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Starfield’s best early-game gunfight happens in zero gravity

Remember, the enemy’s gate is down

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The player character and Andreja float side-by-side in Starfield. Behind them are a few corpses, floating over a golden vault.
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Bethesda Game Studios is not necessarily well regarded for its expertise at digital gunplay, but after Starfield, that very well may change. Numerous critics, including here at Polygon, have praised its combat. Personally, I’ve found that its weapons feel weighty, fairly precise, and satisfyingly potent. It’s a big improvement from the Fallout series’ collection of feathery pop-guns.

Turns out that there’s an excellent early-game opportunity to take those new weapons for a test drive. In fact, this zero-gravity gunfight may well be one of the game’s very best.

[Ed. note: The following contains spoilers for the Almagest space station side quest in Starfield.]

On my way from Alpha Centauri, following the Mantis questline, I stumbled on the Olympus star system. Around the planet Nesoi, I bumped into a fairly standard-looking radial space station, not unlike Constellation’s own starbase, known as The Eye. However, upon hailing the station, the only thing that returned was static. Never a good sign.

Boarding the station, I found myself at the end of a gilded hallway — completely weightless, and guided only by the jets on my backpack. Through the windows on either side, I could tell that something was awry, with lots of debris floating around the interior of the empty space station. That’s when a Spacer floated by, his barks signaling the beginning of a serious gunfight. One level below, all hell broke loose.

The battle space rewards aggression, with little more than a single decorative grating separating the player from the bulk of enemies. Proficiency with a jetpack should let you quickly close the distance, isolating individual enemies around the room. Grenades and shotguns also help to break up the core group, which is surprisingly good at repositioning itself and using cover to its advantage. It also helps that the action kicks off fairly close to the airlock. By the end, even my robot Vasco was in on the action.

What surprised me most was how well the physics system performed. We’ve seen plenty of potatoes flying around in Starfield, but not that many corpses. I’m happy to report that Bethesda’s classically comical ragdoll effects have been well-tuned for zero G, with dead spacers pinwheeling spectacularly around the room and even providing cover as they go sailing by.

The bottom line? Almagest is an excellent early playground. If you haven’t explored it, bring along some of your favorite weapons and make a solid save point. You’ll want to run it again and again and again to put the game’s combat systems to the test.

Just remember: When fighting in zero G, the enemy’s gate is down.

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