Reviewing Bethesda’s E3 2016 Press Conference

Bethesda decided to come back this year after having huge success with their first E3 conference last year.  Last year’s show was dominated by Fallout 4, and we expected to see something similar with Dishonored 2 this year.  And while they didn’t necessarily knock it out of the park like they did last year, they still put on a decent show.

The show had an incredible opening.  Starting with a DOS prompt that showed all of the Id Software games and then led to a trailer for a new Quake game, Quake Champions.  The trailer was intense, and the surprise element of the announcement was really great.  It’s also a PC exclusive, and while that doesn’t cater to me, I think it makes sense for the franchise.  This was a great way to ride the momentum off of Doom’s successful launch.  The next day we learned that it is being developed by Saber Interactive and is probably a hero shooter.  I don’t think either of those things necessarily ruin the game though, and I look forward to seeing what the impressions coming out of Quakecon are like.

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Apart from the Wolfenstein tease, that Doom 4 title treatment is fantastic

The follow up to this exciting announcement was The Elder Scrolls Legends.  I think the existence of this game is incredibly cynical, and I really hoped to see no more than a minute of it at E3.  But we got the announcement of a single player campaign and the opening cutscene.  The stream cut out, and I really didn’t care.  What they showed was a bad looking motion comic and some gameplay that doesn’t help this game stand out from Hearthstone outside of a two lane battlefield.  I came in not caring about this game, and I left feeling the same way.

They then cut to a video of Todd Howard talking about the future of Fallout 4.  First is contraptions, a pack that adds more to the creation aspect of Fallout 4.  I think that part of the game is pretty weak, but I know that a lot of people like it.  They doubled down on this by announcing the Vault-Tech pack which allows you to build and run your own vault.  As someone who doesn’t like the creation stuff, that at least has me interested.  Then the big one, the Nuka World expansion, was announced.  The idea of a Fallout amusement park sounds fun, and I can’t wait to see what that is.  They then gave a quick Fallout Shelter update that didn’t overstay its welcome.  This segment ended with the announcement of the Skyrim: Special Edition.  The visual upgrade looks impressive and the addition of mods is cool.  I just can’t see myself buying this game in good conscience after the disaster that was the PS3 version of the game.

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An awesome idea for a DLC

Arkane then game out and announced that they are rebooting Prey.  Sadly, this isn’t the Prey 2 that I wanted.  That game is dead, and it makes me automatically disappointed in this game.  But that’s unfair.  The trailer was actually really good.  It still has a bit of that cyberpunk feel, and psychological horror can work really good in the video game medium.  But it also feels like the project is very early, and I wouldn’t expect to see more from it until next year.  Up until this point, Bethesda had a really strong showing.

Another video popped up, this time with Marty Stratton of Id Software talking about Doom.  They mostly just talked about how happy they were with the reception of the game and gave a few hints as to what the updates and DLC would consist of.  But there was no talk of singleplayer DLC.  That is by far the best received part of the game, and I think there is still time for them to correct course.  But I do understand that they promised multiplayer DLC and have to deliver on it.  This ended with the announcement of a demo, which was a smart idea.  I played it, and now I’m looking forward to picking up the game soon.

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RIP Buddy

This transitioned into an Elder Scrolls Online segment.  As somebody who has never played or cared about this game, I don’t know a lot about what they said.  They put together a trailer with a bunch of random numbers, but they at least seemed to acknowledge that they were random.  I will say that the trailer for The Dark Brotherhood expansion pack looked alright, and The Dark Brotherhood is a smart thing to put on an E3 stage considering how much people liked that quest.  The One Tamriel announcement doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but that might just be because I don’t really care that much about it.  This segment was made so much more entertaining by The Elder Scrolls Hype Lady.  I was too busy laughing to be annoyed at the fact that they were spending time on The Elder Scrolls Online.

They then announced Bethesda VR.  They have versions of Fallout 4 and Doom, but these just sound like the ability to walk around the world and not actually play the games.  This feels like Bethesda half committing to VR, and I get why they would do that.  It’s popular, but it’s something unproven.  We will see more publishers doing this at the Sony conference.

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Skyrim looks good on the new consoles.  Let’s see how it runs.

They then cut to Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb real quick.  I don’t know why, but they did and it didn’t take too long.

They then ended the show with a whole sixteen minutes of Dishonored 2.  This started with a weird set of panning shots through different environments that looked good but probably lasted too long.  They then showed a condensed version of the opening of the game followed by a more prolonged demo.  This demo showed the use of some cool new powers.  The one that stuck out to me the most was the one where you connect enemies and whatever happens to one of them happens to all of them.  They ended with the tease of a new mechanic that involves manipulating time, moving in and out of different time periods to get through the environment and mess with enemies.  That was a really cool stinger that made me excited about the game in a way that I wasn’t before hand.  The whole segment ended with a trailer that showed a bunch of stuff we already saw.  This was less effective and would have probably been better off not being shown at the conference.  It wasn’t a bad trailer, it just made no impact.  This whole segment felt a lot like the Fallout 4 segment.  I don’t think it worked as well though.  That isn’t me trying to say anything about the quality of the two games.  I actually think that Dishonored 2 is a great game to get this treatment.  The biggest issue with this segment is that Harvey Smith doesn’t have the same amount of charisma as Todd Howard.  I hate to say that, but it’s the truth.  The demo was actually great looking back on it, but it didn’t have the same impact at the time.  My eyes were glued to the screen during the Fallout 4 segment while I just simply enjoyed the Dishonored 2 one.  Still, I think the game looks great, and it was a strong ending to the show.

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I hope this is the screen where you pick your character.

So that was Bethesda’s show.  It was strong but not incredible.  Dishonored looks great, and the announcements of Prey and Quake were both very cool.  But the biggest takeaway was the lack of Wolfenstein and The Evil Within.  It was realized after the show that a new Wolfenstein was actually teased in the DOS prompt, but there was no official announcement.  But that actually makes me sort of excited.  If they had announced those without Quake and Prey, then this conference would have been very predictable.  But these new announcements with the knowledge that both those projects are in development shows that Bethesda’s bench is deeper than I thought it was.  Bethesda had the best third party showing this year and is establishing themselves as a major force in this industry

Final Score: 4 Stars

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