Bethesda E3 2018 Showcase Press Event Notes

We’re onto our third event at E3 2018, Bethesda’s E3 Showcase. Here are my notes from their press event.

Pete Hines’ Late Nite Comedy Special Pete Hines opened the show on his weird stage that put him in the middle of the crowd. He joked, pointedly, about the Rage 2 leak from Walmart Canada and introduced Rage 2.

Rage 2
When Hines said he was going to introduce Rage, we got Andrew W.K. instead of a trailer. W.K. and his band musically asked the audience if they were “ready to rage” and if they were “ready to kill” and “ready to die.” After the impromptu one-sided musical interview, Tim Willits from id and Magnus Nedfors from Avalanche Studios (they’re the ones actually developing Rage 2) appeared on-stage. They were extremely awkward, but not in a terrible way. Instead, you just feel bad for them that nobody is clapping during their pauses for audience response.

This guy in the audience was super tuned out during Andrew W.K.

Eventually, Willits and Nedfors introduced the Rage 2 trailer you can watch above. It’s a little strange that Rage is getting a sequel, it wasn’t well received, but I really appreciated some of the art in the game. The post-apocalyptic theme is also a little strange when you think about Bethesda having not one, but two post-apocalypse universes to keep track of with Fallout 76.

Of course, where Fallout can take its time to let you wander around the wastelands of America, Rage is more about a Mad Max style of quick, chaotic, open-world first-person shooting. The game made quick cuts between different scenes and adopts a kind of purple screen tone adjustment whenever the protagonist Walker gets really angry. There was an odd break to an infomercial screen on a computer monitor in-game that told us about some ridiculous collector’s edition of Rage 2. Supposedly it includes a wall-mounted, talking, decapitated head of a mutant.

Rage 2 will be out some time in Spring 2019 for Windows, PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One.

The Elder Scrolls Legends
It was a delight to see a fellow online community manager speaking for a game when Christian Van Hoose appeared on-stage after Rage 2 to talk about The Elder Scrolls Legends. Unfortunately I have no interest in a free-to-play Elder Scrolls CCG, but apparently it’ll be re-launching with overhauled visuals “soon.” Console ports will also be brought to the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and the PlayStation 4. It’s already on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

The Elder Scrolls Online
Game Director Matt Firor showed up on-stage to talk about The Elder Scrolls Online‘s MMORPG successes and to announce a new “dungeon DLC” called Wolfhunter “…based on werewolves.” They’re also going to release a new story DLC called Murkmire about the Argonians. The ESO folks have a blog post where you can read a little bit more about those here. Both of these expansions will be out later this year, without any specific date given. ESO has been out for four years now. It’s on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Doom Eternal
Hugo Martin and Marty Stratton from id showed up on-stage to introduce Doom Eternal, their new sequel to Doom (2016). They promised more of everything in the game, and more details at QuakeCon on August 10th.

Quake Champions
Another online community manager on-stage talking about their game. Joshua Boyle promised more tournaments at QuakeCon and DreamHack Winter. He also told the audience that you could get free access to the free-to-play game through the 17th of June. It’s a game that I want to give another shot, but I didn’t especially care for the free-to-play nature of it with lootboxes and other garbage along with character-specific powers when I first tried it. Quake 3 is still my favorite Quake, but you probably know that by now.

Prey: Mooncrash
Arkane’s Susan Kath and Ricardo Bare introduced a free update to Prey via a pre-recorded video. It’s out now, and it has three new modes. Story Mode, New Game+, and a Survival Mode.

Kath and Bare also introduced a new DLC coming out for Prey called Mooncrash that’s supposed to be infinitely replayable. They said the “hazards, enemies, and loot” would be different each time you play. The trailer demonstrated that each death resets the game world to a fresh state. That makes it sound a lot like a roguelike. Mooncrash is a $20 add-on to Prey that requires the base game, it’s available now on Steam for Windows, PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One.

Kath and Bare appeared on-stage after the Mooncrash trailer to talk about Typhon Hunter, a one-versus-five mimics multiplayer addition to Mooncrash. It’ll be out “later this summer.”

