Last night (or early this morning, however you want to look at it), I made the bold decision to stay up until midnight to watch the Bethesda press conference for E3. I’d read an article stating that the conference was at 10 PM EST, so my plan was to catch the conference, write a quick article sharing my thoughts, and then catch some Z’s before work. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Bethesda’s conference was actually at midnight! Because I wanted to deliver on my statement that I would talk about their conference for today’s post, I decided to go ahead and stay up and see what they had to talk about.
Golly, am I regretting that decision.
I honestly have no idea why Bethesda’s stream was SO late. I mean, I understand that midnight my time is only around 9 PM on the west coast, which is still somewhat reasonable. But having such a late conference didn’t make it easy on folks such as myself to stay up and cover their announcements, and I saw a LOT of tweets about people not staying up for the conference because they have to go to work this morning. Heck, I’ve only got about fifteen minutes before I need to jump in the shower myself, so let’s stop the exposition and get right into the meat of Bethesda’s conference.
The theme this year was Bethesdaland, a theme park reminiscent of Nuka World in the style of Fallout 4. Oldies playing in the background accompanied the introduction of each game. I didn’t mind the theme all that much until it came to the transitions between each announcement – the music was jarring to my sleep-deprived ears and each transition felt really forced. You’d be right at the end of an intense trailer or an announcement and then suddenly that Bethesdaland jingle pops up out of nowhere. I imagine the payoff for this concept was greater for the people who were actually at E3 this year, but for us sitting at home a more traditional conference might have been helpful.
Starting off, Bethesda showed off a charming video with the children of the workers who spend their days making Fallout, Quake, and everything in between at the studio. The kids talked about how their mothers and fathers make video games, and the workers shared about how cool it is to make games for a living. Braggers. In all seriousness, though, the video was lovely and actually set a really good mood right at the beginning of the conference. I wish that mood had carried through the whole thing!
Announcement number one focused on Virtual Reality. Personally, I had kind of forgotten about VR, having dismissed it last year as an overly expensive tech demo that wouldn’t be a platform for any real games. Yet here we are in 2017 and Bethesda is giving us DOOM VFR – I assume the F stands for “frolicking” 😉 – and Fallout 4 VR. These are more dedicated gaming experiences to enjoy in Virtual Reality; not miniature exercises or simple demonstrations of the technology, but the full game experience in Virtual Reality. I personally am not interested in that, but I think it is a good development for those who spent the cost of a second home console on their VR headset.
The next bit of news was Creation Club, a platform which allows creative people to make new content for Fallout 4 or Skyrim. You can craft your own weapons, outfits, and more using modding technology developed not only by Bethesda but also by some of the best community modders who have messed with their games. The idea is that this will make modding more accessible for your typical player – in a way that actually puts some cash in Bethesda’s wallet, of course. This of course is assuming that you have to pay real money for the “credits” that you use to purchase mods in the game. If there are legitimate ways to earn these credits during gameplay, that would be pretty cool.
Remember that time that Nintendo showed off the Switch for the very first time? And Skyrim was playable in that trailer? Well we finally got confirmation that this is coming from Bethesda themselves, and learned that there is going to be Amiibo support (at least for the Breath of the Wild amiibo). You can get the Master Sword and Link’s Champion Tunic into the game, which for me personally is not exciting enough to spend $60 on this game again. I guess there might be this weirdly niche crowd of people who only play Nintendo consoles that this announcement could be exciting for, but since the typical Nintendo gamer also has a system from one of the other Big 3, my guess is that most of us have enjoyed Skyrim enough at this point. Good news for Nintendo, I guess, but not exciting news for a sleepy guy watching a press conference at 12:30 AM.
Somewhere in there we also got more information about other things Elder Scrolls – mainly the online MMO and the card game Legends. Elder Scrolls Online is getting a Morrowind update, which is certainly good news for those playing that game. Morrowind is sorely missed by the fanbase and for those who play The Elder Scrolls Online, this is good stuff. Elder Scrolls Legends is adding a Dark Brotherhood storyline, or something? Honestly, I kind of spent this part retweeting other people’s tweets about how sleepy they were – this was the point of the conference where I pretty much checked out.
