Starfield's been left out to dry at The Game Awards—and even dedicated fans are 'not terribly surprised'

Ruins on Earth
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield was primed to go galactic in the steady countdown to its launch. It was the first big mainline Bethesda RPG in a while. It was big and ambitious—one small step for Bethesda as a studio, one giant leap for gamer kind. 

Post launch, though, and that hype's cooled significantly. What we got was more Bethesda standing in place, while gamer kind just… shuffled around in a circle, wondering how the studio still hadn't put together a good inventory system, again.

That's not to say Starfield's a bad game, or anything. It's one of the more stable Bethesda launches by far. I enjoyed my couple dozen hours with it, and our own Christopher Livingston gave it a 74 in his Starfield review—meaning it's a game we actively like

Still, it's been left to drift in space at The Game Awards—only scoring one nomination among its 31 categories—which feels like it should be more of an upset than it actually is. After all, this was meant to be a genre-defining RPG. 'Skyrim but in space' sounds like prime GOTY material. But it never broke the atmosphere.

What's more, no-one even seems all that surprised—least of all the people who like it. In the Starfield subreddit, a thread announcing the game's absence from the Game of the Year category with over 8,000 upvotes is flooded with shrugged shoulders and sad sighs. "I really enjoy and love Starfield, but [I'm] not terribly surprised," writes user InitialQuote000. Further comments sing the same sorry tune.

Comment from r/Starfield
Comment from r/Starfield
Comment from r/Starfield

Things are just as nonchalant over on Twitter as well. In a series of quote tweets to Kotaku's story on the game only nudging into one category, most people who enjoyed the game weren't shocked. Granted, there are more dissenting voices to be heard here—since Twitter doesn't really bother to organise quote tweets based on likes—but the ones gaining any sort of traction are joining the unbothered chorus.

"I put a lot of hours into Starfield. I like it fine. It is not a GOTY contender by a very wide mile," writes Eric Ravenscraft of WIRED. User DanticsOfficial also wrote: "I love Starfield in a lot of ways but it does not deserve any awards when compared to the hard hitters this year. It's not a conspiracy."

Even when it comes to its one nomination—best RPG—I'm not feeling optimistic. Starfield's a big, fun sandbox that's nice to blast around in for a bit, but a lot of the game's RPG customisation (weapon and armour mods) are arbitrarily locked behind a crafting I can't bring myself to engage with, with the rest of its skill trees leaving a lot to be desired. 'I would like to use my boost pack' isn't a build choice, it's unlocking a core feature.

When it comes to the narrative side of the RPG coin (as per Bethesda's usual strategy) there are very few story choices which leave a lasting impact on the worlds of Starfield's galaxy. I struggle to see how it'll beat out Baldur's Gate 3 for that title, let alone the other competition on that list.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.