Xbox Canned PS5 Port Of Redfall After Buying Bethesda

Redfall, the upcoming vampire shooter from Arkane, is only going to be available on Xbox and PC when it launches later this year. However, it seems that wasn’t always the case. A new interview has revealed that Arkane was working on a PlayStation 5 version of the game until Microsoft bought the studio’s parent company, Bethesda, and then canned the port. Remember when Xbox boss Phil Spencer said Microsoft didn’t plan to “take games away from another playerbase”? Hmm.

Due on May 2, 2023, Redfall is an online co-op shooter that features a whole lotta blood-sucking vampires. You play as a slayer who has to use weapons, stakes, magic, and stealth to take down all the vamps and save your small town before it’s too late. The game seems cool and it’s nice to hear that developer Arkane is looking to remove the previously-announced always-online requirement. However, if you are a PlayStation owner, you won’t get to play Arkane’s next big title, even though at one point there was a PS5 port in the works.

Speaking to IGN France (and translated by IGN), Redfall director Harvey Smith explained that once Bethesda was bought by Microsoft in 2020, things changed fast. “We got bought by Microsoft and that was a huge sea change. They said, ‘No PlayStation 5. Now we’re gonna do Game Pass, Xbox, and PC.’”

Smith said that before the buyout, Arkane was developing the game for all platforms. And while it might suck for PlayStation owners, Smith wasn’t too upset about the cancellation of the PS5 port as the studio can now focus on “one less platform” which should make development easier.

“And Game Pass has a ton of people that can play,” said Smith. “It could be our biggest game ever because of the 30 million Game Pass [members] or whatever that number is.”

Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s past comments on exclusives

While Smith and Arkane might be pleased with Microsoft’s choice to kill the PS5 port and focus on the Game Pass and Xbox ecosystems, it seems to directly contradict previous statements Phil Spencer made to Kotaku in October 2020, shortly after the proposed Bethesda acquisition was first announced.

“This deal was not done to take games away from another playerbase like that,” Spencer said. “Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games.”

Kotaku has contacted Xbox and Bethesda about Redfall’s canceled PS5 version.

Canceling a PS5 port of a big game like Redfall seems to run directly in opposition to that statement. And while I understand that, duh, Microsoft wants its games to be Xbox-exclusive, that’s not the message the company has been putting out for the last year or so as it’s tried to convince courts and regulatory groups around the world that it won’t make Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive once it completes its separate, nearly $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard King.

Maybe it won’t monopolize Call of Duty. But future Activision and Blizzard games, especially new IP coming from either company, are likely to end up like Starfield and Redfall: available only on Xbox and PC, leaving would-be fans on PlayStation out in the cold.

It Could Take 130 Hours To Start Starfield, Bethesda Exec Says

Bethesda’s forthcoming space epic Starfield is apparently so long, it’s made the developer’s head of publishing Pete Hines lose all sense of time. At a Bethesda MainStream event during Gamescom 2023, Hines said he felt like the action role-playing game didn’t “really […] get going” until he took 50 hours to finish its main quest. That was after he’d already dropped 80 hours into sidequests.

“80 hours in, I went from doing one game to a completely different game where I started really focusing on the main quest,” said Hines, “and then I got so caught up in the main quest, that I spent the next 50 hours just doing that. […] I’m here to tell you that this game doesn’t really even get going until you finish the main quest.”

“Telling somebody, ‘Oh, I played Starfield for 40 hours’ tells you nothing about what that person has done,” he said.

130 hours is an intimidating amount to put into anything, let alone something that turbo-blasts blue light directly into your eyeballs and brain. But try not to worry for your ocular health yet—it might not take you as long as it took Hines to bring the game to max speed.

Read More: Starfield Leaker Booked On Felony Charge After Allegedly Trying To Sell Stolen Copies

In 2022, Starfield director Todd Howard estimated its main quest would take a player around 30 and up to 40 hours to beat. I suppose that isn’t much of a difference from 50, but at least you could have around 10 more hours to, like, go outside. Or play Crash Bandicoot.