Up to this point, the announcements had been so very niche. You may have noticed a theme running through my thoughts here. “This announcement is great IF you’re into VR. IF you’re into modding. IF you’ve never played Skyrim. IF you play ESO or Legends.” Every announcement for most of the conference appealed to different niche crowds, and I am not located in a single one of those niches. I can understand and appreciate that somewhere out there in the universe, someone is actually excited for this stuff. But I feel like a lot of folks were in my shoes, finding maybe one announcement that really resonated with them while the rest were rather dull.
Quake Champions was discussed somewhat. Again, I payed little attention to this. Online multiplayer is not my cup of tea, particularly when it involves shooting each other. However, it was pretty clear from the conference that Bethesda is trying super hard to push this as an E-Sport platform. All I can say about that is good luck – I was watching IGN’s preshow coverage and their concern was that the game is just enough like Overwatch that a lot of folks might see it as a clone. And considering that my wife has been wired into the PS4 like a cyborg since she got her copy of Overwatch, I’m guessing Quake’s gonna have to bring something truly amazing to the table to get those fans playing something else.
The one thing that truly appealed to me at the Bethesda conference was the Death of the Outsider DLC for Dishonored 2. I say DLC loosely because while I assumed it was just that – traditional DLC – everything I’m seeing this morning as I write this article is referring to it as a standalone title. The game will see its own physical release, so in a way it’s kind of a whole new game by Arkane in the Dishonored universe. While I’m certainly excited for this, I hope the fact that this is “standalone DLC” doesn’t mean that there won’t be a bundle of this with Dishonored 2. Unfortunate circumstances prevented me from ever receiving my copy of Dishonored 2, and picking up a special edition with the full game AND this DLC would really be the only thing that would motivate me to spend a bunch of money on it a second time.
The end of the conference saw the announcement of two new games, both of which are from series I’ve never played before: The Evil Within and Wolfenstein. They both look pretty cool. The Evil Within 2 has a pretty creepy vibe and a cool aesthetic – although I’ll have to admit to not absorbing many of the story teasers because I was trying to find out who wrote the original version of Ordinary World, the song playing in the background. Long story. Still, this horror game seems to have a trippy psychological vibe rather than the jumpscare vibe of some other horror games, which makes it more appealing to me personally. You can expect this game on Friday the 13th in October.
When Wolfenstein 2 first started playing, I thought it was some kind of weird Fallout spinoff, not knowing anything about the original. Turns out it’s a separate universe, an alternate history where Nazis became the rulers of the United States (or maybe not as “alternate” as we’d like, eh?). Other than being in another setting, I got a serious Fallout vibe from this game. As someone who doesn’t enjoy the Fallout series, that proved to be a turnoff. The trailer looks good but I don’t see myself wanting to pick this one up. Of course, that’s more of a personal opinion, and I get the general vibe that the Wolfenstein trailer was probably the most exciting part of the conference for the general public. It along with The Evil Within 2 struck me as having the mass appeal that the other announcements lacked.
Overall, even with my low expectations of Bethesda’s conference, I came out very unimpressed and unexcited for this year’s announcements. As I’ve already stated, overall this event appealed to a lot of smaller individual fandoms before finally wrapping up with two games with broader appeal. Thing is, even those games don’t really resonate with me in a way that got me excited. Combine that with the frustration I was feeling at the transitions and the exhaustion I was feeling because of the time of night, and I seriously regretted staying up for the conference. Of course, if you didn’t see it for yourself, you now have the opportunity to watch it during a reasonable hour of day by clicking right here. My hope is that you find something to be excited about that didn’t resonate so much with me – my opinion is only one of many, after all, and at the end of the day it’s just that: an opinion.
So what about you, adventurers? Did you enjoy Bethesda’s conference? Do you feel they appealed too much to smaller audiences, or do you think that I just happen to be the perfect storm of disinterest in every single project they announced? Do you plan to pick up any of these titles when they release? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to come back to Adventure Rules this Wednesday for my thoughts on the Sony conference! My hope is that those thoughts are much more positive, and intelligently formed after a full night of sleep.