Bethesda’s E3 Showcase – My Verdict
With Fallout 4 already out the door and wowing people, Bethesda had to pull something out of the hat this E3, and it did so almost immediately.
Bethesda opened strongly this year, debuting Quake Champions, Id’s second completely revived old franchise in as many years. No gameplay, just a cinematic trailer of some hero-based arena combat, doing their best to pretend we’re in a world in which Overwatch doesn’t exist. That said, I’m an Unreal Tournament guy, so I was never going to give this a fair go.
Speaking of following in Blizzard’s footsteps, next up was Bethesda’s Hearthstone killer The Elder Scrolls Legends. If they hadn’t made a big deal about the two lanes of battle I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. It also got a fancy campaign mode trailer, which is sort of nice I guess.
God damn it, I’m gonna have to give Fallout 4 a chance now, aren’t I? If a game gives you a half-decent creation suite I’m usually all over it; this whole Contraptions deal really pushes my wacky Rube Goldberg machine buttons, and the Vault Tec Workshop looks to be a nice marriage between the existing Fallout Shelter and The Sims. There was also the new Nuka World expansion to come as well, and the announcement of Fallout 4 coming to virtual reality boondoggles next year.
Next up was Skyrim’s remaster, leaked last week by Amazon France or some such website, and officially launched as Skyrim: Special Edition. While it brings some much needed graphical updates and mod support for the console versions to bring it in line with PC players’ highly tweaked builds, I can’t help but feel there’s no point to this for the PC players. Luckily Bethesda seems to agree with me, and announced that owners of the PC version of Skyrim will get the update for free.
Then came Prey, which looked properly menacing. Long thought dead after cancellation back in 2011, the scifi psychological thriller returned with an impressive trailer full of moody environments and a fascinating looking alien menace. No snide comments here, this trailer impressed me.
Not content with reviving Quake, Id Software continued by talking about the updates coming to Doom. An expanded SnapMap toolset for players to create custom maps, game types and short missions, and a new expansion pack called Unto The Evil which brings new guns, maps, playable demons, equipment, armor, and two new multiplayer game types. All good stuff, if you’re not a UT guy.
Elder Scrolls Online was up next, with a rather bold change; the new One Tamriel initiative, automatically adjusting a player’s stats to match those of surrounding enemies. As someone who was pushed away from TESO specifically because of the need to grind a bit to get anything at all done, the promise of no limits on your exploration of Tamriel is a very welcome one. Might be enough to get me back into it, if I’m not too busy playing Skyrim for the umpteenth time.
Finally, Dishonored 2 had some very interesting stuff to show off. After debuting last year, this year’s presser gave us the first gameplay footage. Able to take control of either Corvo or Emily, the game’s combat seems to have a renewed focus on stealth and use of the environment, with a set piece involving a dust storm and the luring of enemies around reminiscent of MGSV. That changes when powers come into play, with one of the new ones, Domino, connecting the life of one bad guy to another; knock one out, and all others connected to the first fall as well. A short glimpse was offered into one of several unique missions throughout the game, this particular one letting players temporarily gain the ability to move backwards and forwards through time, exploring an abandoned manor in both its original, lavish past and its delapidated present.
So How Was It?
Bethesda put together a great show this year, blowing EA’s earlier efforts out of the water with surprise announcements, an in-depth look at the gameplay of a future blockbuster, and future plans for their current hits.
Was I Right?
Quake surprised me, and there were rumors of an upcoming Prey game that went under my radar, but otherwise I was fairly on the money. Dishonored 2 looked great, Elder Scrolls got a lot of stage time (albeit without the Part 6 I predicted), and future content plans were laid out for both Doom and Fallout. That said, it lacked a real knockout punch for me, even if some games knocked out others. Nonetheless, a great palette cleanser after EA’s this morning.
Final Grade: B+