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Post by KostaAndreadis @ 02:44pm 26/10/16 | 34 Comments
In a new post that begins with "At Bethesda, we value media reviews" the publisher goes on to announce that it will no longer send out review copies of games prior to release. Instead, like with the recent release of DOOM, both press and consumers will get to play the games at the same time. Equality! So if you value media reviews like Bethesda, you'll just have to wait until after they extract value from your wallet before you can gauge any sort of critical response.

Okay, that was a bit harsh. Bethesda are free to engage with media in anyway that they see fit. And naturally with this sort of announcement, they point out that if you like to peruse a few reviews before shelling out money for a game -- you should wait. Which is a fine stance to take, but also one that feels a little strange when pre-order bonuses and limited editions are dangled in front of you for months.
Earlier this year we released DOOM. We sent review copies to arrive the day before launch, which led to speculation about the quality of the game. Since then DOOM has emerged as a critical and commercial hit, and is now one of the highest-rated shooters of the past few years.

With the upcoming launches of Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2, we will continue our policy of sending media review copies one day before release. While we will continue to work with media, streamers, and YouTubers to support their coverage – both before and after release – we want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time.

We also understand that some of you want to read reviews before you make your decision, and if that’s the case we encourage you to wait for your favorite reviewers to share their thoughts.


Perhaps the weirdest aspect of this news is that preview coverage for Bethesda titles probably won't be affected. It'll just be strange to see a bunch of hand-on stuff before a game comes out, and then no review come launch.



bethesdareview policydishonored 2doomthoughts





Latest Comments
deadlyf
Posted 03:24pm 26/10/16
It's a sign for me that a hyped game is going to be s*** if reviewers are denied copies before release but with Bethesda they seem to release their games in a bug riddled beta state anyway so you kinda feel like you are getting the game early already.
fpot
Posted 03:49pm 26/10/16
Content dense story driven games seem impossible to review in a timely manner to me. I put about 40 hours of play into Deus Ex:MD before I truly got a proper sense of the game. I thought it was great at first, but the main quest was seriously underwhelming and the game was only made acceptable by the varied and above average side-quests. I've also started playing Witcher 3 which was also great from the get-go and only managed to get even better the more I played it. Sure it's possible for a reviewer to just plough 30 hours into a game in the first 48 hours they have it but you're going to have their opinion skewed by the duress factor, especially if they're not all that keen on the game.

I think the best way to review a game is get a small group of people with varied tastes to play it. Then after x amount of hours all get together to discuss what you all saw/thought/played and write a review from that. Of course this is completely impractical and writing a group review may not even be possible.

An adequate substitution for this are review aggregate sites. That's the only place I go to now if I am on the fence about buying a game or not.
Hogfather
Posted 04:41pm 26/10/16
Every publisher should do this, f*** the early review bulls***. If it poisons their manky pre-order well then all the better!

Want a good reason? See AusGamer's Sim City review.

To be honest, I don't buy games based on reviews anyway, they're just not reliable. The industry is murky af.
Joaby
Posted 04:43pm 26/10/16
I've done the reviews under the hammer. They're not fun. But as a freelancer, the reality is every review you do is under the hammer anyway. Making a 40 hour game worth the paycheck means smashing through it, because if you take your time and plod through it you're reducing your hourly rate to something ridiculous. And reviews already pay for s*** most of the time mind you.

The problem with this in my opinion is that Bethesda wants to have glowing preview coverage even while they remove critical release coverage at the same time. And I'm not crazy enough to pretend that sites can stop previewing Bethesda s***. If they announce Skyrim 2 or whatever the only people getting f***ed by your ignoring it is your readers, really. So you gotta do it.

But if they want preview coverage to pimp out on their steam page and in their trailers while dropping review copy on people 1 day before release, they need to accept the fact that the preview coverage needs to change. Because it operates right now under and agreement between site and publisher. Sites will highlight glaring issues with preview code (at least that's how I preview s***) but they will also clearly state that it's pre-release code and the devs have committed to fixing it before release. The agreement here is that the pubs will get the sites the code early so they can verify whether those claims--the claims that the code has been suitably fixed--have been satisfied. Because if they haven't, and the game comes out and there are no reviews and the bugs are still there, then the sites have done their readers a disservice.

If Beth doesn't want the review codes to go to people then the solution is simple. Any issues are stated at face value and critical analysis of previews begins from the get go. If you play a preview of Fallout 4 and the guy clips into the floor and then dies, then your preview talks about how there were visible, game breaking bugs, and it's something that Fallout as a series has a history with.

And this might seem petty, but it's not pettiness. It's not a retaliatory strike or anything. Sites have an obligation to deliver readers information, and if sites can't back that information up then they aren't doing their job properly. The review/preview relationship is important, and I genuinely believe if Bethesda wants to shift how reviews work then they need to accept previews shifting as well.


