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Bethesda's Bad Example

I'm going to go right ahead and preface this blog with a confession: I enjoy Bethesda games. This may make the rest of this blog sound hypocritical, but it really isn't. While I may enjoy the games, I recognize this truthful statement: Bethesda does not make games of the highest quality. This may seem blasphemous to many, as there are legions of fans of their games, but it's true. While it has pushed the envelope of possibility, Bethesda has been a poor influence on the gaming world. And here's why.

First and foremost, I would be remiss to not point out that I have never played a game with more bugs than when I played Skyrim. This point is exacerbated by the fact that I picked up the game after a patch or two had been released. Now, my issue with bugs in games will waith for a different time (or writer), but this can't be ignored. The problem with Bethesda is that they get a free pass. If any other game came packaged with the myriad bugs that any Bethesda game comes with, they would be run into the ground. I don't understand what it is about this developer that makes everyone just turn a blind eye to the issues, but it isn't acceptable.

A big issue that I have with Bethesda is that they seem to put sales above integrity. During a conversation with a few GIO members on Twitter, Jolt revealed his extreme distaste for the company stating that he wished they would stick to making games for the Xbox and PC, as they cannot seem to figure out how to work their games on the PS3. I realized I agree with him. Many of the patches I've heard of have failed to be implemented on that console, and I'm not talking about just Skyrim. Releasing a game that isn't complete, and in some cases unplayable, seems dishonest in a way to me. I can't speak from experience, but it seems like a sense of pride would prevent such a situation. Figure out the system, then release the game. I understand that they're trying to get games out for the holidays, but a company that big isn't hurting for fans. Take a bit more time and polish up your games before you release them.

Another issue I have with Bethesda is their open world. I understand that I'm getting blank stares from many of you, but I'm going to say it: the worlds are too big. There is no necessity for making a game with a world that will take a couple hours to walk across. Now to be fair I loved it in Morrowind. I could begin in an exotic forest, wind my way down to marshlands, head up to dead scorched fields, or walk northeast to deserts with fierce duststorms. Playing Skyrim, I get bored. I wind my way from snowy mountain to snowy valley, to barren valleys with no snow. The game looks gorgeous, but it's empty and monotonous. The caves are similar, the ruins are similar, everything looks the same. I've had little desire to explore the world. 

A big empty world isn't in itself a bad thing. You can do a lot with that system. However, one thing that it does not contribute to is a story. I've made this clear before, but storylines and open worlds virtually cannot exist in the same sphere. Bold claim, I know, but think about it. Open worlds are there for one reason: exploration. What are you doing when yu're exploring? Not the storyline. Now, some games have managed to pull off a tricky marriage between the two, but those are few and far between. Bethesda has not. 

So why are these things bad? Why not just ignore the games? Because Bethesda has become a juggernaut, and whenever one of those arise there will be many copycats. Because Fallout has a huge world, people think every game should have a huge world. Let's make every game HUGE! What people fail to realize is that every game is not tailored to such a style. If I had to walk the equivalent of Solitude to Whiterun in Mass Effect to progress the story, it is possible I will not play. Not every game needs to be big. 

They have also shown the world that it is okay to release buggy games. Buyers flock to Bethesda titles, knowing full well each time that they will be chock full of issues that will potentially break the game. This hasn't gone unnoticed. Assassin's Creed 3 is releasing a patch with over 100 bug fixes. The game has been out for only a few weeks. It also quite possibly will win GOTY. Bethesda seems to have ushered in a new era of gaming: release first, patch later. You can call out the industry for fostering such an environment with heavy pressure on holiday releases if you want, but the fact of the matter is that Bethesda is making it noticeable and making it okay, and that is not okay.

Let me reiterate: Bethesday games are fun. They serve a purpose in the industry. They are not perfect, however. They also are not the ideal that the industry should strive for. Not every game should be different versions of Skyrim. With the sales they are getting they need to step up their game, take some time, and release something quality.

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