If you’re reading this article, it’s probably a safe bet that you’re coming up for air from Fallout 4. It’s an incredible game, one worth calling in sick on launch day for, and deep enough that you’ll have only just scratched the surface by the time you lay down for bed. It’s breaking new ground, but it’s also just as bug ridden as every Bethesda game game before it. It’s become a running joke and that’s just not OK.
Plus, The Witcher being made into a movie, Steam hardware releases to the masses, we say so long to Commander Shepard, and even more Fallout!
Bethesda gets a pass from gamers because their games are often spectacular. These are the kind of sprawling RPGs that you can sink hundreds of hours into. I’m shameless in my adoration of Skyrim, even if Fallout 3 wasn’t my thing (New Vegas was pretty great, though). The level of world-building on display is incredible; Bethesda captures the joy of discovery and pushes you to explore every nook in cranny, rewarding you for straying from the campaign and any semblance of the beaten path. Often, the best moments in their games arise from simply picking a direction and going. Bethesda is one of the few studios capable of throwing money into their RPGs until they simply outclass the depth of everything else out there, and it shows.
The problem is, they also show that they can’t QA these games properly. Every major Bethesda title comes out of the gate bug-riddled. Gamers now expect it and joke about it. Oh, it’s a Bethesda game! What did you expect? Perhaps not a double-standard from the gaming community that’s so quick to take up arms at companies not on their shortlist of “special exemptions”.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading comments on reviews, Steam forums, and sub-reddit threads this week. The joke gets repeated again and again like Bethesda is the jovial uncle coming to Christmas drunk but with the best presents. When other gamers raise the issue -- why is Bethesda getting a free pass? -- many gamers bristle like the asker should have known better. Bethesda doesn’t need any defenders. They won’t be improved by apologists. They’re improved by articles like this from Jason Schrier of Kotaku, calling out how problematic prevalent the problems with Fallout 4 actually are.
Now, knowing something about development, I do understand why their games have issues. Like many of you, I acknowledge that bugs are part of the price we pay for games so deep and jaw-droppingly sprawling. To find and reproduce every glitch in a game so large is a daunting task. It’s a problem for developers, but it’s not the gamer’s problem. We shouldn’t accept that so many things may flat out break or fail to work right without a patch or some reloaded save. These are things smallers studios would get lynched for. Bethesda, they make big games, so we give them a pass. It’s a double-standard.
We have a problem as gamers. When we like something, we’re eager to look past its faults. For those games who fall below legendary status, those very same problems get called out as “game breaking” and we angrily complain on Twitter and in comment sections. What is game breaking if not quests that fail to progress? Objects that don’t spawn? Framerates that drop into the single digits? Enemies that can’t make it past tiny rocks without getting stuck? Every one of these happens in Fallout 4 and far, far more. They’re inconsistent, to be sure, but in the cogs and wheels that spin behind the scenes there are definitely wrenches getting jammed in the works.
But it’s Bethesda. What did you expect?
I like Fallout 4. It has absolutely gripped me, and I don’t disagree with the 87 its received on Metacritic. But as gamers, it’s time we stop making excuses. Some bugs might be funny, most only small nuisances, but when nearly every major review, and customer on Amazon, are including commenting about their technical issues, it’s time to start asking questions. We can love a game in spite of its problems, but accepting and making excuses, well, that’s part of the problem.
Before moving on from Fallout, here’s a couple items you won’t want to miss. First, it seems gamers were just a little bit excited about this release. Via IGN, Steam Charts, a site dedicated to tracking player activity through Steam’s API, shows that Fallout 4 has over 12 million hours played as of this writing (that’s over 1300 years). Next, if you pre-ordered the game on Xbox One, be sure to pick up your free copy of Fallout 3. Gamespot discovered an expiration date of February 6 attached to this deal, so get yours before it’s too late. Be sure to pick up the Android or iOS companion app while you’re at it.
Commander Shepard definitely seems to be no more from the latest Mass Effect: Andromeda trailer. There’s no gameplay in the new peek but it definitely sets the scene for a new adventure in another time in the vastness of space. Thematically, I dig it.
The Witcher is being made into a movie! While it won’t be based on the games, the director Tomek Baginski worked on the cinematics for the series. Coming in 2017, the film will be based on the The Witcher, Last Wish, and Lesser Evil stories from author Andrzej Sapkowski.
A meaty new update is on the way for Diablo 3! Revealed at Blizzcon, patch 2.4 is set to introduce two new areas and Set Dungeons to the game. On top of that, a whopping 175 bounties and 50 new legendaries will be added, with 10 gear sets being revamped for the upcoming dungeons. Seasons are also getting a refresh and will now be an even three months apart. This level of support is exactly why players continue to clamor for Blizzard games. Now if only my Overwatch invite would come…
For the sandbox inclined, Life is Feudal is go for a November 17th launch. Note that this is for the 64 player, 3km-by-3km server, and not the full-fledged MMORPG. Many of the features you can expect in the larger scale game are present here, however, and offer what aims to be an incredibly deep multiplayer RPG experience.
Finally, Steam has unleashed its first wave of hardware on the world in the form of the Steam Link and Steam Controller. The Link is Valve’s answer to PC gaming your television, streaming your games quite effectively by the sounds of it. The controller is in higher demand and is sold out across the board as of this writing; however, as a substitute for a keyboard and mouse, it holds a lot of promise. Stayed tuned to MMORPG for our thoughts on these products soon!
Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Fallout 4 images courtesy of GamesRadar.com