I recovered from the novel Coronavirus just in time to take care of Brenna, who came down with it on Friday. I never had it before, and it's been just as novel as advertised. It's like we have two different illnesses: I had a "cold" so mild I was more or less fine in two days. Brenna is riding a horse made of bones in plaguelands, and she is pregnant with its dark gifts. It's not the same! So, I bring her soup sometimes.
This is partially to say that in addition to the fact that I was busy when it came out, and then busy after it came out, I haven't had a chance to play Starfield. I've installed it and looked at the menu, and I'll start it when I'm done here. Mike is already done with it, but outside of Fallout he's not a dyed in the wool fan of what you might call The Bethesda Experience - there's no apostasy here. It isn't like he was Teh Hardcorez and now he's staking some claim outside the Sacred Order. For him, it's just a bad shooter with a lot of reading where everyone has varying degrees of facial paralysis, where greasy psychopaths in the vein of Mass Effect 4 hold court.
The case I've made to him in the past, as someone who sorta gets their thing, and likes what they've done after a patch or two, is that their primary medium is scale. That's what they offer. It can even be conceptual: allowing players to contract vampirism, or lycanthropy. They're "big." They do it big, and that's why if you look too close at any one thing maybe you're not gonna see much. It's a trade that many, many people - millions, in fact - make happily when they purchase a Bethesda product.
I am confused, though. I thought the offer was Elder Scrolls In Space. It's startling to me how confused they seem to be about their own fantasy, the one they've profitably sold for years. Their primary product - scale, the feeling of being dwarfed by a contiguous space where you can walk toward something incredible and actually get there - isn't part of this product. Fast Travel as an option inside fully navigable worlds doesn't break the contract. A game where Fast Travel is Travel represents such a fundamental misconception about their own shit that one can barely even.
The planetary part of the game can't be less feature rich than No Man's Sky at launch. Minecraft does better than this, in Java. I don't know why you would launch with this kind of planet generation - one where you can't fly your ship inside the atmosphere, and algorithmically vomited cubic volumes flow rich from its cloaca. You can't just gin up largely empty squares of a place, surrounded by deep gouges in the planet's crust. I don't want my worlds "Detroit Style."
I'd rather it didn't have it at all. And it doesn't even need it! A few real worlds, an elevation of KOTOR's promise and of a piece with their globally recognized expertise, is already a profound offering. In 1992's Star Control II, some worlds just had red shields over them and you couldn't get in because of Cruel Space Bug Wizards. Bring 'em back. Like Skyrim, we will be seeing Starfield morph chimerically for years into a host of different products, so many it'll become a meme in and of itself. They're Bethesda. Which is to say, they're ZeniMax. Which is to say, they're Xbox Game Studios. Which is to say, they're Microsoft. Do this kind of stuff later, when you can actually do it. As it stands now, that's all pretend.