Thoughts On Everything Announced At Bethesda’s Conference

by Sage Ashford

Sunday night’s E3 show finished up with a look at Bethesda, a fan-favorite developer which had a bit of a rough patch last year with Fallout 76. So were they able to make a complete recovery, or were they still stumbling?

The show opened with a reveal of Elder Scrolls Blades, the popular mobile game which is now coming to the Nintendo Switch. The mobile version is also getting a major update, which will bring new classes, new quests (with dragons!), new voice-overs and more. Players will be able to carry progress over from the mobile game to their Switch consoles. The title comes to the Switch this fall.

Next, they showed us Fallout 76: Wastelanders, a free update to the game adding NPCs, as other humans visit Appalachia for the purpose of building their own fortunes and lives there.  This will come with new characters, a new main questline, and a new faction. Wastelanders will be added to the game this fall.

Fallout is also adding a 52-player battle royale mode known as Nuclear Winter, which is available for a sneak peak from now until the 17th. Lastly, a free trial for the game is available from now until the 17th for all current systems.

Bethesda had two new IPs present this year, one of which was Ghostwire: Tokyo. An action-adventure title, Ghostwire: Tokyo involved strange disappearances in the city of Tokyo. Players will have their own special powers to fight the occult and discover the mystery behind the disappearances. No release year or platforms were announced, so there’s a strong chance this is a next-gen title.

For the mobile gaming fans, Bethesda brought a re-imagining of idSoftware’s Commander Keen game from the 1990s. The game sees the twin children of the original main character Billy Blaze battling against the alien Vorticons to save Earth. With an art style reminiscent of 80’s cartoons, Commander Keen combines platforming and a deck building card battle system for a unique experience that will be available later in the summer.

Avalanche Studios’ RAGE 2 gets an expansion in the form of “Rise of the Ghosts”, available later this year.  This expansion will add a Sand Worm villain, and new cheat codes like Bloody Mess, Low Gravity, and a Rejector Seat for your vehicles. It’ll also add a pilotable mech known as the “Boom Bringer”, a Skull Motorcycle, a strange tractor/motor-cycle fusion known as “The Armadillo”, plus a lot more–including new story, a new faction, and new areas.

Announced during E3 last year and given a release date earlier this year, Wolfenstein: Youngblood made an appearance here. The story follows Jess and Soph Blazkowicz as they tear through Paris looking for their missing father, the hero BJ Blazkowicz. The game is meant to be an open-ended experience where players will work from a base of operations to tear down as much of the Nazi infrastructure as possible.  The game centers around co-op, so players can work with their friends or with an AI companion as they shoot, stab, and explode their way through Paris while listening to cool 80’s synth music. The game is available on PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on July 26th.

The next new IP comes from Arkane Studios, as they take a break from the Dishonored franchise to bring everyone Deathloop. Taking place on Blackreef Island, it features two high-level assassins battling it out to the death. Playing as either Colt “The Captain” or Juliana “Jules” Blake, players will work their way through levels and take out targets while trapped on an island where dying only brings you back to life in an endless circle of death and destruction. The player can seek to break the cycle…or protect it.

Another game with no scheduled release date and no platforms, this is almost definitely another next-gen title for the company.

They took a brief break after this to discuss their new streaming “solution” in Orion, a new streaming idea that works directly with the game engine, improving time by up to 20 percent per frame, dramatically reducing latency. Orion can also stream at 40 percent lower bandwidth, making streaming games will be faster and better. It’ll be working with Stadia, but it will also be available to everyone working on a streaming platform.

Finally we closed the show out with DOOM Eternal, which sees the Doom Slayer return to Earth and find it’s been attacked by hordes of monsters.  The Doom Slayer will learn his own origins while defeating this massive force. He’ll gain a new armor in the Praetor Suit, which contains a shoulder-mounted flamethrower and a wrist mounted Doom Blade, along with several other powerful abilities and weapons.  They’ve also added a new multi-player, a 2v1 system where one player will play a fully-powered Doom Slayer while the other two will be demons, and each side will battle to the death in three deadly rounds of combat.   The game will be available for PC, Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch this November 22nd.

Post-Show Thoughts:

Disclaimer: Bethesda doesn’t make a bunch of games for me, so if I sound hard on them it’s because there’s no bump of favoritism. Having said that, I thought Bethesda did a much better job than last year. Fallout 76 last year was a complete disaster and a borderline laughing stock that provided seemingly endless clicks for websites everywhere, but they’ve managed to right the ship. People seemed genuinely excited for Wastelanders, and they were honest about how bad the game was when they released it rather than running away from it.

They’ve got their pipeline surprisingly solid, as both DOOM Eternal and Wolfenstein keep up their usual streak of at least two games a year releasing for them.  But they also managed to update us on their live service games in RAGE 2 and Elder Scrolls Online/Blades without making things feel like they dragged on forever.

Bethesda, like Ubisoft, feels like a publisher which is constantly aiming to try new things. A couple years ago they certainly seemed like they like being at the forefront of VR, and they appear to be big fans of the Google Stadia, as several of their games have been confirmed as landing on the Stadia as well.

Plus, they had two brand-new IPs at this show, something in short supply for a lot of publishers and conferences this year. Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo both sound cool, but I have to dock Ghostwire because I don’t have a real idea of what you do in that game. Is it first person or third person?  Is it action focused?  Arkane’s Deathloop explained its concept well enough that we get its basic premise even if they didn’t show any gameplay, but Ghostwire: Tokyo’s explanation came more in the excerpt it got from press releases than anything else.

Still, all in all I have to give Bethesda a solid B+.  Even with Bethesda’s bigger games like Starfield and TES VI missing from the show, they still managed to keep my attention and prove they’ve got a lot coming down the pipeline both in this final year of current-gen, and in the future with next-gen.

Sage Ashford

A writer with way too many hobbies, Sage can often be found catching up on the latest anime, or reading a stack of comics between Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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