It should go without saying, but Starfield really is a triumph for Bethesda. The Xbox RPG is a huge improvement on Fallout 4’s rigid gunplay, an impressive jump in both scope and scale compared to the developer’s recent releases, and statistically one of the biggest Xbox Game Pass games we’ve ever seen. When you think about all the fantastic videogames available on the service, that really is no small feat. However, all of this doesn’t stop Starfield from just being a little bit boring – and DLC isn’t going to be able to fully fix that. Amidst growing complaints, though, a lead Starfield developer has taken to social media to indirectly defend Starfield and comment on the disconnect between the reality of game development and what the wider community says.
Starfield may not have walked away with any awards at this year’s The Game Awards, but it’s one of the best RPG games of 2023 and one of several new Xbox games everyone with a Series X|S should give a go when they get the chance. As aluded to above, it’s also one of the best Xbox Game Pass games available – it’s both the best-selling Xbox game of September 2023 despite being available on the service Day One and the main influence on breaking it’s record for the most new Game Pass subscribers in a single day. With all of that in mind, then, you would thing the general public were pretty hot on Starfield, right? The Starfield player count is still rising and there are over 1,000 Starfield planets to explore. After over 12 years and almost as many re-releases, Skyrim is still one of the most popular games out there, too.
Well, that isn’t exactly the case. Expectations have changed somewhat since Skyrim and Starfield just isn’t the lauded open-world (or, rather, open-galaxy) experience Bethesda hoped it would be – and those of you who have been playing since launch have been quite vocal about that in recent weeks.
While media outlets like The Gamer and Metro labelled Starfield as boring not long after launch, recent weeks have seen the wider Xbox community echo these sentiments. A handful of weeks ago, Starfield devs started responding to Starfield’s negative Steam reviews, simply refuting opinions that it’s an uninteresting experience. However, it has gotten to a point where even the developers behind the celebrated Skyrim Together mod – a multiplayer mod for the PC version of this RPG – have halted work on the Starfield equivalent, stating quite bluntly that it was both “boring” and “bland”.
How has Bethesda responded to this recent wave of criticism, though? Well, officially, it hasn’t. However, Bethesda Game Studios’ studio design director Emil Pagliarulo has taken to X (you know, that place everyone still refers to as Twitter) to defend Starfield – albeit indirectly – and comment on the disconnect between the reality of videogame development and how it’s perceived online.
Making it clear that “nobody sets out to make a bad game”, Pagliarulo explains that there’s often “the perfect game you WANT to make… and then there’s the game you CAN make” – and often the two are not as similar to one another as anyone would like.
“In order to get there, in order to get it as close as possible to the vision,” Pagliarulo continues, “the team has to push itself harder and harder… often while dealing with devs being shuffled around (or leaving), looming deadlines, and creative decisions you wish you didn’t have to make”.
Pagliarulo then goes on to explain that you (the royal you, as in the general public) often have no idea who’s making decisions, why those decisions are made, and how many hurdles a development team has to clear to get any videogame ‘out the door’. So, he’s asking you (again, everyone) to remember that and respect developers and their projects – even if “the game they release isn’t up to par”. We know this isn’t directly related to Starfield, but it’s choice timing and – after a year of releases deemed failures (The Lords of the Rings Gollum, Skull Island Rise of Kong, The Day Before – just as a handful of examples) – it’s something worth remembering.
So, while we still do think that Starfield needs a major overhaul not unlike the Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 update, you won’t find us saying anything bad about the developers who worked on the game itself. Starfield really is full of fantastic features and some very impressive mechanics, it just needs a little fine-tuning and a handful of additional systems to take advantage of everything else already available. Thankfully, with things like Starfield vehicles on the way, with Bethesda teasing “all new ways of traveling” in a future update, we might start to see something like that happening.
That, though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out on your Xbox Series X|S over the holidays. Even in it’s current state, it’s worth giving a go. And, if you do, you should look to increasing your storage space with one of the best Xbox expansion cards – if you haven’t already. Starfield alone is far from the smallest game out there, and Xbox Game Pass also gives you access to some of the best racing games available and some of the best horror games of the year (among other titles, of course). It would be a shame to limit how many of them you can play at any one time, especially with Xbox’s impressive Quick Resume feature.
Still looking for more? While a good Starfield wiki can be a handy source of information, our new Starfield Database goes further, offering you daily news, searchable databanks, and even interactive tools like a New Atlantis map for exploration.