Bethesda makes its case as the best major publisher around
It seems like each year E3 begins a little bit earlier. Traditionally the show – the actual event that takes place in the Los Angeles Convention Center – doesn’t begin until Tuesday. Over the years though, the Monday before the doors open has become a day dedicated to major press conferences from the likes of Sony, Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft. People have come to plan on it.
Bethesda cares little for the puny schedules of gaming press and industry people though. This year, the publisher and developer held a showcase on Sunday night. And while most publishers’ press events tend to be interesting, this one was more akin to a declaration of war.
But in a good way.
When it comes to major third-party publishers, there are a few contenders sitting on top of the hill, and they’ve been there for a very long time. Electronic Arts, Activision, and Ubisoft are always near the top, and others like 2K and Konami ebb and flow based on what games they have at any given time, and how well their last titles did.
This year though, it’s hard to argue that there is a bigger publisher than Bethesda.
Ok, it’s actually pretty easy to argue about it – it’s gaming, and people in gaming can argue about anything (I speak from a lot of personal experience) – but Bethesda has made a strong case so far.
E3 is generally a good gage of where everyone sits on the pecking order, and although the show hasn’t technically started yet, it’s tough to see another third-party publisher overshadow what Bethesda has already unveiled. The first-party publishers operate in a different spectrum, but Bethesda is owning the third-party competition.
Others will have more games, but it’s not just about the volume. It’s about how much excitement the publisher generated. Doom and Fallout 4 alone may be enough to have won E3 for Bethesda, but it is also helped by the competition.
EA, for example, will have Star Wars Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge 2: Catalyst among others. Both games already have fans excited, but both are known commodities. You can say the same about Fallout 4 and Doom, but both are basically reinventions of the franchises.
Activision has the juggernaut properties Call of Duty and Guitar Hero, but while both may make a ton of money, neither are really getting people talking. Likewise, 2K and Konami both have a comparatively low key lineup.
The closest competition may be Ubisoft, who have a full schedule to show off. Its strategy has been different though. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Rainbow Six Siege may be amazing games, but we’ve already seen enough of both for most gamers to make a decision on whether or not to check them out (at least for the fans that are following E3).
Here’s why Bethesda may have just won E3.
Bethesda managed to keep this game a secret – right up until it leaked shortly before the showcase. Not that it matters in the long run, but having Dishonored 2 shock the crowd in attendance and watching online would have made for some great Twitter chatter.
Dishonored was a solid hit for Bethesda and it gave the publisher what is becoming a rare gem – a successful and original IP. With the new consoles, the sequel should be bigger and better. More than that though, now that the franchise is a bona fide hit, the developers at Arkane can take more chances and expand the mythology.
Here are a few highlights from the Dishonored 2 reveal:
- There will be two playable characters, the original protagonist Corvo, and Emily Kaldwin, the daughter of the Empress who was murdered in the first game.
- The game takes place 15 years after the event of the original. Emily is all grown up, and a trained apprentice of Corvo.
- The setting will be a new location, an island from Corvo’s youth.
- You can beat the entire game using stealth without firing a single shot, or you can kill everyone.
Dishonored 2 will be released for PC, PS4, and Xbox One in Q1/Q2 2016.
If you know the history of the Doom franchise, including the sort of aborted Doom 4, that alone should make you feel excited to see the series reborn. If not, then it’s still the much publicized return of one of the most famous gaming properties in history.
For years, id Software tried to find the right balance to bring Doom back, and for years it failed tragically. Stories of the game being reworked over and over again became common. When Rage was released to a mediocre reception, id began to scramble. People were pulled off the potential Rage 2 and shoved unceremoniously into the Doom 4 team, with predictably disastrous results. Then John Carmack left, and id seemed like a shell of its former self.
Thankfully, Bethesda bought id a few years back. Another publisher may have just thrown money at the flawed Doom 4 and sat back as the name alone made millions of dollars. It happens all the time. Bethesda, however, decided to start over. It likely cost them a significant amount of money to do it this way, but Bethesda has a well earned reputation for quality.
