Starfield On Xbox Review: Solid Performance, Few Bugs

After years of hype and teasing, Starfieldisn’t out yet. But the embargo on reviews is up and with it, the first technical review of the game is here. The big takeaway is that Starfield seems to be running solidly on both the Xbox Series X and the smaller, less powerful Series S. This is a bit shocking considering Bethesda’s track record, but likely good news for folks planning to play the game on Microsoft’s cheaper next-gen machine.

Starfield (alongside The Elder Scrolls VI) was first teased years ago at E3 2018. Since then, the hype and excitement surrounding the game, as well as the discourse around it, has grown with each new trailer, teaser, and interview. After all that, players will soon be able to play the Xbox Series X/S console exclusive when it goes live—for those who paid for early access—on August 31. Everybody else, including Game Pass subscribers, will get the game on September 6. So what do you have to look forward to? While reviews aren’t universally glowing, the game at least appears to be technically more sound and stable than any previous Bethesda console release.

Pre-order Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

On August 31, Digital Foundry posted its first video about Starfield and how the game looks and performs and Xbox consoles. And it’s mostly good news! According to the tech-focused outlet, Starfield runs at a locked 30fps on both Series X and S consoles. And performance is pretty solid, with Digital Foundry saying that the RPG “basically hits a locked 30fps for just about everything you do in the game.” This is true on both machines.

Digital Foundry / Bethesda

The one caveat here appears to be the game’s larger cities, specifically the two biggest cities in the game. In these areas, it was reported that the game’s performance can start to falter, with framerates dropping and a few hitches. Digital Foundry notes, however, that it never gets unplayable or nearly as bad as the drops seen in Fallout 4’s large city when playing on Xbox One. So that’s good!

Xbox Series S is mostly the same game, with few cutbacks

What surprised me more than anything is how well the Series S version of the game compares to the X version. Yes, there are some differences, including lower-quality reflections, shadows, and some missing detail far off in the distance.

But it seems these concessions in quality helped the Series S version of Starfield maintain a solid 30fps while using an upscaled 1440p resolution. Not bad for a tiny little $300 machine. I get the feeling that Bethesda and Microsoft spent some extra time and work on making sure the pint-sized console could handle the massive RPG.

Of course, some players may be disappointed by how many loading screens you’ll see when playing the game. Digital Foundry points out that on both machines, exploring planets and cities involves a lot of loading screens. These are fast, thanks to the consoles’ SSDs, but still something to keep in mind. This isn’t a seamless open world, which isn’t surprising considering the scale of Starfield and how much is happening in it at any point. The video also notes that some planets feel empty and barren, but hey, at least they run at 30fps!

Pre-order Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Overall, Starfield on consoles seems to perform far better than I expected. According to Digital Foundry, Starfield isn’t very buggy either, which seems to be the general consensus, at least in these early hours. That’s a stark difference from—and a big improvement over—Fallout 76, Fallout 4, and Skyrim. It also means that you don’t have to wait six months for Bethesda to fix the game, like usual.


Survivor Patch Finally Fixes Performance

Good news! With the latest Star Wars Jedi: Survivor patch, the game is finally achieving a near-consistent 60fps throughout all its action and exploration, translating to a much smoother experience. However, to achieve this some visual cuts were made, and that has added some quirks that might be distracting for some players.

Even before the recent patches, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was a fantastic game and one of my favorites of 2023. Respawn’s sequel to 2019’s Jedi: Fallen Order expanded on that original game with more planets, lightsabers, enemies, and abilities. It also continued the story of Jedi Cal Kestis as he and his ragtag group fought back the Empire and looked for a place to escape all the violence in the galaxy. Still, as great as Survivor was, the game’s performance was a bit all over the place, especially in its large hub world and during intense fights. Patch 7 seems to fix that by removing ray-traced visual features.

As covered extensively in a new video from Digital Foundry, Jedi Survivor’s latest patch includes big improvements to the game’s performance mode, which is supposed to offer up a higher framerate at the cost of some visual fidelity. As mentioned at the start, the good news is that Patch 7 succeeds, and Jedi: Survivor now runs at a nearly locked 60fps, even in previously troublesome areas. This is fantastic, as it makes it look and feel smoother, which helps a lot in a fast-paced action game like Survivor

Digital Foundry / Lucasfilm / EA

But as also pointed out in the video, Respawn achieved this improved performance by removing ray-traced reflections from Performance mode. Now, on the one hand, this trade-off seems fine as RT lighting and reflections are still in the game, but now only in the game’s Quality mode which runs at 30fps.

Yet, the problem is that some areas of the game without ray-traced lighting look darker than before. Worse, the removal of RT reflections means some areas with shiny floors or water now feature some hard-to-ignore artifacts from the game’s use of screen space reflections.

Personally, I agree with Digital Foundry’s suggestion that Respawn, in a future patch, should turn off SSR on water, as the artifacts are the worst here and it would likely look better without it on at all.

But even with some of these new visual quirks, I’m happy Star Wars Jedi: Survivors performance mode is now running at 60fps most of the time. I think the visual trade-offs here make sense. And these improvements and tweaks might be a glimpse at how the next-gen game will look when it arrives on PS4 and Xbox One in the future.


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