Another year, and a second showing for Bethesda at E3. Whether it’s the conference in total or just Bethesda, it felt like the hype was toned down. The energy was definitely low compared to last year, and whether that was a lack of a new open-world RPG to announce or of Todd Howard is still unknown. It seems as though, from a broader perspective, they’ve gotten ID Software to start cracking down on recreating old properties, while their main development studios are either working on some long-term games that won’t be released for a while or bumbling around with the Elder Scrolls property.
The conference started off with some old-school computer booting up and a segue into the Quake Champions reveal. Honestly, with the way multiplayer gaming has been pushed and promoted over the last few years, I was more surprised that ID didn’t start off bringing the Quake series back from the dead instead of starting off with Wolfenstein. It’s a good push with the way multiplayer gaming has been going. Although admittedly, between that, Doom, and Wolfenstein, Quake has the smallest fanbase. They’re definitely the most dedicated, though. People still have tournaments for the game, which is nearing 20 years old. I can’t even build the motivation to finish my Darkest Dungeon campaign. It’ll be a PC exclusive title on release and will have more details at Quakecon.
From there, Tim Willits took to the stage, followed by Peter Hines, who came out and started talking about the Elder Scrolls: Legends. There’s a campaign that looks almost identical to the book the monk in Diablo 3 reads. The moment the words “card game” was mentioned, though, I remembered that a standalone card game for Gwent may be released this year at E3, and I ended up thinking about that rather then listening. There’s not enough with the Elder Scrolls series to warrant it having a standalone card game, and Legends just feels like the way Guardians of Middle Earth impacted the MOBA market.
Then, the reason why Bethesda’s first conference went off so well, Todd Howard, showed up! But, it was just a live-feed from wherever he currently is, not the actual stage. Which was sad, too. He had so much more energy last year announcing Fallout 4 than announcing the three new DLC’s coming out for it. The first one’s titled Contraptions and only aims to add a bunch of random stuff to settlement building. The second one, Vault-Tec, lets players build their own Vault. Which basically means that you can now play Fallout Shelter in Fallout 4. It adds a ton of stuff for Vault Settlements. The last one is titled Nuka World, which looks like the only substantial DLC coming out for Fallout 4. While nothing more than a few seconds of one slow-pan shot of some sort of an amusement park was shown, it looks like it’ll be in the same vein as Far Harbor, with a huge new area to explore, new quests, and actual things to do.
Oh yea, and Fallout Shelter is coming to PC. I’d talk about it more, but I’ve already spent more time writing these two sentences than Bethesda mentioned about Shelters.
A remaster for Skyrim was announced as gently as the bomb on Bikini Atoll was dropped. Fantasy RPG’s most generic experience, now with new lighting effects, and new graphics for the PS4 and Xbox One. There will now be mods on the consoles, too. So now you can repurchase the title again and replay it with gorgeous graphics not modded in, instead of just playing it on PC and modding it to look that gorgeous. In all seriousness, this remaster, along with the MMO and card game, are really the Elder Scrolls series showing some signs of wear.
From there on out, the rest of their conference just felt like they were throwing Facebook updates about what they’ve been up to. Prey is actually getting a sequel now, aptly titled Prey. Because making names for video game sequels is just so hard. But no, director Raphael Colantonio revealed later in an interview that this new Prey is now just a re-imagining of the 2006 title of the same name. So now we’re rebooting a series that consists of one game. The trailer looks pretty ambiguous. Something about a space station, aliens, and someone’s worsening pink eye infection. I’m sure we’ll hear more about it next year, which might as well have been the tag line for Bethesda’s conference this year.
Doom is getting some multiplayer updates, some new game modes, and announced its first DLC, titled Unto the Evil. It adds three new multiplayer maps, a new demon to play as, and a new weapon to use. Other than that, though, the DLC seemed a bit thin. Additionally, for the next week, anyone can download the first level of Doom and try it out. The idea is just so crazy. Give out a portion of a game to let people try out, see if they like it. And it could be a demonstration of what the entire game looks like. Too bad that so few companies actually do that anymore.
Zenimax announced DLC for Elder Scrolls: Legends, which has already released for PC and will be releasing this Tuesday for consoles. The DLC adds the Dark Brotherhood and a questline for them into the game, bringing some of their special skills into the Elder Scrolls MMO. Another update, which was the more interesting one, allows for something similar to “dynamic enemy leveling.” Titled One Tamriel, enemies won’t have set levels anymore. Instead, their level will be based on the player’s level, meaning that any player of any level can go explore all of Tamriel without fear of their level impeding them from getting to different areas. How this system will work for parties and groups with players that have vastly different levels will be seen when the update releases in the fall.
Bethesda’s upped their ante on the VR field, pushing for a version of Fallout 4 to eventually be released on the HTC Vive. No mention was made on whether it would release on the Rift. If it doesn’t release on the Rift, that could signify a huge blow against the already conflicted VR system. But nothing other than the name drop was really mentioned, so who knows.
The last 13 minutes of the conference were dedicated to four different trailers of Dishonored 2. There were enough repeated scenes and commentary during each of the trailers that I was able to grab a quick nap while the last three were happening. There’s some new abilities that sound interesting to play around with in the same way that the first Dishonored brought about some interesting abilities. The domino one, which they showcased three times, was of particular interest, although just once would’ve been acceptable. A release date was also set in stone: November 11th, 2016. Although “set in stone” in the gaming industry is sort of like a politician’s promise.
Overall, Bethesda’s conference felt definitively weaker from last year. There was a lot of hype surrounding the release of Fallout 4 last year, and Todd Howard’s energetic approach to announcing the title was a great addition to the conference, both things that were dearly missed this year. Arguably, the announcement both the audience and that most people have been excited about most is the Skyrim remaster. Most of the announcements they made this year, as well, were just retreads from announcements they made last year with some more information. The only “new” thing announced was Quake Champions.
While ID has been running around rebooting all of their 90’s FPS’s, too much of Bethesda has been just soaking in the waves that the Fallout 4 created and piddling around in the Elder Scrolls universe. And while the Quake Champions reveal was great, it was announced too early and with little bravado. This would’ve been a great year for Bethesda to keep up the momentum and even announce the possibility of an Elder Scrolls 6 or some exciting new IP. But just like the Skyrim remaster, Bethesda’s E3 this year was mostly just the same thing as last year, with some shinier lighting effects.