Here are a few of the highlights from the Doom reveal:
- The new Doom is all about fast paced action. You’ll even earn health by killing enemies.
- You will go to Hell at one point.
- The game is very, very violent.
- Doom will allow mods on all platforms. You can create these mods using a feature called the “”Doom Snapmap.”
- There will be a multiplayer for the game, which is described as “arena” style.
- The multiplayer will have a beta, which will first be offered to those that pre-ordered Wolfenstein: The New Order.
- Doom will be the first game to use the new id Tech 6 engine.
- The story will once again take place on Mars. Your job is simple: Kill demons.
- All the old favorite weapons return, including the chainsaw and the BFG.
Doom will be released for PC, PS4, and Xbox One in Spring 2016.
This will be a matter of opinion naturally, but Fallout 4 may be end up with the most “best of show” awards once E3 wraps up. The game was officially revealed a few days ago and instantly garnered a huge amount of love. Now that we’ve seen a bit more that love has, if anything, just increased.
Bethesda has a long and storied history, but you can make a solid argument that Fallout 3 and Skyrim put the publisher (and its internal development team) onto a different tier. The previous Elder Scrolls games led to that, but Skyrim seemed to confirm Bethesda’s place at the top. Both games – which shared a whole lot in common – were drenched in awards. With a few more years, and new hardware to go even bigger with, Fallout 4 should be incredible. In fact, if there are any negatives about this game, it’s that the expectations are already so big, and the bar is so high, it needs to be incredible. Nothing else will be acceptable.
It’s also fairly impressive that Fallout 4 will be out this year. There have been rumors about Fallout 4 for years (and really, it was always just a given), but this will probably be one of the top selling and most important games of 2015. For fans not to have to wait years for it following the reveal should help to keep the hype even higher.
Here are some of the Fallout 4 highlights:
- Fallout 4 will use a new version of the Creation Engine. The level of detail is incredible, and almost obsessive (in a good way).
- This was somewhat common knowledge, but the game will officially be set in Boston.
- You will be able to explore and visit plenty of towns, but you will also be able to construct your own settlement beginning with a small house. You’ll collect items as you travel. The more you collect, the bigger and more intricate your settlement will become. Eventually, people will move into the settlement, which in turn will attract enemies. Alternatively, you can skip this entirely and just be a lone wanderer in true Fallout fashion.
- The game’s creation system is massive, and you’ll be able to mix and match items you find in order to create completely original armor, weapons, and more. There will certainly be some limitations to this, but what Bethesda has shown looks incredible.
- There will be a mobile app for the game, that can work with a real life Pip-Boy that will be sold as part of a special edition. There will also be an app for the game to go with it that you can use alone.
- There will be mods for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Details are still to come, but the mods will be created on the PC and then brought over to the consoles. Initially it looked like only Xbox One would be included, but Bethesda later confirmed PS4 would also get mods.
- Bethesda began work on Fallout 4 almost immediately after Fallout 3. It has been working on it solidly since the release of Skyrim four years ago.
- You will be able to design your own character – male or female – and they will have their own voice.
- The game will begin in the past, before the first nuclear bombs drop. It will then jump 200 years into the future. Details will be revealed later, but you will emerge as the sole survivor of Vault 111.
- As you might expect, the game will have plenty of moral choices and options that change the way the game plays out.
- You can play in first or third perspective.
- You will meet a dog companion early on, and you can command it.
- Fallout Shelter is an iOS game, designed for a touch screen. It is available now, and it is a standalone game.
Fallout 4 will be released for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on November 10, 2015.
The games above are far and away the headliners, but they weren’t the only announcements from Bethesda.
Battlecry. A team based multiplayer for the PC, which will be released for PC this fall.
Dishonored Definitive Edition: Along with the reveal of Dishonored 2, Bethesda also unveiled the Dishonored Definitive Edition – a remastered version of the original game, presumably featuring all the content including the DLC. The remastered game will be available for the PS4 and Xbox One in August 2015.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Bethesda is planning plenty of additional content for its online MMORPG following the game’s recent release on PS4 and Xbox One. It is also releasing a free-to-play card game, known as The Elder Scrolls Legends.