Edit - Hogfather - Sim City was a mistake I made as well at GameArena. Maxis significantly altered the game upon release when they found they didn't have the server capacity required to make it work. That's not ass-covering, they altered how agents operated because having every single person in the city act as an agent placed stress on the servers that they couldn't manage. We (Steve and I) played it in an 'ideal environment' and we both got burned on it. Today AusGamers doesn't finalise scores for reviews done at early review events until the servers are live and the game has been played on live servers.
notgreazy
Posted 04:47pm 26/10/16
Any issues are stated at face value and critical analysis of previews begins from the get go. If you play a preview of Fallout 4 and the guy clips into the floor and then dies, then your preview talks about how there were visible, game breaking bugs, and it's something that Fallout as a series has a history with.
I don't know why this isn't already the status quo with reviews. If review copies come with a disclaimer identifying known bugs with a promise to fix them, has there ever been a situation where the bugs weren't fixed on release?
Joaby
Posted 05:05pm 26/10/16
I don't know why this isn't already the status quo with reviews. If review copies come with a disclaimer identifying known bugs with a promise to fix them, has there ever been a situation where the bugs weren't fixed on release?

I don't know, I've never acknowledged the notes that identify known bugs and promise to fix them.
Whoop
Posted 05:25pm 26/10/16
To be honest, I don't buy games based on reviews anyway, they're just not reliable. The industry is murky af.


I usually watch a few people playing it on youtube and if I like it, i get it. I don't ever bother with physical incentives for pre-ordering (like tin boxes or figurines or whatever) so not having those things doesn't rustle my jimmies.
d^
Posted 11:12am 27/10/16
Interesting they say this when you can already see people in the new Skyrim - http://steamcharts.com/app/489830
Khel
Posted 11:23am 27/10/16
Dont suppose they're gonna do the good guy thing and upgrade people who already own the game to the enhanced version?
ShamefulManny
Posted 11:52am 27/10/16
Dont suppose they're gonna do the good guy thing and upgrade people who already own the game to the enhanced version?


If you own the original and all the dlc's you will get the enhanced edition free.
taggs
Posted 11:48am 27/10/16
Yeah I don't really bother with reviews from gaming sites anymore. Heaps of em just seem like the extended marketing arms of game publishing houses these days (not necessarily implying that of ausgamers).

If I ever take a review into account, which is rare, it's generally a well written steam user review by someone with a decent chunk of played time.
infi
Posted 11:58am 27/10/16
I wait for a decent volume of reviews on metacritic. That way critics and users can both be considered.

I am sick of buying buggy s***.

edit: I thoroughly enjoy Deus Ex but found the PC port - particularly mission waypoints - annoying as all hell.
Khel
Posted 12:14pm 27/10/16
If you own the original and all the dlc's you will get the enhanced edition free.


Awesome!
trog
Posted 08:13pm 28/10/16
The best review is a demo
Viper119
Posted 10:48pm 28/10/16
All valid points, seems like a contentious issue and I agree murky af overall. I don't get why anyone actually pre-orders. Bethseda's practice of releasing buggy as f*** betas as actual games then slowly fix or let the modding community fix is beyond a joke. They're offloading a portion of the dev costs to the consumers!

I generally take a sampling from review sites, metacritic and user reviews on Steam, before buying something. I also wait a few months, or years lolz, to avoid the inevitable post-release bugfix journey. The user reviews on Steam have been the best indicator I've found so far.

I love Deus Ex, really enjoyed MD but was also disappointed by it's PC woes and the main campaign, felt like it was half a normal campaign. Although the fleshed out side missions were awesome.

I've also just started playing Witcher 3, fpot are you getting pwned by packs of wolves in the first area, white orchard!? Really annoying, I'm playing on Blood and Broken Bones difficulty.

The Witcher 3 should be played on the hardest difficulty
Joaby
Posted 05:59pm 30/10/16
Hahahah viper you know the video this story is replying is mine right?
Nmag
Posted 06:53pm 30/10/16
Waiting has so many benefits over early purchasing but it takes will power. You can mark games in steam as on your watch list, and get a notification when they drop the price. By then, most of the bugs have probably been sorted, and you can find their community forums and see if it's dead before buying.

Currently hoping (as they are built) that Camelot Unchained, and Midair, turn out to be worth playing and buying
fpot
Posted 05:01pm 31/10/16
I've also just started playing Witcher 3, fpot are you getting pwned by packs of wolves in the first area, white orchard!? Really annoying, I'm playing on Blood and Broken Bones difficulty.
I started off on Sword and Story and pretty much stayed on that during White Orchard due to really not having much idea what I was doing. I was button-mashing away when I first started but quickly got the hang of it. Put it up to Blood and Broken Bones when I hit Velen. All of a sudden meditating doesn't restore your health!

Are you using your steel sword against the wolves? Using beast oil? Dodging/rolling parrying? As that article points out, Witcher 3 is at its best when you're using all the tools at your disposal. I am finding the alternate Quen sign very overpowered at the moment. Fought an earth elemental last night though that was powerful enough to punch through it.

