E3 Week: My Reactions to the Bethesda Press Conference

Bethesda are my good-will publisher. It’s a company full of people who seem to genuinely care about what they’re doing, and consequently they put out very good games on a consistent basis. That being said, I always find myself wondering what they could possibly find to show year after year on their stage. Time and time again they tend to shut me up and put on a good show. So I’m looking forward to whatever we see here.

My high hopes were tested to begin with, as it took 15 to 20 minutes for the presentation to actually get started, bringing out a few different faces on their weird stage and Having Andrew W.K. perform a song to a relatively underwhelmed/perplexed audience. Eventually the show did get started though. Here’s what I thought of it.

Rage 2

This might as well be an entirely new game for me. I have no prior knowledge of the first Rage aside from the fact that the ending was apparently really bad. Based on what I’m seeing now though, the game is a first person shooter with a mixture of styles including Fallout, Mad Max and Borderlands design aesthetics.

There is a lot going on in the trailer, a slew of vehicles to control, a cast of characters who look like they’re getting their Wasteland Weekend crashed and there’s superpowers. Sitting back for a minute and letting is soak in, I’m not sure if I fully grasp the tone this game is going for.

It seems to be borrowing pretty heavily from Borderland’s wacky wasteland sense of humour. But then the main character is a gruff, generic sounding white dude. The look is cohesive and works for me, but just comes across as a pretty generic shooter from just watching this footage. It kind of just runs together with other, similar games I’ve already seen this week, like Metro at Microsoft’s conference for example, or Dying Light 2 to a lesser extent.

I’ll reserve my judgement though, I didn’t care for the look of either DOOM or Wolfenstein before I actually gave them a chance, and both of those turned out to be amazing. I’m willing to give Bethesda the benefit of the doubt these days. So I’ll keep my eye on Rage 2, as I’m sure many other people will be too.

 

Elder Scrolls Legends & Elder Scrolls Online

I didn’t realise the Elder Scrolls card game was still a thing. I feel like all this publishers that try and get them some of that sweet Hearthstone action just kind of fizzle out without getting anywhere near as popular. But apparently, yeah Elder Scrolls Legends is still a thing.

And it’s still not something it appears anyone is interested in. One of the benefits of having the audience sat both sides of the stage, I can see how little they care about something in real time.

From there we get some info about Elder Scrolls Online. It still exists, and it’s really popular apparently. They’re still putting expansions onto it. It kind of makes me want to download it now it’s on Xbox Game Pass. But it’s 90s Gig…

Seems like the incredibly excited Elder Scrolls Online lady didn’t make it into the conference this year either, shame. Moving on.

 

Doom Eternal 

Yes! I wasn’t even thinking Bethesda would announce a sequel to DOOM this year, and yet here it is. It’s mostly just a teaser, but it is definitely a sequel, and it definitely takes place on a very hell infested Earth.

I don’t care about anything else at this point. This was all I needed to hear. We’re going to get some more info about the game in August during Quake Con. To be honest, I just want more of the same. Just crank that insanity dial from a 11 to a 12 and I’ll be good to go.

Doom is good. If you haven’t played 2016’s Doom, go out and do it now. The fact that id software went out and revitalised one of the original first person shooter games and made it, not just unique, but successful, in a heavily saturated shooter market. It’s astounding and I cannot wait to see what they do next.

Also, no mention of multiplayer. I wonder why.

 

Quake Champions

It’s probably because of Quake Champions. While this game isn’t technically out yet, I don’t feel like it has had the impact on the community that Bethesda had hoped it would. Considering the intensity the hardcore fans treat the old Quake games with, you’d have thought that there would be a lot more mutterings around this one since it’s been out in early access.

During this segment, we heard about upcoming tournaments and an upcoming open beta that they hope will get some more people on board their “hero shooter” approach to arena multiplayer.

They then show a trailer introducing a number of the named hero characters. Are these new characters or ones we’re already familiar with? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell is that these character intro splash screens and designs reminds me a lot of Borderlands. I’m just getting super antsy about wanting to see Borderlands 3 at this point.

 

Prey

Prey was a good game. I don’t think it got the props it probably deserved from a lot of media outlets in their game of the year listings, but I thought it was a neat first person horror/action game. I’m kind of shocked that they’re continuing to support it though if I’m honest.

They’re adding a bunch of new modes and content to the game, most of which is actually out right now. The first being a DLC called Mooncrash. A rogue like mode in which the player’s objective is to escape the moon. It looks like the content will be procedurally generated, thus it’s designed to be repayable. It seems cool, but as much as I enjoyed Prey, this isn’t going to get me back into it.

Speaking of which, they’re adding some more modes too. Typhon Hunter is an asynchronous multiplayer mode in which one player is the human, and five other players are the mimics, in a game of hide and seek for keeps.

There’s a surprising amount of content, and I say fair play to them. I’m still not going to play Prey again though.

 

Wolfenstein Youngblood

This one was pretty quick. First they announced Wolfenstein: New Colossus for Switch, which of course they would at this point. They then announced what appears to be a story expansion to the game, much in the same vein as Old Blood story content released for The New Order.

