Despite Unrealistic Expectations, There’s No Cause for Concern for Starfield

The pressure on Starfield to deliver is higher than ever- but will it deliver?

Posted By | On 15th, May. 2023

Despite Unrealistic Expectations, There’s No Cause for Concern for Starfield

Even if Microsoft didn’t own ZeniMax and Bethesda was still a third party multiplatform publisher, its upcoming space-faring RPG Starfield would still be under massive pressure to deliver. Bethesda Game Studios is one of the few development teams in the industry that consistently puts out 90+ games that end up setting new standards for their genres, so any new game being put out by the studio is bound to be held to what would be impossibly high standards for most other developers. Add to that the fact that it’s been nearly a decade since we last played a new single player Bethesda RPG, and pressure on Starfield to be nothing short of incredible grows even more intense, first party or no.

But of course, now that Starfield is a first party Xbox exclusive title, for reasons that, technically speaking, are completely unrelated to Bethesda Game Studios and outside of its control, there’s much more riding on it than ever before. Since finishing off 2021 with the one-two punch of Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite, Xbox’s first party pipeline has dried up massively, even if relatively less prominent titles like Hi-Fi Rush have impressed. Microsoft would have hoped that that would start being alleviated with the launch of Redfall earlier this month, but as we all know all too well by now, that, to say the very least, did not pan out.

It’s only natural, then, that all eyes have now turned to Starfield. It’s Bethesda Game Studios’ next big single player RPG, the first new IP it has made in decades, and a flagship first party Xbox release that’s coming off the back of a disappointing couple of years for Xbox in terms of major new releases. Again, that has little to do with BGS itself, and the team is obviously just trying to do what it has always done and craft another excellent single player RPG, but it’s undeniable that owing to these external factors, Starfield has even bigger expectations to live up to than it would have under ordinary circumstances (which is saying a lot).

So the question is- can Starfield live up to expectations, or is there cause for concern?

Let’s take that one by one, starting with the latter half- is there cause for concern? Though it may feel like that right now to some in the aftermath of the Redfall debacle and all the negativity that has brought with it, at the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Starfield isn’t, at the very least, a really good game. Yes, it’s foolish to be that certain about the quality of any new game in today’s day and age, but Bethesda Game Studios’ track record merits that kind of confidence. From Morrowind and Oblivion to Fallout 3 and Skyrim, this is a developer that has routinely put out games that have gone on to be regarded as some of the greatest RPGs ever made.

BGS’ track record isn’t spotless, of course, especially in recent years. Fallout 76 was a massive misfire, while many would argue that Fallout 4 did not hit the same heights that one would usually expect from one of the studio’s games. Even so, Fallout 4 was, in its own right, still a really solid game, while even Fallout 76 has made an impressive recovery over the years. Even if, worst comes to worst, Starfield fails to hit the level of something like Skyrim and is instead more in line with something like Fallout 4, it will still be a game well worth playing, to say the very least.

starfield

Sure, one might argue that Redfall is all the proof you need that the pedigree and track record of a studio isn’t exactly the guarantee that some might believe it is, but this isn’t really a similar situation. Where Redfall was the best developer of immersive sims in the industry trying to make an open world co-op looter shooter, Starfield is a developer known for making single player open world RPGs making another single player open world RPG. It’s not Redfall. Hell, it’s not even Fallout 76Starfield is Bethesda Game Studios doing what Bethesda Game Studios does best.

So, is there cause for concern in terms of whether or not Starfield will be a good game? No, the chances of it not being good are honestly quite slim. But will Starfield be able to live up to expectations? That’s a bit more complicated.

For starters, the answer to that question depends on what your expectations are. There will be many who’ll just want another great single player BGS RPG, and most likely, they’re not going to be disappointed. But given the situation that the game finds itself in as a flagship first party title, and the state that Xbox first party as a whole finds itself in after the last year or so, there are quite a few people out there who are, perhaps a bit unreasonably, expecting way, way more.

The expectation for many is that, at this point, Starfield can’t be anything less than a genre-defining masterpiece that scores like a 95 or above on Metacritic, so it can finally be held up as Xbox’s answer to platform megatons like The Last of Us and Breath of the WildCan it be that? Well, looking at some of BGS’ past games, you’d have to say that it’s not outside the realms of possibility- the likes of Fallout 3, Oblivion, and Skyrim all have scores in the low to mid 90s. Much more realistically, however, it’s unreasonable to have that level of expectation from pretty much any new game. Other than maybe a new Rockstar title or a new mainline Legend of Zelda game, there’s almost nothing in the medium that is ever guaranteed (or close enough to guaranteed) to score in the mid to high 90s on Metacritic.

starfield

If that’s what you think Starfield needs to do to satisfy demands, then there’s a good chance that it lets you down. If, however, you have reasonable expectations of a great RPG, or even relatively reasonable expectations of something that’s a marked step up over Fallout 4, then there’s much greater chance that Starfield will be exactly what you need it to be.

Of course, we’ll have a much greater sense of how hard the sci-fi RPG is likely to hit when Microsoft and Bethesda show it off next month at the Starfield Direct. It’ll be the first time that we’ll be seeing it since its gameplay debut last year, and hopefully, it’ll make a much stronger impression. Hopefully, it’ll also be a significant improvement over BGS’ previous games where its technical and visual aspects are concerned. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said that Microsoft has done a much better job with assisting Starfield’s development than it did with Redfall, and though many will obviously find it hard to take his words at face value after how Arkane’s shooter turned out, our hope is that he’ll be proven right when the game releases this September.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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