Read More: Starfield Is An Xbox Exclusive, And Pete Hines Is Sorry

In any case, Hines maintains that Starfield will claim a huge portion of your time. In another Gamescom conversation, this one with IGN, he said, “If I’m being honest, there’s really not an amount of time that I’m comfortable enough [with saying] ‘Now you’ve played enough Starfield to get what this game is.’ Because, like, I’m at 150, 160 hours on my current playthrough, and […] I haven’t even come close.”

Start clearing your schedule, then. Premium or Constellation Edition buyers can play Starfield in Early Access starting September 1, and the game is officially out for everyone on Xbox Series X/S and PC September 6.

 

Starfield Players Get Excused From Work By Bethesda Exec

Bethesda’s head of publishing Pete Hines posted a boilerplate excuse note on Twitter for any Starfield fan who, ahead of the game’s official release on September 6, is rapidly starting to feel a little bit…feverish.

Your stomach is twisting into tight knots. Your hands are slick and shaking, your whole body shivers with the exciting prospect of handing a multibillion-dollar company your $70. It’s okay. You’re safe now with Hines, whose name on Twitter currently specifies that he is “(not a doctor).”

“To Whom It May Concern: Please excuse ____ from work/school/chores for the foreseeable future,” begins his magnanimous excuse note. “They are currently undergoing treatment for an infection from [a dinosaur-like Starfield creature] Ashta bite after a recent expedition to [planet] Tau Ceti II.”

Hines’ note isn’t the first time a developer has tried to help you get out of responsibilities in order to play their new game. Ahead of Baldur’s Gate 3’s August 3 release, developer Larian Studios posted a “request for special dispensation” form, and encouraged players to hand it to their boss so they could spend hours upon hours in an expansive RPG world. Starfield, which similarly promises a thousand explorable planets and side quests, seems like another game that might suck up all your free time.

It’s also not the first time Hines has offered gamers a sick note to play his company’s latest game. He shared a much shorter, simpler sick note two days before Fallout 4’s November 10, 2015 release date. “I figure some of you might need a note from your doctor for your upcoming ‘sick day(s)’ this week,” he wrote then. As far as running gags go, it could be worse.

Will this Starfield sick note work? It’s unlikely, but your boss, professor, or mom can judge for themselves if Pete Hines, described on the note as an “MD, LAN, PhD, ARS” and “Head Physician, Constellation,” wants what’s best for you.

Read More: Here’s When You Can Actually Start Playing Starfield
Pre-order Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

“Whether you need time off to play Starfield starting tomorrow in early access,” Hines said on Twitter, “or next week at launch, Uncle Pete has you covered.”

“Already asked my boss earlier this week (and was approved),” said one commenter. “But, man, you should’ve sent this earlier.”

“Literal people are going to use this,” another Twitter respondent said. “Genius.”

Starfield launches in Early Access at 8 p.m. Eastern on August 31.

 

Bethesda Explains Starfield’s Complete Lack Of Ground Vehicles

Starfield, the latest and largest open-world RPG from Bethesda, is out now. The game contains all manner of spaceships, even letting you create your own custom vessel to explore the stars. But when you land on a planet, you don’t get any kind of ground-based vehicle to help you travel faster on the surface. Why? Well, Bethesda’s game director Todd Howard says it’s all about making planet exploration an “experience.”

Following a five-day paid early access period, Starfield is finally out for everyone and quickly became one of the biggest games of the year. According to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, the game is already Microsoft’s “most played, next-gen exclusive.” So a lot of people are hopping into Starfield’s digital galaxy to explore its hundreds of quests and planets. However, when they go exploring on the surface of these worlds they’ll have to do so on foot, as the game contains no speedy jet cars or hover bikes to aid exploration. Players online keep asking about it, with some wishing they were included in the massive space adventure.

Bloomberg

In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Todd Howard was asked about the lack of ground vehicles and said that while Bethesda did at one point consider including them in Starfield, they ultimately decided it would “change the gameplay” too much.

