides more opportunities, and others remind us that a "seamless" takeoff from planets into space was implemented back in 1993 in Frontier: Elite II.

Be that as it may, the new Bethesda game still attracts attention. If it is discussed, it will certainly have an audience. But there are still many months before the release - maybe even a whole year. And while we're gathering bits and pieces of information about Starfield, here's a list of games that will help brighten up the wait.

No Man's Sky

The story of an ugly duckling that turned into a beautiful swan. Having failed all the promises on the release, Hello Games collected a lot of negative reviews, went into the shadows, and stopped sending signals to the air. Nearly six years later and a series of updates, No Man's Sky is as close as possible to the dream game that glorifies the freedom of conquest of space, which the head of the studio Sean Murray promised at the announcement.

A lot of planets that you can explore on your own and with the help of technology, the secrets of other civilizations, resource extraction, equipment production and base building, star stations, battles, and expeditions - there is almost everything that Bethesda promises today in Starfield, which has not yet been released. . Plus global multiplayer - and a "seamless" transition from the surface of the planets into space. Unless without a well-developed plot - but it remains to be seen how interesting the story will be offered by Bethesda.

Fallout 4

Whatever one may say, Howard's game design has its own characteristics, and the DNA of this design can be traced already in the Starfield trailers. The face of modern Bethesda and one of the important foundations for custom mods is Fallout 4, despite all the memes about selling Skyrim for many years. And in terms of the questionable shooter, bandit base clearing, gathering, and building, the gameplay footage of the new game really does feel like a 2015 RPG conversion. Only with flights and battles in space in the appendage.

So for those who are not interested in space itself, but in the basic mechanics of Bethesda games with elements of survival craft, you should pay attention to the last two releases of Fallout - single numbered and network 76.

Elite Dangerous

In the early 1980s, David Braben came up with a comprehensive starflight simulator - with complex ship control, resource management, a working economic model, and space full of secrets and dangers. In the mid-90s, he developed the ideas of the original Elite in the Frontiers dilogy, and in 2014 he revived the iconic space sim.

All the same furious piloting, 400 billion stars in the Galaxy, ore mining on asteroids, trade, and battles of entire fleets against the backdrop of global political intrigues. Elite Dangerous turned out to be a complex and really interesting game for those who dream of conquering virtual space.

Alas, the attempt to add elements of a first-person shooter to the formula - with battles outside ships on the surface of the planets - failed, and the studio had to radically change priorities to further support the project. But for ground survival, Fallout 4 is already there, and Elite Dangerous is still a great way to explore space.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

The most controversial part of the Mass Effect series is still not devoid of interesting and even well-executed ideas. The main thing that interests us in the context of Starfield is space exploration. Andromeda cannot boast of combat in interstellar space, nor the construction of a ship, nor even direct control of it. And on most of the relatively small number of planets, you cannot land - only on those that are laid out according to the plot.

But all the worlds available for landing are manually created, differ in climate and landscape, contain buildings and artifacts of ancient aliens - and they are full of resources that can be collected and objects that can be scanned. Shootouts are also included - and very good. So for those longing to explore distant worlds and the sensations that go with it, Andromeda is just fine to pass the time before the release of Starfield.

The Outer Worlds

Another traditional RPG that has a lot more in common with Fallout (apart from the developers responsible for New Vegas) than with Elite and No Man's Sky. No serious system of building and collecting resources, and flying in space - just by clicking on the icons on a rather sketchy map of the star system. But extraterrestrial landscapes, survival in harsh alien conditions and a sense of knowing the secrets of worlds far from Earth are available. As well as relationships with different factions, and battles with bandits in secret lairs and abandoned factories - we saw something similar in the Starfield trailer.

Rebel Galaxy

The Rebel Galaxy series consists of two parts, and formally, the second part has a little more in common with classic space simulators. But we recommend that you limit yourself to acquaintance with the original in order to be less upset by the quality of performance and the balance of features.

The game has a plot, some kind of economy with trade in resources and flights in space. Along with the battles of various starships. But there are no landings on the planets. All activity outside the starship comes down to visiting stations - to sell and buy cargo, repair the ship and its improvements, or communicate with the local administration. Here you can also find work and advance in the story.

Rebel Galaxy has more in common not with Elite, but with Freelancer, the ideological successor of Wing Commander from Chris Roberts, who has been raising money for Star Citizen for many years. That's just the battles here take place with a third-person view and are more like battles of sailboats from some Corsairs. But Todd Howard also promised Starfield control of various ship systems and a moderate pace of battles.


Starfield borrows from Fallout 4 the item production system, from No Man's Sky - the ability to build full-fledged bases and receive income from them. And specifically, the game Astroneer is dedicated to the development of distant planets. Her hero, as you might guess from the name, is an astronaut-engineer who survives in a strange, unknown world.

The task is to get resources and build an entire base around your escape pod, terraforming the landscape along the way. And it is precisely the construction of the base, the laying of communications, electric highways, bridges and tunnels, pipelines, and similar truly engineering tasks that are implemented in Astroneer with much more attention than in many other survival simulators. So if you are interested in the development of distant planets, pay attention to this game.

X4: Foundations

A very niche, very hardcore, but nonetheless respected old series of space sims, the German Egosoft has been releasing a cycle since 1999. Released in 2018, X4: Foundations is the most relevant part to date, which has absorbed the best practices of the studio.

Unlike some online sims, X4 features a story-driven campaign full of intrigue involving various factions that include five sentient races. And a lot of ships - from fighters to aircraft-carrying cruisers and gigantic developers. But the main focus of the game is business in space and the creation of a financial empire. And the fleet is needed here not so much for war, but for transporting goods and building orbital stations with subsequent maintenance.

EVE Online

Another game about factions, fleet building and financial empires. Without a serious simulation of ship control, landing on planets, exploring space stations on foot - but with real wars of powerful guilds, which here have the status of corporations, and a working economy controlled by the gaming community.

Yes, this is an ancient but still great MMORPG EVE Online. And many of her fans not only spend real money in it - but also earn it. And in order to monitor the balance of resources and accounting, support for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets is integrated into the game.

But this large and complex virtual universe requires serious skills and a lot of time. Having started playing EVE in anticipation of Starfield, an enthusiastic gamer risks continuing to drill virtual asteroids instead of Starfield. And instead of many other games.


Todd Howard talked about slow-paced combat and compared Starfield battles to Mechwarrior. Let's go even further - there's a game where really slow-moving massive starships are fighting, and the player needs to control a lot of weapons and defense systems at the same time.

Dreadnought from the studio that once gave the world Spec-Ops: The Line came out in 2017. And it didn't take off. But the game is free and can offer non-trivial gameplay for session competitive action movies. Imagine World of Tanks, in which huge ships fight in orbits and in the upper atmosphere of planets, as well as in outer space. Clumsy, well-protected - they require the ability to maneuver with inertia, control various propulsion sections and shoot at the same time. It's worth at least trying.

There are many more games about space, construction, exploration, survival and battles in interplanetary space. Some of them certainly have a lot in common with the upcoming Bethesda game. Someone will remember the old games of Chris Roberts, someone will remember the indie hit Starbound. Know more examples? Share what you are playing while waiting for Starfield, or even what you are going to play instead.

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