Impressions

 

I think it’s safe to say that, perhaps more so than any other publisher at E3, Bethesda knows exactly what their fans want. If that was ever in doubt, then I present you with Exhibit A: their fourth time holding the stage at their very own E3 show, where they delivered precisely that. Multiple times. And then just kept going.

During the course of just under two hours, Bethesda not only announced expansions to some of their most popular games like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and Prey, but also managed to unveil a hitherto unheard of Elder Scrolls mobile game that sounds too ambitious to be feasible, confirm rumors of the first ever online Fallout title, and nonchalantly reveal both The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield, the studio’s first original IP in twenty-five years.

Now, to say that Starfield and TES VI were “revealed” may be a tad generous. I suppose that “confirmed” might be a more appropriate term, considering that each was given roughly ten seconds to shine while revealing exactly nothing about their stories, characters, worlds or gameplay systems. Even so, there’s a sense of excitement just in the knowing.

In my mind, there are two distinct types of E3 conferences. One is the Publisher/Platform showcase, a la Sony or Microsoft. During these shows, the goal is to encourage players to check out a bunch of cool games, but also to convince them that theirs is the best system for which to purchase them. This is why you see a whole lot of Phil Spencer waxing rhapsodic about how Xbox is going to define the future of gaming, and why Sony continuously pummels audiences with appealing exclusive titles.

The other type is the plain and simple Publisher showcase, a la Ubisoft, EA, or Bethesda. In these cases, the goal is just to hype up the games as much as humanly possible. New features, flashy graphics, unexpected sequels; it’s all in pursuit of the hope that you’ll lay down your hard earned cash for their game instead of their competitors’. With this understanding, I feel comfortable saying that I can scarcely remember a more effective and exciting Publisher showcase.

With the exception of a horribly awkward punk-concert intro for Rage 2, Bethesda absolutely nailed it. The reveals of Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and the new modes for Prey were outstanding, and anchored by an incredibly endearing sense of humanity. The show even opened with a montage that expressed sincere thanks to every single person in every studio under the Bethesda banner who makes their games possible. Programmers, artists, even the cooks in the cafeteria.

This sense of genuine pleasure and self-awareness continued throughout the show and even included a comedy sketch where Keegan Michael Key plays Skyrim on an Amazon Echo, an etch-a-sketch, a Motorola pager, and a Samsung Smart Fridge. This tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of the publisher’s sluggish recent history contrasts beautifully with the bevy of upcoming titles they have under their belt. And all of that gets even more endearing when Todd Howard commands the stage as the worlds most successful, excited, middle-aged teenager.

Shy of outright revealing gameplay for TES VI or saying that Fallout 76 was available right now, I’m truthfully not sure how Bethesda could have improved upon this year’s showing. By combining a refreshingly human approach to a conference that often feels too rehearsed with a mountain of exciting announcements, Bethesda absolutely knocked it out of the park in 2018. Good luck Square Enix and Ubisoft, you’ve got a lot to live up to.

 

Rundown

 

Rage 2

  • Release Window: Spring 2019.
  • Players will assume the role of Walker, the last Ranger of the wasteland (no official word yet on whether this is an intentional “Walker Texas Ranger” reference).
  • The game will feature a massive variety of guns, vehicles, and powers for the player to wield.
  • The world will be of the oft-mentioned “seamlessly open” variety.

 

The Elder Scrolls Legends

  • The PC and mobile card game will be relaunched with entirely new visuals.
  • Legends is coming to Switch, PS4 and Xbox One later this year.
  • Save data from the mobile or PC versions will transfer to consoles after launch, should players wish to make use of the new platforms.

 

The Elder Scrolls Online

  • Release Windows: Later this year.
  • There is a new dungeon DLC pack inbound, and it’s called Wolfhunter. It focuses, perhaps unsurprisingly, on werewolves.
  • The subsequent story DLC pack is called Murkmire and will explore Argonian culture and lore.

 

Doom Eternal

  • Release Window: You’ll have to tune into Quakecon in August for more details and a full reveal.
  • This is a full sequel to 2016’s Doom.
  • There will be twice as many demon varieties.
  • The developers teased that Hell would be coming to earth this time around.

 

Quake Champions

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • The developers affirmed their commitment to making Quake relevant in the world of e-sports, from “grassroots” tournaments to massive competitions.
  • Some vague “new features” have been added to the game.
  • There is a free-to-play trial of the early access build live now, and if players log in and play during this week, they will be permitted to continue playing for some time after the trial ends.

