The uneven charm of Starfield

Almost immediately, Starfield felt fragmented to me. Navigating the UI was a chore, and every move I made inevitably required awkward loading screens. Most of all, the entire experience felt obscured. Starfield is overstuffed with things to do, but most of the time it feels like you’re going against the grain. For me, the biggest appeal of Skyrim was the effortless flow of its open world. Anything I did felt in line with everything else in the game.

And that’s what was most jarring about Starfield – it lacked direction or even a sense that what I was doing was right (it can still feel this way). There are an endless amount of great quests, things to build, places to make sense of, and general paths of exploration. Bethesda clearly swung wide with this game, and at many points during my time with the game so far I was overwhelmed by possibility. But it also feels very uneven and, above all, feels like a whole that’s very systems driven. Right down to its exploration, each of these major aspects can feel very siloed off.

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Fallout 76 is the pinnacle of atmospheric design

Fallout 76 capitol

Half baked and thoroughly puzzling – I like many others was confused by the initial release of Fallout 76. From the outside looking in it seemed to run the gamut of all issues associated with a GaaS title released a tad too soon. Unsurprisingly, it received a mountain of backlash.

Over time, my curiosity in what Bethesda Games Studios had developed started to overtake Fallout 76’s initial blunder. Recently, nearly 3 years after its release, I decided to take the plunge. Part of me wanted to see if things had remained truly horrendous and the other part of me wondered if a steady stream of updates had brought Fallout 76 to the surface.

What I’ve found after 20 some odd hours of playtime is that while it certainly lacks qualities found in traditional Fallout games, its level of atmosphere is far and away above anything I would have expected. Fallout 76’s rendition of West Virginia might even be one of my favorite examples of open world atmosphere.

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Always cozy, never dull (Skyrim Special Edition screenshots)

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Special Edition ethereal god rays

Even after all these years, Skyrim never fails to disappoint in its pension for landscape views, atmosphere, and need to be played. The screenshots below were taken just outside of Whiterun and Dragonsreach. Although you’ll find a cozy atmosphere in many places of Skyrim, these zones are particularly inviting.

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