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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Starfield Feels like Xbox's Last Chance at Redemption

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It’s no secret the gaming community is kind of angry at Xbox since Redfall released. It really felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back. For too long Xbox fans have been asked to wait just a little bit longer for the next amazing AAA game, but enough is enough. Redfall was supposed to be that game, and look how that turned out. Now, with Redfall in the rearview mirror (aka the “Uninstalled” bin for most of us), it’s time to look forward to the next big release – Starfield.

If Starfield is a flop or suffers from any kind of major problem – or, y’know, is just not that fun – faith in Xbox’s ability to deliver is going to be further shaken and as a result I imagine heads will roll at Xbox.

Starfield doesn’t deserve this added pressure but it will be the first full-price game that has a chance to change minds about what Xbox is capable of. Initially, in 2021, it felt like Xbox had hit its stride with a great campaign for Halo Infinite, and Game of the Year-winning Forza Horizon 5. But it took almost another year for promised features such as campaign co-op and forge to be added to Halo’s multiplayer, and that’s after Infinite’s release was delayed a year in the first place. It brought Xbox’s competence to the forefront, especially as Phil Spencer himself said “If we lose our way with Halo, we lose our way with Xbox.” So why did exactly that happen with Xbox’s biggest franchise?

Xbox fans are still longing for a meaty AAA experience exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem. Thanks a lot, Redfall.


Forza Horizon 5 was a gem in the Xbox library, receiving industry-wide praise and finally putting Xbox on the right path when it came to big content releases. It capped off 2021 perfectly, but when 2022 rolled around… nothing.

It kicked off with the abysmal Crossfire X, which despite having the highly-regarded Remedy name attached to it, was a shooter with braindead AI and combat mechanics ripped straight out of 1993. Worse, the multiplayer was borderline unplayable.

Elsewhere, Xbox had success with smaller releases like Tunic, Pentiment, and High on Life – and I suppose you could credit them with the PS5 releases of Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo, which Xbox fans received a year later. But despite the universal praise for Hi-Fi Rush, a surprise hit in early 2023, Xbox fans are still longing for a meaty AAA experience exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem. Thanks a lot, Redfall.

By contrast, look at what PlayStation has accomplished in the same time. Returnal, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, The Last of Us Part 1, Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War Ragnarok, not to mention updates that enhance PS4 versions of its most popular games, inclduing Last of Us Part 2 and God of War. Then there’s the handful of other exclusives like Stray, Kena Bridge of Spirits, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake, plus Director’s Cuts of smash hits Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding. In short, more than enough to tide fans over. Sure, Xbox has Xbox Game Pass, but where are the mega hits?

Xbox needs a game that people don’t stop playing or talking about for months, if not years to come. After years of waiting Xbox desperately needs its answer to God of War Ragnarok, or a world to get lost in like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Starfield could be that game. It has all the markings of an amazing Bethesda RPG, with great storytelling, interesting mechanics, and fun combat. Heck, if it’s that good I’m sure many will forgive the quirky Bethesda bugs we often see at launch.

It has to be a fantastic game. Good won’t merely be enough. And if there’s something devastating like a save file bug, or issues like Fallout 3 and New Vegas suffered on PS3, causing it to crash all the time, confidence in Xbox’s ability to release a quality, AAA game will will surely be shaken. Worse, its ability to manage its many acquired studios will also be called into question.

Xbox had enough involvement with Redfall to have the team ditch the PS5 version, but not enough to prevent it launching in a beta state. The last big hit for the Xbox ecosystem was in November of 2021 when Forza Horizon 5 released. So where are the games, Xbox? That’s what everyone wants to know. The time for promises has been and gone. Now it’s time for action.


Destin Legarie is a Director of Content Strategy at IGN. He likes taking bird photos in his spare time when he's not doing Performance Reviews for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter if you want.

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