- Baldur’s Gate 3 sets a high standard for post-launch support, with major patches addressing a wide range of issues and introducing requested features and improvements.
- Starfield, on the other hand, has received limited post-launch support, with relatively few updates only addressing the most basic issues.
- Starfield has received greater post-launch support through the modding community, even before official mod tools have been made available by Bethesda.
Baldur’s Gate 3 has been something of a standard-bearer for just what major games like Starfield could be, and one area where this is particularly evident is in the game’s approach to updates. Although Baldur’s Gate 3 spent several years in early access before its official release, it didn’t launch in perfect shape, with later gameplay segments in particular having the potential to run into various issues. BG3 develoepr Larian Studios hasn’t slowed down its work on the game, however, with patches and hotfixes releasing steadily to fix the problems that linger and improve things with general tweaks.
One game that provides a valuable contrast to Baldur’s Gate 3‘s approach is Starfield, which released the following month on PC and Xbox Series X/S. Like Baldur’s Gate 3, Starfield provides an expansive adventure with branching RPG choices and plenty of options for customization and experimentation. Although it launched in arguably better shape than many buggy Bethesda Game Studios titles, it comes as no surprise that it could definitely still use some additional post-launch TLC. Compared to Baldur’s Gate 3, however, Starfield just hasn’t been receiving the attention that it needs.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Patches Address The Devil In The Details
- macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5
- Larian Studios
The scope of modern games can make it difficult to take care of every possible bug or issue that can arise, and post-launch support usually prioritizes the big ones. Taking care of game crashes, common glitches, and huge quality-of-life sticking points will do the most to make the game playable for everyone, and this is often achieved by compromise that pushes aside some minor problems. Larian Studios, however, has been going after everything that it can in Baldur’s Gate 3, with major patches including lists of changes so long that the Steam community updates announcing them have to focus on an abridged selection.
Even breaking down a Baldur’s Gate 3 patch into its overall sections leaves a long list, with the recent Patch 4 (full notes via the Baldur’s Gate 3 website) offering tweaks to crashes, combat, general gameplay, flow and scripting, performance, UI, level design, map, art, animation, lighting, sound, VFX, and cinematics. When considering that each of these groups contains its own significant batch of individual fixes, the scope of the game’s reworking starts to become clear. It’s very likely that many fixes to story flow or animations might never even appear in a given playthrough, for example, but enacting sweeping changes helps to ensure that the bases are covered for every eventuality.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Goes Above & Beyond As An Example
Baldur’s Gate 3 changes aren’t limited to fixing active problems either, as Larian Studios has added plenty of requested features and changed unpopular design choices over the course of its patches. Additions like Withers’ Wardrobe and the Magic Mirror overcome limitations for parties and customization that could prove disappointing, while new color-blind options help make the game more accessible for everyone. Although proper expansions to the game could always be in the cards at some point, Larian Studios has made it clear that microtransactions aren’t on the table, so all of these new features are free additions.
If Baldur’s Gate 3 follows a similar model to Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin games, it may eventually receive an Enhanced or Definitive Edition that packages in a complete set of improvements as a free upgrade for those who already own it.
Few games see the level of market success that Baldur’s Gate 3 has, so it’s understandable that not every studio can devote the same post-launch resources to making a game as good as it can be. On the flip side, Larian Studios owes its success in part to this tactic, as its excellent support for the Divinity: Original Sin games earned the company the necessary loyal following that helped make Baldur’s Gate 3. Investing in long-term satisfaction continues to pay dividends over time, while focusing only on launches and quarterly profits can easily end up turning away dissatisfied customers.
Starfield Hasn’t Received Major Post-Launch Support
- PC, Xbox Series X/S
- Bethesda Game Studios
- Open-World, RPG, Sci-Fi
The post-launch situation for Starfield hasn’t been complete radio silence, but as Kuma_254 points out on Reddit, Bethesda’s support for Starfield pales in comparison to Larian’s dedication to fixing up Baldur’s Gate 3. The Starfield news page on the official Bethesda website lists three updates, a number that might seem competitive with the four Baldur’s Gate 3 patches if the changes were even close to comparable in scale. As each update only contains a few tweaks, however, they’re much more in line with the many minor hotfixes that have appeared in between primary Baldur’s Gate 3 patches, with no long lists of fixes to be found.
If Starfield had launched as a generally stable and bug-free game, this wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s all too easy to run into issues while playing. The only changes that Bethesda have implemented tend to fix basic, overarching issues, with no apparent attention to the kind of playthrough-dependent problems that can make quests bug out or NPCs behave strangely. In a game focused on the immersive appeal of space exploration, running into glitches that call its seams to attention can be noticeably damaging to the experience.
Starfield Shouldn’t Need Mods To Be Great
At the moment, the Starfield community is arguably doing a better job of supporting the title than Bethesda itself is, with plenty of improvements to ships, travel, NPCs and more currently available through sites like NexusMods. This is in advance of official mod tools that are expected to come in 2024, which will no doubt make it easier for fan-made changes to be implemented. It’s certainly nice to have options available through community solutions, but it doesn’t make up for a lack of the same initiative on the part of the developer.
This situation isn’t anything particularly new, as Bethesda games have long relied on similar support to achieve their best form. Spending hours installing and tweaking Skyrim mod setups is something of a running joke, and Fallout 3 can struggle to work at all on many PCs without some fixes. Ideally, mods should be about tweaking a game to suit individual preferences or offer new opportunities, not fixing or improving basic aspects that are broken or half-baked.
Not every studio can match the level of post-launch support that Larian has offered Baldur’s Gate 3, and games don’t necessarily have to be perfect to be fun. Aspiring to the high bar that it’s set, however, can give developers a way to cultivate the same passion and excitement from players. There’s plenty to enjoy in Starfield, but Bethesda and others could learn a lot from just how much better the already excellent Baldur’s Gate 3 has gotten.