Wednesday 11 January 2017

What is the deal with Bethesda?

Bethesda Game Studios, for those out of the loop, is the studio behind games such as Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Fallout 4.

These games are usually produced to a pretty high degree of quality, all 3 of which boast expansive and detailed open worlds, a lot of in-depth lore and a bunch of side-quests.

Pictured below is an actual list of all the side-quests contained just within Skyrim without any DLC, or a total of 57 side quests.

With this much content and such a large world, surely Skyrim is a brilliant game?

Well, in contrast to the large fanbase these games have accumulated, I am highly inclined to disagree. It is correct that there is a lot of content in Skyrim, but what's the point in that content if it's an unenjoyable process to get through it?

The first point that I would like to cover here is the combat in this game.

The combat in this game is best described as if the combat in Dark Souls and a sloth had some kind of child, which was then implemented on a buggy-as-shit engine. Each attack takes about 14 years to complete, and often deals almost no damage at any given point in the game to make up for the fact that the scaling is incredibly artificial.

"So just don't use the swords!" is the logical continuation of that opinion, but after swords I have two other options - magic and bows. Using exclusively bows is the most boring and awkward thing to do ever, so that's a no-go. The combination of still very unresponsive and slow combat combined with limited ammunition makes it probably the worst option. At least I don't get punished for missing a sword strike.

Magic is the best out of a bunch of bad options, because at least it looks cool. It doesn't have the long-term punishment for missing that bows do, and it is in my experience marginally faster and more satisfying than swords. That's not to say it's a good experience, but it's an experience that makes me less unhappy with my decisions thus far in life.

This issue is significantly reduced in Fallout 3 and 4, which contains guns and VATS. VATS basically takes almost all the real combat gameplay out of the equation if you're like me and nearly exclusively use it to murder the opposition. The non-VATS shooting is still a bit uncomfortable, but god, Bethesda games feel so much better with guns even at that.

The strangest and in my mind, the most objectionable design choice that Bethesda have made is to keep their engine as a consistently buggy mess for about 8 years, or since Fallout 3's release. They seem to believe that having a terrible engine is part of their notoriety, or their identity in some form. This may be true to an extent, where people frequently ridicule the 75 degree surfaces you can just walk up as if they're nothing, or where the ragdoll physics are occasionally very bouncy or twitchy, but ultimately it just isn't funny anymore.

After 3 consecutive games with the same engine problems, it gets to the point where it just seems unpolished. I appreciate the initial "heh", but by now it just feels bad to play.

Of course, this is all my personal opinion. I don't represent the views of, you, or anyone who is not myself. It should go without saying that if you love Skyrim, then you do you! If you have fun with that game, I'd love to hear your perspective on why you do so.

Lastly, if you have done, thanks for reading.

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