Bethesda Softworks E3 Event 2019 Notes

Bethesda held their E3 event last night, here’s everything they announced.

Pete Hines’ Soapbox

Pete Hines opened the event after a short video about the people making their games.

Todd Howard

Todd Howard followed Hines by talking about the “well-deserved criticism” Bethesda received for the not-so-great Fallout 76. He went on to praise the players that stuck with 76 for a good attitude. Next, he moved on to The Elder Scrolls: Blades, the free-to-play game that I’ve loaded up exactly once.

The Elder Scrolls: Blades Minute with Craig Lafferty & Matt Carofano

Lafferty & Carofano introduced an update to their mobile game that is available now before talking about how Blades will come to the Nintendo Switch this Fall. Accounts and progress are promised to be portable between the platforms, it’s still the same free-to-play game.

Fallout 76 Updates with Tom Mustaine & Jeff Gardiner

With an innovation in press briefings Apple could learn from, Lafferty and Carofano handed off to Mustaine and Gardiner without bouncing back up the stack to Todd Howard or Pete Hines. Amazing. They introduced the above trailer for the Wastelanders update which actually has human characters to interact with. The feature list at the end of the trailer:

  • Human NPCs Return
  • New Main Quest
  • Choices & Consequences
  • New Weapons & Gear

Those things sound a lot more like a Fallout game that I might be interested in playing, and a complete shift from the original pitch of the game which promised that all the human characters would be real people.

The Wastelanders update is due for the Fall.

Of course, no modern first-person game is complete in 2019 without a battle royale mode, and that’s what Fallout 76 is getting in the form of the 52-player Nuclear Winter mode. The winner gets to become vault overseer.

There’s a free trial for 76 from June 10th to the 17th, with an early version of the Nuclear Winter mode. There’s no release date or window for the Nuclear Winter mode. There is a trailer:

Todd Howard’s Thanks for the Critcism, Unless You’re a Criminal Journalist here to Lambast our Games

Howard reappeared to reiterate that every update so far is free, and to say that they’re still working on Starfield and the 6th Elder Scrolls game before thanking the audience for their appreciation and criticism. To the best of my knowledge, Bethesda still refuses to ship review copies of games to press.

Ghostwire Tokyo

Shinji Mikami appeared onstage to announce Ghostwire Tokyo, an action-adventure game and Mikami also introduced Ikumi Nakamura to talk about the game. Nakamura said that while Ghostwire Tokyo is spooky, it won’t be a survival horror game like the ones that Mikami is known for (Resident Evil, Evil Within). Instead, this game is about people vanishing in Tokyo, as depicted in the trailer. This was the most interesting game I’ve seen so far at Bethesda’s show, even though I suppose we haven’t really seen the game. No information about a release was given.

The Elder Scrolls Online…

…continues to be a thing. Matt Firor came out to boast about their growing userbase and the latest expansion that apparently is already out, Elsweyr. I’m not sure which is worse, start-up naming schemes or fantasy naming schemes. No, I’m sure, it’s start-ups. Anyway, Firor introduced the above trailer which is the follow-up to an earlier trailer. MMO’s always have interesting looking trailers to compensate for the lack of interactivty in their worlds. This trailer also ended with what Firor called a cliffhanger, but was more of a “to be continued” because nobody was really imperiled at the end. Firor said there would be a “fourth quarter story DLC” called Dragonhold, more information at QuakeCon, and “dungeon DLC” called Scalebreaker which would appear in August. QuakeCon is usually in August, but I think Firor got tripped up by the audience yelling.

Commander Keen

Firor finished up by introducing Kira Schlitt to talk about the mobile game Bethesda is making based on Commander Keen. Schlitt explained what the Keen game’s history is, before showing some gameplay that looks like it has all the worst free-to-play trappings. This summer, iOS and Android, for a “soft launch.” You know what’d be great? Remastering the orginal Keen games.

Pete Hines Returns

Hines said that Fallout shelter game is more popular than ever, and Hines also introduced a trailer for Elder Scrolls Legends, the mobile collectible card game that has been out for some time. Hines talked about an expansion for Legends called Moons of Elsweyr. That is coming on the 27th of June.

Rage 2 Updates

Avalanche and id’s Rage 2 is an odd game, the first game wasn’t a critical success, this one has little to do with it, and the marketing never really matched the gameplay from what I’ve heard. Still, Hines introduced the above trailer for some upcoming updates, including the first story DLC with a release window of “later this year.”

Wolfenstein Updates

With the third id software universe that’s been plundered by Bethesda, this one mostly for the better, Machine Games’ Jerk Gustafsson appeared after the Rage 2 trailer to talk about the previously announced Wolfenstein Cyberpilot VR game. Gustafsson said it’d be out this July. Also in July, on the 26th is the release of co-op FPS Wolfenstein Youngblood, as depicted in the trailer above. I am all for how much Gustafsson is about killing Nazis, he spoke about how fun it is to kill them in VR and in Youngblood, but there’s some cut to that excitement when Zenimax’s board of directors includes Robert Trump who supports his brother’s fascism 100%. We literally have people who came here seeking refuge from the hell their homes have turned into after US intervention, dying in concentration camps.