Wolfenstein: Youngblood
Jerk Gustafsson and Jens Matthies from Machine Games showed up to talk about Wolfenstein 2 on the Nintendo Switch on June 29th, and a game about BJ Blazkowicz’s twin daughters set in their version of 1980’s Paris.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood will be a single-player or co-op game for two players to play the daughters. BJ narrates the teaser trailer and says that “To survive you’ll have to embrace the suffering.” it’ll be out in 2019.

Virtual Reality Stuff
Pete Hines returned to talk VR. He said that Prey’s Typhon Hunter multiplayer would be available in VR, and it’ll also have a single-player experience where Transtar employees will solve puzzles aboard Talos 1, the space station from Prey.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot was also announced, it’s a VR game where you’re a hacker that takes over Nazi robots. “In our never-ending quest to bring our message of ‘Fuck Nazis’ to every platform possible.” Here’s a trailer for it. Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot will be out some time in 2019:

Bethesda Game Studios
Some of the following portions of the show weren’t excerpted into their own videos, this video above contains everything those portions of the event. The details for it on YouTube have pointers to different sections.

Skyrim: Very Special Edition
Pete Hines brought Todd Howard out to make some jokes about E3 before introducing the latest version of Skyrim. Spoiler: The trailer above introduces a silly interactive fiction version of the game for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. I believe this is something that you can play with today if you have an Alexa-enabled smart-speaker if you let the internet’s version of Wal-Mart into your home.

Fallout 76’s Rumors Were Right: It’s All Online
Todd Howard again said that Fallout 76 is four times the size of Fallout 4 and still set in the hills of West Virginia. Ron Perlman’s narration over the trailer tells us that “…in Vault 76, our future begins.” Howard spoke after the trailer this time to talk a little bit more about Vault 76, telling us that this was one of the first vaults to open and the people inside were there for just 25 years.

Another trailer plays, this time it is a gameplay trailer that shows us a little bit of what it looks like to wake-up on Reclamation Day when 76’s vault dwellers are supposed to wake up and leave to reclaim the earth.

Todd Howard tells us that there is “new rendering, lighting, and landscape technology” with “16 times the detail” that lets you view weather systems from across the map. This means it’s still the same janky engine but with new graphical bullshit. Howard also says that West Virginia “… is where the actual nuclear secrets are.” and that “The quest the overseer sends you on will take you through six distinct regions…”

Howard confirms the rumors and says that “Fallout 76 is entirely online” and that every character you meet in the game will a real person. Howard also said that you’ll be able to play the game single-player. “We’ve always wanted to see what our style of game would be with multiplayer” I believe that’s giving short-shrift to The Elder Scrolls Online, even though this isn’t a very similar game. Howard says that it’s a soft-core open-world survival game where “Death never means the loss of progression or the loss of your character.”

About the online, “you’ll be in a world with dozens, not hundreds and not thousands of other players.”

“You’ll decide the heroes and you’ll decide the villains.”

A short trailer plays that demonstrates teams of players rolling through the wasteland. Howard says that you can “build wherever you want” and a trailer plays that demonstrates how you can build anywhere with a Vault-Tec C.A.M.P. device, which I would guess might actually limit the radius around which you can build, to keep the jank away.

Howard then promises multiple nuclear weapon sites on the map that you can use. A trailer plays that tells us how to acquire launch codes and target nukes on the map and find rewards from the resulting destruction.

Howard says “we’ve built a platform with 100% dedicated servers that will support this game now and for years to come,” but that there would be a beta available later this year because Bethesda recognizes that their games sometimes ship with software bugs. Let’s be honest, at this point a beta is a glorified demo and an incentive companies use to encourage pre-orders of games of unknown quality.

Then Howard talked about the collector’s edition of the game that would include a glow-in-the-dark map of the new game’s world, figures, and a T-51b power armor helmet. It can make your voice sound weird and has a headlamp. There’s even a trailer just for that version of the game which you can watch here:

Fallout 76 will be out on November 14th, 2018 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows.

Fallout Shelter
Howard said the free-to-play game is coming to the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch. These versions are out now. Todd Howard says that more people have played Fallout Shelter than any other Bethesda game.

