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What just happened? Starfield, an RPG that excited gamers for years before release with the promise of being Skyrim in space, is ending 2023 with its Steam Recent Reviews rating at Mostly Negative. Even the overall rating is Mixed, which will doubtlessly disappoint Bethesda and Todd Howard.
Being Bethesda's first original IP in decades meant Starfield garnered a lot of hype in the years following its 2018 announcement. The game even made it onto Steam's best-seller chart months ahead of launch thanks to the slew of pre-orders.
But Starfield's reviews were far from universally positive. Some reviewers genuinely loved it, handing out scores of 8, 9, and even 10 out of 10. Others were disappointed by many elements, finding it resoundingly average. And you'll find plenty of people who downright hate the game.
Starfield certainly isn't finding much love on Steam. Of the 87,000 user reviews it has gained since launch, only 65% are positive, earning it a Mixed rating. The more damning part is the Recent Reviews section, which covers all reviews over the last 30 days. There have been around 7,500 user reviews across the last month, a mere 31% of which were positive, earning Starfield a Mostly Negative rating.
A look at the negative reviews shows the same complaints aired by most people who dislike Starfield: Mediocre, boring, vast emptiness, loads of loading screens, awful AI, etc.
Bethesda started making the situation even worse last month by replying to some of these negative reviews. One game dev responded to the emptiness complaint by writing: "When the astronauts went to the moon, there was nothing there. They certainly weren't bored." Addressing the loading-screen issues, the same developer asked the reviewer to consider the amount of data within the game. There was also the Starfield developer who said on X that gamers are "disconnected" from "the realities of game development."
LoooongðÂ§µ (1/15) Funny how disconnected some players are from the realities of game development, and yet they speak with complete authority. I mean, I can guess what it takes to make a Hostess Twinkie, but I don't work in the factory, so what the hell do I really know? Not a lot.– Emil Pagliarulo (@Dezinuh) December 13, 2023
Starfield only received two nominations at this month's game awards – Players' Voice, where it was voted out in the first round, and Best RPG – losing out on both awards to Baldur's Gate 3.
Bethesda isn't giving up on Starfield, of course. A recent end-of-year update revealed that the company is aiming to release updates every six weeks starting in February, introducing everything from quality-of-life improvements to content and feature updates. Players can expect new ship customization options, new ways to travel, city maps, extra gameplay options, and more.
Bethesda will no doubt be hoping Starfield can mirror Cyberpunk 2077 and No Man's Sky, recovering from a terrible launch to become a game adored by many. But like those titles, it'll take a few years before Starfield reaches that point - assuming it ever does.