When Starfield launched in September 2023, everyone thought it would certainly clinch the Game of the Year award. However, many people realized how mediocre Starfield was after the game failed to be nominated for Game of the Year.
Following Starfield’s launch, excitement has turned into disappointment as players come to terms with the fact that the game doesn’t live up to the high hopes created by Bethesda’s marketing.
Why it matters: Bethesda’s continuous utilization of game design of the past is killing the company’s reputation. Once known among the best Western RPG studios, it is now sinking into mediocrity.
An Optimization Mess
The initial blow came in the form of abysmal PC performance. Even with competent hardware, the RPG had trouble keeping a steady frame rate. The problem was made worse by Bethesda using outdated upscaling tech, forcing players to step in to make the game run better.
When a game is built on an outdated engine and still can’t deliver consistent frame rates, it raises questions about the developers’ competence and the quality of the game itself.
This highlights worries about the growing trend of rushed releases in the gaming industry, seen in games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Star Wars Jedi Survivor at release.
Admittedly, Bethesda has made improvements to performance since release, but the game is still far from where it needs to be.
Modders Might Not Fix The Game This Time
Skyrim’s lasting appeal owes much to the modding community, injecting fresh ideas into the game. Bethesda hoped to recreate this with Starfield, but key modders are stepping back.
Particularly, the minds behind the Starfield Together mod, which added multiplayer to Skyrim, aren’t pleased with Starfield. They criticize its procedural generation and the absence of an exciting and detailed open world.
In trying to figure out the mod for Starfield, the team hit a big hurdle—they all just really don’t like the game. The mod creator expressed their strong feelings, calling Starfield bland, a sentiment shared by many online reviews.
Although some brilliant quality-of-life mods, such as the addition of DLSS, have been created by the community, the modding scene as a whole seems discouraged. The community’s dissatisfaction is clear, pointing to a missed opportunity for the modding scene that Bethesda was counting on.
The game appears visually appealing, but once you start playing it, the gameplay seems to lack excitement and progress.
The Overall Experience is Just Monotonous
As a keen gamer, I jumped into Starfield as soon as it dropped, driven by the hype in the community. My take? It’s a game that firmly lands in the realm of mediocrity.
While not a total disaster, it lacks the spark that makes games special. The combat, in particular, can be deemed nothing more than average, opening the door for debates about its overall quality.
Comparing Starfield to Baldur’s Gate 3, the GOTY winner exposes shortcomings in Bethesda’s role-playing aspect. The conversation choices lack the depth of modern games, leaving players with a sense of repetition.
While Bethesda aims for a lively narrative, the execution falls short, especially when compared to the branched storytelling of Baldur’s Gate 3. Starfield promised an immersive space exploration experience, but the reality disappoints. Cumbersome loading screens and unexciting planetary exploration hinder the gameplay.
The absence of vehicles on planets, along with repetitive quests, adds to a monotonous experience. The RPG fails to fulfill the potential for a space exploration revolution, reminiscent of the challenges faced by No Man’s Sky five years ago.
After spending hundreds of hours in Starfield, players discovered it lacked depth and engagement. Bethesda’s replies to player concerns in Steam reviews seem routine, with developers proposing repetitive activities as a solution.
These responses only worsen the increasing frustration as players voice their boredom with the game’s unsatisfying campaign and limited activities.
In the gaming industry, overhyped titles that land in the middle ground of mediocrity often spark debates. Unlike games widely praised or criticized, mediocrity leads to diverse opinions, fostering an atmosphere of uncertainty.
Starfield, in this sense, showcases the paradox—neither distinctly good nor bad, it has turned into a battleground for conflicting viewpoints. Although I think Starfield is nothing more than average, it remains unclear where the broader industry discussion will go.
Will the buzz around the RPG die down, letting it slip into obscurity, or will Microsoft and Bethesda keep promoting it as an undisputed success? I worry the latter might prolong the ongoing disagreements and debates.
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