The Elder Scrolls: Blades
Todd Howard announced a new free-to-play first-person RPG for mobile devices with “console-quality graphics.” The controls are supposed to be adaptable to tap-to-move or swiping and tapping gestures, and the game works in portrait mode as well as landscape. I think that’s pretty smart because I, at least, tend to avoid any landscape mobile games.

The game is supposed to have a few different modes. Abyss is a “rogue-like experience” with an endless dungeon, there’s a multiplayer 1-on-1 arena, and the main mode is in town mode. It has stories and quests and you can build the town.

Howard then said that the game would be available wherever they can make it work, including desktop computers, consoles, and virtual reality headsets. Apparently this is all a shared game world across platforms, good luck getting Sony to play nice with that.

Starfield
Todd Howard introduced a new single-player game called Starfield with a very short announcement trailer. Howard says they’ve been working on it for years and doesn’t say anything else about the game.

The Elder Scrolls VI
I hope you like mountains because that’s all we get about this today.

Overall
Bethesda is a strange publisher and developer. They love to talk about kicking Nazi ass when they talk about Wolfenstein, but our national embarrassment’s younger brother, Robert Trump, sits on Zenimax’s board. If Zenimax hates Nazis so much then Robert Trump needs to go.

Of the games they showed, I’m a little less interested in the Prey expansion than I was before I knew about it, Mooncrash now that I know what it is. $20 is a lot to pay for what looks a little bit like a new mode in Prey, but the Steam page for that expansion makes it sound more interesting.

Fallout 76 is very ambitious, but it looks like the same engine at the core as Fallout 4, which is not good, and I’m not sure that I’m very interested in the game unless it has story. Fallout 4’s story was incredibly disappointing and I dropped out of the game after it wouldn’t let me proceed with it in the way I wanted after the game revealed its biggest turn. I’d really like another Fallout spin-off with a lot of story like New Vegas, but it’s possible that 76 will be good as an open-world survival game for people that are into that. I haven’t been that interested in it.

The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield are both interesting but we don’t really know anything about them.

Bethesda’s E3 2017 Notes

Bethesda’s E3 showcase opened up with a montage of the developer’s children encouraging us to get excited for their parents’ games. This is the same publisher that wants you to be less informed because they don’t ship review copies out to journalists and critics early.

VR Games

 

Bethesda’s VR offerings included brief glimpses of Doom (2016) VFR and Fallout 4 VR. Both were depicted with the HTC Vive HMD. It’s good that these games are getting VR editions, but it feels a little late. It’s good that VR is getting full games instead of just shooting galleries, but you’ve probably already played those games if you wanted to. Doom will also be available for the Playstation VR system.

No release date was made available.

Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind

Bethesda played a video montage of other people reacting to the trailer for the Morrowind expansion to their ESO. That is a very strange way to show off your game but I guess it kind of makes sense when the Morrowind expansion is $40 and has been out since May 22nd for Windows and Mac.

Creation Club, or For-Pay Mods, Again.

Hold up, what? Did we not do this before? I don’t have an issue with developers getting paid for work, but it’s obvious that the community at large does. I hope this works out better this time, and the developers of community made items get a better cut. It’ll be out for Fallout 4 and Skyrim on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows, this Summer.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends

It’s Bethesda’s digital CCG like Blizzard’s Hearthstone. Everyone must want to make their own Magic: The Gathering. It’ll get some cross-platform release on Steam, iOS, and Android next month. Also there’s some Skyrim stuff for it:

Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch

You’ll be able to play as Link if you have a certain amiibo. I hope the motion controls are optional. They don’t look so hot.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

It’s a standalone expansion to Dishonored 2 and it’ll be out on September 15th for $30. I still need to play Dishonored 2.

Quake Champions

BJ Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein is gonna be one of the playable characters. I’ve been pretty disappointed with what I’ve played of Champions, and while I’ll give it another shot once it is out of beta I’m not very hopeful. Quake 3‘s style of gameplay doesn’t feel good to me without a level playing field. It’ll never be level when different characters have wildly varying abilities like these champions.

Bethesda also announced a Quake Champions tournament with a $1,000,000 prize pool.

