Welcome to Bethesdaland! Despite some of the bigger titles being leaked before Bethesda’s conference, #BE3 was in full flight from the get-go as Pete Hines swaggered on stage to chanting and loud cheers that made me feel like I was watching an episode of WWE RAW. Not wanting to waste any time, Mr. Hines gave a nice brief of the milestones that Bethesda has achieved recently and how they expect the future of Bethesda to evolve. Staggeringly, there are over 100 million people who’ve downloaded Fallout Shelter and 300 million mod downloads for Skyrim and Fallout 4 – clearly, people love their Bethesda! After watching through ALL last year’s press conferences, I liked the format of Bethesda’s run in 2017. We were treated to trailers continuously, with only a brief introduction and closing from Pete Hines and some fluff thrown in the middle.
As probably to be expected with any current gaming conference, VR was the first dish of the night with trailers for DOOM VFR and Fallout 4 VR. Despite not owning a VR rig, I’m still very curious to see how the whole market for VR pans out this generation. Honestly, it’s big title support like this which will not only test VR and its marketability but also whether it’s going to sink or swim with core gamers. Interestingly, the things that stood out most for me in these trailers was the music and how opposite the tones of both games were. DOOM stayed true to its roots by appealing to the edge-lord crowd with its thrash beats, while Fallout opted for the classic and perfectly suited “Mr. Sandman” which fits the universe to a tee.
Quickly, another video was shown of the new Elder Scrolls Online – Morrowind being played to a bunch of gamers. Apparently, it has over 10 million players, which is honestly news to me! I wasn’t aware that the game is that popular and is putting up numbers that rival World of Warcraft in a space which WoW has dominated for over a decade. Regardless, I think the addition of Morrowind is a great way to pull in the diehard Elder Scrolls fans, and it’s nice to see another MMO that’s succeeding in a space that has been monopolised for so long. Also, it had a bear, and bears are pretty much my spirit animal, so I’ve got to give this trailer a +1 for quality content.
In perhaps one of the more interesting moments of the evening, Bethesda unveiled their mod repository system – Creation Club. Available on all platforms for Fallout 4 and Skyrim, Bethesda will be working with outside developers on mod content for their two flagship titles in a move which they believe will continue breathing life into these two games for the foreseeable future. While I’m all for quality control, it’ll be interesting to see what the system will be like in regards to free and paid content. Also, why the hell are we still talking about Skyrim 6 YEARS after the original release came out? Like, I get it Bethesda – Skyrim is a great game. But seriously, it feels like the token war veteran wheeled on-stage at a patriot rally to remind everyone of the good ol’ times. Please, hurry up and release a new Elder Scrolls game so we can spend the next 5+ years talking about that.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends also appears to be getting a bunch of new content, such as Heroes of Skyrim, game modes like Chaos Mode, and a dual release on Android and iOS next month as the glazed cherry on top. While I can understand Bethesda’s desire to break into the digital TCG market, it’s going to be an uphill battle with Hearthstone commanding such a big stranglehold over the current DTGC landscape and other rival titles such as Gwent coming on the horizon as well. Regardless, it seems like they’re dedicated to committing time and resources to make ESL a success, so only time will tell on how that pans out. In more Elder Scrolls news, Skyrim will also be making an arrival on the Nintendo Switch and will even allow you the ability to use your Link Amiibo so you can play as the Hero of Time in the Skyrim universe. Hooray, more Skyrim! It’s exactly like getting that present for Christmas I DIDN’T want.
Next in the pipeline was the surprising Dishonored spin-off, Death of the Outsider. Despite not having had the time to play the second game yet, I’m excited for this and even more so with Billie as the main character. It’s refreshing and powerful to have a black, female lead in an AAA video game, and Rosario Dawson brings a credibility to the character with her voicework. I’m hoping the game proves to be a huge success, if not only to offer the games industry an example that players are looking for more diversity in their characters.
Third to last was a lengthy trailer focusing on Quake Champions, discussing the legacy of Quake as the “OG” LAN game. They also used this time to announce the Quake World Championships, which will culminate at QuakeCon with a $1 million dollar prize pool up for grabs. As someone who was quite heavily invested in the proLeague of Legends scene from 2013 to 2015, I’m incredibly sick of eSports due to the oversaturation the entire movement is going through currently. In Bethesda’s case, it’s probably even made worse by the fact that they’re so late to the party. Counter Strike is dominating the FPS landscape when it comes to pro play, let alone facing off against other giant rival codes such as League of Legends, DOTA, Overwatch, etc. While Quake is a more traditional competitive game, when a juggernaut title such as Overwatch is struggling to pick up any real steam in the competitive arena you’re going to have a bad time.
Finally, it seemed like Bethesda had been saving the best announcements for last. Second last was a trailer for The Evil Within 2, a follow-up to the 2014 title by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, which looked amazing graphically and like it could be a huge deal for the horror genre. It’s clear a decent amount of love was put into this hype trailer, but there was not a whole lot of gameplay to comment on, so it’s hard to say more about where our expectations should be at heading towards the release date of Friday, October 13. While having not played the first one, it made me a lot more interested in giving it a shot so I can check out the second game. I like the cut of your jib Bethesda, you’re hired!
Last but certainly not least was the pièce de résistance of the evening, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Have you ever wondered what the world would be like after World War 2 if the Nazis won? If so, then Bethesda has got a treat for you! Of course, the trailer dropped to a fair bit of rumbling on the internet – and it certainly hasn’t escaped scrutiny about whether it’s attempting to make a “political statement”. Frankly, I’m very curious to see what direction this game takes and how much focus is given to the story before making any judgment calls. It’s either going to be an unmitigated disaster like the first Homefront game, or we could legitimately end up with an interesting piece of fictional history told from the other side. To end the slew of strung-together trailers, a pregnant mother of two is seen repeatedly stabbing a corpse while another character is on an acid trip. Pete Hines was on to something when he proudly proclaimed the game is “fucking bananas.” It’ll be launching this year on October 27.
Despite being critical of content in Bethesda’s presentation, I loved the colourful, retro theme park idea and succinct format, and the fact that they just let their product speak for itself whether for better or worse. The other members of the Big 6 should be taking a leaf out of their book, as it was punchy, direct, and to the point instead of spending over an hour with cliff notes from CEOs and marketing reps talking about the games. While I’m not a huge fan of their late arrival to the TCG and eSports space, and an expected announcement for the heavily rumoured RPG juggernaut “Starfield” not being made, Bethesda still managed to pique my interest enough with Wolfenstein II and The Evil Within 2. Usually unless I’m a series fan, I don’t get hyped for sequels, but Bethesda did enough to get me interested in sequels to games I haven’t even played. Grade: B…for Bethesda. And also, an above average scoring letter.