It Looks Like Starfield Has Major Accessibility Problems

Reviews have started pouring in for Starfield, the highly anticipated and allegedly gargantuan space RPG from Bethesda, which comes out worldwide on September 6. And though the reviews are mostly positive, and reports suggest that this may be the least buggy Bethesda launch yet, one content creator has pointed out a major problem with the Xbox and PC exclusive: accessibility.

Steve Saylor, a content creator and accessibility consultant who has worked with studios like Naughty Dog, Ubisoft, and Raven Software, posted a Starfield accessibility review on YouTube, calling it “extremely disappointing.” “I didn’t know when Todd Howard said on @KindaFunnyVids that they would have big font mode that was all they would have,” Saylor tweeted.

Steve Saylor

Starfield’s accessibility problems

“If folks were hoping space would be accessible, it is not,” he says in the 13-and-a-half-minute long video. “I wish I could say that this was going to be the first accessible hit from Bethesda–it is not. Sadly, not even close.” Saylor’s video then shows the accessibility tab in Starfield’s settings menu, and the four options available: general subtitles, dialogue subtitles, toggle iron sights, and large menu fonts, all of which can simply be toggled on or off.

Read More: New Microsoft Program Could Help Devs Make Games More Accessible
Pre-order Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

The big font mode is a crucial feature, since so much of Starfield relies on navigating text-heavy menus. “For the majority of the in-game menus—and there are a lot—the text is not perfect, but manageable,” Saylor, who is legally blind, said before pointing to the enlarged text’s lack of further customization options as another problem.

But the lack of font customization is most egregious when it comes to subtitles. There’s no ability for players to change the font-type, color, or background opacity for the subtitles, and since Starfield uses a stylized, computer-y font throughout, Saylor worries that it may be an issue for folks with dyslexia. “If you’re not happy with the default, you’re out of luck,” he said. The biggest issue is the contrast—there’s so little contrast throughout the menus and the in-game hud, and because the text is white it can often get lost on lighter-colored planets or even in bright parts of space (though Starfield swaps the font to blue when in your spaceship).

The Xbox Series X and S version offers some degree of button remapping that could help players with motor disabilities, but it’s unclear how well that works on PC. Saylor notes that Starfield has a small selection of “okay” accessibility features that don’t require customization, like a center dot that helps with motion sickness and high-contrast visuals when using the in-game scanner. But the overall offering pales in comparison to that of blockbuster games like The Last of Us Part II, which has around 60 different accessibility options including a high-contrast mode, a magnification feature, text-to-speech options, and customizable subtitles.

Read More: New Database Helps Players Find Games With Accessibility Features

Despite all of this, Saylor makes sure to point out that he still loves Starfield (he praises its “gorgeous soundtrack” and “intriguing” companions), and makes it clear that the blame for its lack of accessibility should not be placed on Xbox’s shoulders—Microsoft has made accessibility a cornerstone of its gaming business in recent years—but on Bethesda’s.

“Some folks may think that modding will help with accessibility, and yes, modding Bethesda games has helped in the past. But that is not the best way to get around accessibility,” Saylor told Kotaku over X (formerly Twitter) DM. “Only because if Bethesda releases a patch or an update, that mod could break, and it’s up to the modder to want to go in and fix it. Which can take time and there’s no guarantee it will be done. I wanted to add that to my review, but didn’t have time.”

It’s unclear if future Starfield updates will add more accessibility options, but with Bethesda now under the Xbox umbrella, you’d certainly hope so. Starfield launches for Xbox and PC on September 1 for players who shelled out for the special edition, and September 6 for everyone else.

Fans Think Latest Pokémon Go Artwork Was Made With AI

Pikachu is shown being sad in front of a city.

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Pokémon Go publisher Niantic has aroused fans’ suspicions after a promotional image showed some telltale signs of potentially being AI artwork, rather than something made by an actual human artist.

