The #1 ranked publisher, got things off to a lively start. Pete Hines, VP of Bethesda Softworks, began the conference with a title that was announced a couple weeks ago in partnership with Walmart Canada... or so he joked regarding the recent listings leak online from the outlet. Humor aside, it was energizing to see the head-thrashing rocker, Andrew W.K. come out on stage to perform "Ready to Die" as an introduction to Rage 2.
Following the performance, id software and Avalanche Studios took to the stage to discuss the unexpected sequel (prior to the leak) and how much they endeavored to make this game something unique and miles beyond the original. Then we were treated to a look at some extended gameplay footage of the main protagonist, known as Walker and the last remaining Ranger to take on the 'Authority', engage in some intense gunplay. Something that was extremely noticeable both in this gameplay footage and the marketing materials prior to E3 was the vibrancy of the contrast and colors within this game. It's an aesthetic choice that I believe the developer made to add variety and as the drab wasteland colors added to the monotony of the first title making it less appealing. The developers clearly took some cues from their own experience developing the Doom reboot to help shape the fast-paced gunplay mechanics within Rage 2. Fast and fluid are the only two words that perfectly describe what I saw. You'd be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out the gameplay footage that was shown at the conference if you haven't done so already. I was truly a skeptic given my disappointment over the first game. However, it's clear that Avalanche Studios brought their experience in open-world titles to the partnership with id Software which is aiding in crafting a far more exciting and varied game.
Elder Scrolls Online has been receiving high marks from the gaming community over the years as Bethesda shared that it has been named MMO of the year for the third straight year in a row. The latest DLC expansions to be announced for the game were Wolfhunter and Black Marsh. The first will deal heavily with werewolves, and the second will delve deeper into Argonian lore. Bethesda just released the Sommerset DLC and will continue to release DLC each quarter. Wolfhunter and Black Marsh will be covering the second half of this year.
The next big break was none other than a sequel to the hit shooter Doom. Doom Eternal is the next title in the series. A cinematic trailer offered a tease of the sequel and id Software promised to share more details at this year's Quakecon. Being an enormous Doom fan, I've come to know that the series was famous for long wait times in between new iterations as each release seemed to be intrinsically tied to the debut of a new id Tech engine. So, I was quite pleased to see a sequel announced much quicker than the turnaround times of the past. The cinematic trailer clearly showed the destruction of Earth via the armies of Hell as all the demons that we've come to know (and more) stomped around the desolation of what once was an urban environment.
Moving from one iconic franchise to the next, Quake Champions briefly entered the spotlight to offer an all new trailer featuring many of the playable combatants for the famed arena shooter. Quake Champions is currently playable at E3 so I'm sure we'll be getting plenty of juicy gameplay videos in the days to come.
Wolfenstein Youngblood is the next experience in the Wolfenstein series to feature BJ's twin daughters set in the 1980's. Since it features twin daughters, as Machine Games noted, that means it features co-op. The game is coming in 2019. I was thoroughly surprised to see that an actual Wolfenstein sequel was already being announced given that Wolfenstein II: A New Colossus was just released last year. Once again, a cinematic trailer featuring BJ's daughters was shown to introduce the title.
Fallout 76 was introduced by Todd Howard, director at Bethesda Game Studios, following the Wolfenstein presentation. It is set in the hills of West Virginia and is a prequel to all of the other Fallout titles. According to Howard, it will be four times bigger than Fallout 4 and promises to explore the days and inhabitants of Vault 76, hence the title Fallout 76. This trailer already debuted during the Microsoft conference earlier today so this was already expected. However, I'm excited to see more lore added to the backdrop of the series. This prequel promises that very thing. The player is one of the special few selected to spend 25 years underground until reclamation day. The game was meant to show the perspective of the earliest people to leave the vaults on reclamation day. Todd Howard went on to share some interesting background regarding the history of this game and the folklore of West Virginia that were incorporated into this game. The big detail, however, is that Fallout 76 is entirely online. This was met with applause from the audience. Howard assured the audience that the game can still be played in single player mode. However, it can also take place in a shared world online as well. Bethesda shared a lot of footage so be sure to check out everything that was offered at this conference. However, a collector's edition will be available complete with a power armor helmet that rocks a functional headlamp and voice modulation. The game will launch... November 14, 2018!
Then Howard treated us to Elder Scrolls: Blades. This game is a first person RPG that was shown running on mobile devices. The game features hand-crafted and procedurally generated dungeons. The character is customizable with an array of upgrades. Additionally, the entire game can also be played in portrait mode on the phone one-handed if the player so chooses. The game looks top-notch for a mobile game. However, Howard mentioned that this game has incredible range as Bethesda is seeking to put it on every device from iOS and Android devices, to phone VR, all the way to high-end PC VR, and the entire game will be connected no matter the device. Ergo, players on phones can play against other players on PC.
Just when we thought it was time for Todd Howard to wrap it up, he pulled a move that even he noted was something atypical of the development studio. He was about to share something further out than the coming year. On screen, Howard shared a brief teaser for a wholly original franchise that is in development at Bethesda Game Studio for next-gen hardware. The game is called Starfield. Not much else is known about the game at this time other than that simple tease. However, it seems obvious for the studio to take to the stars after dealing in both medieval and post-apocalyptic American settings. I'm thrilled to see what they come up with.
Even still, Howard just couldn't stop there with the surpises. Following Starfield (so even further down the road from that), Howard announced that Elder Scrolls VI is currently in the works for the next generation of gaming as well with a simple landscape and logo tease on screen. While it was the slimmest of teases, it was certainly met with wild cheers from the audience. Howard knows his audience well and also knew that despite the amount of time until launch, a simple tease to reassure Elder Scrolls fans that something was in the works was all that they needed.
Bethesda never fails to impress and this conference was absolutely no different. It's no wonder that they achieved the honor of the #1 ranked publisher in the industry. Of all the franchises under the Bethesda banner, nearly every single one has been lauded and praised by critics and gamers alike.
The publisher is keenly aware of what its fans want and that was on full display. We've got more Doom, Wolfenstein, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and more on the way. The introduction of the conference with Rage 2 was a thrill a minute. I only made it a minute or two into the gameplay footage before I began texting my buddy (who equally disliked the first title like myself) that I absolutely have to get this game. If anything, Rage 2 appears to be Doom meets Mad Max (the game from Avalanche Studios). And honestly that is what would be expected with this sort of partnership between developers. Bethesda showed me a well-oiled, fast-paced shooter, and beautifully realized world with Rage 2. They sold me a copy of the sequel to a franchise that I previously had a distaste for. If that's any indication of where the studio is at these days, I don't know what is. Rest assured, they only market quality products.
Additionally, while I respect the Fallout franchise, it's never been a game that has truly grabbed me. I've played Fallout 3, but not completely. I largely skipped over Fallout 4. However, now I find myself wanting to give Fallout 76 a go. The biggest selling point for me is most certainly the online capability to play with friends. The game looks and seems to play beautifully, and as of this moment, I am planning on picking up a copy on launch.
Bethesda's conference was impressive. My recommendation is to take some time, pop on over to Youtube, and start watching any trailers or previews that you may have missed from this gaming giant. It was a heavily packed conference!