E3 2015: Bethesda’s Big Plans

Stay tuned to ASM for a list of the best games from E3 this year!


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FOR THEIR FIRST ever press conference at E3, Bethesda played it smart. On June 3rd, a full two weeks before the event began, they premiered the first trailer for Fallout 4, the latest in their post-apocalyptic RPG series; thereby dominating search traffic and gaming journalism before the show floor was even set up. In a year where every company is expected to come out swinging, eager to leave the days of cringeworthy stage demos and awkward celebrity cameos behind, the Rockville, MA developer opened the conference at the Dolby Theater in LA in formidable fashion.

PR Manager Pete Hines spent the opening minutes expressing his pride in the studio and the work they’ve been putting into their titles and immediately showed off over ten minutes of Doom, id Software’s new instalment/reboot of the classic shooter series. The gameplay premiere of the new title, a project in development for almost a decade, turned the E3 hype machine into a spectator sport. Hines promised the new Doom would go back to basics; one man, one shotgun, millions of hellspawn. The crowd yelled out in satisfaction as jaws were ripped from heads, bodies split apart with giant chainsaws, grenades stuffed down giant monster’s throats. A dark laugh came from the masses at the Dolby Theater when the player used a severed arm to activate a terminal. Doom, as many at E3 are quick to remind gamers, runs at 1080p, and 60 frames per second. The intentionally dark and grimy colour scheme of the game still looks smooth on the newest tech, a commitment to graphical clarity that extends to multiplayer and online, where “SnapMap” introduces extensive customisation and modding to the series. How long will it be before talented players create endless Rube Goldberg murder machines with it? We’ll take bets on several hours after launch, in early 2016. For the full gameplay demo, click the big scary logo.

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Gaming zeitgeists are hard to predict but easy to follow. Not a company to miss out on potential revenue from these latest trends, Bethesda announced The Elder Scrolls: Legends, a self-described “strategy card game” set in the world of Tamriel, and “Battlecry”, a stylised, class-based “team action combat” title, going into open beta this summer. Subtle. On the MMO front, Bethesda continue their efforts to rival that game which all MMOs hope to emulate in popularity, with future content updates promised for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, featuring the Imperial City from Oblivion and the orc homeland of Orsinium.

But Blizzard weren’t the only target in Bethesda’s sights. Assassin’s Creed: Unity developers Ubisoft drew ire from their last game’s reveal at E3 2014, when all four co-op characters in Unity were male and cited “a lot of extra production work” for the lack of female models. Arkane Studios and Bethesda appear to have no such problem. The Dishonored developers revealed a cinematic for their new game in the series featuring a new, female protagonist, Emily Kaldwin, taking on new enemies in a new location, with powers of stealth and teleportation differing from the first game’s protagonist, Corvo. As well as being a playable character in Dishonored 2, Corvo’s story in the first game will be made available in its entirety, remastered for the new generation, later this year.

Fallout 4’s eventual announcement as the first game in the series since Fallout: New Vegas has been subject to leaks and speculation for years; which is how long they’ve been at work on it. At the end of the conference game director Todd Howard showed off the series’ first fully-voiced protagonists, adding “Yes, you can play as a female”, with the mother from June 3rd’s trailer presumably surviving the nuclear apocalypse in place of her husband. Two years have been spent recording their dialogue. The player-character returns home after emerging from Vault 111 to find the family’s robot servant still active after 200 years in stasis. What follows, we expect, is another tale of survival, irradiated horrors, and 1930’s crooners on the radio as you shoot tiny nuclear missiles at bandits; or, you could spend the entire game playing fetch with your new dog.

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Good boy.

Fallout 4 boasts improved combat mechanics, including tweaks to the V.A.T.S aiming system, and extensive new weapon crafting abilities. The demo featured the return of the iconic Brotherhood of Steel power armour, now with jetpacks, super-strength to carry the biggest guns, and customisable upgrades. Guns and armour, though, aren’t the only thing you can build. Bethesda’s last Fallout (Obsidian developed New Vegas) came out before a little studio from Sweden changed gamer’s expectations forever (more on that later) and now triple-A games are laughed off the stage if their crafting isn’t obsessively intricate. In the wastelands of Boston, players can stockpile materials to build their own home bases, adding power via generators and power lines to fuel defences, water wells, neon lights, and more. From changing to game world to changing its code, Howard revealed that at launch, Fallout 4 would also mods from its PC version can be transferred to the Xbox One. To steal a line from Sony’s press junket, Bethesda emphasised power to the players in their announcements.

Another returning feature is Pip-Boy, the wrist-mounted personal computer of the future, that now features classic games like Asteroids and Donkey Kong, given the Vault-Tec treatment. As usual you manage your inventory, quests and stats from the Pip-Boy, but it’s no longer just virtual; a real Pip-Boy will be bundled with the Special Edition of Fallout 4, and features a mount for a mobile device to enable a second-screen experience. As a final addition to the already massive list of features for Fallout 4, Howard previewed Fallout Sheltera free-to-play mobile game in which the player is the overseer of a Vault-Tec shelter that can be upgraded by sending its inhabitants, all with their own names and personalities, out for supplies. The perfect distraction, while you wait for the no doubt enormous game install of Fallout 4.

So many of the other games announced at E3 predict either an early 2016 or Holiday 2016 (that’s “around Christmas-time, ish” for most British readers) release. Fallout Shelter was published to the App Store immediately after the end of the conference for iOS, with an Android port coming soon; Fallout 4 hits November 10th, this year.


Click here for the full Bethesda conference. Todd Howard takes to the stage at 1:06.