- Bethesda has had its ups and downs over the years, and public perception of the studio is currently mixed.
- Starfield, Bethesda's upcoming game, has the potential to be a fresh start for the studio and wipe the slate clean.
- If Starfield succeeds, it could propel Bethesda back to the top of the gaming world, but if it fails, it could do irreparable damage to the studio's brand.
Having been in the game since the mid-1980s, Bethesda is one of the longest-running high-profile Western developers out there, and the studio has only continued to grow in popularity over the last three decades. Getting its start with sports titles like Wayne Gretzky Hockey, Bethesda would go on to reach mainstream popularity with its The Elder Scrolls series, which began all the way back in 1994. The rest is history, and now Bethesda is one of the most renowned developers in the industry, with its next major AAA project, Starfield, dropping in just over a month.
Bethesda has seen its fair share of successes and failures over the years, but the only thing that matters now is how the gaming public views the studio in 2023, and opinions are a little mixed. Though Bethesda has undeniably put out some of the best RPGs ever made, it's also tripped up significantly in the last decade. And while there's already so much resting on Starfield's shoulders, it also has the potential to be the fresh new start that Bethesda needs right now.
Starfield is Bethesda's Chance to Start Again
It's no secret that Bethesda has had a rocky last decade or so. After the release of Skyrim in 2011, Bethesda was immediately propelled to the very top of the gaming ecosphere, where the studio managed to stay for quite a few years. After the one-two punch of Fallout 3 and Skyrim, it was believed that Bethesda could do no wrong, but with Fallout 4's release in 2015, the first seeds of doubt were sprinkled in some fans' minds. Though Fallout 4 is a good game in its own right, it isn't quite the major sequel that fans were hoping it would be, and with the disastrous launch of Fallout 76 in 2018, public perception of Bethesda completely flipped almost overnight.
Once at the top of the world, the studio's 2018 debacle was quite the fall. But Bethesda has slowly managed to crawl itself back from the brink of failure. Fallout 76 has received countless updates and expansions, and though it still isn't the game fans really wanted, it is a much more enjoyable experience. And with the studio taking a good deal of accountability for its more recent failures, public perception of Bethesda is shifting once more.
Now, it's all down to Starfield. Not just Xbox's saving grace, Starfield also represents a brand-new chapter for Bethesda, and could have the power to wipe the slate clean entirely. While Starfield is still an open-world RPG with plenty of usual Bethesda game systems and mechanics, it's different enough from The Elder Scrolls and Fallout to make it stand on its own. With a sci-fi setting, ship flying and customization mechanics, a ton of planets to explore, and a more extensive progression system than ever before, Starfield is by far Bethesda's most ambitious project yet, and with that ambition comes the potential of starting a new era for Bethesda.
It's an extremely tall order, but if Starfield somehow manages to deliver on the monumental hype surrounding it, then it could shoot Bethesda straight back up to its number-one spot at the top of the Western gaming world. But where there's the potential for a monumental reward, there's also a hefty risk associated with it. If Starfield doesn't manage to deliver, then that could do irreparable damage to Bethesda's already vulnerable brand, and with potentially three high-profile disappointments in a row, Starfield could easily be the end of an era as much as it can start a new one.
Starfield launches September 6 for PC and Xbox Series X/S.