Bethesda’s highly anticipated space exploration game, Starfield, has garnered a mixed response from players since its release. With over 80,000 user reviews on Steam, the game currently holds a mixed rating. Dissatisfied with this reception, Bethesda’s developers have taken to engaging with individual reviewers and addressing their criticisms. While it is admirable that the developers are actively responding to player feedback, the effectiveness of these responses remains questionable.
One of the common complaints highlighted by players is the presence of loading breaks during fast travel and transitioning between maps. In response, Bethesda contends that the short loading screens are a necessary sacrifice to ensure flawless loading of the expansive procedurally generated gameplay. They believe that these loading screens do not detract from the immersive world they have created. Additionally, Bethesda emphasizes that the experience within Starfield can vary based on progression and dialogue choices. By urging reviewers to try different character builds, they suggest that players will be able to discover new layers and possibilities within the game, even after playing for hundreds of hours. Furthermore, they assure players that the endgame options extend beyond the completion of the main story, allowing for continued exploration in New Game+.
Another criticism Starfield has faced is the feeling of the universe being small due to fast travel. Bethesda responds by justifying the inclusion of the Grav Drive as a means to travel between solar systems. They argue that freely flying among planets is still possible, and players can seamlessly transition from one planet to another using their scanner without relying on the map. However, they stress that jumping through solar systems is necessary for expansive expeditions. Additionally, Bethesda defends the abundance of seemingly empty planets, emphasizing that their intention was to evoke a sense of overwhelming vastness and make players feel small. They encourage players to continue exploring, as hidden outposts and resource-filled worlds await those willing to venture off the beaten path. Bethesda also confronts criticism surrounding the game’s non-player characters (NPCs), acknowledging that they may appear “dead-eyed” and “boring” at times. They explain that the NPCs are deliberately not fully scripted to maintain dynamic interactions and reactions to the player’s character.
While Bethesda’s developers have diligently addressed reviewers’ criticisms, the impact on Starfield’s overall reception remains minimal. The game continues to fall behind its predecessor, Skyrim, in the daily Steam player charts. This discrepancy raises questions about the effectiveness of the developer responses. Many of the objections Bethesda attempted to engage with were single-sentence reviews, and some were even nonsensical. Bethesda’s commitment to responding to these reviews may be viewed as admirable, but it seems that their efforts may be better spent on addressing core issues within the game.
One criticism of Starfield that warrants consideration is the presence of empty planets. However, instead of dismissing this critique, it is worth exploring the potential enjoyment that can be derived from these barren landscapes. In a game overflowing with loot and quests, the absence of content on uncharted worlds offers a refreshing change of pace. The simple act of wandering through an unexplored planet can be meditative and transformative. The changing textures and sounds of the procedural terrain, the glimpses of distant wildlife, and the rugged beauty of natural formations create a unique sense of immersion. While the game may not explicitly encourage this type of experience, players who approach Starfield as a walking simulator may uncover hidden artistry in its setting.
While Bethesda’s responses to player feedback in Starfield demonstrate their dedication to addressing concerns, the ultimate impact on the game’s reception is debatable. The mixed reviews and falling player numbers indicate that there are underlying issues that extend beyond individual complaints. However, there is potential for players to find enjoyment in the game’s empty planets and embrace the meditative experience of exploring the procedurally generated landscapes. Regardless, Bethesda should focus on addressing core issues and implementing meaningful improvements to ensure a more positive reception for future releases.