The Thursday letters page reacts to the official launch of Starfield, as one reader thinks Morrowind is Bethesda’s best game.
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I appreciate GC’s review in progress of Starfield, which was very in-depth and clarified several points for me, even if I know you can’t draw any final conclusions yet. What struck me, and I’ve noticed this with a lot of GC reviews, is that the points you make are essentially the same as other sites and yet while you try to give an appropriate score that reflects what has been said this usually get hand waved away by the other sites, who basically agree with you but then give an 8+ score anyway.
As another reader has said, I give a lot of credit to IGN and GameSpot’s reviews for giving Starfield a lower score than expected. Not because I care how good the game is but because I’m sure there must be a lot of pressure on them to score it highly.
It’s not just GC; the same thing has happened many times with Eurogamer, Edge, and other UK sites. This has been said many times before, with other game reviews from various different publishers. And who was it Bethesda didn’t want to send review code to? Exactly those sites they knew would give a score that reflects the review.
From the publisher’s point of view, I doubt they care what anyone says about a game, only what score they give it and how that affects Metacritic. They’ll no doubt feel they made the right decision with GC and Eurogamer, as they’ve been kept off Metacritic until next week but those IGN and GameSpot ones must’ve been an upset. I’m glad to see their manipulations didn’t work and fair and honest reviews were available immediately.
Last minute delay
So, got the kids off to school, grabbed my Xbox pad and went play Starfield.
It was on preinstall from Game Pass. And it was showing installed. Life is good at this point.
But then, brick wall. What in the name of all the swear words is with a 15.5GB update!? For something preinstalled, on day one of standard release.
Surely this update could and should have been auto sent out?
I do at least have decent broadband, and it will take approximately 20 mins. If my broadband was slow, I would be pretty annoyed at this point.
So, still a few days for a score and, well, Bethesda have made a Bethesda game shocker! Although not a surprise, and although I love a Bethesda game (currently playing Fallout: New Vegas… OK, it’s Obsidian… don’t nitpick), they really should be doing better.
I mean, shonky facial animations, bugs, poor companion AI, loading new areas with the fade in/fade out of characters, and a rubbish story were OK 10-15 years ago when Bethesda were really cutting edge with this stuff. But since then, we’ve had The Witcher 3, No Man’s Sky, and Baldurs Gate 3 – games with likely a fraction of the budget showing what can be done.
Also, making the first planets boring? That’s not a thing, is it? I would say a game has two to three hours to grab me, if it fails I’ll give up on it. Developers, you don’t start a game intentionally boring!
Don’t get me wrong, I will likely play it once it’s received multiple patches and a few PC mods to improve it, and I also weirdly quite like the odd strange Bethesda glitch. It’s just a bit tired in 2023.
Have fun gaming y’all!
The Dude Abides
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It’s good to see that you guys are still doing a fab job!
I just thought that I would put pen to paper and ask am I the only one who has… had enough of Starfield!
I mean, anyone would think that it was the game of the century’ but loading screens, delayed review copies, limited world to world travel. It sounds more like a broken mess before it has even been released. The jury is out Microsoft (remember Cyberpunk 2077 anyone?) Give me No Man’s Sky VR any day. I thought Loading screens were dead this generation (I just needed a rant to get it off my chest)? Anyway, here’s a suggestion for a Hot Topic, GC.
If you could go back in time and swap one exclusive game franchise that is on a rival console for it to be a future exclusive on your console instead, which one would it be and why?
And which exclusive game franchise would you sacrifice from your console for it to be an exclusive on the rival console instead of yours?
Mine would be to have Mario on PlayStation and I would sacrifice LittleBigPlanet to Nintendo (fair swap I would say ha! ha!).
Anyway GC, keep up the good work!
GC: Thanks. Although we’re not sure we’d call that a very fair swap.
Sooner than you think
I’m pretty surprised at the news that Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom won’t be getting any DLC. Not that it needs any or anything but I thought it was more a less a given considering how Nintendo has treated other games, including Breath Of The Wild.
What it does mean though, and I think the producer guy was hinting at this, is that the next game will be a bit sooner than might have been expected, since they won’t have to spend six months or whatever making the DLC.
I’ve no idea what the new game will be, but he seemed confident and who wouldn’t be after two absolute bangers in a row?
Don’t give in to hype
Kudos to a studio such as Larian for actually developing a complete title, no microtransactions, and, more importantly, no lies and false promises. Because of this, I just completed my installation of Baldur’s Gate 3 on PC.
