Starfield Killed My Hype For The Elder Scrolls 6

A few years ago, Bethesda tweeted a picture of Skyrim’s map with a few candles placed on top, asking us to, “Transcribe the past and map the future.” Like the many wide-eyed gamers desperate to find out more about The Elder Scrolls 6, I was eager to know what it meant. I spent days looking for any little detail to try and find hidden clues or messages. Was it yet another hint at Hammerfell being the setting of TES 6? Did the three candles mean three provinces? Are we going to return to Solitude?


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If they tweeted anything like that now, I’d just scroll past it. Starfield completely killed my hype.

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Fallout 4 wasn’t great. The R in RPG was watered down, with uninteresting factions, repetitive side quests, meaningless dialogue options, and a sparse map driven by base building rather than the in-depth environmental storytelling that makes Bethesda’s worlds such a delight to explore. Starfield didn’t double down, it quadrupled down. I’ve never played an RPG with such a dull exploration loop, running into the same repeated jokes and settlements over and over again.

Starfield is driven by map icons. It has to be. If you want to pick a spot and wander around on its over 1,000 planets, you’ll find nothing but procedurally generated junk. That often means NPCs without backstories asking you to fetch this or kill that… if you’re lucky. Odds are you’ll just find the same copy-pasted bandit camp (down to the exact same meaningless environmental storytelling) in a wasteland of emptiness.

Since the only way to meaningfully explore is via map icons and quest markers which point you to the handcrafted stories, the drive to pick a direction and see where it takes you is all but gone. Why would I waste hours wandering empty planets knowing there’s nothing for me to find?

Exploration has been a chore in three Bethesda games back to back, axing all expectations of a world as rich as Skyrim’s in its sequel, but the problems go beyond that. Starfield is outdated. Not in an endearing nostalgic way that makes you long for those fuzzy PS2 titles and old-school graphics, but in a tedious way that makes you wish you’d stuck on any other modern RPG. It doesn’t help that it launched between Baldur’s Gate 3 and Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, both of which feel more modern in numerous ways.

Every single building in Starfield requires a loading screen to enter, with more loading screens to visit different parts of bigger buildings. That’s in-between the loading screens to travel between planets, which is in-between the cutscenes to land and take off. Everything is stilted by archaic world design. Then you have the characters who stand stoically like robots and glare at you with soulless eyes. Gunplay is also atrocious, with artificial difficulty driven by spongy enemies. These are problems Bethesda has had for nearly two decades and yet nothing has changed.

Fallout 4 felt behind the times on the Xbox One and PS4, but Starfield feels even more dated. This isn’t a next-gen game, it’s a relic of Bethesda’s already-dated past, making for a painfully stiff and artificial experience.

We haven’t had a new single-player Bethesda game in nearly ten years, so our visions of TES 6 are based on nothing more than fantasies. I’m sure many of us expected Bethesda to have caught up at least somewhat, to have ironed out the kinks and fleshed out its character interactions, rather than having the same awkward dialogue scenes and superficial choices that do little to alter the narrative or give you any true agency.

Starfield Temples

Starfield barrelled onto the scene and crushed those dreams. I can’t imagine The Elder Scrolls 6 as anything but a disappointment, another archaic adventure with a dull world that’s cast aside for whatever gimmicks make for good marketing. I can already see Todd Howard walking onto the stage to proudly boast about the infinite procedurally generated realms of Oblivion we can visit, the vast empty deserts we can build towns in, and the 100 ways we can customise our swords. What does any of that really add?

The Elder Scrolls 6 needs to bring Bethesda back to its RPG roots while catching up with how the genre has evolved over the years, but I just can’t see it happening. So, the inevitable six-year wait has quickly turned from eager anticipation to, “Maybe I’ll try it if it’s on Game Pass”. At least that’s a bit more bearable.

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