Starfield Temple Puzzle: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It

In the vast open world RPG Starfield, one of the main questlines involves locating ancient Starfield temple puzzle scattered across the galaxy in order to obtain special powers called Artifacts. However, this potentially intriguing questline is hampered by poor design choices, leading to an extremely repetitive and tedious gameplay loop that serves as a perfect example of what not to do in an open world game.

The Issue With Starfield Temple Puzzle

The core problem lies in the puzzle mechanic within each temple. Upon entering a temple, the player finds themselves in a large circular room with a zero gravity anomaly. Floating in this zone are glowing golden spheres that the player must collect, with each temple requiring collecting around 5 spheres before a gate opens to obtain that temple’s power.

On first discovering this strange temple, players are filled with a sense of mystery and discovery. The eerie atmosphere, strange objects floating in zero-G, and swelling music all make for an intriguing first impression. However, this initial awe quickly turns into bored frustration when players discover that literally every single temple in the game uses an identical layout and puzzle mechanic.

After the first couple of temples, the realization dawns that there is zero variety to this main questline. No matter which planet or system the temple is located in, the experience will be exactly the same. Float in zero-G, collect 5ish orbs, fight one enemy, obtain artifact power, and repeat for all 24 powers. This complete lack of creativity or effort grinds an intriguing concept into mindless tedium.

The Quest Structure

The structure of obtaining these powers makes the repetitive temples even worse. For each power, the player must:

  • Fast travel to the Celestial Lodge to speak with an NPC about the temple location
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  • Load into the spaceport and fly to the planet where the temple is located
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  • Land on planet and trek over sometimes huge distances to locate the temple
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  • Enter the temple and complete the puzzle to get the power
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  • Return to Celestial Lodge to be told the location of the next temple
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This adds so much wasted time between reaching each temple that it exacerbates how dull they are. The player ends up spending more time in load screens, spaceflight, and traversing empty terrain than actually engaging with any puzzle or gameplay within the temples themselves.

Missed Opportunities

The temples represent such a disappointing missed opportunity for Bethesda. There are so many ways these powers could have been integrated into the game in a more meaningful way:

  • Tie temples into faction questlines or side quests on that planet
  • Make each temple visually unique with different puzzles and challenges
  • Have powers unlocked through story events or boss fights
  • Hide temples underground or within large dungeons
  • Require certain powers to access certain temples, adding puzzle-platforming elements

The powers in Skyrim provide an obvious comparison where each shout was tucked away at climactic moments within the game’s best dungeons. Obtaining them felt like an epic accomplishment. Meanwhile, Starfield’s temples feel like an afterthought shoehorned into the main questline in the blandest way possible.

A Disappointing Regression

For a game touted as Bethesda’s biggest and most ambitious title to date, the lack of creativity and effort put into the temple puzzles is baffling. Rather than providing memorable challenges that organically integrate with the rest of the experience, they end up feeling like checking items off of a chore list.

This regression is symbolic of larger issues that hold Starfield back from reaching its full potential. The copy-paste approach seen in the temples pervades many aspects of the game’s open world, from repetitive side activities to samey dungeon design. For all its positive qualities, Starfield often fails to fully deliver on the promise of an endless sci-fi sandbox.

The temple puzzles had the potential to be an intriguing quest full of variety and mystery. But their dull repetition serves as the perfect example of promising ideas executed poorly. Game worlds should motivate players to keep exploring, not make them actively avoid major chunks of content due to sheer tedium. Hopefully Bethesda can learn from this misstep in future updates or titles. When creating an open world, requiting players to perform the exact same repetitive task dozens of times over is the perfect example of what not to do.

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