The game... it's an absolute classic. Really can't stop playing it at the moment.
Nmag
Posted 06:28pm 31/10/16
I liked Witcher 3, but some parts are so hard to get past if you already made the choice and have to complete the quest. It can be really hard. Which is good, so many games too easy, but some challenges in Witcher 3 are a huge spike in the difficulty, compared to most of the game-play. It's a pretty impressive game.
Joaby
Posted 08:57pm 31/10/16
See my pitch is you just play it on easy. Because by the time you reach about level 20 and have appropriate equipment/stop wasting your cash repairing because an upgrade for your weapon is around the corner anyway, the game is easy. On Death Marches all that's different compared to easy is the health pool and damage capacity. Bosses don't have extra moves (although there are moves you might not see on easy if they never decide to use them. You'll see them on Death Marches just because fights take so damn long).

Every fight is just Quen, parry, attack. Even on Death Marches I didn't need oils or nades. If you've beaten a Dark Souls game you possess all the tools you need to win. On top of that, the combat system is flawed and not entirely satisfying.

So just play it on easy. You're not playing The Witcher 3 for its combat anyway, you're in it for some of the best storytelling in any game.
ravn0s
Posted 10:20pm 31/10/16
eh just go alchemy build and the game becomes easy mode on every difficulty.
Viper119
Posted 11:53pm 31/10/16
Ahaha, I did not Joaby, I'll check it out! I've gone easy on past witcher games. I'm actually enjoying the challenge and having to do the preparation work, learning about the particular enemy, then using the rights tools for their weaknesses, is defo more interesting for me than the hack and slash.

I don't have beast oil yet, defo dodging and rolling properly and using my silver sword though. I've managed to defeat them a few times, but I just keep running into more packs! I'm like lvl 3 and they are lvl 5, usually 4 or 5 of them and a Warg. My silver sword is breaking after taking a couple down then doesn't do much damage after that, but I'm mid-fight so can't repair (plus don't have much coin so constantly repairing is killing me). I've read around ze tinternets that white orchard is super difficult on the harder difficulties as you don't have the lvl or supplies, might just knock it down until I get a bit more lvl'd up .

I think the combat system is pretty cool, it's difficult for sure, but once you get used to it's super rewarding.
Khel
Posted 12:27am 01/11/16
Don't use the silver sword on wolves, silver sword is for killing magical stuff, steel sword is for humans and beasts.
Viper119
Posted 01:55am 01/11/16
Oh man, misread that in fpot's post, total rookie mistake. Thanks!
fpot
Posted 02:13am 01/11/16
Use the steel sword for wolves. I used my silver sword against a pack of them by accident once and it wasn"t very effective. I switched to steel and turned them into a pile of meaty chunks. Also you can always try running away. I've found they don't put up much of a chase. Doubly so if you run away on Roach.
ravn0s
Posted 01:06pm 01/11/16
um geralt automatically pulls out the correct weapon when you enter combat. how do you f*** that up?
notgreazy
Posted 03:17pm 01/11/16
Use the steel sword for wolves. I used my silver sword against a pack of them by accident once and it wasn"t very effective. I switched to steel and turned them into a pile of meaty chunks. Also you can always try running away. I've found they don't put up much of a chase. Doubly so if you run away on Roach.

highly unrealistic. Wolves only attack when the prey is on the run.

lol
Viper119
Posted 08:57pm 01/11/16
I switched it to manual sword pulling. The wolves are easy with the steel sword, lol.

btw, just made it to Velen, this game is yuuuuuuugggeeeeee!
Nmag
Posted 09:47pm 01/11/16
The bit I got stuck on was "The Witcher 3 Botchling Boss Fight ". It's not even that far into the game. Maybe if I had played it on hardest level from the start and then dropped it to easy for that battle it would have worked. I did a couple of characters and got stuck at that point each time. Maybe I'll try it again one day.
Khel
Posted 02:25am 02/11/16
I didn't even fight the botchling, I did the ritual that turns it into a friendly spirit thing
Nmag
Posted 08:11pm 02/11/16
hmm I saved too late. :(

Might try it again one day.
BladeRunner
Posted 08:47pm 02/11/16
I'v only played 30min of the WItcher 3. I should probably go and play more now that I got my 1070.
Viper119
Posted 10:17pm 02/11/16
I just did that botchling quest. You gotta choose to turn it into a lubberkin, stay close to the baron as you're walking back, kill the wraiths that appear and then cast axii on the baron/botchling to calm it, do that twice, then job done. Fighting the botchling is nigh on impossible.

There should be some checkpoint or autosaves from much earlier you can get back to.
ravn0s
Posted 10:38pm 02/11/16
the witcher 3 blood and wine expansion should win goty this year. it was bigger and better than most games released this year.
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