Starfield developer Bethesda has started responding to negative feedback on PC gaming marketplace Steam for its hit sci-fi role-playing game by urging players to accept the “weirdness,” and claiming that Starfield is supposed to “evoke a feeling of smallness in players,” among other assertions.
While Starfield had over a million concurrent players at launch and reportedly pulled in 11 million players within its first two months, negative Steam store reviews for the game have since trickled in, ultimately triggering a “Mixed” review score from users who bought the game.
Many of the newer negative Starfield reviewers have logged anywhere from 20 to 105 hours or more on the game, which suggests that they aren’t just spamming the game with negative reviews to bully the developers—these gamers really did play Starfield.
One gamer who logged 20 hours called Starfield “boring, empty, [and] soulless” and was frustrated by all the empty, unpopulated locales and “dead-eyed” characters they encountered.
In response to such criticisms, a Bethesda rep said to at least two different reviewers: “We are sorry that you do not like landing on different planets and are finding many of them empty.”
“The intention of Starfield’s exploration is to evoke a feeling of smallness in players and make you feel overwhelmed,” the developer said in response to one player.
The developer argued that players shouldn’t be bored by empty planets.
“Some of Starfield’s planets are meant to be empty by design—but that’s not boring,” the developer claimed. “When the astronauts went to the moon, there was nothing there. They certainly weren’t bored.”
In response to the issues with non-playable characters, the Bethesda spokesperson said: “NPCs are not fully scripted, so weirdness can ensue sometimes,” adding that artificial intelligence (AI) has been used to create elements of the game.
One reviewer who spent 29 hours playing the game was frustrated to find NPCs unresponsive to violent behavior, walking into walls, and speaking repetitive dialogue. They also found missions repetitive, and space exploration involving a lot of clicking and waiting through loading screens.
In response, a Bethesda rep told the player that they should consider “the amount of data for the expansive gameplay that is procedurally generated to load flawlessly in under three seconds.” Instead of acknowledging the bugs the player encountered, Bethesda encouraged them to keep playing the game.
Another player who has spent 75 hours in Starfield was told to “break the law by smuggling and selling contraband.”
“If you feel that things are getting boring, there is so much more to do than just the main mission!” exclaimed the developer response.
“Starfield is a mile wide and an inch deep,” shared one player with over 256 hours in the game, who said they are “turning their brain off” when playing Starfield.
But in response this reviewer—like so many others—Bethesda once again urged the gamer to simply “try creating different characters” to shake things up.
If all these Steam reviewers are any indication, simply playing more Starfield won’t necessarily lead to less boredom. Perhaps, like many single-player games, there is simply only so many hours one can spend on a game before feeling like it’s time to move on to a new one.
Decrypt‘s GG reached out to Bethesda for comment on the Steam user review replies, but did not immediately receive a response.
Edited by Andrew Hayward