On another note, I’ve had to become more conscious of pre-ordering a title before the reviews are released. I owe it to a certain studio, who have a reputation spreading sweet little lies. I owe it to Bethesda, because I’ve lost trust in Todd Howard’s words and the faith of the company as a whole. I can say that everyone was anticipating Starfield. It was built on a massive scale of space exploration and telling your own story.
What we received is another reason to act more carefully and resist falling into the trap that is pre-ordering. GC said it best, what do you get out of pre-ordering? You expect flowers and chocolates but it takes a flicker of a flame to burn a candle and it seems to be Bethesda’s trademark. I’ve grown wary of giving into hype and it’s made me question every title coming out. How do I know Alan Wake 2 won’t disappoint? Will Black Myth: Wukong live up to expectations or is it just a massive lie to market and disappoint?
Silent Hill 2 will likely break hearts, but I can say with utmost truth that it took little for me to shell out £49.99 for a role-playing that wasn’t built on false promises and spearheaded by the greatest liar in gaming today. Bethesda haven’t made a disaster of a title, but they’ve fallen far from grace. I disliked Fallout 4 and this may be a better game, but it’s far removed from what made Skyrim revolutionary.
I speak facts when I say Morrowind is Bethesda’s greatest achievement. It was a complex and beautiful title that perhaps, if I’m being honest, deserved to be made, instead of Starfield, as a fleshed out remake. It would be nostalgia revisited but it holds up today and wasn’t built on malignant factors, such as a terrible main story and lack of reason to explore. Which is what Bethesda should always stand for. But they stand for one thing nowadays. Sweet little lies.
Funny that the GameStop boss should say that about console having to have a disc drive, the same day as the reader letter about thinking going all digital was a mistake. I think they’re both right.
Except for indie titles, digital games benefit nobody except publishers and very lazy people. For the benefit of not having to get up from your chair to change games (really, how often do you do that of an evening?) you give up owners, the ability to trade-in, and are forced to accept higher prices. More than ever I will buy physical whenever I can. Not as a novelty but as a cost-saving decision.
Same criticism, different score
Starfield reviews and discussions have made interesting reading and listening over the past week. As someone that’s never played a Bethesda game, including Starfield, I’m left wondering how Starfield has gotten such high scores from some sites and is being talked about so positively, despite the same people criticising so many core gameplay elements.
Reading GC’s recent review in progress – which reads similarly to a number of reviews that have scored it higher than GC’s expected review ceiling of a 6 out of 10, and a number of discussions that would seemingly score it around a 7 or 8 – some of the criticisms of the game include OK-at-best shooting; poor/non-existent exploration due to its reliance on fast travel; lack of interesting environments; loading requirements between on-planet and space transitions; poor AI; mediocre story, quests and characters; and strict gatekeeping of interesting skills with an inability to re-spec your build.
For a space exploration role-playing game where shooting seems to be the main gameplay mechanic when on missions, that’s a damning read.
However, the spaceship combat has been praised and… that seems about it? I wonder if the Bethesda name, and nostalgia for its previous games that seem to be very well-regarded by most who have played them, are carrying more weight than the game necessarily deserves?
As I said, I haven’t played Starfield or any previous Bethesda games, so I’m not having a go at the game or its developer, I’m just genuinely interested in how it’s reviewed and being discussed so positively despite its numerous shortcomings. As GC’s review in progress highlights, there must be something about the experience being greater than the sum of its parts, which can’t really be appreciated without playing the game.
It sounds like a 5 or 6 out of 10 from everything I’ve read and heard, so not a bad game but also not a must-play (were it not ‘free’ on Game Pass), so maybe not as good as its current 86 Metacritic score suggests. Regardless, I hope whoever is playing it is enjoying it!
Started Starfield, first thing I did after creating my jetpack wearing character? Pilfered everything that wasn’t nailed down of course!
big boy bent (space cowboy)
That Midnight Club 2 and Manhunt story was wild. I was expecting it to be an accidental upload over the weekend but this has been going on for years?! And every knows about it? Bad show Rockstar.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Hammeriron, who asks what is your favourite co-op video game?
Online and local co-op both count but try and give examples of both if you can. Who were you playing the game with and did you choose them for the game or the game for them? How experienced was the other player and how did that factor into the experience?
Do you prefer local or online co-op and would you like to see more of them? Which game that doesn’t have co-op do you wish did?
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