The image in question appears in promotional material for Adventures Abound, the next season of the mobile collectathon game, set to run from September 1 to December 1. If you open up the official Pokémon Go website’s page, you’ll see a colorful image of what looks like a city. But further inspection reveals some strange artistic decisions that has fans suspecting it might be AI, such as blurred lineart and the fact that the environment itself lacks any sort of cohesion, as if it was made without any sort of planning. The detail that most stuck out to me is that there’s a subway car that doesn’t really look like it has a tunnel to go through. Plus, there’s nothing about it that really signals it’s meant to be Pokémon art. The barren cityscape contains exactly none of your favorite critters.

After some fans pointed this out online, Kotaku reached out to Niantic for comment, and a studio representative sent a statement that stopped short of either outright denying the AI suspicions or crediting any specific artist for the work.

“Niantic uses a variety of tools and software to create visual assets,” the statement reads. “We don’t disclose specifics around our processes.”

Read more: Pokémon Go Fest 2023 Is A Reminder The Game Is Meant For A Big City

If this piece is AI-generated that’s a huge bummer, considering the Pokémon franchise offers a rich well of talent to draw from if Niantic wants good assets for Go’s upcoming season. Pokémon Go itself has had some lovely art show up in both promotional assets and when you boot the app, so the possibility that Niantic and The Pokémon Company could be choosing AI over real artists is really sad to see.

Companies choosing to use AI tools instead of hiring real artists is an unfortunate trend these days, and Pokémon is hardly the first video game franchise to raise questions about its use of this technology. Most recently, an ad for Amazon’s upcoming Fallout TV show also appeared to be made by AI instead of a person. It seems feeding a prompt into a machine to mediocre result is cheaper than paying an artist for good work. Capitalism comes for us all.

Niantic laid off over 200 employees in June, which led to canceling its previously planned Marvel game called World of Heroes and shuttering its basketball game NBA All-World.

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.


Armored Core 6’s Fastest Money Farm Is A Rookie Murder Spree

A mech head displays a red laser light.

Image: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco

A key aspect of Armored Core VI is earning cash to unlock new guns and mech parts. Once you complete a mission you can replay it as much as you want for extra pay, and players have now found one of the fastest money farms in the entire game: brutally murdering a rookie test pilot in under a minute, dozens of times in a row.

The mission is called “Destroy the Tester AC” and it’s exactly what it says on the tin. You load into Southern Belius in the Contaminated City, locate an enemy Armored Core nearby, and waste him as quickly as possible. The job nets you 95,000 credits minus whatever you waste on ammunition, it’s super easy, and only takes 30 seconds to a minute depending on your build.

Two mechs face off on a metal platform.

Screenshot: FromSoftware / Kotaku

That makes it a perfect fast cash farm (“Wallclimber” is also great, but not as mindless). However, unlike most missions in Armored Core VI that see you going toe-to-toe with giant helicopters, difficult bosses, or massive facilities filled with enemy cannons, the tester AC mission only has one enemy, and it’s a student pilot who’s never been in the shit before. “I’ll deal with the merc!” he says like a true anime red shirt. “I’ve been training for this!”

Not well enough, sadly. He talks to you throughout the fight as you mercilessly beat his ass. “The Redguns need this AC…I…I can’t fail this mission!” he stammers. He even thinks he’s winning at one point. “My training is paying off,” he says after landing a hit, only to scream a few seconds later, “Damn it! I can’t die like this!”

Gif: FromSoftware / Kotaku

Players have now killed him millions of times just so they can afford a ton of extra guns they’ll probably almost never use because double Zimmermans and Songbirds are completely OP. It’s absurd, hilarious, and tragic in a way that feels almost like FromSoftware planned it this way. The Armored Core community is already full of tips pointing new players to the easy payday and memes celebrating the Dafeng Student Pilot’s ongoing ritual sacrifice, his last words seared into their brains.

“I…I just…I just wanted a callsign of my own…” he manages, before his AC explodes. Fans have decided he deserves to get one. The current frontrunner is “Yamcha”.


