Bethesda’s Head of Publishing Pete Hines says they are leaning into “player freedom” over a “safer, less buggy” experience when it comes to the launch of Starfield.
Starfield has received critic praise for being one of the smoother launches for a company known for slightly janky bugs and glitches (look to Skyrim and Fallout 4 for examples), although this hasn’t meant the new title is completely bug free – just more polished than other Bethesda release which have previously come packaged with game-breaking issues (or sometimes endearingly hilarious glitches). So far, some players have already taken to X (previously Twitter) to share some of the hilarious (and horrific) bugs they’ve encountered during their playthroughs of the game – but Hines says it’s all part of the player experience.
Hines explained that he knew Bethesda had a reputation for initially buggy games (with some remaining bug-filled well beyond release. “The thing people miss far too often is that there is some amount of that which is intentional, meaning we embrace chaos. We could make a safer, less buggy, less risky game if we wanted to. But what we try to lean into is player freedom,” He said in a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz.
He went on to say that there was bound to be “some little things here and there” in Starfield – like a companion standing too close to you as an example – but added that this was part of the tradeoff. “The freedom you get, and the things that happen because of that, we absolutely love and embrace,” he added. “Of course there are bugs. But does it take away from your experience? Or do you have a consistent, fun game that you just can’t stop playing and experimenting with?”
In the same interview, Hines described the water-covered planet Neon, where Starfield developers encountered a bug where a shark could get onto an elevator. When the elevator would open to the street level and the out-of-place shark made it into the city, NPCs would react negatively and scatter. “I’m laying into it with weapons, people are screaming and guards are running. I said: “Do not take this bug out of the game!” I’m almost positive they did, but I love that stuff,” he said.
Despite the errors, bugs, and little glitches in Starfield, reviews from critics so far have been mostly positive – the game currently sits at a score of 88 on Metacritic, although user ratings aren’t yet available due to the early access period.
Whether fans believe the trade-off of in-game bugs in whatever form they take is worth the level of freedom granted to players is unclear as of yet – but given there’s been an ongoing Starfield community patch modding project in the works since well before launch, any major issues are likely to be modded out pretty soon whether Bethesda wants to leave in the “chaos” for players or not.
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