I had a pretty good time with Fallout 76.

I managed to snag two copies for the price of one shortly after its disastrous launch so I could play it with my brother — he and I are both big Fallout fans. Even though we only played together that one time (I don’t think he was all that impressed), I continued to go back to it every now and again just to see what’s what. Despite running into a number of glitches and bugs that all but halted my ability to complete a couple of different missions, I still enjoyed what little of it I played. Was it a solid entry in the Fallout series? Not as such. Was it a good enough approximation to at least scratch that Bethesda itch versus breaking out Skyrim or Fallout 3/4/New Vegas? Yeah, actually.

I regaled you with this little tale not to annoy or insult the multitude of players who still to this day burn Fallout 76 in effigy, but to instead give you a sense of the depths I sank to in order to satiate cravings for specific gameplay experiences.

To put it more succinctly, In lieu of a better product, facsimiles will often suffice — to a point.


This brings me to Starfield, the next big open-world Bethesda game. Even though I am no more excited for Starfield now, after having seen a glimpse of it at Summer Game Fest this year, than I was before Bethesda pulled back the curtain, I am optimistic that Starfield will at the very least be good enough to scratch that very particular Bethesda itch.

You see, in order to get that specific open-world RPG fix, Starfield is all we’ve got for now. I mean, it could be years before the next Elder Scrolls game, which will almost certainly be here before Fallout 5‘s distant release date. So by default, Starfield will simply have to do.


I don’t mean to come off as all doom and gloom here. Allow me to extrapolate.

Starfield, at least initially, looks promising. Specifically, it looks to be quite ambitious in the depth of its RPG mechanics. And really, for a Bethesda game, that’s usually what matters the most. Even though the combat looks functional at best, at least for the first-person aspect (there hasn’t been a ton of evidence highlighting third-person combat or whether or not there will be a V.A.T.S.-like system), that is pretty much par for the course. I think the number of people that play Bethesda RPGs solely for the gunplay is slim at best, so that’s probably a non-issue.

I am curious to see what we can expect in the scavenging department. I spend most of my time in Bethesda games looting and stealing and hoarding and selling to amass my small fortune. It is unclear if or even how that might be presented in Starfield, or if that aspect will simply be replaced with the new No Man’s Sky-esque resource mining mechanic (which, I really hope isn’t the case). It’s too early to say for sure.

To be fair and honest and concise and balanced, as of right now, Starfield mostly just looks okay. I see glimmers of what I love about Bethesda games in what’s been shown thus far, but even those get lost in the mire and muck of what otherwise feels like an approximate amalgam of Mass Effect, Fallout, and, to a far lesser extent, No Man’s Sky.


The color palette feels far too muted and desaturated for my tastes, the combat looks par for the course, the characters seem bland, and the snippets of space combat literally lulled me to sleep. But the core Bethesda RPG systems seem in place, at least enough to give me hope that if nothing else Starfield will literally just be like all of Bethesda’s other games at heart, just with a boring coat of space paint.

But that is by no means a bad thing. At this point, I don’t expect this studio to reinvent the wheel. I just hope they can deliver a competent version of their winning formula. Would I love them to deliver the stars? Sure. Will I settle for the moon? Absolutely. And honestly, at the end of the day, as long as there is enough of that Bethesda gold (or maybe copper at this point) for me to cash in on, that will get me through the day.

At least, until the studio gets around to releasing the games we — perhaps secretly — would much rather it release instead…

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