When we hear anything that has to do with Bethesda Game Studios, two very specific thoughts come to mind. One of which is the reason behind our love toward them, which would be their massive and epic games that do nothing less than hook gamers in a intriguing world for months on end. Bethesda has had a very big impact on this generation of gaming and even managed to produce a Game of the Year on three separate occasions. The first of which was none other than The Elder Scrolls four: Oblivion. This massive fantasy style adventure offered endless possibilities and catered to multiple play styles that almost any gamer could enjoy. A few years later came Fallout 3, a game which offered an open world similar to Oblivion, but played more like a first person shooter RPG than anything else. This game gives players a first hand look at what it would be like to live in a post apocalyptic world torn apart by nuclear war with the freedom to influence the world you however you see fit, no matter how good or evil your actions may be. And finally we have our 2011 game of the year, Elder Scrolls Five: Skyrim. This game is everything that Oblivion was but with a few new features and a new leveling system that makes this new entry feel fresh and exciting. With so many smash hits under there belt, there is little doubt that Bethesda has been nothing short of a success during the current generation of Consoles.
The other thing that comes to mind however is the source of all of our hate towards Bethesda. While I feel I don’t even need to say it, their games are pretty much guaranteed to have a ton of bugs. Now lets give credit where credit is due, they do get patched and fixed pretty quick. Even so however, many of the bugs that buyers are forced to put up with should have NEVER made it out of development to begin with. In fact it is this very reason that many gamers will choose to wait for the Game of the Year editions of the game before venturing into the massive adventures that Bethesda brings to the table, due to the fact that these later editions will have all of the patches and DLC content included on the disk to ensure a smooth experience. But it should never have to be like that! When a game is set to be released on a certain date, the game is expected to work for everyone right out of the box. It shouldn’t mean that we have to be forced to wait a week or two after we purchase the game to be able to play it, and it certainly doesn’t mean putting out a prototype to have the consumer beta test for the inevitable Game of the Year edition. While this kind of behavior sadly seem to be normal amongst several developers these days, no one takes it as far as Bethesda.
While all of Bethesda’s games have their bugs to pick at, lets focus in on Bethesda’s most recent smash hit, Skyrim. This game has been bug ridden across all platforms, but no one got hit harder than a chunk of the PS3 user base. Everything seemed fine at first, but as save files slowly began to creep to about the ten megabyte mark things got a little sketchy to say the least. Some people ran into a problem with low resolution textures in some spots while others encountered horrible frame rate drops that rendered the game unplayable. That’s right, I said unplayable. Suddenly the Bethesda forums blew up with gamers outraged at having devoted several hours into a fantastic adventure, just to have the game crap out on them in the middle of it. Bethesda did however act rather quickly and released a patch to remedy the problem. Sadly things were not fixed for everyone. While the problem with low resolution textures for bigger save files was fixed, the frame rate was hit or miss. Some users were fixed, others not so much. Furthermore this patch introduced another slew of bugs to be found in the game as well, such as the infamous backwards flying dragon or the broken magic resistance. Soon after these new bugs were reported it was announced that another patch will be coming to fix them, but only time will tell if the performance issues are totally fixed as well this time around. Bethesda has officially stated that they can and will be working to fix the PS3 performance bug. When this problem will finally be put to rest however, no one can be certain at this point.
The 360 version didn’t get off bug free either. The most famous problem for 360 users was extremely poor texture streaming when the game is installed to the hard drive. While this did result in some rather ugly visuals, the game was still completely playable. Bethesda was sure to patch this problem as well, but 360 users also ran into the same new bugs that PS3 gamers had with their patch. Also like the PS3 version however, another patch is on the way to fix these new problems. The question remains however, will the fixes put in to kill these bugs breath life into yet another slew of new ones? Furthermore, how long will it be till the other less famous bugs are addressed as well, such as the failure to absorb Dragon souls? While 360 users may not be as hurt as the PS3 user base, bugs are bugs and no gamer wants them mucking up an otherwise amazing experience.
The full extent of the damage caused by these bugs is yet unknown, as not everyone experiences them. For example, I myself play Skyrim on my PS3 and currently have about fifty seven hours of playtime so far and I don’t use any special tricks to maintain stability. I have not personally experienced any of the game breaking bugs listed above and know other PS3 users with similar luck as well. It is only natural that the people who do end up with broken frame rates are more vocal toward the issue and those without problems tend to keep quiet. Even so it is evident that there is a serious problem here and while many people don’t experience these issues, a very large fraction of people do. Luckily Bethesda does listen to their user base an will EVENTUALLY fix the issue, or so they claim. In any case scenario however it is scary for anyone playing the PS3 version, even if you don’t have these issues at this time. I know I don’t want to experience these problems and I don’t feel like throwing all of my hard work away to start a new character on a different version. That said, a true fix can’t come soon enough for me, even if it is just for peace of mind alone. Regardless of my own feelings toward the situation however, Bethesda needs to get the ball rolling with this. As it stands now, the PS3 version is a gamble of a purchase when it comes to long term play. Buying a completed product should never be like that and the longer they put this issue off, the worse the damage will be toward a third of their sales potential in the end.
So there you have it. Bethesda has won the love of countless gamers throughout the course of this generation of consoles. The massive scale of the worlds they create and freedom to explore them in any way you can think of is more than enough to win the heart of any adventurer. However with the gift of love comes the burden of hate, which in this case is harbored by the countless bugs found in all of their games. Even so however we love how Bethesda usually fixes the major issues to keep us happy, yet we hate how some of the major game breaking bugs somehow made it past the development stage (which is unacceptable). In short, Bethesda…we love to hate you.
Note: This article expresses the views and opinion of Jason R and does not necessarily reflect the views of the entire staff.