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Starfield's zero-G gunfights are a rare treat, but I do enjoy them

Floating points

A zero-gravity gunfight with space pirates in Starfield.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Game Studios

Apologies to the chief, but there’s a not-entirely-accurate bit in Katharine’s post announcing Starfield as October’s RPS Game Club game. I, of the RPS Treehouse, do truly love Starfield, and have only been quiet about it because admitting you enjoy The Grey Bethesda Game but couldn’t get into Baldur's Gate 3 or Elden Ring feels a bit like going to the Savoy Grill and only ordering chips. No one will ask you to leave, but they’ll probably start questioning your judgement.

But dammit, I like chips, and I like Starfield! I like its roving space captain fantasy, I like its utilitarian aesthetic, and I like how its click-clacking guns sound like extremely violent mechanical keyboards. Especially if I get to fire them at floating pirates, while I’m also floating, and said firing punts me upwards into a ceiling.

Was Starfield worth the wait? Liam and Alice B discuss this question - and more - in the video above.Watch on YouTube

I will admit that Starfield massively underuses its zero-G spaces. By far your most common exposure to them is a series of simple, uncontested, barely-puzzling puzzles that gate the game’s magical Dragon Shouts space powers. But on the rare occasions where you roll up to a seemingly empty ship or abandoned space station, only to find its artificial gravity busted and its corridors full of raiders, it’s about as gleefully chaotic as Starfield's combat gets.

Besides the obvious twist of being able to attack (and be attacked) from a full 360 degrees, the lack of gravity affects everything that isn’t welded down. All those crates and notepads and empty Chunks packets that would only otherwise sit around, either to be ignored as scenery dressing or mashed into a spacesuit carry capacity upgrade? That debris is now wafting around your gunfight, blocking shots and bouncing off bodies. It’s messy, but in a fun and characterful way, and even makes for some passing comedy on a particular ship where the malfunctioning gravity switches on and off every few seconds. Weightless skirmishes are punctuated by the amusingly abrupt clattering of all that detritus – plus any fresh corpses – collapsing back to the floor.

A zero-gravity gunfight with space pirates in Starfield.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bethesda Softworks

Another entertaining physics quirk is how easily you can lose control of yourself. You can manoeuvre in any direction and activate your boost pack for a quick burst of speed, but air friction is a poor brake, and attempts at rapid relocation will usually end with you bumping into things like a putz. Luckily, outside of those puzzles, there’s usually little need for precise movements in zero gravity, so you can simply enjoy the kinetic pleasures of bouncing around spaceships like a mishit ping pong ball. Brilliantly, the recoil of ballistic weapons will propel you backwards as well, making for shootouts that are either wilder or more tactical – the latter if you try to navigate with your back already pressed up against a wall, to save you the trouble of smashing into it later. Laser weapons don’t have this trait, and for that reason, I’ve been leaving them unequipped whenever the chance for a zero-G fight comes up.

Sadly these opportunities are indeed hard to find. In the dogfight minigame it’s possible to knock out enough of a ship’s systems that you can board it and battle the occupants without gravity, but even in a galaxy as big as Starfield’s, fixed sources of weightless duels are incredibly rare. If Bethesda make Nuka World-style expansions for it, I hope they include a few new ones, and that they include more unfastened litter than ever before.

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