Bethesda continues to make the same game, for better or for worse

Imagine a game. A soon-to-be hero, of unknown but altered name and gender, awakens with a start, only to be suddenly thrust into a great adventure in a larger world. The budding hero never misses a beat, quickly becoming powerful, joining different factions, solving puzzles and completing quests across the land. Along the way, they explore a huge open world filled with enemies who want to kill and loot, as well as cities containing guards, peaceful NPCs, merchants, and taverns. Strangely enough, too, this extraordinary person never accomplishes what he sets out to do, and instead gets lost building settlements or honing his cooking skills.

What is the game you just described? Basically, every RPG from Bethesda Game Studios has ever been released.

Like a warm, comforting, and utterly predictable bowl of oatmeal, Bethesda’s open-world adventures often look a lot alike. Sure, the setting changes, the characters change, the main missions change, and the name on the box gets swapped every few years. But in many ways, every Bethesda game — be it Fallout, The Elder Scrollsor now starfield– are just variations on the same melody. Bones are always unchanged.

For some, Bethesda’s dedication to consistently making the same game is boring and disappointing. But for others, it works, and it’s like coming home every few years to a slightly buggy world built entirely for the player. And in Bethesda’s defense, it did truly Good at making this kind of game after over 20 years of doing it.

starfield Not a new game, just a new shell

The studio’s latest massive open-world RPG is starfieldNow available on Xbox and PC. This gigantic space adventure, the first new IP from Bethesda in decades, is set in a fully explorable galaxy containing hundreds of planets and missions. This is not a fantasy RPG Skyrim or amnesia. Nor is it a survival simulator game in the post-apocalyptic wasteland Fallout 3 or Fallout 4. instead of, starfield It is a large-scale science fiction game heavily inspired by NASA. star trek, and countless other satellite movies and TV shows.

after a while starfield Filled with aliens and spaceships, it’s still a Bethesda RPG. You can almost feel the old bones morewind And Fallout 3 Poking parts of the scene and menus while playing.

picture: Bethesda

For example, as in most of the previous games developed by Bethesda, you can still catch and collect almost all the ordinary things you see, Including all the worthless sandwiches you can carry. All of these things have physics, which can lead to Wild piles of rubbish.

Players can also still find a random chair and sit and wait quietly for 24 hours like a meditating monk. Likewise, family will still heal you when you sleep, characters will still prevent you from discussing quests via oddly enlarged conversations, and every group in the galaxy will allow you to join their ranks regardless of your other alliances.

Bethesda games revolve entirely around the player

There is also another big feature of Bethesda RPG starfieldAnd no, I’m not talking about insects or sweet rolls: starfieldLikes Fallout 4 And Skyrim Before that, you are totally and completely focused on making sure that you, the player, are in the center of everything.

In Bethesda’s RPGs, you’re almost always the strongest, most skilled, coolest, baddest, smartest, sexiest, wittiest, and most legendary hero in the world. Everyone needs your help. This random indebted waiter will ask for your help. That guard looking for a killer, yes you, will ask you to help him solve the case. in starfield, I couldn’t help but laugh when I bumped into a scientist studying a large strange tree early on. This man did not know me, he had no idea what I was capable of, and he had no idea of ​​my educational or scientific background. It doesn’t matter. And it turns out that I can still help him in his scientific endeavors.

Everyone at Bethesda RPGs needs you. Not only that, but the world or even the universe needs you because you are the only player who can save the day. Nobody has a chance. Oddly enough, everyone in these games seems to know this and will tease you with all their problems, big or small. Even if you tell them no, they will wait until you change your mind or need more XP and then come back ready to solve their problem.

The image shows a large armored soldier from Fallout 3.

picture: Bethesda

Bethesda’s RPG focus so much on making sure the player’s needs are met, treated well, and offered all the adventures they want is not a bug or a glitch in the system. It’s part of the company’s design ethos, he explained Bethesda game director Todd Howard speaking at GDC 2012.

“Make the player proud when they play your game,” Howard explained. “Make yourself proud that you did. Make your player proud that he bought it.”

studio behind Fallout 3 And starfield It does not want you, as a player, to get bored or feel forgotten in its vast digital worlds. And when you put this quote from Howard in mind and look at how similar each Bethesda game is, it makes sense.

Of course you can control the time by sitting on the chair. Of course you can pick up and steal anything. Of course you can build your own ship or village. Of course you are the world champion. Of course everyone needs you and whatever skills you have. It’s your world. It’s your game. That’s it for you!

And Bethesda really want to You To be proud of it You I bought and played the game. She’s willing to bend and break her own games and rely on her tried-and-true formula to make sure you’re truly and completely satisfied.

Bethesda RPGs are unlikely to ever change

For some this is frustrating. I know people who really want Bethesda to make a game where guards don’t always randomly give you missions. Where the world does not revolve around you and your hero. A game with the same breadth and detail as a Bethesda RPG but not built entirely on just killing and getting more powerful.

The truth is, after decades of Bethesda developing and releasing games, the studio clearly has no plans to change. You don’t get it The Witcher 3 or Baldur’s Gate 3 from this studio. Sure, it could make future games bigger, add co-op, change the setting, or even add better graphics. However, Bethesda will not take the risk of not meeting players’ needs or failing to allow them to “be proud” of the game they have purchased.


So we end up where we are starfield, A game that visually looks like something from that era, but still plays and functions like a game from 2005. For me, what I call myself a sick Bethesda RPG, that’s what I want. I love a tasty bowl of oatmeal, even if it’s not the most creative or fresh meal in the world. I find Bethesda’s RPGs comforting to come back to. They all have tutorials, but I don’t really need them. I know how to play this game. Millions of other people do as well.

After all, many of us patients just want more of what Bethesda has been making for over 20 years, and the company seems only too happy to provide that. I admit it though I know starfield Designed to meet my needs at every turn and make me feel empowered, I find it relaxing to indulge in. It may not be the best game of 2023, but it will most likely end up being the game I spend the most hours on.

Will the formula still be effective 10 years from now? I don’t know. I’ll admit that the usual siren call that takes me back to Bethesda’s RPGs isn’t as strong this time around as it has been in the past. But for now, Bethesda has put me where you want me to be.


(tags for translation)The Witcher 3

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