Bethesda introduced their press conference by stressing the importance of the gaming community. Soppy thank-yous and constant reminders of player significance dotted the press release. The first segment was a motivational video showing developers describing their first gaming experiences and how much the people who buy Bethesda’s products mean to them. The interviews were punctuated by footage of punters attending conventions. This was followed by an intense montage of action clips taken from the games being announced.
It was all very slick and corporate, as you would expect from such a powerhouse of an organisation. What lay behind these well-polished advertising tactics was an attempt to appease former fans and disaffected casuals. This seemed to play well with the crowd although the comments on the YouTube steam begged to differ. Despite the faux feel-good vibrations, the facts revealed during this press conference were interesting and exciting.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades was the first morsel to fall off Bethesda’s overcooked joint. Blades is a recently released mobile game and during the announcement, the developers announced an update that included solo arena battles, a custom jewellery system and a new dragon questline. Unfortunately, these new features were not demonstrated. The first-person dungeon crawler is also due to be released for free on the Nintendo Switch platform. As with the majority of Bethesda’s presentations, every other sentence cued an obligatory round of applause accompanied by whooping and positive encouragement from the crowd.
Mentioned early on in the conference for having a definitely-not-toxic player community, Fallout 76 has some meaty updates scheduled. The new foundation of the game has been named ‘Wastelands’ and adds human NPCs, full dialogue trees and a new questline. This is free for existing players and the prospective players will be able to trial the game between the 10th and 17th June. The other update is ‘Nuclear Wasteland’, which is a battle-royale game-mode where you fight other players to be named as the Overseer of Vault 51. While this does come off as a stale gimmick considering the saturation of battle-royale games, it will be intriguing to see how it performs.
A wildcard was played by Tango Gameworks with their announcement for Ghostwire Tokyo. There was a language barrier that prevented the developers from describing their game vividly, but this added to the mystic of the neon-noire action-adventure. Instead of illuminating us, the trailer added to the dark allure. Unfortunately, the speculation of what Ghostwire would play like was interrupted by another sentimental clip highlighting how high Bethesda puts its customers on a pedestal.
The next segment consisted of ZeniMax Online Studios introducing the latest instalment of The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO): Elsweyr, Dragonhold and Scalebreaker. There is a new necromancer class and the trailer that played made the unsurprising suggestion that dragons will be making an appearance.
A Monty Python reference kicked off the second part of ZeniMax’ presentation, which depicted another mobile game named Commander Keen. The trailer indicated that this is a joyously juvenile remake of a side-scroller first fielded in the 90s. They have kept the concept of using platforms as the avatar’s mode of movement and it looks to be refreshingly light-hearted game to play.
An advertisement of the newest iteration of The Elder Scrolls Legends showed a coffee drinker transported to a fantasy tavern to play ZeniMax’ version of Hearthstone. After the glossy video, it was revealed that Legends is being expanded to link with the Elsweyr ESO update.
Rage 2 was released in May but Bethesda used E3 as an opportunity to showcase some of the positive reviews they received as well as demonstrate what the gameplay will look like with upcoming updates. The medium they used to do this was a cheesy sitcom intro using Rage avatars as the characters. More cheat codes, fresh enemies and new vehicles were the subjects of the trailer.
If you thought killing Nazis couldn’t get more exciting, Bethesda are planning to publish Wolfenstein Cyberpilot into the VR format. If you don’t have a space-age headset yet, Wolfenstein Youngblood is the next best thing. Cooperative gameplay is the highlight of this announcement and it may take the blood and grey-matter soaked franchise to giddying levels of wholesomeness comparable to the Eiffel Tower.
Deathloop by Arkane Lyon is a fascinating concept of two skilled killers trapped in a time warp. Each killer has a contrasting perspective on the situation, one feels liberated and is compelled to attack the other to stay in the cycle whereas the other wants to escape by defeating the adversary. The video played did not explain the premise much further but it was enough to cultivate a strong appeal.
This streak of exciting content was busted by a masturbatory presentation boasting of the innovations that Bethesda has brought to the gaming industry. Open-world RPGs, the first FPS and bringing mods to consoles were some of the achievements described by the Bethesda and iD’s staff. Some fanboys may love the factoids described in this mini-lecture but it was a build-up to revealing streaming software called Orion. Someone walked out onto the stage to demonstrate Orion by streaming Doom on a smartphone but this was underwhelming given the preceding hype.
The Doom sequel ‘Eternal’, however, was attractive. A trailer showed gameplay and shots that looked as if they were taken from a game ready to be released. iD has embraced the arcade elements of the game and reinforced them by including explicitly marked power-ups and environmental puzzles. The level of gore has been intensified with the help of over-the-top kill finishers. It’s easy to see why this game was left for the last segment as it is a visually powerful spectacle and it promises to be an intense play, especially with the new Battlemode multiplayer.
Bethesda spent a lot of time buttering up the audience during their presentation at E3 2019. They have attempted to garner support for Fallout 76 by offering a trial and an expansion for free. This may not be enough to make up for a game that didn’t match up to its hype, as any Twitter demagogue will tell you.Ghostwire was a welcome breath of fresh air and while details are scarce, it was certainly a captivating teaser. The ESO expansion announcements were to be expected and if the quality of the clips are anything to go by, fans should be anticipating the release. Commander Keen, Blades and Legends are all mobile games that feel a little out of place alongside the AAA games. Rage 2 and the Wolfenstein sequels depict dystopian worlds at either end of the spectrum: post-apocalyptic or authoritarian. Deathloop is a concept game that, if pulled off correctly, could spawn a new two-player format. Orion is Bethesda’s brand of streaming software and Doom Eternal is the remake of Doom with even more doom.