Over the past five years, the YouTuber known as Bacon_ has been entertaining viewers with funny video game clips, most of which are from titles developed by Bethesda Game Studios. Now, with the release of Starfield, Bacon_ has new material to work with. One of his recent videos, titled “Just trying to get through my shift,” showcases a Starfield non-playable character (NPC) hilariously using a mining laser on his colleague’s crotch. Bacon_ humorously comments, “So Starfield is out, and it’s definitely a Bethesda game.”
When it comes to video games, technical difficulties are often expected. However, Bethesda, often referred to as “Bugthesda” (affectionately or cruelly), has gained a reputation for its glitchy chaos since the release of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind in 2003. Despite initial appearances, each Bethesda game harbors an uncontrollable weirdness at its core. If these games were personified, they would resemble the skin-stealing alien from Men in Black—an eccentric entity attempting to pass off as normal.
The memes spawned by Bethesda games, much like their extensive mods, have become inseparable from their identity. Starfield is no exception. Bethesda reportedly dedicated several years of the game’s eight-year development to testing its enormous solar system. However, as a video featuring glitches from Starfield interspersed with Todd Howard’s pronouncements suggests, Bethesda cannot escape its bugs. As one streamer sarcastically commented, “This is a 100-dollar game,” when their companion charged full speed into a wall.
Admittedly, Starfield’s systems feel somewhat outdated, especially considering the fantastic open-world RPG games we’ve had in the past two years. Nevertheless, I can’t help but appreciate Starfield for being quintessentially Bethesda. In a world where chaos is prevalent, it’s refreshing to see that even in 2023, Bethesda is still being Bethesda. The bugs may at times undermine the games, but the unique situations they create give these worlds character. It’s the chaotic aura that draws us back to them, even decades after their launch.
This peculiar nature is particularly important for Bethesda’s games, as their locations often feel generic. The company has explored various settings, including high fantasy, post-apocalyptic, and garden-variety sci-fi. However, shortly after arriving in New Atlantis, Starfield’s Apple Store-inspired metropolis, my character, William Regal, found himself in a crowded square. While citizens bounced off each other like balls on a pool table, there was one person who stood out—a man in a blue jumpsuit effortlessly moonwalking with a shopping bag in hand.
Numerous other players have also encountered similar instances. One common trait among Starfield NPCs is their difficulty in adhering to the laws of gravity. In a video posted on YouTube, an executive at the Terra Brew coffee shop nonchalantly remarks, “You can see traffic is good, the sales keep climbing,” as a barista levitates through the ceiling. However, it’s not just the bugs in Bethesda games that add to the weirdness. Even in systems that work “as they should,” you can find this unique characteristic. As you stroll through New Atlantis, every citizen turns and stares at you with wide eyes. Many declare that they are “late for a meeting,” yet if you follow them, they merely stop and gaze aimlessly at the blocky vistas of the city.
Despite its quirks and glitches, Starfield continues to captivate players with its charm. The Bethesda experience, which often comprises both bugs and unexpected situations, has become an integral part of their games’ appeal. Even in a gaming landscape filled with polished and flawless titles, there is something comforting about the idiosyncratic nature of Bethesda’s creations. So, while critics may focus on the bugs and technical weaknesses, fans recognize that these oddities are what make Bethesda games truly memorable and beloved.