Deathloop

Arkane’s Dinga Bakaba and Sèbastien Mitton spoke about a new Arkane first-person action game called Deathloop that looks very interesting. Two characters killing each other and then immediately waking up to do it again each time they die could be a Black Mirror episode, but I think that Arkane’s stories are more interesting than TV.

Robert Duffy & James Altman’s Patent Showcase

Duffy and Altman spoke about middleware technologies they had developed for streaming games to have lower latency and require less bandwidth called Orion. They took the time to get a dig in at Oculus with a photo of Tim Willits wearing an early, slapped-together, VR HMD. Finally, they encouraged people to sign up for the “Slayers Club” a corporate-owned alternative to Doomworld that gives you brownie points for doing what they’d want you to do, including signing up to be unpaid QA for Orion streaming solutions. I think I’m good with Doomworld.

This trailer for Doom Eternal put a nice cap on the patent showcase. Hugo Martin and Marty Stratton appeared after the trailer to talk about Doom Eternal and introduce two segments of gameplay that looked fun. Stratton gave a release date of November 22nd. They also talked about a collector’s edition helmet that they had pre-arranged to be worn by an employee in the audience. Bethesda hasn’t had the best track record with collector’s edition merchandise. Stratton and Martin also introduced a trailer for a 2 demons versus 1 doom slayer multiplayer mode seen below.

I’m glad they’re using Doom as a place for interesting multiplayer ideas, but they keep talking about QuakeCon without talking about Quake. Pete Hines even returned to call some portion of QuakeCon, DoomCon. If Quake Champions isn’t working out, it wasn’t mentioned at all, then I have some ideas for updating Quake 1, 2, and 3.

Bethesda’s Excuse

Eurogamer’s Robert Purchase spoke with Pete Hines about their decision to pursue legal action against people reselling games. Go read Purchase’s article and come back.

While I agree that it’s difficult to tell if a “sealed” copy of anything actually contains what it says, or is something that just weighs the same, I found this part of Hines’ argument particularly telling:

“He, specifically, was trying to list it as a new product as if he was GameStop or Best Buy… He’s not a company, he’s not a distributor…”

To Pete Hines you’re not allowed to sell something as new unless you’re part of an incorporated legal entity.

Last week I bought some electronics from a person off of Craigslist, they were selling it as “new” because it was still sealed. When I met the seller I had them open it up before buying it because you do need to be able to tell that it isn’t a box with a brick in it.

That is a legitimate concern, and I’m not sure how you resolve that question over an online purchase, but it isn’t really up to a the original software developer or publisher to police that. If they are going to do that,  you would hope that they have a very strong argument against the individual seller.

Hines is quoted as saying:

“…we don’t want our customers buying stuff from a vendor like Amazon where they think they’re buying a new product and suddenly finding out they got a disc that’s been played, somebody kicked across the floor and scratched and ‘oh they took out the insert that had the special items I was supposed to get for buying this’.”

Hines never makes any statement that the original seller, Hupp, was actually selling a resealed product as new, but he sure does love to speculate that this is what is happening. This is an incredibly flimsy excuse to approve the legal threats against Hupp, and it absolutely isn’t the same argument that his lawyers are using. Their argument is all about a bogus missing warranty.

Even if they’re successful in their pursuit of shutting the practice down, you don’t need to be a lawyer to smell the stench from Maryland. This is about locking out individuals from doing what they want with the things they purchase, not protecting anyone from buying a resealed game.

Bethesda’s Crack Legal Team Is at It Again

Apparently Bethesda is threatening to sue people who resell their games. Polygon’s Colin Campbell has the story:

Philadelphia-based Ryan Hupp recently contacted Polygon to explain how he’d been forced by Bethesda to stop selling his copy of The Evil Within 2. He bought the game but never unwrapped it, he told us. He’d been expecting to purchase a PlayStation 4, but instead spent his money upgrading a gaming PC. Hupp said he often sells used goods through Amazon Marketplace, which works in much the same way as other online trading sites, such as eBay.

Bethesda’s legal firm Vorys sent Hupp a letter, which he forwarded to Polygon, warning that the game must be taken down and threatening legal action for non-compliance. In its letter, Vorys made the argument that Hupp’s sale was not “by an authorized reseller,” and was therefore “unlawful.” Bethesda also took issue with Hupp’s use of the word “new” in selling the unwrapped game, claiming that this constituted “false advertising.”

The modern situation with game software that we can collect and play for a time, but not own in any real sense is extremely disturbing, Bethesda isn’t helping the situation.

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.

Continue reading “Bethesda E3 2018 Showcase Press Event Notes”

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.