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With Fallout 4 Just Over The Horizon, Don’t Forget About Skyrim’s Bug-Ridden Launch

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Fallout 4 is now less than three months away, and anticipation is running at an all-time high for fans for the Fallout series. As good a track record Bethesda have with open-world games in particular, their titles are unfortunately not the pristine, bug-ridden experiences they could be every single time…

We know that Fallout 4 is still using a modified form of the older Creative engine, which is the same engine that powered The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, four years ago. As Valve continues to incrementally update their Source engine with subsequent game releases, it would seem Bethesda is taking this same approach with its Creative engine. And whilst it certainly is a little older, some of the Fallout 4 screenshots released by Bethesda have been perfectly serviceable for a 2015 game.

The bigger issue here is twofold: performance and bugs. Skyrim was a very attractive game in terms of graphics, but its performance at launch was not exactly stellar. Even on high-end machines (for the time) it didn’t really blow anyone away with how it ran. Many of these problems were corrected post-launch, partly by Bethesda themselves with patches, and partly with third-party developers that modded the hell out of the game, fixing some of Bethesda’s bugs before even the developers were able to do so. Some of these bugs were trivial in nature: an NPC glitching out or looking visually unusual, but you could still interact with them, for example. Unfortunately there were often larger issues, with NPCs vanishing completely, game crashes, or even being unable to launch the game at all.

Bethesda may make good games, but they don’t seem to make bug-free games. For further proof you need only look at the launch of Rage in 2011, a game less well-received than id/Bethesda’s are usually, partly down to some of its showstopping bugs at launch, again including crashes, disappearing items and NPCs, blurry “pop-in” textures, and poor overall performance. The phrase “bug-free” might be a bit of a misnomer here, as it’s almost impossible for any developer to release a completely bug-free game. With anything more complex than Pong, you’re going to have a handful slip in; this is just the nature of modern-day gaming. What you can try to do is ensure that those bugs which do make it into the final version of the game are not big enough to prevent overall enjoyment of your game. Gamers are going to forgive (or even laugh at) your head being twice the size that it should be, far easier than they are if it crashes every fifteen minutes or randomly deletes your save file.

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“Go find those bugs, boy!”

No doubt Fallout 4 is going to have every bit as much mod support as Bethesda’s previous titles, and that’s going to mean Bethesda are effectively going to have a lot of unpaid employees able to fix certain issues in the game for them before they can push out an official patch – and that’s nice, but not exactly the point. It shouldn’t take a 15 year old student in Oslo to fix a crash bug in your game, especially if the game has been in development for literally years and years. Bethesda have had plenty of time to get the game as polished as it can be. No one wants to see another Arkham Knight debacle, where WB actually withdrew the PC version of the game from sale due to its performance issues (and it’s still not back yet, either), or the duping exploit that hit The Elder Scrolls Online last year, creating massive imbalances in the game’s economy which were ultimately never completely resolved.

Given that it’s been a while since we’ve had a major Bethesda release (excluding The Elder Scrolls Online – MMOs tend to be their own thing) then it’s entirely possible they’ve tightened things up, and Fallout 4 is going to be more polished than a supermodel’s backside. The pressure is clearly on Bethesda to deliver a quality Fallout game and a quality experience within that game. We can only hope that a bit more attention has been paid to QA this time around, since gamers tend to have loud voices and long memories when it comes to these sorts of things. Given that we’re paying $60 for triple-A titles at launch, wanting a polished, playable game on day one is hardly an unreasonable request.

I write about PC games and sometimes it even makes sense. I'm a refined Englishman, but live in Texas with my two young children whom I am training in the ways of the Force.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in May 2019

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May

May offers no respite from the big, bold games that have released so far in 2019, bringing with it a host of games almost certain to appeal to gamers of every stripe.

Close to the Sun

Release Date: May 2, 2019
Platforms: PC, consoles later in the year

May’s first major release may also be its most intriguing. Close to the Sun has regularly attracted comparisons to BioShock for its art style and premise, though the relationship between the two titles is, at best, spiritual.

Players take the role of journalist Rose Archer as she steps aboard Nikola Tesla’s ship, the Helios in 1897. Like Andrew Ryan before him (or after him, depending on perspective), Tesla has created a microcosm in which scientific freedom is unrestricted, with disastrous outcomes. Rose’s first impression is of a quarantine sign at the entrance to a still, dead ship, but she presses on regardless in search of her lost sister.

With Close to the Sun, developer Storm in a Teacup aims to provide an intense horror experience. The Helios holds none of BioShock’s shotguns or Plasmids. Instead, players have no means to defend themselves, with gameplay focusing on hiding from and escaping the threats on board.

Check out OnlySP’s final review of the game here.

RAGE 2

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

For anyone to whom the slow, meditative approach does not appeal, Bethesda is busting out the big guns with the long-awaited, little-expected sequel, RAGE 2.

This time around, id Software has tapped Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Studios for assistance in developing an open-world game. The result, if the trailers are any indication, is a breakneck, neon-fuelled experience that focuses on insanity and ramps up all the unique aspects of the earlier game.

One focal point of development has been ensuring the interconnectedness of the game’s structure, and the teams have promised a greater focus on narrative this time around. Perhaps in keeping with that, RAGE 2 is being distanced from its predecessor, taking place 30 years later with a new protagonist and a whole new story, though some callbacks will be present.

Although id’s legendary first-person gunplay is a driving force throughout the game, it will be supplemented by some light RPG elements, robust vehicular combat, and post launch challenges and support (though the developers deny that RAGE 2 is designed with a games-as-a-service model in mind).

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Out on the same day as RAGE 2 is the vastly different A Plague Tale: Innocence. A historical adventure, the game challenges players with overcoming obstacles with brains rather than brawn.

Players become Amicia, an orphan girl struggling to survive in a plague-infested medieval France while also keeping her younger brother safe. With the landscape rife with rats and members of The Inquisition, one of the core tenets of gameplay is reportedly the need to use these threats against each other. As such, though Amicia has a sling to use, the gameplay is designed more as survival puzzles than combat ones.

Developer Asobo Studio is not a household name, though it has a lengthy history of adaptations and support on major titles, including Quantum Break and The Crew 2. Furthermore, even though A Plague Tale is yet to release, publisher Focus Home Interactive has displayed remarkable confidence in the project by extending its partnership with Asobo.

Honourable Mentions

Although RAGE 2 is the incontestable action-blockbuster of the month, gamers in search of another kind of frenetic may want to wait until May 21, when Curve Digital drops American Fugitive, which has a more than passing resemblance to the earliest Grand Theft Auto games. Alternatively, PlayStation VR owners may want to look into Blood and Truth come May 28.

Sega also shines this month, dropping Team Sonic Racing on May 21 and Total War: Three Kingdoms two days later.

Anyone looking for an RPG has indie’s answer to The Outer Worlds, Within the Cosmos, to look out for on May 30, while those looking for slower stories get the latest episode of Life is Strange 2 on May 9, Observation on May 21, and the fjord-noir Draugen at a yet unspecified date.

Have we forgotten anything that you’re excited for? Let us know down below or on our Discord server.

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