My column this week is about Bethesda’s reputation as a bug factory and why replacing their game engine wouldn’t fix that.
This is not to say their engine couldn’t use some work. Their stealth AI is embarrassing by today’s standards. Their physics engine is prone to ridiculous mishaps. The level-load that happens between interior and exterior locations is pretty anachronistic. The triggers for starting quest events and conversations feel like they’re governed by a random number generator. And of course the games have always been prone to crashes.
And then there are the problems that aren’t really the fault of the engine, but are nevertheless pervasive in their games. The texture resolutions are hilarious inconsistent in a way that wastes tons of graphics memory but also leaves important scenery looking blurry. The heads all look like potatoes. Sound levels are random and many locations lack a soundscape.
And so on.
The important thing is that there’s no point in attempting to modernize their engine without first addressing the systemic problems with their development process. Honestly, if anyone else ever figured out to make a Skyrim-esque experience Bethesda could find themselves in serious trouble. The only reason they get away with this is because they’re the only studio that can offer this kind of gameplay.
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