The Evil Within 2

Everything I’ve heard about the original was that it was flawed but promising. The sequel to The Evil Within could do with reassuring players by sending out review copies going out ahead of time. October 13th.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

Machine Games’ Wolfenstein: The New Order was excellent. I look forward to seeing what they do with this, and the tears of Trump and GG supporters who see Nazis and Klan members being murdered in an occupied United State and feel some sympathy for them. It’s set for October 27th. There’s also this ridiculous collectors edition:

Overall
Besides Wolfenstein 2 and Dishonored‘s new expansion, there wasn’t that much here for me but I was glad for the shorter show.

Quake Champions Closed Beta

Bethesda and id announced a Quake Champions closed beta test with this trailer. I’m real curious how this turns out, but I’m already kind of skeptical about the character-specific powers. We’ll see how it turns out when the beta starts.

Bethesda notably stopped sending out their games for review prior to the games being released, so you’ll probably want to hold off on buying the game until you’ve either had a chance to experience the beta yourself or until reviews are out.

Quake Champions & Prey Get Gameplay Trailers

Quake Champions and the new Prey were announced back at Bethesda’s E3 2016 Press Briefing. Both have new trailers out with gameplay footage during the annual Quakecon gathering. That has become Bethesda’s second conference of the year in addition to the traditional giant LAN party.

I was initially pretty psyched for a new multiplayer arena-shooter Quake from id even if the characters looked to be individualized with abilities specific to each.

The new Doom was a huge surprise, even though the multiplayer wasn’t that hot. Maybe they would do a better job with Quake Champions which appears to be solely focused on multiplayer? Well, it turns out to be a little less exciting because a third-party is developing the new Quake. Saber Interactive worked on 2014’s abysmally buggy Halo: The Master Chief Collection, though who is to say if that was an issue with Microsoft’s 343 or one of the four other studios that worked on the bundled collection.

id software had a great collaboration with a third-party when Machine Games made Wolfenstein: The New Order in addition to the standalone expansion, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

I don’t doubt that Saber could put a good game together if the right situation arose. Maybe they just need to work with the right collaborator in id software? If not, well, we’ve still got ioquake3.

Prey has fewer question marks, it’s clearly not related at all to the 2006 FPS from Human Head. Instead, Arkane is making it. Their Dishonored from 2012 was excellent as a first-person stabbing simulator.

Quake Champions will have some kind of closed-beta, presumably for people that preorder, in 2017. Don’t pre-order games. Prey is out in 2017.

Bethesda’s E3 2016 Press Briefing Notes

willits

Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb are back for the pre-show from the old Rev 3 and TechTV days to present the Bethesda pre-E3. It’s kind of refreshing to watch people who know how to act on camera as opposed to the awkward executives of other E3 presentations.

Glad to see Bethesda acknowledging the horrible massacre by wearing rainbow ribbons instead of pretending it didn’t happen. EA

They’re opening with a DOS screen booting and it’s launching… Quake!!! All pre-rendered, non-ingame footage but I am very happy to see characters returning from Quake 3. It’s called Quake Champions.

Here’s the trailer:

Tim Willits is coming out on stage to talk about how much he loves talking about Quake: Champions. Competitive, arena style first person shooter. Looks like per-character abilities. Undoubtly using the finest ioquake3 engine fork. More seriously Tim Willits is talking about the technical details in that it’ll support 120hz framerates and responsiveness.

Tim walks off stage after announcing that there will be more info at Quakecon. Haven’t been since 2008, wish I could go.

Pete Hines is onstage now to let us know about how successful Bethesda has been at making and publishing games.

Pete Hines is talking about The Elder Scrolls: Legends, a CCG. There’s a trailer Wake me up when it’s over.

It’ll be coming to iPad, Mac, iPhones, and shitty Android tablets.

A trailer demonstrates Fallout 4: Contraptions, which is going to add elevators and all of the components you need to build a rube goldberg machine.

The trailer moves on to Nuka World?! A theme park in Fallout 4?

Video continues on to Fallout: Shelter coming to Windows later on.

Skyrim is getting a big overhaul, graphically, and mods will be on the new console versions of Skyrim: Special Edition. As rumored.  Out October 28th 2016.

Here’s that long video:

Raphael Colantonio is here from Arkane to talk about another project they’re working on. He doesn’t get very far in before we’re watching a trailer for a game that looks to have a time travel component. Somebody named Morgan keeps waking up in a kind of short groundhog day scenario. Every time he looks in the mirror things change back and it’s actually Prey. Cool.

