Starfield–Bethesda’s first new IP in a quarter of a century–has, for the most part, enjoyed a very successful launch. The game hasn’t even been out for a month, but in that timeframe, it has managed to beat Skyrim’s concurrent player count on Steam (with over 1 million concurrent players taking the game for a spin on launch day) and amass over 10 million players. That’s no small feat, and at first glance, it may seem like everyone playing the game is having the time of their life. But Steam reviews tell a slightly different story, with Starfield scoring lower with Steam players than any previous Bethesda game–including Fallout 76, which faced an incredibly rocky launch.
Bethesda hasn’t revealed how many copies of the game have been purchased rather than accessed via Game Pass, making it difficult to compare Starfield’s launch to that of previous Bethesda titles. Still, Steam’s metrics offer a pretty clear picture of the game’s reception, especially since, unlike players making use of Game Pass, anyone playing Starfield on Steam had to shell out the cold, hard cash to buy it, and probably purchased Starfield with the hopes of truly enjoying it. Unfortunately, after taking a peek at the Steam reviews, it seems Starfield has fallen well below the mark for a significant number of players.
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Here’s how Starfield’s Steam reviews compare to previous Bethesda titles:
Bethesda has garnered a bit of a reputation for releasing games with loads of bugs in them, and while Starfield certainly has a few, it’s arguably the least-buggy title launched by Bethesda in recent memory, and the studio seems to be committed to patching these issues out as quickly as possible. So what gives?
There are a number of potential reasons behind the game’s low score. Though some players and internet personalities have been extremely vocal about their distaste for Bethesda’s choice to let players select their own pronouns, which may have affected the game’s rating. Rather than being bogged down with bugs, players are complaining about awkwardly-stiff NPC facial animations, an extremely limited number of romanceable companions, and far too much procedurally generated content that sees immersion broken when players stumble across the same named NPC’s corpse in the same exact spot inside the same exact cave on three different planets. Other complaints include the lack of any sort of codex or compendium to keep track of lore and learn more about the history of the game’s factions, the absence of any ground-side mode of transport (like a rover or alien mount) to make planet exploration less onerous, and, perhaps worst of all, downright painful interstellar dogfights.
While Bethesda’s latest release has certainly fallen short in the eyes of some players, there’s no guarantee that this will remain the case. The studio has a habit of releasing large-scale games that later receive large-scale updates, often including new DLC, new in-game activities, and access to mods for console players. Bethesda clearly has big plans for Starfield, and its Steam user score may improve in the future as more content is added. For now, however, the game is trailing behind Cyberpunk 2077’s concurrent player count on Steam, and 25% of players exploring the galaxy on Xbox have failed to even achieve liftoff. Ultimately, Starfield’s fate will be decided by the actions of its developer, but for the moment, a good amount of Steam players seem to agree that the studio’s choice to lean on procedural generation has resulted in a game that feels like it’s a mile wide, but an inch deep.
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