ComicsVerse is at E3 2019! Throughout the week, we’ll be posting news, analysis, and press releases from the biggest gaming convention in the world. Today, we take a look at what Bethesda had to offer.
My feelings on Bethesda are well-known at this point. They created some of my favorite games, but in recent years they seem content to coast on their own reputation. Well, that reputation took a huge hit this year, so I was eager to see if they could redeem themselves with a stellar E3 performance.
So did they? Well, not really. To be fair, we knew we weren’t going to see THE ELDER SCROLLS 6, and STARFIELD is still years away. But there are still a few highlights worth mentioning.
So what did we learn from Bethesda’s E3 conference? Here’s a rundown of all the highlights!
ELDER SCROLLS: BLADES — Why Did Bethesda Start With This?
It’s always a bad sign when a conference begins with a mobile game.
Believe it or not, I was looking forward to BLADES. I honestly thought Bethesda could deliver something fresh and unique, bringing a true ELDER SCROLLS experience to the mobile market.
Instead, we got a generic mobile game, full of microtransactions and wait timers. Nevertheless, they announced a number of new features, including pvp, guilds, and the ability to visit your friend’s towns. They’re also adding a questline centered around dragons because, of course, they are.
BLADES is also coming to the Nintendo Switch and will feature crossplay between platforms, as well as cross-progression. In other words, you can freely play between your phone and your switch, without losing any progress.
All these features are coming out on the night of the conference, so if you’re reading this you can try it now.
FALLOUT 76: WASTELANDERS – Finally, Bethesda Gives Us The Bare Minimum
So it’s time to address the elephant in the room: FALLOUT 76. There’s little I can say about this atrocious game that hasn’t already been said, so let’s not beat around the bush. How does Bethesda plan to fix FALLOUT 76?:
By finally adding NPCs.
That’s right: Bethesda wants to turn the game around by adding the very thing they swore they didn’t need: non-hostile NPCs. You know, people to talk to with stories to get invested in? They’re also adding an actual questline, complete with choices and dialogue options. All these features will be part of the WASTELANDERS update, which as of now doesn’t have a release date.
Now if this sounds like the absolute bare minimum for an online FALLOUT game… that’s because it is. And yet it took Bethesda 7 months to figure that out. This was honestly the low-point of the conference for me. The fact that Bethesda expects praise for this to be insulting. The fact that the audience cheered for this is embarrassing.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing, and if done well it could drastically improve the game. But we paid $60 for a game without these “features”. We shouldn’t be praising Bethesda for completing a game that was released in November. At the very least, the WASTELANDERS DLC will be available for free to all existing players.
But as if things couldn’t get cringier, they also announced a new mode for the game called NUCLEAR WINTER…
It’s a battle royale. Because, of course, it is.
Don’t get me wrong: I love battle royale games, but the fact that Bethesda is jumping on this bandwagon with nothing to set itself apart is indicative of their lack of creativity. Not to mention the fact that the combat in FALLOUT 76 is awful, so creating a mode centered around combat without improving it feels like a bad choice.
NUCLEAR WINTER will be released in the fall of 2019. If you want to try it early, there’s a free trial starting on June 10th.
GHOSTWIRE: TOKYO – I’m Confused, But Intrigued
Now, GHOSTWIRE: TOKYO is an odd one. Developed by Tango Gameworks and directed by industry veteran Shinji Mekami, GHOSTWIRE is a new IP with a unique premise.
The details of the game are vague but intriguing. According to the developers, it’s “Spooky” but it’s more about action, mystery, and exploration than survival horror. The premise is simple: thousands of people are vanishing across Tokyo, and the player is tasked with finding out why, uncovering supernatural secrets along the way.
Beyond that, we didn’t get many details. The trailer was surreal, trippy and eerily stylish, but it didn’t reveal much. Still, it’s good to see Bethesda branching out into new IPs, and I’m eager to learn more.
ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE – Is Anyone Else Sick Of Dragons?
After GHOSTWIRE, Matt Firor announced a new chapter for THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE called DRAGONHOLD, and an upcoming dungeon DLC called SCALEBREAKER.
DRAGONHOLD features fan favorite character Sai Sahan and a guild of dragon hunters called the Dragonguard. In DRAGONHOLD, Players will travel to the southern half of Elsweyr, known as Pelletine, and face off against a number of dragons.
I’ve made my thoughts on the ESO pretty clear over the years. While it does a poor job capturing the more unique aspects of Tamriel (I’ll never forgive what they did to Summerset), I have to admit the game itself is pretty good.
I don’t expect my opinion to change for DRAGONHOLD. ESO is a solid game in a mediocre fantasy world, and I’m sure fans of the series will enjoy it.
COMMANDER KEEN – …Huh
When I heard the next game was on mobile, I was honestly about to tune out. But when I heard they were bringing back COMMANDER KEEN, I got a little excited.
COMMANDER KEEN is a bit before my time, but it’s a franchise with a lot of history. Believe it or not, before DOOM and WOLFENSTEIN, ID Software was best known as COMMANDER KEEN. Unlike their other titles, the game has a lighthearted, comedic tone, focusing on a boy genius who fights aliens.
In the new game, you play as the twin children of the original Keen. Unlike the original games, the mobile title seems greatly simplified, and honestly a bit underwhelming. In theory, going mobile is the best way to revive the franchise. Platformers are ideal for handheld devices, and I’d love to play a COMMANDER KEEN game on the Switch as well. But so far, this looks less like COMMANDER KEEN, and more like a mobile game you play on the toilet.
Of course, my biggest concern is how this game will be monetized. At worst, it’ll end up like BLADES: burdened by microtransactions and repetitive grinding. Fans are already up in arms over this announcement, and we can only hope that Bethesda takes the feedback to heart.
COMMANDER KEEN is soft-launching this summer on iOS and Android.
RAGE 2 – I Honestly Forgot This Game Existed
RAGE 2 was released a couple of weeks ago, to the collective “meh” of the gaming community. It wasn’t bad, but for a game with such a loud, colorful aesthetic, it was surprisingly dull. Regardless, RAGE 2 is getting a ton of new content, including new vehicles, a driveable mech, new gameplay modes and even cheat codes.
But the main attraction is the RISE OF THE GHOSTS Expansion, which features a new story and hours of new gameplay. They also briefly mentioned adding new content “every week,” but they didn’t go into detail.
RISE OF THE GHOSTS will be released sometime this year.
WOLFENSTEIN – Let’s Kill Some Nazis
WOLFENSTEIN is a game about simple pleasures. You’ve got guns, you’ve got knives, and an endless horde of Nazis to kill. What more do you need? Well, how about killing Nazis in VR? That’s what CYBERPILOT is all about.
In CYBERPILOT, you take control of a giant mech suit and obliterate all the Nazis in your path. I got a chance to play an early demo of this game at last year’s E3. At the time it was pretty simple but enjoyable for what it was. I only hope they expand upon the premise in the final release, adding more variety and environment.
But WOLFENSTEIN’s main attraction is YOUNGBLOOD: an upcoming expansion to WOLFENSTEIN: THE NEW COLOSSUS. Despite being an expansion, the developers claim it offers more content than any WOLFENSTEIN game to date, with a new story, new guns, and more ways to customize your playstyle.
YOUNGBLOOD takes place in the 80s. Apparently, Nazis still control most of the world, and it’s up to you to stop them. The game focuses on BJ’s twin daughters, who travel to Nazi-controlled Paris to find their missing father and kill any Nazis who stand in their way.
We also got to see a new trailer for the game, complete with a kickass 80s soundtrack.
My thoughts? Well, I love 80s sci-fi, and I love killing nazis. Combining the two is like a dream come true.
