Bethesda E3 Press Conference: All The News
POST SHOW UPDATE (12:00 PM):
The show has now wrapped and I have to admit I was wrong. It seems 3 games does an hour long show make, or in this case nearly an hour and a half. Bethesda announced a grand total of two new projects, both of which were mobile phone games. They did, however, show unusually long demos of both Doom and Fallout 4. So let me talk about each of the presentations in the order they occurred.
Pete Hines, the PR man at Bethesda, ran the show and opened things with no less than 4 gameplay videos from the new Doom, taking up nearly a half hour worth of the conference. The new game looks to be a visually stunning throwback to the 90’s classics. There was no pretense here of a complex story or survival horror elements. This was 20+ minutes of a marine blowing up some demons. As impressive as the whole thing was visually, it seemed to be almost too much of a throwback, with no mechanics or modes to speak of that haven’t been done before by Id. But I always enjoy blowing things up in pretty looking levels so I’ll be happy to play this game, despite my prediction that it won’t be especially well received by the younger crowd. Bethesda also announced a service called Bethesda.net which will allow modders to easily distribute their work over a unified service that would encompass all Bethesda titles going forward. And finally Id showed off a very detailed level editor that included visual logic programming. So good on Id for that, although I have to admit that I’m not sold on having to download another app to play just a handful of games.
This game is some sort of free to play multiplayer arena brawler. I still feel like I’m missing the hook of this title beyond the impressive art direction. Anyways, we got a minute long trailer, a promise of an upcoming beta, and then Battlecry was over and done with. Anyone else wondering how confident Bethesda is with this title after that?
3. Elder Scrolls Online/Elder Scrolls Legends
You know what Elder Scrolls Online is missing? A stand alone card game based on its world. After all, it worked for World of Warcraft didn’t it? So we got something I would barely describe as a trailer that just spoke some mumbo jumbo about the titular Scrolls over a near static image of said scrolls before cutting to a title card. No gameplay was shown (thank God) and no further details were given outside of the fact that it would launch on both PC and iOS (and I would assume eventually Android).
4. Dishonored 2
We got a great looking CG trailer for Dishonored 2 that set up the story for this sequel as well as teasing a couple new gameplay mechanics. We now know that players will be able to play as Princess Emily in addition to Corvo, which means we can at least choose to have a talking protagonist. The setting here looks to be inspired by colonial era Caribbean settlements which I think is a great choice for the series. On the gameplay front, Emily seemed to be using some sort of whip or tether to pull herself long distances, adding to the already expansive movement mechanics of the first game. She also seemed to either turn into or summon a demon or monster of some sort towards the end of the trailer, perhaps implying we’ll be seeing an even deeper connection between her and the mysterious being that gave Corvo his powers in the first game. No gameplay was shown, nor was a release date given. We were told that the game was coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC and that a “definitive edition” of the original would be ported to current gen systems this year.
5. Fallout 4 and Fallout Shelter
This is what everyone was here for, and the half hour long demonstration was proof enough of that. On display were the character creation, crafting, and building mechanics and each looked quite impressive. Players in Fallout 4 build their character using a sculpting system instead of pulling sliders like in previous Bethesda Game Studios titles. The character, who can be a man or a woman, also talks, which had me shouting out loud in joy. The pre-fallout sequence seen in the trailer is indeed going to be the introduction to the game and not a time traveling mechanic as some were speculating. After showing a rather lengthy demonstration of both the pre-fallout and post-fallout world, director Todd Howard abruptly changed directions to show some of the mobile phone projects he was working on. He first showed an iOS and Android app that made your smartphone into a Pipboy, and presented an actual physical Pipboy shell that buyers of the Special Edition of the game will received that can house your smartphone, allowing you to control the Pipboy in the game through a mock version on your own wrist. Silly? Yes, but compared to some of the other more ridiculous and intrusive second screen experiences we’ve seen, this one was not half bad. Howard then announced Fallout Shelter, a management sim for iOS where players must manage a fallout shelter. Howard mentioned SimCity and X-Com as inspiration but he didn’t have to. The game looked like SimCity as shown through the viewpoint of your base from X-Com Enemy Unknown. Howard promised that money did not have to be spent to succeed in the game, and in fact the game did not even require an internet connection to run. So good on him and Bethesda for that. Of course you don’t have to take his word for it. You can download the game from the App Store right this very moment and see for yourself.
After that demo it was back to Fallout 4 proper where Howard showed off the major changes to the gameplay. In Fallout 4 all items in the world, including things like walls, fences, tires, and cans, can be broken down into individual components and then built back up into weapons, armor, furniture, and even whole new buildings. Using this system, a player can build and outfit an entire town which will have to be defended from bandits and mutants. In fact, players can build multiple towns and create trade routes between them. And on the armor front, players can build a complete custom suit of power armor piece by piece including a jetpack, and can modify any weapon to create something entirely different. An example was shown were a basic pistol was modded into a heavy rifle using components build from the trash that you always have to force yourself not to pick up in Bethesda games.
Those new mechanics certainly look to add to the Bethesda formula in some impressive ways, and while some sequences weren’t especially visually impressive, others made great use of physically based rendering, volumetric fog, global illumination, and other modern engine techniques to create stunning and atmospheric areas that easily dwarfed any visuals seen in previous Bethesda Game Studios titles. Before tonight my hype for this game was pretty low, but Howard gave an impressive demonstration that piqued my interest in a way I can’t say a Bethesda title has since Morrowind came out nearly 15 years ago. And luckily we won’t be waiting years to try all this for ourselves. Fallout 4 hits this November, an announcement which I’m sure caused every other developer on the planet to give up their hopes and dreams of winning a Game of the Year award this year.
And that brought the whole shebang to a close. Lengthy, quality demos of Doom and Fallout 4 made up the vast majority of the show, while less impressive trailers for Battlecry and Elder Scrolls Legends didn’t move me. Dishonored seems to be ringing all the right bells, but with so little revealed and no release date in sight, it is hard to cast much judgement on that title at this time.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:
Tonight at 7:00 PM PT or 10:00(!) PM for us on the East Coast, Bethesda will be holding its first ever E3 press conference. Confirmed to be there are Doom and Fallout 4, and Dishonored 2 is heavily rumored. Of course 3 games does not an hour long show make, so we’re certain to see a variety of other games from both Bethesda’s internal studios and in the form of collaborations with external developers. Those interested in watching the conference without interruptions from myself can head over to their Twitch channel where they will be streaming the whole thing out to the Internet. Or you can check out the embedded video for the same feed just with my occasional voice chiming in, plus my full thoughts before and after the press conference.
If you don’t want to watch videos at all and just want the whole thing recapped for you then check back around midnight Eastern time when I’ll have all the details written up.
And then be sure to join me tomorrow when I’ll be doing this all over again four times in a row starting with Microsoft at 12:30 and ending with Sony tomorrow evening.