Hey, Geeks. Welcome to Your Favorite Thing Sucks, where I get to point out all the worst parts of your favorite things. Are you paying attention to E3? Because Bethesda has had announcements about Fallout 76, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Doom Eternal, Starfield, Rage 2, Elder Scrolls VI, a mobile Elder Scrolls game, and a DLC for Prey. Can you believe it? That is so much hype! And it is probably going to lead to so much disappointment! Let’s talk about why.
Bethesda is Buggy as Hell…
Here’s the thing: We all know that Bethesda games are huge. They’re ginormous. And any time you create something that vast and that detailed, there are bound to be some bugs. But Bethesda is known for being beyond regular buggy to the point of breaking games into unplayability. In fact, many gamers will now suggest that non-modders wait to buy a Bethesda game until it has been fixed by the dedicated world of We-Don’t-Actually-Work-For-Bethesda-We-Just-Fix-Their-Stuff. Yay, Modders!
Maybe it’s just me, but if the common belief is that a game is only worthwhile after people outside the development team get a chance fix it, then there’s something very wrong.
But the bugs do have a workaround, and modders do allow normal players to enjoy a highly-anticipated Bethesda game as it was meant to be played. Sometimes, if the mods take long enough, you can even play the better version of a game at a lower cost!
… And the Way They Address the Problems is Even Buggier
This is assuming, of course, that Bethesda doesn’t partner with Valve to sell those mods on Steam instead. Or launch their own console mod nexus where people could steal and then sell mods without crediting the original maker. Or bog down that mod nexus with insane microtransactions and forced downloads that eat up your hard drive space in an uncannily short amount of time.
But that could never happen, could it?
The Storylines are Iffy at Best
If you’re playing a game for the ability to explore a vast world and do your own thing without fear of plot, urgency, or anything beyond apathy in regards to the people inhabiting that world, then Bethesda games are the thing for you! However, if you want a game where you’re even the least bit likely to pause before offing someone simply because you like their coat, then maybe you should keep moving.
“I mean, yes you’re right. Lydia WOULD look hot in my outfit but—AAGH!”
Seriously. Bethesda is not often praised for their storylines. What storylines their average games have are usually so wrapped up in random exploration and inane sidequests given by one of three unenthused voice actors that any sense of purpose or urgency is quickly lost, but every now and again you find a gem. But even when Bethesda did provide a strong plot, moral complexity, and character development in the early releases of their Fallout Series, they’ve since stripped away most of the RPG foundations, morality components, consequences, and unique elements that initially set the series apart, making their overall plot devices overwhelmingly mediocre.
They’re Probably About to Outgrow Their Market
It may not surprise you that more than 60% of video gamers are between the ages of 18 and 29. And if you’re in that age range there is a very real possibility that you’re reading this article at work right now. Because work is also an important part of an 18-to-29-year-old’s day. And a growing number of people in that age group have two or even three jobs.
When I was younger, I often looked for the games that boasted the longest playtime. I wanted to immerse myself in a game for months if I could. That was a huge selling point in my world. But do you know what kind of commitment a 300+ hour game is for your average 20-year-old, now? That thing is going to last you for years. You are going to kick your shoes off three months from now when you finally finish that big project your boss has been screaming at you over, and you’re not even going to remember where you are or what you were doing (not that you’ve done a main storyline quest in 6 months, anyway).
I still love Bethesda’s long and epic games out of a sense of nostalgia, but I find that I’m growing more and more hesitant to buy a game that I might finish the day before my retirement. (I’m just kidding. We all know none of us are going to retire).
They Have No Reason to Get Better
While most of this boils down to player preference, the fact that Bethesda consistently puts out incomplete products that we KNOW are going to be less-than-expected is a sign of a horrendously bad business model. But as long as we all continue to throw money at them on the day of the release and then patiently wait for other people to fix their mistakes, there’s NO call for improvement. They’re going to get your money either way.
Eventually, there is going to be a complete and wonderful (read: modded) game that they only had to pay their people a fraction of the cost of development for. And everyone on both sides is going to be just… fine with that. Everything that is currently happening is PERFECT for Bethesda, and as long as we still put our money towards it as soon as something releases, there’s exactly no reason for them to stop. Complain on the internet all you’d like, but your words don’t speak as loudly as your dollars.
And, thus, we are all a part of the problem.
I actually don’t have anything bad to say about Evil Within.
I’d like to believe that’s because I see it as a metaphor for Bethesda recognizing its own moral bankruptcy and portraying it in a fresh and fascinating manner,
But I’m pretty sure it’s really because I’m just a sadist.
Tahani Nelson is a “Geek of All Trades.” She’s dabbled in pretty much everything, but holds a special place in her heart (and schedule) for video and tabletop games. Other interests include attending Renaissance Faires and Cons in full dress, practicing calligraphy, writing fantasy novels, discussing comparative philosophy and morality, and apparently listening with a blank smile on her face anytime someone tries to convince her that Magic: The Gathering is as much fun as D&D.