It takes place in the 1980s and stars B.J.’s twin daughters.  With this snippet of into, they revealed that the story would be built around a two player co-op experience. It looks cool, and Wolfenstein was a hell of a game, so I’d guessing this will be the same brand of over the top insanity. The main question this raises is; what is the exact nature of Wolfenstein 3 with this in mind. If this is going to jump forward to the 80s, when the Nazi’s are still in charge. Does that mean B.J. fails, or will 3 take place even later than this?

Or hell, maybe they’ll introduce time travel. Honestly, it would not surprise me in the slightest.

 

Fallout 76

Now it’s time for Bethesda to finally answer the many, many questions we all had as to what the hell Fallout 76 is exactly. To do this, they sent Tom Howard out to soothe us all and tell us exactly what we were most worried about.

I’m probably jumping the gun a bit here. So, after showing that same trailer again, we got to see some of the game in action. And to look at it, it looks exactly like a Fallout game. Based on the footage, it looks like it could be a new expansion from Fallout 4, given the graphics are a notch better than they were in that game from what I could see.

Howard followed this by saying exactly what I was worried about; that the game is indeed an always online multiplayer game. I can’t tell if this is how they planned it, but Bethesda announcing this game before their press conference was a smart move. If this had been something they announced here and now, people would have been upset. By giving it some time to sink it, Howard could essentially go down a checklist our most pressing concerns and give us a friendly pat on the head.

First off, he does say you can play the game exclusively single player. Although the lack of human NPCs in the world might make for a slightly lesser experience. Then again, part of the draw of Fallout is the solitude and wide open emptiness of the wasteland. So it might work pretty well as a single player game.

Howard went on to address that death does not cause you to lose any progress. This will not be a “hardcore survival experience”, he went on to joke about it being soft core survival. One of the things I was most worried about going into this game was the presence of other players. My first thoughts when I imagine playing a survival game are people griefing one another and generally being pretty shitty. Obviously, that’s the point of them, but it’s not anything I personally get any enjoyment out of.

The way the game is being shown, it’s just a regular Fallout game in which there happen to be a couple dozen other players running around in the wide open world. That isn’t to say won’t still just want to make your experience a living hell, but I feel Bethesda still want the narrative experience there. So they might stop that from happening as much.

This presentation has lessened my worries about Fallout 76 somewhat. While Howard does press that this will still be a Bethesda style narrative experience, I can’t help but think how the multiplayer aspect has to negatively impact that. There are a lot of cool things in these trailers including an expansion of the building mechanics from 4 and the ability to launch Nukes. I am on the fence with this one still.

 

Elder Scrolls Blades

Hey, it’s a new Elder Scrolls Game. It’s also on phones. Words cannot express how little I want to play an open world RPG like an Elder Scrolls game on my mobile phone. I have very little time for games on my phone in the first place, and this style of game is the last thing I want to play on one.

It does look decent for a game on phones, at least graphically. But my battery hates me reading emails, so I have no idea how it would react to me playing this. We learned about the three modes in the game. Abyss, which is an endless dungeon crawler mode. Arena, which is a pvp mode and Town.

Town seems to be the main story, in which you collect resources and build up you town in any way you want. Building stores and recruiting settlers. Then we learned the game was free to play. For me, this translates to: the game will be rife with timers and micro transactions to speed up said timers. I don’t care for mobile games. I’m sure this will make Bethesda lots of money though.

 

Starfield & Elder Scrolls VI

They ended the show by revealing two “next generation games”. Who knows what that even means at this point. First they showed Starfield, which is the first entirely new intellectual property to come out of Bethesda proper for “25 years”. It’s a space game, that’s all they really show.

Then they end the show by teasing Elder Scrolls VI. I mean, I’m happy. But this is the most pointless announcement… Of course they’re going to make an Elder Scrolls VI. Online is still huge, Skyrim is one of the biggest games ever. Hell, they dedicated minutes to making a joke about putting Skyrim on the Amazon Alexa and an Etch a Sketch.

I wish they’d have just given us one snippet of information, a title or a setting. Anything would have been nice.

And that’s the show.

 

My verdict on Bethesda’s 2018 E3 Press Conference

For portions of this briefing, it felt like they were trying to eat up time. Between the live music performance and comedy skits, the early potions were worrying. As they got into their games though, Bethesda had a lot to say.

Like I said at the top, I have a lot of time for Bethesda and I was interested in most of the things discussed here, bar the card game and mobile phone game. There was a lot of energy on the stage, and while the audience didn’t seem to share that same energy most of the time, unsure as to what they were supposed to be cheering for, it was pretty good presentation from them.

They gave us the information on Fallout 76 we desperately needed, they gave support to their already released games that they, honestly, really didn’t need to. And most importantly, we’re getting a sequel to Doom. I’m happy with what I saw here. They covered pretty much every base they have, even if only to mention it, and it looks like we’re going to get another strong couple of years out of Bethesda.

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