In a surprising move, Bethesda has taken a unique approach to address negative reviews of its latest release, Starfield, on the Steam platform. This departure from the typical silence of triple-A game developers in response to criticism indicates a proactive effort to engage with player feedback. Let’s dive into the details of this interesting development.
Bethesda’s Unconventional Response
1. A Peek into the Negative Reviews
- Starfield has garnered a ‘mixed’ user review rating of 69%, with players expressing concerns about the vast yet seemingly empty universe and repetitive gameplay.
- One player with 56 hours in the game criticized the copy/pasted locations, messy mechanics, and the lack of a clear identity for the game.
2. Bethesda’s Customer Support Responds
- Bethesda, represented by figures like “Bethesda_Kraken” and “Bethesda_FalcoYamaoka,” responded to negative reviews since early November.
- The responses often include stock phrases, such as quoting Ashley Cheng’s comparison of empty planets to the moon, emphasizing the intentional design choices.
Addressing Specific Complaints
1. Empty Planets and Repetitive Gameplay
- Bethesda defends the choice of empty planets, aiming to evoke a sense of smallness and overwhelm in players.
- The response suggests exploring different character builds and decisions to discover the depth of the game.
2. Generic Story and Boring Gameplay
- Bethesda highlights the RPG nature of Starfield, with quests varying based on character skills and decisions.
- Encourages players to create diverse characters for a fresh experience and hints at the vast layers and possibilities within the game.
3. Loading Screens and Fast Travel
- Responding to complaints about loading screens, Bethesda_Kraken emphasizes the efficiency of loading given the expansive procedurally generated gameplay.
- Acknowledges the presence of loading screens but suggests they don’t hinder the immersive experience.
4. Restricted Flying in Space
- Bethesda justifies the decision to limit free space flying, citing the immense size of Starfield.
- Encourages players to appreciate the option of fast travel for efficient quest completion and the unique visual experience it offers.
Why Bother Responding?
1. Steering Sentiment and Rating
- Starfield currently holds the lowest user review rating for a Bethesda game on Steam, with a ‘mixed’ label.
- Bethesda’s engagement with negative reviews could be a strategic move to influence player sentiment and improve the overall rating.
2. Post-Launch Updates and Expansion Plans
- Despite the initial criticism, Bethesda has diligently updated Starfield, with the latest patch introducing DLSS support and other features.
- The studio has a post-launch expansion, “Shattered Space,” in the works, demonstrating a commitment to ongoing content development.
In a gaming landscape where major developers often remain silent in the face of criticism, Bethesda’s decision to respond to negative reviews of Starfield is noteworthy. While the responses may seem formulaic, they provide insights into the design philosophy and future plans for the game. As Bethesda continues to refine and expand Starfield, the engagement with player feedback could play a crucial role in shaping the game’s journey beyond its rocky start. Whether this approach will successfully shift the mixed sentiment on Steam remains to be seen, but it undeniably adds an interesting chapter to the evolving narrative of Starfield’s post-launch experience.