E3 2015 – Bethesda Press Event Wrap Up

Bethesda Softworks Logo

Well here we go folks, E3 2015 kicked off last night with Bethesda’s first ever press event. Going in, there was plenty of talk around whether Bethesda would be able to set the tone for the week. After watching the whole show last night, I think it is very safe to say that they were more than up to the task. Let’s hit the highlights, and wrap up their first ever E3 press conference.

Doom 2016

Kicking off their show, Bethesda decided to bring us back in time a bit. The franchise has been around for well over 20 years at this point, but hasn’t seen a new game in around 12. Going in, I was most curious about the feel of DOOM – would Bethesda let id keep the classic DOOM spirit, or would it be forced to play like a modern shooter. After seeing the first of three(!) trailers last night, I felt immediately that it was safe. It certainly looks like it plays super fast – circle strafing is going to be relevant again, and has that classic DOOM level of brutality. That said, they aren’t just taking the gameplay from a two decade old game and plopping it into a current-gen game. There have definitely been updates – we saw a double jump and mantle feature that adds in extra verticality to the game. We also got a look at the new melee finishers – get an enemy low on health and staggered, and you can push up and deliver unbelievably brutal finishes. We saw a glimpse of classic DOOM puzzle solving, along with a weapon lineup that look straight out of DOOM II. I was really impressed with the single player reveal – and then we got to hear a little about multiplayer.

Multiplayer has always been super important to id games – whether we’re talking DOOM or Quake, they’re kind of responsible for bringing deathmatch to the world. Based around the very short tease we got last night, it definitely looks like multiplayer is in good hands. It definitely got my mind running right back to the old days of playing Quake II and III online – the first FPS games I ever played, period. It looks fast – twitch shooting and strafing are probably going to be more important than they have been in years. Add in a couple wrinkles like the new Demon power up – a modern take on the Quad-Damage – and it should be a blast to play. But of course, id has always been really good at supporting the community too. That tradition will continue with DOOM SnapMap – a new editor that will come with all versions of the game. When they started showing off SnapMap, I couldn’t help but think that it looked a hell of a lot like the map maker in TimeSplitters. That editor did a lot of the same features – you could make custom maps for multiplayer, or co-op/solo maps using some basic scripting tools. Assuming that id is taking that idea, and bringing it up to modern standards, there are going to be a ton of possibilities for all sorts of crazy games going forward. We do have a bit of a wait ahead of us though – DOOM won’t be coming our way until spring of 2016.

Bethesda then had a quick section to talk about two things – the new Bethesda.net, and also to show off Battlecry. Bethesda.net looks like it will function as a centralized hub on the web for all Bethesda games moving forward. I think really that it helps with the increased emphasis on player created content – with DOOM and a new Fallout feature we’ll talk about in a bit especially.

Battlecry was shown off briefly, talking about a new playable faction, as well as opening up global beta signups this week. I’m not super familiar with the game, to me it looked an awful lot like a melee focused MOBA style game. They call it an action arena game, which to me just is a different way of saying battle arena game. It looked cool – I dug the art style for sure. Assuming it’s on consoles, I’ll probably give the beta a try.

The next section of the show should have been a major surprise – but live mics on a test kind of killed that. We found out Saturday night that the boys from Arkane would be there to talk Dishonored. Had it stayed a surprise, it probably would have been one of, if not the, biggest of the show. That said, Dishonored 2, which was properly announced, looks incredible. I have long said that a sequel was not a matter of if, but when, just because that first game was so amazing. It flew in under the radar and just was so much better than anything I expected. The sequel picks up from the first game, and adds in much more. The big reveal is that there is now a second playable character – Emily Kaldwin. If you played the first game, you are more than familiar with her – she’s a key figure in the game. Corvo will return as well, and will have a totally different set of powers. The story still is a bit of a mystery, but based around how good the first game was, I think we have nothing to worry about. It is still a ways off though, not coming out till next spring – but we are getting Dishonored this year. They did manage one surprise announcement – the Dishonored: Definitive Edition coming to Xbox One and PS4 this fall, containing the first game and all DLC. These sort of up-rezed and updated packages are great ways for players to refresh themselves with classic games from the last generation, and also help welcome new players in as well.

