Bethesda Game Studios is beloved thanks to its work on both the Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series, so when it was announced that it was working on a new IP called Starfield, fans were reasonably excited. Unfortunately, immediately following the game's announcement (and the announcement that The Elder Scrolls 6 was in the works), Fallout 76 released as a broken, buggy mess that was poorly received by critics and longtime fans alike. From there, fans of the studio began to notice a troubling pattern.
As Bethesda has released more and more titles, it's become apparent just how unfinished they are by the time they launch. While the studio usually fixes them up and gets them into acceptable states somewhere down the line, it seems as if a lot is riding on how well Starfield is received in the eyes of the gaming community. The new IP marks a big shift in Bethesda as a company following its acquisition by Microsoft, so its first game under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella will set the company's course for its future.
Bethesda's History of Broken Games
As many fans will be quick to point out, launching broken titles wasn't a habit first started by Bethesda with Fallout 76. Back in the early days of Bethesda's modern RPGs, issues could certainly be seen. Fallout 3 and Oblivion were packed full of bugs and issues, but at the time, a lot of those things were glossed over in the minds of fans. The justification was that they were big open-world games that do enough right to excuse some janky areas, with many believing Bethesda would fix things in the next release. As releases kept coming; however, issues got worse and became less excusable, such as Skyrim's completely broken save system on PS3 and Fallout 4's inexcusable performance issues on consoles.
Eventually, a lot of those issues were fixed through updates and patches, but by the time Fallout 76 launched as a broken and at times unplayable mess, the goodwill Bethesda has acquired through years of solid but buggy games was all but gone. Fallout 76 has certainly made a comeback with a community still frequently returning to it, but in the eyes of mainstream gaming, Bethesda is on something of a final straw.
This is why it's so important for the studio to nail the release of Starfield. If it publishes another buggy, unplayable game, many fans will likely swear off playing titles from the studio for good and turn to the numerous other studios doing similar work. Following the disastrous release of Cyberpunk 2077 in 2020, it seems as if the gaming community is fed up with broken launches and will not tolerate something similar.
As Bethesda's first major release since being acquired by Microsoft, more eyes are on the studio than ever before. If Starfield's release is anything like the studio's previous launches, it could be the most disastrous one yet. That said, there's also the possibility that if Bethesda nails Starfield's launch, it will once again see the heights of popularity that it saw back in the Xbox 360/PS3 era. Currently, Starfield is set to launch on November 11, the 11-year anniversary of Skyrim, but hopefully the studio isn't married to that date and will be willing to delay the title if need be. Although it would be a cool symbolic moment for the studio, it should not launch the game in a broken state just to meet that date. When Starfield does come, it needs to be a polished experience from day one.
Starfield launches on November 11 for PC and Xbox Series X.
Starfield is Bethesda's new IP and an opportunity to include one feature fans have wanted in The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games for years.