I am a big BIG fan of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls and I consider Morrowind one of the best games ever made (my top 2 are Morrowind and Doom in no particular order). I have put in only a few hours into Starfield (so far), and I have to say I like it less and less. Primarily my complaints lie with all the loading scenes that break the illusion of an immersive, seamless galaxy to explore. It feels like Skyrim with even more disconnected regions.

In Morrowind you could walk from the wilderness into a city with no observable loading, the only loading screens were upon fast-travel (which was not necessary) or going indoors. As you leveled up, you could learn levitate spells that let you fly over seemingly insurmountable mountain ranges or water breathing spells that let you explore underwater. You could learn water walking and even walk across the ocean from the mainland to the new island included in the Bloodmoon expansion, if you were patient enough and didn't want to fast-travel via ship.

Oblivion did away with some of the crazier things (like Levitation and Water Walking), and added loading screens as you move into cities and this trend sadly continued into Skyrim. And yet, I still loved those games and devoured them, spending hours. Something about the ability to look at the horizon and say "I'm going to walk to there" was very captivating.

In Starfield, you get loading screen after loading screen, moving from location to location, outdoor to indoor, in and out of spaceships, launching from the surface, grav-jumping, etc. I know this criticism is not incredibly insightful or novel; many folks have already complained loudly about this online and contrasted it against the illusion of seamlessness in No Man's Sky. I know I'm just adding to the din, but I can't help myself, my disappointment is as vast as the regions in Starfield are not.

There are no enormous planets floating in endless space. You're just an ant hopping from leaf to pretty leaf trying to cross a river. I expected so much more.

I will give it a few more hours, but sadly it's been a dud for me so far. Anybody have a recommendation for a modern open world game that knows how to maintain the illusion?

§1376 · January 18, 2024 · Entertainment, Games, Microsoft · · [Print]

1 Comment to “The Bethesda Slide”

  1. John Bilicki says:

    I think this is the 90s / 21st century problem.

    People were willing to do amazing things in the 90s but the technology wasn’t there. I love space battles so the best battles and secondary characters of any was DS9 but the main characters, Bajorans, religion, etc, was crap I didn’t care about. It felt like they resented adding huge space battles, “lets get back to the boring religion and petty scabbles” mentality, though they were there. Now SCIFI shows that do have space battles the ships are dumber, more generic and they screw with the cameras.

    Then, in the 2000s, came the consoles. That is why a lot of games such as Oblivion sucked compared to what they could have been. Latest example? The Xbox 4 lesser edition with less memory and the demand that if you don’t make everything work on the crap-box that you can’t publish your games on the regular Xbox 4.

    These are just some examples of why I believe it’s important that we do things ourselves because the people running things are clueless at best.

    Quality requires time and most people have no patience. Star Citizen is doing exactly what a group of people who want a seamless space simulation should do albeit without any comprehension of managing finances. They need to make Star Citizen a “demo” and sell the rights to use their engine to other development teams. I just want something I can jump in to for 15 minutes on occasion and pick up where I last left off be it levitating over otherwise impassable areas or taking down the equivalent of a super star destroyer like in X-Wing versus Tie Fighter.

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