“Once you land in your ship, [and now] you’re on foot, it lets us really, for the players, make it an experience where we know how fast they’re seeing things,” said Howard.

Todd Howard reminds players they do have jetpacks, too

The famous game director behind Starfield and past Bethesda hits also pointed out that players do have access to a jetpack, which—once unlocked—they can use to move around planets at a quicker pace.

“In one sense, you do have a vehicle, you obviously have your spaceship so you can go around space, but then on the surface, you do have a jetpack which you can upgrade. Which is super fun—new experience for us. And obviously, planets have different levels of gravity, which makes that unique for many planets,” explained Howard.

While I can understand some player’s frustration over the lack of ground vehicles in Starfield, I’ve not been too bothered by it in my time with the game.

So much of Bethesda’s latest RPG feels disconnected thanks to all the fast traveling you do to get around. When I’m on a planet, exploring its caves and outposts, I feel like it’s one of the few times when the game feels expansive and reminds me of wandering the wasteland in Fallout 3. Being able to speedily zip across the planets and their various levels of gravity in a jet car might be cool, and modders might add that one day, but for now, I like the slower experience of exploration while on foot. Though I might change my tune in a few months and after 200 or so hours of playing Starfield. So, perhaps Bethesda can add some sick hoverboards or something eventually in any future DLC.

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Leaked Bethesda Road Map Shows Oblivion Remaster, Dishonored 3

Bethesda is (or was) reportedly working on remasters for Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, according to a document released as part of a massive Microsoft leak. A bevy of partially redacted/confidential emails and documents that were a part of the FTC case against the monolithic game company were posted online in the wee hours of the morning on September 19, with their contents containing info on a new Xbox Series X console, Xbox head Phil Spencer’s dreams to buy Nintendo, and a version of Bethesda’s release roadmap.

Bethesda game release plan leaks

Microsoft bought the Starfield publisher for $7.5 billion back in March 2021, spawning years of conversation and controversy, with the former facing (and eventually winning) an FTC case raised when it attempted to gobble up Activision Blizzard, too. Now, court documents related to that case have leaked, and those documents included what appears to be an older ZeniMax (Bethesda’s parent company) roadmap—it lists Starfield as releasing in 2021 when it only just dropped in September of this year. In a PDF reviewed by Kotaku, the “title release schedule” also lists Project Hibiki (which eventually became Hi-Fi Rush) as a 2021 release, but the game actually released in January 2023.

ZeniMax’s 2021 slate was also meant to include the maligned FPS Redfall (which came out this year), Fallout 76 expansion Fallout Worlds (which went live in 2021), and Ghostwire: Tokyo (which debuted in the spring of 2022). So, it appears that this entire release schedule was shifted by a year or two in either direction, with massive titles like Starfield getting pushed back.

The leaked document suggested that 2022 would include the upcoming Indiana Jones game, some Starfield DLC, and an as-yet-unannounced remaster of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Following the aforementioned logic, we could potentially see all three of those things by 2024, if Bethesda stays on course. According to the chart, 2023 was meant to include a new Doom game (called Doom Year Zero), an Elder Scrolls Online expansion, and two unnamed projects code-named Kestrel and Platinum.

The road map continues into 2024, which has the most titles listed out of all the years in the chart. It includes The Elder Scrolls VI, which we know isn’t coming until 2026 (and not at all for PlayStation); an expansion for Project Kestrel; DLC for Doom Year Zero; a “licensed IP game;” a Ghostwire: Tokyo sequel; Dishonored 3; and a remaster of Fallout 3. A Dishonored sequel is great news for fans of the Arkane series, as is news that Ghostwire: Tokyo appears to be getting a sequel, as well.

Though this document clearly lays out Bethesda’s plans for the future, game development changes all the time, so it’s unclear if all of these games are still planned or are in the works. Kotaku reached out to Bethesda for comment. At the time of writing, it appears that the original links to the Northern District Court of California documents have been removed, but PDFs are still circulating.