Miyamoto Did Not Love Elephant Mario At First Sight

The next mainline 2D Mario game, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, looks fantastic, shaking up the franchise’s formula with new powers, worlds, and enemies. In particular, one new power that turns Mario into an elephant became quite popular online. However, at first Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto, wasn’t a fan of the odd transformation.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder, out later this October on Nintendo Switch, looks, well…wonderful! The game features a new, revamped art style that looks 10x better than the New Super Mario Bros. games’, and is filled with new ideas and gameplay mechanics, including Elden Ring-like multiplayer features and a huge roster of playable heroes: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Blue Toad, Yellow Toad, Toadette, and Nabbit. But perhaps the most talked-about new additions to the Mario formula are the new power-ups, including one that turns Nintendo’s plumber into a large pachyderm. Apparently Miyamoto had some…thoughts about Elephant Mario during development.

In an August 31 interview with IGN, Super Mario Bros. Wonder director Shiro Mouri and producer Takashi Tezuka explained that during production of the game, Miyamoto did provide feedback and notes, but he wasn’t in their “hip pocket” all the time “whispering” in their ears.

“Sometimes he would come by where we are working and look at things and give some opinions,” said Tezuka. “He would generally observe things and make comments here and there.”

Miyamoto had some notes on Elephant Mario

However, according to Mouri, Miyamoto did have a problem with Elephant Mario, at first.

“It was a phase where we still had tentative visuals for Elephant Mario, and we had plans to adjust the visuals already,” said Mouri. “But he had come and taken a look before that and he gave us the sharp comment that ‘This doesn’t look like a Mario character.’”


According to Mouri, Mario’s dad also took issue with how Elephant Mario sprays water from his trunk, saying that “if an elephant was actually spraying water, it wouldn’t move that way.”

I like to imagine that Miyamoto comes home and spends hours watching elephants in the wild via documentaries and old videos on the internet, closely studying their moves. And finally, all that hard work paid off. Good for him.

Where did the idea for Elephant Mario come from?

In a separate Thursday interview with Wired, Mouri and Tezuka explained that the idea for Elephant Mario came from the desire to create a power-up for the famous plumber that would make him big and able to shoot water. Elephant was the natural choice.

However, when they wanted to let Mario dig underground, they didn’t go with a “mole Mario,” as they wanted him to be able to also take out enemies above him. So naturally they did what anyone else would in that scenario, and slapped a working drill on Mario’s head. I can only assume what Miyamoto thought about that.

Tezuka also pushed back on the idea that Mario games can’t change or evolve, telling Wired he asks his team to come up with wild ideas and not to worry about rules or limits.

“I do think people have ideas that Mario [games have] to be a certain way. There are certain limitations that people have in their own brains,” Tezuka said. “If you think it looks cool, it’s going to be fun. Do it.”

Super Mario Bros. Wonder—and all of its wild power-ups—launches on October 20 on Nintendo Switch.


Starfield Players Are Already Filling Their Ships With Junk

I did not expect Starfield to have so many useless items lying about that I could pick up and do absolutely nothing with. A few hours into the sprawling sci-fi blockbuster and my first ship is already full of junk I’m just dumping on the floor, unsure where to place it, and apparently I’m not alone. Starfield players just can’t stop themselves from turning their space wings into portable junkyards.

If you think I’m the galaxy’s only Michael Scott driving around in a dumpster’s worth of fish filet wrappers, you’re wrong. One of the biggest posts on the Starfield subreddit right now is user swampyswede sharing a money shot of their space load. “Just because you can pick it up, doesn’t mean you should,” reads the first comment. “Succulent farmer should be a side quest. I would be on the leaderboard,” swampyswede wrote back. Other Starfield players confess to filling their ships up with foam cups, spoons, plushies, and more.

A screenshot shows a Starfield Reddit tribute to trash.

Screenshot: Bethesda / Reddit / swampyswede

Thirty years of playing video games have taught me that if you can press a button to grab a thing and add it to your inventory you should definitely always do that. Space bases in Starfield are full of notepads, glass vials, cutlery, and all manner of found objects that you can take with you. None of it does anything, and as far as I can tell you can’t even scrap it for crafting materials like you could in Fallout 4 and Fallout 76.

All you can do is sell it, which the game incentivizes you to do by displaying tantalizingly inflated prices next to each item description. There are just two problems with this. Becoming a NASA-punk pawn star requires 1) finding a place to actually sell the stuff with no real map and 2) transporting it there with a laughably low encumbrance threshold (carry too much stuff around in Starfield and your lungs will fill with CO2 until you die).

