My column this week is not an answer to the question posed by the title, but instead a diatribe on why this is a really good question. It’s a baffling design decision that hurt the game in numerous tangible ways and doesn’t seem to have any benefit.
Actually, it’s possible this design decision can be explained by the same thing as the terrible design decision I talked about last week. It’s awful and a waste of development resources, but it also makes it easier to make trailers and press demos.
Earlier today, Supahewok said this in response to the podcast:
Most journalists go through a honeymoon phase with Bethesda titles. RPS gave Skyrim their GOTY for… 2011, was it? The game had been out for only a month.
Fast forward a year and most of their reviewers were saying, “In hindsight, it was rather shallow and dull, wasn't it?”
Bethesda seem to have become masters at a sort of inherently shallow but greatly immediately gratifying gameplay, which means everyone loves it for a few weeks. Eventually the shine wears off, and the rather skeletal, half baked mess of the game's underlying systems become more visible. However, Beth times their releases for Christmas (anything late October through November is Christmas Season for games nowadays), when all the game journos are doing their “Best of the Year” and award shows are handing out trophies, so the game is more immediately in their minds than the great games from earlier in the year (betcha nobody is keeping Pillars of Eternity in mind for Best RPG, although to be fair Witcher 3 seems to have had equally as good, yet more accessible writing, and a crap ton more production value. Yet even W3, who at its release had a lot of folks calling it the Best RPG for the Past Decade, is gonna have stiff competition from FO4, when there really is no contest between them).
Basically you've got a perfect recipe for immediate critical adoration, and by the time people move on in January or February what's done is done. Honestly, the true, Miyomoto-ian stars of the BethSoft production team are the marketers.
That is… alarmingly plausible.
The Biggest Game Ever
How did this niche racing game make a gameworld so massive, and why is that a big deal?
Silent Hill 2 Plot Analysis
A long-form analysis on one of the greatest horror games ever made.
The No Politics Rule
Here are 6 reasons why I forbid political discussions on this site. #4 will amaze you. Or not.
The Opportunity Crunch
No, brutal, soul-sucking, marriage-destroying crunch mode in game development isn't a privilege or an opportunity. It's idiocy.
The Witch Watch
My first REAL published book, about a guy who comes back from the dead due to a misunderstanding.