Raphael is back to tell us a few details and that the game will be out next year for Xbone, PS4, and Windows. More details at Quakecon.

Prey Trailer:

Marty Stratton from id is trapped in a pre-recorded blurry tan office world. He’s talking about Doom and thanking everyone for making Doom a success. Snapmap is done taking a snapnap and will receive a bunch of new upgrades, all will be free. He’s talking about two new multiplayer maps now. They’ll be free. He’s also talking about the first paid DLC coming to Doom multiplayer which will add new game modes, a weapon, and more.

 

Pete Hines is back to tell us that you can now download the first level of Doom for free on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. This week only.

Matt Firor is here to talk about The Elder Scrolls Online MMORPG. He’s talking about how the game sold, how the community is doing, and leads us into a trailer. If I don’t make it out tell my wife I love her. Tell my son I’m glad he can never kick me in the balls again.

On June 23rd ESO will launch into Japan. Some people in the crowd are way too loud. The Dark Brotherhood DLC will be out soon and a launch trailer plays. It looks fine, but this voice over is kinda bad? “Sweet mother” over and over again as gravely voiced dude narrates. Some guy gets stabbed in the nuts. A Hans Moleman production.

This is pretty cool. ESO gets this “One Tamriel,” players will be levelled to match the content they’re playing. So you can group with your friends once they get out of the tutorial and play together. Very, very smart move. I’ve long been frustrated by online RPG systems like in The Division where if you’re not at the same level you’re either dragging the team down or gliding through and trying to keep your buddies from dragging you down. I can’t praise this enough.

Pete Hines is here to tell us about refreshments and Blink-182.

Pete tells us about Bethesda VR. Holy shit he references Doom 3: BFG. The VR version of which never shipped due to Bethesda being butthurt over Carmack leaving for Oculus. Whatever happened with that lawsuit with Oculus? Anyway, you can take a “virtual tour of hell” or Fallout 4 in VR. Bet they won’t be using Oculus headsets! Ah Fallout 4 is coming to the HTC Vive in 2017. Exciting.

Harvey Smith is on stage to tell us about Dishonored 2. I loved the first one, not super excited for a sequel yet. We’ll see if Harvey can convince me. “Welcome back to the Empire of the Isles.” Harvey narrates the video. A camera pans through the streets. The engine has some big upgrades to audio and graphics. It looks more detailed. They’re calling it the Void engine. Name almost doesn’t matter since it won’t ever be released for others to use.

Harvey Smith is talking about who Emily Caldwin from the first Dishonored has become after she has grown up. Corvo is her father? Must have forgotten that from the first Dishonored. It looks like we’ll have the option of playing as Emily in Dishonored 2 and the in-game trailer is from her perspective. You could choose to play as Corvo, still.

More in-game footage and Emily is owning some fools. The weather changes, Emily comments on it and Harvey tells us that many machines are powered by wind. Emily turns off a turbine that was powering a field of light (forcefield to you and me) so that she can progress. The skill trees are new, as are many of the abilities for Emily.

More skillful murdering. There will be some time travel business in another level where you are inside a mansion that blocks your abilities. You can swap between two different timelines using a device that also allows you to view whats going on in the other timeline. So you could walk through an area, see enemies in the alternate version, and then step behind them so you can murder them.

Release date is November 11th, 2016, for Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbone.

Harvey Smith bids us goodnight after introducing a more traditional gameplay trailer. I like the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman  You can watch that here:

 

Pete Hines is back. A collector’s edition is announced with Corvo’s mask and Emily’s ring along with over items. Pre-orders will temporarily include a remastered version of Dishonored 1 including all of the DLC.

Pete gives us a live stream look in on the teams at various studios and thanks them for their work. Nice way to humanize the company.

Pete bides us adieu as the showcase ends and we’re returned to Adam Sessler who is interviewing Matt Firor for the post-show.

My major disappointment is that id software will probably never release source code again without John Carmack. I wish their split had been amicable. They’ve been surprising us lately with the quality of Doom but I don’t know if their parent company would let them release source or if anyone at id has the will to fight for it. We’ll never see a Brutal Doom 2016 or anything like that without code.