But Starfield does give every player a ship right at the start, and you can dump all your crap on the ground in it and it will…just stay there. Succulents, sandwiches, shotguns—you name it. Is there a cargo hold you can stow stuff in? 100 percent. Did I figure out how to use it? Not for several hours. And even now it’s so much faster and simpler just to toss new things on the existing pile.

Space hoarding can be quite lucrative if you stick with it though. Some players are already dreaming of paying off their first house (though you can start with one and a big loan if you choose the Dream Home perk during initial character creation). But me, personally? I’m kind of in love with my little trash mound and don’t know that I’d be willing to part with it. Go explore the great unknown they said! I got the great unknown pile of crap right here baby.

Update 9/5/2023 11:28 a.m. ET: Junkyard ships were apparently only the beginning. One enterprising Starfield player loaded up their entire cockpit with potatoes. It’s incredibly to behold and terrifying to ponder, just like the cosmos themselves. I can’t believe the game didn’t break:

Gif: Bethesda / Moozipan / Kotaku

Behold 2023’s Game of the Year: Spudfield.


Starfield’s Controversial Missing PC Feature Already Modded In

A space ship goes into hyper drive.

Image: Bethesda

Starfield is out on PC as part of its Deluxe Edition September 1 early access perk, and players have confirmed that it doesn’t support Nvidia’s DLSS upscaling technology for better resolution and performance. Many had suspected as much when Bethesda announced an exclusive partnership with rival chip maker AMD, but thankfully DLSS support has already been modded into the game.

Buy Starfield: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

As IGN noticed, the open-world RPG’s settings menu currently only supports the latest iteration of AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution feature, FSR2, meaning players with Intel or Nvidia graphics cards that use different machine learning upscaling algorithms are out of luck. AMD gaming chief Frank Azor wouldn’t confirm if that was a requirement for its partnership with Bethesda, but recently told The Verge the studio could support DLSS if it wanted. “If they want to do DLSS, they have AMD’s full support,” he said.

The good news is that a “Starfield Upscaler” which allows players to replace FSR2 with DLSS or XESS was one of the first mods uploaded to the NexusMods website after the game went live. It’s not bug free and some PC players are still reporting issues getting their preferred upscaling tech to work, but it’s a start and will no doubt continue to get refined in the days ahead.

Bethesda’s exclusive partnership with AMD caused a big controversy when it was announced earlier this summer precisely because of the chip company’s pattern of locking out competitors’ features. The whole point of PC gaming is that it’s supposed to give players freedom to pick and choose their preferred builds, unlike on consoles where fans are locked into the manufacturer’s ecosystem.

Fortunately, the modding community still exists, and DLSS support for Starfield is just the start. If years of Skyrim and Fallout 4 mods are any indication, the sky, or in this case the galaxy, is the limit.

Arcane Season 2 Will Reportedly Release Winter 2024

An Arcane screenshot shows Jinx sitting in a chair.

Screenshot: Riot Games / Netflix / Kotaku

The second season of Netflix’s popular League of Legends animated series, Arcane, is reportedly expected to release sometime towards the end of next year.

The news of the show’s return, which was shared on Twitter by League of Legends fan account LeagueOfLeaks, was apparently announced by Riot Games’ parent company Tencent during its 2024 Video V Vision Conference. While LeagueOfLeaks’s post only reveals that the show will return sometime in Q4 of 2024 (October-December), fans on the r/leagueofLegends subreddit theorize that the sequel-prequel to the original MOBA game will release sometime in November just like its first season did. Their theory is further supported by the fact that it would land around the same time as League of Legends’ 15th anniversary event

Kotaku reached out to Riot Games, Tencent, and Netflix for comment.

Read More: The Biggest Fan Theories For Netflix’s Second Season Of Arcane, Explained

In our review for Arcane, former Kotaku writer Ari Notis loved the show despite not being a huge LoL fan, saying:

Lest you worry that you need familiarity with League lore, I’ll note, with a confession, that you’ll get by just fine without it. I don’t know anything about the source material, haven’t ever played the game, couldn’t even name any of its characters before watching Arcane. In fact, I think my knowledge gap has only enhanced my enjoyment.