Why Bethesda Made Starfield’s Environmental Damage Easier

Exploration is a key part of the Starfield experience, with large planetary spaces through which to wander across the galaxy, but it can be risky. On top of combat and quests, environments feature an assortment of hazards, each of which are capable of afflicting the player with specific conditions. However, Bethesda’s original plans for such hazardous environments and Afflictions were far more complicated.

In a recent interview with Insomniac’s Ted Price for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Game Maker’s Notebook podcast, Starfield’s director Todd Howard described how and why Bethesda chose to scale back certain elements of the game as it moved toward launch.

Buy Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Making Starfield with Bethesda’s Todd Howard | The AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook Podcast

Bethesda ‘nerfed the hell out of’ Afflictions and made enemy ship AI ‘really stupid’

In his interview with Price, Howard said that Starfield’s first concept for environmental damage on planets and in space was dramatically more complex and what he described as “punitive.” Originally, Bethesda wanted players to cycle through different specialist suits for specific hazardous zones, such as radiated worlds, extreme temperatures, and other environments. Each would impose potentially more significant Afflictions and damage types on the player than reached the final game, to which they’d need to respond in order to survive.

To scale things back, the studio “nerfed the hell out of” Afflictions and environmental damage, to the point where “you don’t think about it that much.” Howard described the result as creating more “flavor” than an actual gameplay system the player needs to manage.

Read More: Starfield: Afflictions And Environmental Damage Explained

Afflictions weren’t the only thing to get tweaked and scaled back. Referring to the challenge of designing space combat, Howard said that in order to avoid scenarios where players and AI were “just just jousting” with one another, Bethesda had to “make the AI really stupid” so that they’d be easy to follow and pursue during a dogfight.

Environmental damage, however, might see some changes in the future. Howard suggested that the Affliction system might be “something [Bethesda addresses] going forward.”

Bethesda has indicated that Starfield is likely to evolve a bit over time. As reported earlier in September, the studio plans to add missing features to the game over time. In 2022, Howard also didn’t rule out potential gameplay additions like a hardcore mode that would amp up the difficulty. More advanced mod tools are also expected to arrive in 2024.

Bethesda Exec Pete Hines Leaving Company After 24 Years

Bethesda publishing head Pete Hines is retiring from the Starfield developer after 24 years, he announced on Twitter (or X) on October 16. Hines’ decision comes only a few days after Microsoft, which owns Bethesda Game Studios, was rubber-stamped to complete its $69 billion Activision Blizzard buy.

“I […] will begin an exciting new chapter of my life exploring interests and passions, donating my time where I can, and taking more time to enjoy life,” Hines wrote. “This was not a decision I came to easily or quickly, but after an amazing career, culminating in the incredible launch of Starfield, it feels like the time is right.”

“This is certainly not goodbye by any means,” Hines continued. “Working with the amazing people, teams, and studios at Bethesda has been the greatest experience of my life. […] Love you guys.” Kotaku reached out to Hines for comment.

Bethesda was equally gushing in its own Twitter announcement post, saying “Pete’s public presence was only a small part of his role at Bethesda, although the way he represented us carried over into the values he nurtured here: authenticity, integrity, and passion.” Later, the developer posted a doctor’s note addressed to Hines (in the past, he’s liked pardoning gamers from work during a huge Bethesda release cycle), prescribing him “lots of gaming, devoting care and affection to foster pups, […] and of course…more games!” It’s an interesting treatment plan, but it seems like it could work for Hines, who sunk 130 hours into Starfield earlier this year.

Read More: Microsoft Finally Closes Massive Activision Blizzard Deal, Making Call Of Duty Officially Part Of Xbox Now

“More games” are also likely in Bethesda’s future—Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard merger promises to “bring players together,” Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer wrote on Twitter, and along with the franchises it’s absorbing, it will add 10,000 employees to its union-neutral workforce. 10,000 employees, but Pete Hines ain’t one.

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