Starfield vs Mass Effect

mass effect vs starfield

mass effect vs starfield

When you think of RPGs set to the backdrop of space, few games can hold the legendary status owed to the original Mass Effect trilogy. It has been many years, but Mass Effect still enjoys a legendary status in the gaming community due to how well-received the original space adventures of Commander Shepard were.

Today, we'll see if the latest space odyssey from Bethesda, Starfield, can match up to Mass Effect in our Starfield vs Mass Effect showdown.


Regarding the story, Starfield is competing against this genre's best of the best. Mass Effect holds a legendary status within the gaming community due to its iconic and immersive storytelling that gives significant weight to every decision. Furthermore, it manages to pull this off consistently across three games in the original trilogy, where you HAVE to play the games for the full authentic experience.

Take the role of Commander Shepard in your discovery of the Mass Effect and how you must now handle intergalactic diplomacy and repel alien invasions to protect human civilization. The story is very cinematic and grand in its scope and execution.

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Starfield's story is by no means bad, but it doesn't hold up to the massive scale and immersion of Mass Effect. The storyline involving the Artifacts, Starborn, and Unity are all reasonably well thought out and can be exciting conceptually. Still, they take a while to get started and can feel underwhelming when it's all over.

Luckily, there are tons of side missions and faction quests for you to immerse yourself in, and these hold a little bit of something for anyone. Starfield has the advantage of quantity when it comes to the number of stories it can tell.

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Starfield might have the upper hand in the number of factions and species of creatures, but no space experience should lack intelligent alien life. Mass Effect has a breathtaking world with impressive cities and alien races inhabiting them. This gives the whole game a unique atmosphere and identity, making the characters and settings stand out much more.

Compared to this, Starfield has humans aligned with some slightly differing factions when it comes to handling national policy. Space Cowboys against Space Democracy vs Space Pirates isn't as complex and intricate.

Roleplay and Decision Making

There is no denying that Starfield's roleplay and decision-making systems have been a significant step up from Bethesda's previous entries. There are multiple methods to solving every problem depending on what kind of character you've made, and dialogue choices often have a lot of impact.

However, it does not compete with Mass Effect's choice system, companion system, or quality at any point.

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Simply put, the overall story of Mass Effect is a much more iconic experience with loads of story beats and memorable moments that will leave an impact. It'd be difficult to uniquely differentiate between the companions in Starfield or to mention important side characters. However, Mass Effect has truly memorable characters like Garrus, Tali, Liara, and Miranda. You're invested in their stories and want to know more about them.

The romance in Mass Effect also feels better than Starfield's romance due to this additional depth and quality. Speaking of quality, Mass Effect is often considered cheesy, but it's more in a charming sort of way. The dialogue quality in Mass Effect is superior and has more heart than Starfield's monotonous and often disinterested presentation. This is a big deal, considering both these games rely on a lot of dialogue for their storytelling experiences.

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Lastly, we have the decision-making aspect for both games. The decision system in Mass Effect speaks for itself when your actions carry across all three entries in the trilogy, and characters will remember and expect you to align with the sense of morals you're working with.

On the other hand, you can make some important decisions in Starfield, but often, you decide, the quest ends, and everybody stops caring. You can keep murdering NPCs and gaslight your companion to forget all about it with a simple Persuasion check.

Space Travel and Exploration

Space Travel for both games can be summed up into a simple menu navigation chore if we decide to boil it down. Mass Effect relies on a prebuilt ship that you can't tinker around with much, and it'll take you to various planets within the galaxy. Here, you can access the star map and travel to a planet through a loading screen. You can't land or explore using your ship, and space combat is relegated to cutscenes.

The ship belongs to your squad and has a fully dedicated team rather than something owned by you. The planets you visit are also less than Starfield, but they're all handcrafted places with tons of depth and lore. Each world feels unique and exciting to explore.

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Starfield also lets you explore galaxies like Mass Effect. However, this time around, there are hundreds of Star Systems with over a thousand planets. You can hover around the orbit of each planet and run into unique space encounters, take part in space combat, steal ships, and perform other space activities.

Your ship belongs to you, and you can customize every aspect of it from the hundreds of parts available by using the advanced ship builder menu. You can even purchase ships that catch your fancy, including the purchase of Crimson Fleet ships. As far as spaceships are concerned, Starfield takes the cake.

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Unfortunately, while Starfield enjoys a much larger scope, it lacks consistent quality due to procedural generation and the majority of planets being barren. Starfield's real meat is in the major cities and hub areas where you'll interact with most NPCs and quests. This leads to a much more fragmented experience and breaks the overall immersion.

Ship navigation and travel also require you to go through several menu screens, which has the same negative effect.

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Mass Effect is one of the most beloved third-person shooter titles out there, mainly because there's a shortage of decent third-person shooters. Very few come to mind, which can be as fun or have the polish that Mass Effect had. However, just because it's an excellent third-person shooter doesn't mean it can hold its own against the best FPS titles.

Starfield provides the best of both worlds in this category. Not only is the shooting insanely satisfying and fluid, but you can enjoy it in both first-person and third-person modes, with the execution in each mode being quite impressive.

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Not to say Mass Effect's combat lacks depth, as it has enough meat to make for its own multiplayer mode. It's more that Starfield's Combat has a solid and polished base that can compete with some of the best single-player shooter games on the market.

The Power system, weapon modding, and spacesuit modding give it some significant depth, and despite the lack of a proper cover system like Mass Effect, gunplay, on the whole, feels very natural.

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Concluding Thoughts

Starfield is a mish-mash between games such as Fallout, Mass Effect, and No Man's Sky that tries to incorporate elements from all these games into a single package. Unfortunately, it fails to excel too much at any of these aspects individually. This results in a final product that lacks a sense of unique identity compared to something like the iconic Mass Effect games.

The Mass Effect trilogy, while also being a space game, does not have the same goal and purpose as Starfield. It's a more specialized and localized linear storytelling adventure emphasizing the story, characters, and your decisions. Consequently, you'll receive a much more refined and meaningful story experience if you play Mass Effect compared to Starfield. Mechanically, it might be different and outdated, but remember that this isn't what the game is meant to be.

Starfield still has a long way to go in discovering its own identity before it cements itself as an iconic classic like the Mass Effect Trilogy.

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