With Starfield on the horizon, developer Bethesda Game Studios is once again in the spotlight with the pressure of delivering its first single-player RPG in nearly a decade. However, the studio has a long history in the gaming industry and its reputation as one of the leading developers of Western RPGs needs no introduction. In anticipation of Starfield‘s launch next week, we’re taking a look back at the company’s past games. Here’s all Bethesda Game Studios games ranked from worst to best.
Disclaimer: We won’t be including any Bethesda-published or developed works before the establishment of Bethesda Game Studios in 2001. This means you won’t see The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Daggerfall or its numerous licensed projects on this list. Instead, the following ranking primarily focuses on games created by the development unit of Bethesda post-2001. Also, Fallout: New Vegas is an Obsidian Entertainment game so it won’t appear here.
All Bethesda Game Studios Games Ranked From Worst to Best
8. The Elder Scrolls: Blades
Bethesda Game Studios dipped into the mobile market a couple of times to varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, The Elder Scrolls: Blades was not met with an enthusiastic response from players. While it was an admirable attempt to bring The Elder Scrolls series to phones, it was riddled with all the typical mobile game shortcomings like long waiting times, a hefty microtransactions store and town management that just fell odd for an Elder Scrolls game. It’s certainly not bad but if you ask any fan, they’re probably happier just playing the mainline games.
7. Fallout 76
Admittedly, Fallout 76 is in much better shape now than it was at launch. Thanks to constant updates, a steady flow of decent DLC and its availability on Xbox Game Pass, the online multiplayer game attracts a surprising amount of players today. At its core, though, Fallout 76 is so far removed from what Bethesda Game Studios is known for: its strong single-player experiences. It adds a lot to the lore of Fallout but at the expense of alienating players who would rather tackle the wastelands as a lone survivor than with friends or randoms.
6. Fallout 4
Fallout 4 is a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s a very entertaining and immersive action game that introduces plenty of new ideas like base building. On the other hand, it’s severely lacking in the role-playing department. Exploring the ruins of Boston is enjoyable and it leans into Bethesda’s penchant for solid world-building, though you can’t help but feel like the game is constantly guiding players instead of really letting them carve their own path. The result is a good game but unfortunately, it’s just not a very good Fallout game. The Minutemen are annoying too.
5. Fallout Shelter
Bethesda Game Studios’ first dip into the mobile market was much, much better received than Blades. Putting the enjoyment of players ahead of lazy microtransactions (for the most part), Fallout Shelter is a supremely addictive management game in which you play the overseer of a vault tasked with the survival of its inhabitants. It started off as a nice companion piece to Fallout 4 but in many ways, we’d probably recommend it now over Fallout 4 since it has taken on a life of its own as a fun mobile detour in the franchise.
4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Now we’re getting to the heavy-hitters. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is still the ultimate fantasy role-playing game for many fans – many also consider it the best in the series. While age hasn’t been kind to some of its janky gameplay and mechanics, the engaging story and incredible world-building is strong and holds up very well today. It also gave us the Empire’s homeland of Cyrodiil to explore, complete with a Daedric invasion to keep you on your toes.
3. Fallout 3
After Bethesda grabbed the rights to the Fallout IP from Interplay Entertainment, many feared it would not live up to the legacy of the past games. While that’s still debatable, Fallout 3 is undoubtedly the best Fallout game that Bethesda Game Studios has ever made (it still doesn’t hold a candle to New Vegas, to be honest). Fallout 3 embodies the exciting sense of discovery and exploration that the studio excels at, complete with well-written NPCs, terrific dialogue and addictive gameplay that successfully turned Fallout into a household name in gaming.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Not much else can be said about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the extraordinarily durable game that put Bethesda Game Studios on the list of the industry’s best RPG developers. Grand, epic and infinitely replayable, Skyrim has made a tremendous impact on pop culture and remains one of the best-selling video games of all time. Fortunately, it’s also a pretty amazing game that just never stops giving, whether you’re doing your 100th playthrough or installing new mods. It’s no surprise that even over a decade later, Skyrim endures and that says a lot.
1. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The stars aligned for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. While the gameplay is a bit dated and rough, it more than makes up for it with an incredible story, exceptional lore and world-building, terrific and complex villains, deep role-playing systems and one of the most creatively unique settings in the whole franchise. Fans might pick Oblivion or Skyrim as the better entry but Morrowind is a special masterpiece that changed the RPG genre forever. It also gave us Dagothwave, which is a massive win.