We got a quick look at whats going on with the Elder Scrolls franchise, at least that they’re willing to talk about. Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited just launched on the consoles last week, so instead of an in-person update, we got a video package. That makes total sense – they’re still dealing with keeping the launch stable. We did see that two new modules are being prepped for the game – the Imperial City and Orsinium.

That wasn’t the end of Elder Scrolls talk though. We then were treated to the news that Bethesda is stepping into the mobile market. This year they’ll be launching Elder Scrolls Legends, a strategy card game for iOS and Android. The best part – it’ll be free to play, just like all the other card games out there. The big question will be if it can really compete with Hearthstone.

Fallout 4 Box Art

We then got to the big name for this year – Fallout. The game was already announced, so we knew that we were looking at more concrete details. And boy did we get some. Let’s start with the fact that development started, in some way or form, all the way back in 2009, after Fallout 3. They took lessons from the success of Skyrim after that game launched as well to bring Fallout 4 to where it is today. Then we were treated to a wall of concept art – a TON of concept art, which I know fans are still pouring over for details that we might see in-game.

That’s all great, but we were definitely ready to talk actual game details. So we did – we started with a huge bit of news for the game. The game will actually start before the bombs fell – that house you see in the announcement trailer is your own house. That’s where the game will begin, where you make your character – using the new creator, that looks unbelievably easy to use – and where the story starts. This was the first glimpse we got of the new game engine – an updated version of Bethesda’s Creation engine, and man does it look good. Todd Howard talked about the new power of the current-gen consoles, and pointed out the memory increase. That tells me that one of my wishlist points is probably checked off – less loading with buildings.

In these first few minutes of the trailer we got a good look at the new dialogue system. Perhaps the biggest little detail in the dialogue we got was that there’s a really good chance your player name will actually be voiced. They’ve recorded about 1,000 names for players. That’s pretty damn cool.

Now, they didn’t talk too much about story. They did say that it starts pre-war, and that you emerge from the vault as the sole-survivor of Vault 111, 200 years later. That might not seem like a huge deal, but it really does answer a big question. 200 years after the bombs fell puts this game in the same time frame as Fallout 3. That’s pretty cool, since that puts this game in the same world as Fallout 3 and New Vegas, which helps players that have been around for a while find more little things to make the world even better.

The next big chunk of the video showed off the Dog from the trailer. The new companion mechanics look very similar to followers in Skyrim – contextual commands issued via the HUD/crosshairs. This section is also our first look at some combat – including the new take on V.A.T.S. Instead of freezing time like it used to, it just slows it down, and looks a little more fluid than before. The V.A.T.S. also ties in with the new PIP Boy – it’s gotten a lot of love since the last set of games. The menus are all animated now – from the Vault Boy icons, to the weapons themselves. We also learned that the armor is all layered now, adding in even more customization options for armor, as well as just adding in tons more options. We also learned that there are new meta-games that can be played in the PIP Boy. They look like they’re Fallout takes on classic games like Donkey Kong or Missile Command. It also ties in with the special edition – the PIP boy edition will come with an actual PIP boy to wear.

We then got a little break from Fallout 4 to announce the second screen app that will be coming out with the game for smart phones; as well as announcing Fallout Shelter, a free game for iOS. I grabbed it last night, since it launched after the show, but haven’t had a ton of time to really dig into it. It does look really cool – it’s basically a free game, with no micro transactions really necessary.

Back to the main game after that little break, this is when we got some huge details. Crafting has always been a part of Bethesda games – but usually consists of taking the materials, and just selecting a recipe on a menu. Not anymore. Just about every piece of junk in the game can be broken down into materials – much more in depth than before. You still will select from a menu, but it looks way, way deeper than it was; especially because the options are way wider. Armor, weapons, mods all are craftable, along with new things tied into the new settlements feature. It all looks really cool – and looks like players will be able to get out of it what they put in; since it’s all totally up to the player if they take part in it. I think depending on how much the settlements feature – where you create and build safe settlements, across the Boston wastes – is actually used in the game will determine just how much I dig into the crafting.

We ended the show with a pretty long trailer that was solely focused around combat. It’s kinda hard to really say for sure without playing, but it does look like it’s much more fluid than it ever was. And definitely looks faster paced, but still very much Fallout. After a good taste of the combat, the biggest detail of the night was given to us – the release date. Fallout 4 will be in our hands on Novemeber 10, 2015. These next few months are going to be long.

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