League of Legends

Read More: The Best (And Worst) Video Game Adaptations You Can Stream Right Now

Arcane’s second season was announced in November 2021, during Riot Games’ two-day Undercity Nights event, just two weeks after its series premiere. At the time, fans expected season two of the critically acclaimed video game TV series to take at least six years to complete like its predecessor. Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent reassured fans they wouldn’t have to wait as long for Arcane season 2 in a 2021 tweet, with the caveat that the show wouldn’t be done by 2022—which would’ve been an impossible turnaround for any animated show, especially for one as visually demanding as Arcane was.


Starfield Literally Saved A Couple From Dying In Apartment Fire

A ship exploding in Starfield.

Screenshot: Bethesda

We all know that playing video games makes you cooler, stronger, and more attractive, but for Reddit user Tidyckilla, it made him and his wife remain far more alive. Staying up late to binge Starfield is the reason credited for how the couple escaped a deadly fire in their apartment.

As spotted by Eurogamer, u/tidyckilla posted over the weekend to the Starfield subreddit to credit the game for his continued existence.

Starfield literally saved mine and my family’s life on September 1st,” the post begins. After explaining for how long he’d been anticipating playing, the not-dead person continues, “On the night of August 31st I decided to stay up and play as long as possible to experience this new universe. At 2:26 in the morning, while playing the game, I heard an explosion from my downstairs neighbors apartment.”

It seems it was no small explosion, and the resulting fire was in an awful rush. “I paused my game to see what was happen [sic], when I opened the door I saw flames rising up our stairwell to our apartment.”

I immediately got my wife and cat, rushing us to safety with only minor burns. If I hadn’t been up bingeing Starfield I would have been asleep and we would have all died to smoke inhalation.

The post is accompanied by a photograph of the raging fire, thankfully viewed from the other side of the street from the apartment, and frankly looks terrifying. The Redditor also posted some sad pictures of the aftermath of the fire, in response to the inevitable conspiracists claiming the story was made up. This news report suggests tragically one neighbor was killed, while three others were rescued by firefighters, with the cause of the fire under investigation.

It’s further proof that staying up too late playing games is very good for you.

“I want to thank this game from saving my family and me from a horrible fate,” says tidyckilla, before concluding, “PRAISE GODD HOWARD.”

Imagine A Pokémon Game Based On Ken Sugimori’s Original Art

Imagine a world in which someone took Ken Sugimori’s original Pokémon art and brought it to life with animation. And then, in this wonderful idyll, someone took inspiration from this fanart, and developed a 3D Pokémon game based on it. And just to be sure, this developer would have already built an engine for creating Pokémon-inspired games. Obviously we can’t live in this world, because Nintendo would miserably crush it, but just imagine.

If I were imagining such a thing, the idea possibly planted in my brain by GamesRadar, I’d begin with the extraordinary fanart of pokeyugami, who would create adorable animations showing how the earliest Pokémon games would look were they 3D and based on the art of original Pokémon TCG card designer, Ken Sugimori. In my head, it would look something like this:

Or maybe like this:

What I’d then do, purely speculatively of course, is pick studio Yanako RPGs to see these clips, which would be inspired by them to develop a full game based on the concept. I’d choose Yanako RPGs, because it would be the developer behind MonMae, an open source engine that allows anyone to make their own monster-collecting game, which is also developing a game within the engine, Dokimon. I mean, that name would obviously be far too on-the-nose and get a developer sued into the sun, but it’s just what my imagination came up with in the moment. I’d definitely remember to come up with something more than one letter off a multi-billion franchise before I released such a game for God’s sake.

In my mind, it gets declared with a tweet like this:

The game would be created using the same watercolor art, but also implement ideas from the more recent Pokémon games, as well as being inspired by Pokémon Black & White 2.

Sure, it’d be lovely if any of this could actually happen, but given Nintendo’s reputation for releasing its rabid legal hounds at anyone who even looks at them funny (thus illegally reflecting their copyrighted artworks in their eyeballs), it will have to remain my fantasy.