I remember back in the day standing in front of a wall in the city of Balmora in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind mashing the same fire spell over and over to raise my Destruction skill. This idea of grinding certain gameplay elements carries over to Bethesda’s latest game with the Starfield skills rank up challenges. However, it is one of the worst parts of the experience.
How skills work in Starfield is you gain a skill point every time you level up. You can then use that skill point to learn a brand new skill or rank up an existing one you have. While the former is an instant and easy procedure, the latter is quite frustrating.
It isn’t as easy as using a skill point to raise your Security skill to rank two and be able to pick higher-level locks. No, you have to also pick a certain number of locks and complete the skill rank up challenge for it before you can level it up.
In a way, this mixes the idea of using your skills to level them up, which was prevalent in The Elder Scrolls series, but also applying skill points on top of that. This makes the system more confusing and convoluted than it needs to be. It would be fine if I needed to, for instance, take so much fall damage to increase my Wellness skill and gain more health in the game. But to make me waste an entire skill point on it on top of that? It becomes quite annoying.
It gets worse, though, when none of your skill challenge progression is retroactive. For instance, you need to boost using your boost pack (think jet pack) in combat several times to complete its rank up challenge. But let’s say you leave the first challenge completed for hours before ranking it up with a skill point. Even if you boosted a hundred times between those two ranks, none of those boosts will count towards the next challenge if you don’t spend the skill point. This means you could effectively waste your progression potential if you don’t rank up a skill you’ve completed the challenge for as soon as possible.
This only worsens when the game gatekeeps some of the best features behind high ranks of skills. For instance, you won’t be able to pilot the best ships in the game, the C-class ships, without the max rank of your Piloting skill. But good luck getting more than 50 ship eliminations to fully rank up this skill without some serious grinding. I just now unlocked that final rank after more than 50 hours of playing the game. Meanwhile other skills like Leadership, with skill challenges of simply running around with a companion, are hilariously easy to complete, despite being a higher tier skill than Piloting.
This disconnect between the challenges is troublesome and unnecessary. I would have been fine with the old system of using a skill enough to level it up or just skill points on their own, but mixing the two together disrupts and overcomplicates the leveling up system in Starfield.
Starfield is available for Xbox Series X/S and PC.
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