It's that time of the year again where we all get hyped up for one of the biggest video game tradeshows that happen in North America, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). This presser was all about the games, and for Bethesda that's what matters. Doom, Fallout, and much more within.
Editor's Note: Oliver got the Fallout Shelter game for free on the iTunes store.
One of the most common events during E3 proper are large scale press events from the likes of Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft and more. This year's E3 is a little different from years past, with Bethesda Softworks joining the brawl with their first presser of this scale. Zenimax Media (Bethesda's parent company) has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, becoming a major publisher not unlike EA in their own right.
In my opinion, it was a pretty decent presser for their first time out! Bethesda kept it very crisp and on point; there were no unneeded celebrity cameo appearances, unnecessary filler, or other silly drama (although Todd Howard did drop a fairly surprising F-bomb on stage that was met with cheering).
The showcase included (Release Dates and Platforms):
Release Date: Spring 2016 • Platforms: XBox One, PS4, PC
Doom opened up the presser and had a very positive welcome from the audience. There were a few key things shown about the game that many incredibly excited; Melee appears to have a big focus in this one with brutal hand to hand kills that would make Ed Boon wince, classic weapons making a comeback like the Super Shotgun, and it looks like there's been a strong emphasis on increasing gibs from kills. What really got people's attention, however, was the features outside of the core campaign. Doom will be adding a new feature called SnapMap; the ability to build your own arenas, as well as what appears to be game modes. Some of us made the joke of "LittleBigDoom" because of the ease of use in this player generated content tool. What makes it really interesting, however, is that these tools won't be exclusive to the PC version of Doom, but all platforms. Todd Howard has made commentary in the past about wanting to see player mods from their titles being able to transition over to consoles, and this may be the first inkling of that idea coming to fruition.
Release Date: 2015 • Platform: PC
The developers of Battlecry, Battlecry Studios, took to the stage and showed us a little more of their multiplayer arena combat title, as well as introducing us to a new class. Just from general audience response, it seemed a little lackluster. However, if you are excited about this title, no worries because there's going to be a beta this year for it!
Release Date: 2016 • Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Word on the street is that Dishonored 2 was 'accidentally' leaked a few days ago prior to the reveal on stage. It seems that this time around there will be a choice between playing as Emily OR Corvo (the returning protagonist from the original Dishonored). We were treated to a pre-rendered trailer that starred Emily as well as giving us a bit of a glimpse of what her skillset might be like. For those that enjoyed the original Dishonored, it looks like they're going to be in for a treat.
Dishonored: Definitive Edition
Release Date: Fall 2015 • Platforms: Xbox One, PS4
Almost immediately following the announcement and trailer of Dishonored 2, Dishonored was confirmed to get a definitive edition for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 which will contain all of the previous DLC released for the game, along with the usual graphic quality increases. There was no word on whether this edition will make its way to the PC, or what bug fixes (if any) will be included.
The Elder Scrolls Online Unlimited
Release Date: Available Now • Platform: PC
A brief showing and "FYI" regarding what's been going on with The Elder Scrolls MMO, Elder Scrolls Online with a bit of a reel detailing what's been going on so far. There wasn't a whole lot to discuss about it, just kind of a friendly "Hey, this is here!"
Elder Scrolls Legends
Release Date: 2015 • Platforms: PC, iOS
This was one of the more surprising elements of the press event; a strategy card game based around the Elder Scrolls universe. I think this one caught more than a few people offguard. I suppose that some (myself included) would see this as an attempt to step in on some of Blizzard's Hearthstone action. Elder Scrolls has a very sizeable fanbase, so who knows? They just might get some of that pie.
Release Date: 2015-11-10 • Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
The moment of the show that everyone waited for, and Todd Howard and Pete Hines teased the crowd with it just a little bit. There was a cavalcade of information dropped about Fallout 4. Although they're staying quiet regarding the bigger plot of the game, Bethesda did confirm that Fallout 4 would take place in Boston 200 years after the nuclear war in typical Fallout lore. The game presented something that usually doesn't occur in the Fallout universe, and that was a beautiful wash of color; the environments were vibrant and strangely poetic in their depiction throughout the nuclear wastes of Massachusetts. There was so much to cover that Fallout 4 took up the biggest chunk of the show, comparatively. A brand new modular crafting system that extends to worldbuilding and equipment, new character customization, and brand new dialogue structure with voiced player characters are some of the big items showcased during this presentation. There's way more to cover than is reasonable in this highlight section, so expect to hear more about this one in detail!
Release Date: Available Now • Platform: iOS
Another tremendous surprise and Bethesda's first jump into the mobile market place with Fallout Shelter. A simulation title that could be fairly described as sharing ideas with This War Of Mine, Tiny Tower, and even perhaps The Sims, Fallout Shelter allows you to make your OWN Vault and you play as The Overseer that micromanages the lives of your little post-nuclear war survivors. What caught many people by surprise was that they announced it was available immediately [Disclosure: This title is available for free on iOS; I procured this title myself]. Todd Howard expressed that some of the business practices that are common with this type of game on mobile are progression paywalls and other types of obtrusive DLC, and they were rather annoying to him. It was stated that the only microtransactions in the game would be additional lootboxes that could be purchased if the player wanted access to more frequent equipment, and I can report that this is the case! Along with that, the game does not require any sort of online connectivity in order to function, leading to many cheers from the crowd. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this, in my opinion, charming little game in the weeks and months to come.
A new line of vinyl figurines featuring their properties
The final item that was brought up during Bethesda's presentation was a bit of fun, a new line of little vinyl figurines featuring characters from some of Bethesda's various properties, which of course included a tiny little suit of Power Armor. A set of these were given away to everyone that attended the event (make sure you're disclosing those gifts if you took them, reporters), leading to many cheers. No upfront release date on these were given from what I could tell, but I imagine they'll be available on Bethesda's site fairly soon.
Of course, I wasn't able to cover E3 this year from the show proper but watched from Twitch with the audience at home. While there was a mixed reception in some areas to a few of the games shown, I would say that the overall take away was incredibly positive.
There is a sizeable number of gamers that have some misgivings with Bethesda (and most of these are completely justified), but one thing that they've done well this year was put on a tight, crisp, no- nonsense show. I think that people's reception to this will send a very clear message to other companies about what kind of showing that gamers want to see in presentations going forward.
It's a good start Bethesda putting on an annual presser like this, and I think many might say this will be a damn good start to E3 2015. Now let's see if you can maintain the hype train. Choo-choo.