Starfield Chronicles: Part 5 — Moving to the Modlist Life

I’ve jumped quite a bit further into the main story. The main mystery of the artefacts has been revealed and, so far as I can tell, it’s now just a straight shot through collecting a few more and then determining who (perhaps if anyone?) to side with for the final resolution at the end.

But as the title of this part may suggest, despite my assertion to play this through vanilla, I’ve installed a modlist. Specifically, this one. It bills itself as the ‘largest mod collection for Starfield’, which may or may not be true — but I will say that even if it is, the impact on the game is largely quality of life rather than truly game changers. The official mod tools aren’t even out for Starfield yet, making the work done all the more impressive.

StarUI on the ‘Aid’ page, demonstrating some of the improvements.

StarUI with the Compact UI options are probably the ones I appreciate the most, and the most often — the normal version of that ‘Aid’ screen above, for example, would not show you what conditions each item can treat. If you don’t just remember, you have to click through each one until you find one that can heal what you need it to. Further, each individual item line would have about three times the height — so you’d be scrolling for days to look for it.

Buuut if I could only keep a single mod from the list, it might actually be flicker/delay removals on opening/closing the menus. It probably only subtracts microseconds of time from these actions — but the improvement in reactivity and ‘feel’ is huge nonetheless.

But uh…

Skyrim (with Nolvus) installed, using the Bjorn ENB. Click through for a bit more of a detailed view.

Yeahhh. So I did it.

My interest in Skyrim and Fallout 4 modding has turned to action — at least for Skyrim. Fallout 4 may well follow, but not until I’m done with at least Starfield which, believe it or not, is still my priority. As I alluded to in my intro though, I’m far enough along now in Starfield — and focused enough on just doing the main quest line — that it is more difficult to talk about without risking fairly significant spoilers to those yet to play.

Modding for Starfield is probably well ahead of where it really has any right to be without the tools available — but not to take away from any modders’ accomplishments, but for the most part — they are QoL rather than big overhauls that start posing Theseus’ Ship style questions about when the game is no longer the same game.

I’m highly curious where Starfield will be 2, 5, or 10 years from now — but I also have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t find anywhere near the expansion of capability and life through modding that Skyrim has enjoyed.

And I believe that quite firmly. So I was wondering what was the driver for that belief. Certainly, a significant part of it is from my assumptions on audience size — but it turns out, I could be wrong on this. Steamcharts doesn’t quite reach back to the launch of the original PC Skyrim, but from when it does kick in, for July 2012, it was sitting at a peak concurrent player count of 39k. It later hit a peak of 90.8k concurrent players in April 2015. This PCGamer article suggests though that within the first day of launch, Skyrim reached nearly 250,000 concurrent players, dwarfing everything else around it at the time.

For comparison, Starfield hit a launch peak of 330.6k concurrent Steam players, and within the last 24 hours has held to around 79k peak players.

So the audience size isn’t as far swung in Skyrim’s favour as I perhaps would have thought. And in case you’re wondering, no, the Special Edition never peaked higher than the original.

But that still doesn’t shake my belief.

Still- it’s entirely possible that some years from today, we’ll be wondering where Starfield ends and the mods begin as we seamlessly fly in atmosphere and across hundreds of stars with more interesting and fixed locales. That the combat will be unrecognisable from today, with something much more akin to a dedicated first- or third-person shooter feel. Certainly, the possibilities are there.

But where I think my personal biases start to weigh into the beliefs is that I greatly prefer the (relatively) contiguous starting point of Skyrim. The feeling of being within a singular land with endless possibilities and meeting them on my own two feet. Getting Starfield to a similar point seems like a mighty leap for the decrepit Creation Engine to manage, but I suppose there’s always room to be surprised.

I think until I actually finish Starfield now, this will be my last entry in this series. And I’m not even going to close it off with Starfield shots. I mean- check these out. Skyrim, now some 12 years old can go toe-to-toe with Starfield visuals no problem. Click through for a better look, particularly at the darker, smaller ones. :)


Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.