The meta-narrative around Starfield just took a very weird turn. Steam reviews for the sprawling sci-fi RPG recently fell to “mixed” on Valve’s storefront, and now Bethesda employees are arguing with players in the comments about why the game isn’t as boring and soulless as some of them claim.
Developer responses to some of Starfield’s most negative Steam reviews were recently spotted by X (formerly known as Twitter) user JuiceHead and shared online. These aren’t simply fact-checks or brief comments either, but multi-paragraph rebuttals that read like a potential Bethesda customer service person working off a script. “The story is as generic as it gets and the gameplay gets boring,” read one recent review posted on November 27 by a user who had amassed 75 hours of playtime. “I wish there was a reason to even bother exploring planets and building outposts. everything is fun until you do it once, then it’s all a repeating, soulless chore.”
Here was Bethesda’s response, which reads like the kind of peak corporate parody you’d find in an older Bethesda RPG:
Thank you for taking the time to leave a review for Starfield!
You can fly, you can shoot, you can mine, you can loot!
Starfield is an RPG with hundreds of hours of quests to complete and characters to meet. Most quests will also vary on your character’s skills and decisions, massively changing the outcome of your playthrough. Try creating different characters with backgrounds and characteristics that clash or are oppositive of your previous character. You will feel like you are playing a totally different game. Put points in different skills from a character you’ve previously created, and you are now faced with completely different decisions to make and difficulties to encounter.
There are so many layers to Starfield, that you will find things you’ve never knew were possible after playing for hundreds of hours.
Even after completing the Main Story, your adventure doesn’t end! You can continue onto New Game+ to keep exploring Starfield and all that is out there!
Never stop exploring!
Bethesda Customer Support
Other responses are much more pointed, with Bethesda pushing back hard on criticism of Starfield’s 1,000 planet galaxy as “boring.” “We are sorry that you do not like landing on different planets and are finding many of them empty,” reads another customer service response. “Some of Starfield’s planets are meant to be empty by design—but that’s not boring.” The rep then quoted an interview director Todd Howard gave in which he mentioned that the moon is empty but astronauts weren’t bored when they landed on it.
Read more: Starfield Isn’t The Future Of Video Games, And That’s Okay
Buy Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop
Another Bethesda customer service response pushed back on a review critiquing the game’s many loading screens for how they interrupt space travel and exploration. “While there may be loading screens in between fast traveling, just consider the amount of data for the expansive gameplay that is procedurally generated to load flawlessly in under 3 seconds,” it reads. “We believe that shortcoming will not hinder our players from getting lost in the world we created.”
Steam reviews can make or break a game’s long-term success on the platform, especially if they dip into the dreaded “mixed” category with less than 70 percent positive feedback at which point the rating goes from blue to “danger zone” yellow. Starfield recently crossed that threshold in a rush of new sales ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But it’s rare to see a studio actually push back against subjective assessments and basically tell users they’re playing the game wrong.
While far from a bad game, it’s clear the long-awaited space RPG from the makers of Fallout 3 and Skyrim hasn’t blown everyone away like some fans might have hoped. Kotaku’s own extensive review lays out both the good and the bad of the sprawling open-world game, and the lack of a Game of the Year nomination at Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards, followed by debates about shrinking concurrent player counts on Steam, have further complicated the narrative behind Xbox’s big 2023 console exclusive as something other than a runaway success.
One surefire way to reverse negative reviews on Steam is to continue releasing big updates. While Starfield recently received DLSS support on PC and the ability to eat food directly from the environment (which serves no purpose but is fun), the game could still use plenty of other tweaks and additions, and fellow travelers like Cyberpunk 2077 have proved it can be done. Though based on its current responses to negative Stream reviews, it sounds like Bethesda thinks Starfield is mostly fine as it is.