Bethesda Studios has some of the most admired and respected video game franchises in history. From the Elder Scrolls to Fallout, the publisher has established itself as one of the kings of RPGs.
Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Oblivion have been renowned games and have become cultural icons themselves. But recently, some have questioned if the Bethesda magic has faded away.
When Fallout 4 was released, gamers questioned some choices that Bethesda made when making the game. This included the voiced protagonist and less of a focus on RPG mechanics than previous Bethesda titles.
4 years later, Bethesda would develop a Fallout game focused on online multiplayer and co-op, Fallout 76. However, the launch was a certain failure to many. Bugs, extensive microtransactions, and a multiplayer system that many felt were not well thought out.
To many, Fallout 76 was a disaster and a continuation of the trend of mistakes that were made during Fallout 4. The release of 76 hurt Bethesda’s reputation at the time, and some had wondered if the studio had lost its way.
Many had pointed out that Bethesda games have always been buggy, but Fallout 76 had no shortage of game-breaking bugs upon release.
The once-beloved Bethesda had fallen from grace after the release of Fallout 76, and many wondered if they could ever recover.
Bethesda needs to salvage its reputation, and they have a trick up its sleeve. Starfield.
Starfield is Bethesda’s next mainline title after Fallout 76. Is the company’s first original IP in over 20 years, an open-world sci-fi RPG set in the 2300s. Earlier this year, Bethesda released a 15-minute gameplay showcase, detailing many mechanics and features in the game.
Early development on Starfield began shortly after the Fallout 4 release but did not ramp up to full production until sometime after Fallout 76 launched.
Bethesda has incorporated fan requests and input following the previous 2 Fallout releases. There will be no voiced protagonist in Starfield, and it seems like Bethesda is returning to its pure RPG roots.
In a developer diary earlier this month, Todd Howard introduces more dialogue and trait mechanics. Starfield has Bethesda’s most advanced trait system yet, with each trait having a benefit and a consequence. Each trait also has a quest that would allow you to remove any negative effects.
Starfield’s dialogue system is also vastly improved over Skyrim, Fallout 4, and 76. Over 252,000 lines of dialogue were recorded for Starfield, compared to 110,000 for Fallout 4 and 60,000 for Skyrim. The dialogue system also includes integrates improved RPG mechanics, a vast improvement from the confusing 4 choice dialogue in Fallout 4.
Starfield is a massive project. The game will have around 1000 planets contained in hundreds of star systems. We have seen this type of scale in a game before in No Mans’s Sky, EVE Online, and Elite Dangerous, but no open-world RPG has had this type of scale before.
The scale of Starfield has left some to wonder if the size of everything would be worth it. Of course, many planets in the game will be procedurally generated, as were the planets in No Mans’s Sky and others. But many gamers found the infinite number of planets in these games to be useless, and in many cases, repetitive.
But Starfield has up to 1000 planets, in comparison with the infinite procedurally generated world in other titles. There is room for Bethesda to be able to make hand-crafted worlds that are interesting and unique.
Bethesda looks to the future with Starfield, not just with its setting, but looking at its past mistakes and learning from them. If Bethesda can pull off Starfield, and from what we have seen that will most likely be the case, then the studio will surely restore its reputation, and many will forget its mistakes with Fallout 76.
The redemption story has become a common one in gaming, with failing titles coming back and making a resurgence. No Mans’s Sky has always been the best example of this. Cyberpunk and CD Projekt Red have made a resurgence with the release of Cyberpunk Edgeruners and detailing the company’s future plans.
Bethesda can and will redeem itself, but it relies on the success of Starfield to do so.
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