 

Prey

  • Developer Arkane Studios has released a massive update including a New Game + mode and a survival mode.
  • Arkane also announced a $20 DLC pack called Mooncrash, an infinitely replayable story expansion that randomly generates enemies, weapons, and obstacles every time you die, which is also available immediately.
  • If that weren’t enough, later in the summer, they will be releasing a multiplayer mode titled Typhon Hunter, that pits one Human player against five Mimic players, which can disguise themselves as anything in the environment. It’s basically horror-prop hunt.

 

Wolfenstein Youngblood

  • Release Window: TBA 2019.
  • Taking place in Paris in the 1980’s, this game focuses on B.J. Blaskowicz’s twin daughters as they continue his fight against the Nazis. It’s not clear yet whether this is a standalone expansion like The Old Blood or its own full-fledged game. My money’s on expansion, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
  • The game will be playable both solo and co-op.

 

Virtual Reality

  • Release Windows: TBA.
  • Prey‘s Typhon Hunter mode will be fully playable in VR.
  • A new VR game set in the Wolfenstein universe, entitled Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, will see players assuming the role of a hacker as they take control of Nazi robots and wreak havoc among the enemy ranks.

 

Fallout 76

  • Release Date: Nov 14, 2018.
  • This will serve as a prequel to every other Fallout game.
  • Bethesda developed all-new rendering, lighting and landscaping pipelines, and can now achieve up to 16 times the detail seen in previous titles.
  • Taking place in West Virginia, many of the new mutant creatures were based on local folktales.
  • The game will present players with six distinct regions, but take place in one shared online world.
  • Players can choose to go it alone or team up with others.
  • Death never means loss of progression or of your character, as in many other online survival games.
  • Other players can be civil or violent toward you.
  • There will be emotes.
  • There will, apparently, be big-ass sloths.
  • The building mechanic from Fallout 4 is back, but this time you can build wherever you want, and then move your structures anywhere you want.
  • Enemies can destroy your bases.
  • There will be a photo mode.
  • Scattered throughout the world are several active nuclear missile sites that players can weaponize against anybody by finding all of the launch codes.
  • Bethesda promises “100% dedicated servers” and support for years to come.
  • There will be a beta, or as they referred to it, a “Break-it Early Test Application.”
  • The collector’s edition, dubbed the “Power Armor Edition,” will include a glow-in-the-dark map of the world, figures you can place on said map, and a scale prop of a power helmet.

 

Fallout Shelter

  • Release Date: June 10, 2018.
  • For the three-year anniversary of its release, the title is coming to PS4 and Switch, still completely for free.
  • On Switch, the game is playable with Joy-cons and touch controls.

 

The Elder Scrolls: Blades

  • Release Window: Fall 2018.
  • A new first-person RPG with “console-quality graphics,” playable on Android and iOS smartphones.
  • Players can tap the screen to move or use virtual joysticks.
  • The game will feature both hand-crafted and procedurally generated dungeons.
  • Playable in landscape and portrait modes.
  • There will be a robust character creator, RPG progression, as well as melee, ranged, and magical attacks.
  • In addition to dungeons, Blades will allow players to explore outdoor areas as well.
  • The game will launch with several modes:
    • Abyss – An endless dungeon crawling experience in which you see how far you can get before dying.
    • Arena – One-on-one battles with real players all over the world.
    • Town – The primary hub of Blades, where you experience the story, acquire quests, and customize your town as you rebuild it from ruins. You also have the option to visit other player’s towns.
  • Fully playable in VR, both on mobile and PC.
  • Will support cross-play, so players can engage with one another even if one is playing on Android and the other on an HTC Vive.

 

Starfield

  • Release Window: TBA.
  • A brand new, “next-gen, singleplayer” game.
  • Bethesda’s first wholly original IP in 25 years.
  • All context clues point to a sci-fi space setting, but at this point, the gameplay could be just about anything.

 

The Elder Scrolls VI

  • Release Window: Fall 2145 (probably).
  • About all we know about TES VI is that it’s the sixth entry in The Elder Scrolls series, and it will be released at some point, probably. It will likely feature magic and other fantastical things, but that’s just wild speculation on my part. They could surprise us and make it about the minutia of fantasy agriculture. Nobody knows except Todd Howard.

 

 

And that’s it for day two of E3 2018! Come back tomorrow for my impressions and summaries of the Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Sony briefings as soon as I’m able to translate my illegible chicken-scratch notes into mostly functional English.

 

 

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