Deathloop – Bethesda’s Stylish New IP
Out of the entire conference, DEATHLOOP is the game that intrigued me the most. Developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, DEATHLOOP is a mysterious game, to say the least.
Like most Arkane titles, it’s a first-person action game with open-ended gameplay encouraging you to tackle objectives in creative ways. In short, imagine DISHONORED in a more modern setting.
But that’s only half the story. The game has a stylish 60’s aesthetic and takes place on a bizarre island littered with high-tech ruins. Like DISHONORED, the player has access to various supernatural powers, but there’s a variety of guns and melee weapons as well.
As for the story? Well, it was left intentionally vague. The island seems to be a place of anarchy and chaos. Characters seem concerned with some kind of “cycle,” that they, either way, to preserve or destroy. Judging by the name, I’m guessing this is an island where no one can die, and where time is looping around itself. If you’re wondering how this could translate into gameplay, take a look at the MOONCRASH DLC for PREY, another Arkane title.
As I said, I definitely want to keep an eye on this game. Arkane is a solid studio, and it’s great to see them work with a new IP.
ORION – …Really, Bethesda?
Okay, if I were to tell you Bethesda was developing their own streaming software, how would you react?
No, this isn’t a joke, it’s ORION.
Honestly, it’s kind of hard to explain what Orion is. The announcement was an unholy union of marketing buzzwords and technobabble, full of promises and devoid of substance. Best I can tell, ORION isn’t a streaming service in itself, but a piece of software.
Apparently, it can be used by developers to greatly improve the streaming performance of their games, allowing you to play games at 4k resolution and 60 frames per second on anything from a high-end computer to a tiny smartphone.
I’m just going to say what we’re all thinking: Bethesda isn’t known for its competent programmers. When it comes to their core studio, their games are infamously buggy. One look at the code will tell you how poorly made these games really are. Bethesda can barely get their own launcher working. Are we really supposed to trust these guys with game streaming, let alone something as “evolutionary” as ORION?
Who knows? Maybe ORION will be great. Maybe it’s the missing link that’ll make streaming cheap and accessible for everyone. But until we learn more, it’s anybody’s guess.
DOOM: ETERNAL – Killing Across the Universe
Now is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. After the Orion presentation, we got a brand new trailer for DOOM: ETERNAL, which seemed to feature both demons and angels as enemies. As you’d expect, the gameplay looked incredible. DOOM ETERNAL looks fast-paced, energetic, and gory as hell.
But believe it or not, I’m interested in the story here. DOOM 2016 had a minimalist approach to its narrative, but it was no less intriguing. The game is littered with lore, hinting at a larger universe full of madness and mystery.
Well for DOOM ETERNAL, the developers are diving deeper into this weird, expanded universe. In the game, Earth is being conquered by demons, and the Doomslayer will have to travel throughout the universe to save his homeworld. We’ll be going to heaven, hell, and everywhere in between.
Finally, the developers announced battlemode: a multiplayer mode where players take the role of either slayers or demons. It’s notoriously hard to use symmetric multiplayer mode. Honestly, I can’t wait to see where the series goes next, and I can’t wait to try this game out for myself. DOOM ETERNAL is playable at E3 throughout the conference.
This was a definite downgrade from last year’s performance, but all in all, it wasn’t bad. We’ve got some new games, some old games are getting new content, and I love Bethesda’s new habit of releasing things the moment they announce them. DEATHLOOP, WOLFENSTEIN, and DOOM easily stole the show, but games like GHOSTWIRE piqued my interest as well.
The “core” Bethesda games were the least interesting part of the conference, with side studios like ID and Arkane picking up the slack. This has become a pattern for Bethesda. It feels like the studio itself is in a rut, content with its own mediocrity. This may have worked for them a few years ago, but the industry is quickly moving on from and leaving them behind.
Hopefully, with STARFIELD and THE ELDER SCROLLS 6, Bethesda can make a comeback. If not, I’m genuinely concerned about the studio’s future.