I am not willing to invest hundreds of hours in Starfield before I finally "grasp what this game is about."
During a Bethesda MainStream event at Gamescom 2023, Pete Hines, the Head of Publishing at Bethesda, expressed his sentiment that it was only after sp...
During a Bethesda MainStream event at Gamescom 2023, Pete Hines, the Head of Publishing at Bethesda, expressed his sentiment that it was only after spending 50 hours completing the main quest in Starfield that the game truly gained momentum, followed by an additional 80 hours dedicated to side quests. In a similar conversation with IGN, he stated, "To be honest, there isn't a specific timeframe where I feel comfortable enough to say, 'Now you've played enough Starfield to grasp what this game is about.' Because I've already invested 150, 160 hours in my current playthrough and [...] I'm far from reaching the end."
The highly anticipated space-themed RPG is rumored to be so vast that it features over a thousand explorable planets and potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay, the mere thought of which gives me a headache. I have been eagerly looking forward to Starfield for a long time, and I will undoubtedly spend an unhealthy amount of time engrossed in front of the screen. However, to suggest that one can only truly comprehend a game after investing hundreds of hours is indicative of something disconcerting.
Games are becoming increasingly larger and more expensive in terms of development and purchase, indicating a diminishing sustainability in the gaming industry. Starfield stands as an exception due to its Xbox Game Pass release on day one, clearly aimed at motivating people to subscribe to the Game Pass. However, it is also potentially one of the largest games ever developed. I enjoy a game that offers a multitude of things to explore - as a teenager, I invested a significant amount of time in Skyrim, although it is difficult to determine exactly how much, as I didn't keep track of the countless months and weekends I spent in my basement, playing and replaying the game. A game that unfolds continuously and reveals more of its uniqueness the deeper one dives into it is a good game. However, a game that demands hundreds of hours before truly gaining momentum is an entirely different matter.
That doesn't mean Starfield isn't a good game. Naturally, I don't know for sure since it hasn't been released yet, and I haven't received any access codes. There is a possibility that Hines is referring to the mysterious New Game+ mode in Starfield, which the game director Todd Howard has described as a "unique and exciting twist" that will incentivize "further and repeated playthroughs." This is an entirely different matter that can cause confusion, as Bethesda is not known for incorporating New Game+ modes in their games. They already create extensive games that take an eternity to complete, and it's an unusual choice for a role-playing game where many players prefer starting with a new character and adopting a completely different playstyle.
Nevertheless, expecting players to invest hundreds of hours into a game before it kicks into hyperdrive is asking for too much, especially in a year where there is fierce competition among several highly anticipated releases. For players who are willing to dedicate years to playing this game, potentially overlooking many other new releases, or for those who plan to play it around the clock, it may be feasible. However, for individuals like myself who value personal time for other activities, engaging in other hobbies, and going outdoors, it's hard to imagine burying myself in Starfield, only to eventually, perhaps, reach the actual essence of the game.