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Todd Howard on Starfield’s Polarizing Reception, Differences from Fallout and Skyrim

Key Points:

  • Bethesda’s Todd Howard addressed Starfield’s mixed reception from critics and players.
  • He attributed some criticism to Starfield being different from previous Bethesda games like Fallout and Skyrim.
  • Howard defended the “trade-offs” made to realize the fantasy of landing on and exploring 1,000 planets.
  • He insisted each Bethesda franchise “should be its own thing” with distinct gameplay experiences.

Todd Howard, the development chief at Bethesda Game Studios, has weighed in on the polarizing reception to the studio’s ambitious space game Starfield, suggesting that some of the criticism stemmed from the game deviating from the experiences offered by previous Bethesda hits like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Howard Acknowledges Mixed Feedback, Defends Planetary Exploration Vision

Starfield via Bethesda Softworks
Starfield via Bethesda Softworks

As Per IGN, In an interview with Kinda Funny Games, Howard addressed the “polarizing” reaction to Starfield, which launched in September 2023. While praising the game’s stability at launch and highlighting positive reviews, he acknowledged feedback from players who felt Starfield didn’t deliver the type of open-world experience they expected from a Bethesda game.

“We see a lot of players saying, this is what I want out of a Bethesda game, which is to explore a world in a certain way and Starfield didn’t give me that, I prefer the way it’s done in Fallout or Elder Scrolls. And perfectly understandable right, in terms of, hey this is a different experience,”

Howard said.

READ MORE: Fallout TV Show Doesn’t Retcon Lore, Confirms New Vegas as Canon

Defending Design Choices for Sci-Fi Experience in Starfield

Starfield via Bethesda Softworks
Starfield via Bethesda Softworks

Howard defended the design choices made to realize Bethesda’s vision for a science fiction game that allows players to land on and explore a vast number of planets. Prior to its release, Bethesda heavily promoted Starfield’s expansive scope, highlighting the game’s 1,000 explorable planetary environments, yet a significant number of players expressed disappointment with the depth and variety of content available on these worlds following the game’s launch.

READ MORE: Fallout Games See Huge Resurgence After TV Series Debut

“I do think, for us, particularly me going into a science fiction game, I want to be able to land on all the planets, I want the game to say yes to us knowing that that content is going to be different than you’ve seen from us in the past when you’re exploring a landscape,”

Howard explained.

“And that’s some of the trade-offs we’ll make to do what we think makes a science fiction game like this, that’s based in this kind of fiction and reality, to make it what it should be.”

Additional Details: Bethesda is currently working on a significant update for Starfield that will enable 60fps gameplay on the Xbox Series X, among other improvements. The game’s first expansion, Shattered Space, is scheduled for release in fall 2024.

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