Saturday, September 02, 2023
So I am watching the first streamers play Starfield, and couldn't help but notice people picking up all sorts of objects like a pen (mass 0.01, value 1), a wrench (mass 0.75, value 35), or a coffee mug (mass 0.25, value 55). And my blood starts to boil, because I really, really wished that for once we could get a CRPG without that sort of junk loot. The wrench has absolutely no function in the game, in spite of what you might think about a game in which you build space ships and colonies. Just like the rope in Baldur's Gate 3 doesn't have any function, in spite of a rope being a staple of D&D equipment. These are all just items that take up space or weight in the inventory, until you get to a vendor to sell them. And as that might take some time, you end up with an inventory full of junk, and you wasting valuable play time managing the junk in the inventory. With bad inventory management already being a point of criticism in the early Starfield reviews, as well as the lack of usable maps that actually would show where the vendors are.
If you open every container and scan every room (with "F" in Starfield, "ALT" in BG3) to loot every item, then manage your inventory when that becomes necessary, and finally sell all the junk to a vendor, you end spending a significant amount of time for all that. Easily around a quarter of the overall play time, if you like to be thorough. If, like me, you prefer to think of your character as some sort of hero, rather than a combination of petty thief and junk vendor, you can obviously spend a lot less time searching everything. But you never know whether there isn't any good loot in one of the hundred containers you didn't open. And the general economy is balanced in a way that you'll be short on cash if you don't sell bundles of junk. When you are invited to join Constellation and generously given a room in their lodge, you are *supposed* to steal the copy of Moby Dick (mass 0.50, value 590) from your own room and sell it.
I consider junk loot to be artificial filler content, and bad game design. Nobody *likes* collecting a bunch of junk. People like good loot and significant gear upgrades. One treasure chest with 1000 credits / gold in cash is a lot better than 20 crates with 40 items, which together are worth 1000 credits / gold. It isn't even as if you could interact with every single item in the game for the sake of realism, neither in Starfield nor in Baldur's Gate 3: There are still far more objects visible on the screen that you can't interact with than those you can. If devs already decide which items I can take and which aren't worth taking, why not leave out all those junk items with no game functionality?