There Is Nothing Wrong With Starfield’s Title Screen

There Is Nothing Wrong With Starfield’s Title Screen

We’re making a big deal out of a main menu which fits the game perfectly.

Starfield isn’t even out yet, and we’re already throwing punches over the space RPG. Review code was distributed late last week and with it came a range of press and influencers making their access clear alongside a sneak peek of the game’s title screen. It’s deliberately minimal in its approach with little more than an eclipsed planet and the game’s logo presented to the player as a piercing light threatens to pierce through the planetoid.

You’re kindly asked to press any button to begin your adventure, with much being left to the imagination as the first new Bethesda RPG in almost a decade rears its head. While it might only be a title screen, this single glimpse of the game is apparently enough to label it as lazy and unambitious.

Former Blizzard developer Mark Kern tweeted about the title screen over the weekend and had the following to say: “The physiognomy of start screens. The start screen of a game can reveal a lot about how rushed the team was and how much pride they took in their work.”

I say this in the nicest way possible, but what a load of bollocks. To assume a title screen is an indication of a game’s quality or immediately indicative of lazy developers is not only disrespectful, but speaks to a lack of knowledge regarding how games are made and when features like title screens are even implemented. Many seem to agree, with Bethesda Head of Publishing Pete Hines quick to address the comments on social media which aim to paint his team in a needlessly bad light.

“Or they designed what they wanted and that’s been our menu for years and was one of the first things we settled on,” Hines commented as he put a pin in the issue and tried to dismiss a criticism that wasn’t warranted, let alone possessing any substance. You only need to take a single glance at some of the best games ever made to realise that the minimal style of title screens has no bearing on a positive experience, and often some of the most pedestrian or unambitious menus hide some of the greatest masterpieces. Take Bloodborne for example, whose menu is little more than the key art with a handful of options for the player to choose from. Few sound effects, no changing pictures to accommodate each screen. It is functional and not much else, but that doesn’t matter when the game inside kicks so much ass.

starfield astronaut looking up at a planet
via Bethesda

Breath of the Wild’s title screen also underwhelmed upon its release with a clinical approach to both its text and functional, but after a single loading screen you never had to think about it again. Nintendo wasn’t being lazy or losing its spark so it decided to pump out a tediously mundane title screen devoid of passion, it simply made one that worked. Title screens can be a statement of intent for certain games, acting as means of expressing tone, style, and even mechanics in the right circumstances, but the majority of ones we engage with exist with a functional purpose and little else. Starfield is the same, and even compared to past Bethesda games its execution is consistent. Fallout 3 and Skyrim are awfully similar, which we all know are lazy games forgotten to history that we never, ever think about these days. With Xbox’s Quick Resume feature instantly loading you back into the game after some time away, you’re going to see even less of the title screen than in Breath of the Wild or Skyrim.

Fallout 3 sports a similar number of menu options and a slideshow of classic art and iconic characters as the main theme bellows out, while Skyrim is much the same. Both games are beloved for their sprawling open worlds and freeform mechanics, and not once have gamers seen their title screens as lacking or failing to represent the game that follows them. To me, it feels like an empty criticism in pursuit of viral clout.

Bloodborne Title Screen

Aside from critics under embargo and those on the development team, few of us have played Starfield yet, and it feels obnoxious to draw lofty conclusions from nothing but a title screen and your own sense of self-importance. In the past I’ve played preview builds of games years before their release – Bloodborne included – which bore similar title screens or aesthetics to the finished article, and like Hines said, these things are likely decided early in development and aren’t an indication of laziness or fading passion.

Next: Starfield Isn’t Going To Be Another No Man’s Sky

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