My Thoughts on the E3 2017 Bethesda Press Conference

Bethesda decided to take a different approach to E3 this year by setting up their own amusement park right outside of the convention. The aptly named “Bethesdaland” featured rides, food, and drinks themed after several of Bethesda’s video games. Taking things further, their stage presentation included Bethesdaland as a way to deliver their games. Using a cartoon of the amusement park map, Bethesdaland had different sections squared off to individual games. It was a weird decision that came off as an odd contrast to the gory violence of their games, but I think that was intentional. 

1.) Developer Video

Bethesda’s conference opened with a video where the children of Bethesda developers were asked what their parents do for a living. This was cute and silly with some of the kids responses, but the video became even better when the parents actually appeared on screen and started talking about their jobs. I imagine this video was shown in order to make Bethesda look more human and relatable, instead of just a name attached to video games. I actually liked this video and thought that those interviewed looked genuinely excited to be where they are and proud of the job that they do. It’s by no means the highlight of the show, but I thought it was a nice opening touch.

2.) DOOM VFR

After having Bethesda’s Global Vice President of PR & Marketing, Pete Hines, come out and discuss the success of their recent releases, they dived right in to Bethesda’s new VR projects. First up was DOOM VFR, a brand new experience exclusively designed for the PlayStation VR and the HTC VIVE. DOOM VFR is designed to take the high-speed action that fans of the game adore and make it more immersive than ever before. The trailer showed off a bunch of demon slaying action, but the pace at which the game plays out looks like it might give people some serious motion sickness. DOOM VFR uses a teleportation system so players can move around in VR with ease, but I still think it looks too fast and chaotic for VR.

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3.) Fallout 4 VR

Although Resident Evil VII released earlier this year and was fully playable in VR, I think Fallout 4 is going to be the game everyone talks about. For better or worse, the entirety of this giant open-world RPG is going to playable in virtual reality, which is an incredible feat. It looks like the game is receiving a decrease in visual fidelity in order to run smoothly, which is no surprise. Unfortunately, I think the clips they showed look very underwhelming. Gameplay looks clunky and imprecise and I can’t see people sticking around for 100+ hours if it’s a nightmare to play. I hope that I’m wrong and that everything will feel solid and engaging, but what I saw gave me zero interest of playing Fallout in VR.

4.) Elder Scrolls Online

This is probably the segment where I have the least amount of knowledge.
I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played of Skyrim, but that’s pretty much my only significant experience with the Elder Scrolls franchise. I’d love to go back to Morrowind or Oblivion and give the series the time and attention I’m sure it deserves, but there’s too many other games to play through at the moment. I’m also not a big fan of MMO’s, which is why I haven’t picked up the Elder Scrolls Online either. However, despite not playing it, it’s almost impossible to escape its presence. It seems like every outlet and YouTuber/streamer has talked about this game recently, largely due to the new expansion that takes players to the land of Morrowind. The Morrowind expansion was the focus of this segment, but I honestly can’t tell you if any new content was shown or if it was just a reminder that it exists and is coming. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

5.) Creation Club

This was actually the most controversial reveal of the show, and one of the most shocking from all of E3. The Creation Club is a one-stop shop for all of the best mods for Fallout 4 and Skyrim, but it’s weirder than you think. The Creation Club houses mods made by Bethesda, outside developers, and even the best community creators. To access these mods, you have to buy them with credits, which can only be purchased with real world money. I can understand Bethesda wanting to have a level of quality assurance with the mods, but having to spend money on them seems counterproductive to the nature of mods in the first place. The response to this online hasn’t been positive, so it should be interesting to see if Bethesda pays attention to the criticism and changes any aspects about this feature. Unless anything drastic happens, Creation Club is scheduled to launch sometime this summer.

Image result for elder scrolls legends skyrim heroes

6.) The Elder Scrolls Legends

Released last year, The Elder Scrolls Legends is strategic card game with similarities to Blizzard’s insanely popular Hearthstone. The time spent on Legends was short, but it also delivered some important information. For starters, the game is coming to mobile in June. While the game has still been finding a strong audience, it’s currently only available on Steam and Android/Apple tablets. With the launch of the mobile version of the game next month, Bethesda is also introducing the Heroes of Skyrim content to the game, which will feature some of the fan favorite sights, sounds, and characters to the game. I tried out Legends a month or two ago and thought it was a fun game, but this new content isn’t enough to pull me back in.

7.) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Nintendo Switch

Since Bethesda won’t be happy until Skyrim is running on every platform known to man, it’s receiving a Nintendo Switch release this holiday. I don’t know what else to say besides the fact that it’s Skyrim on a Nintendo console. I guess the portability factor of Skyrim on the go might be enough to entice some people to purchase the game again, but I don’t think I’ll be one of those people. Possibly because I’ve bought it twice already (PS3 and PC), but it’s more likely because I don’t have a Switch. It’s kind of hard to play a game for a system you don’t have. As far as how the game looks, I’m pretty sure that it’s running the last-gen version of the game. It’s definitely not on par with the Special Edition released last fall, but is it that really surprising? The final surprise of this trailer was Amiibo functionality. I don’t know how many Amiibo figures will work with the game, but the trailer shows the Link Amiibo unlocking the Master Sword and Link’s tunic as equippable items in the game. Sadly enough, I guarantee that will be enough of a selling point for some people.

8.) Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider DLC

Although no gameplay was shown, we got a nice little CG trailer for the Dishonored 2 DLC. It shows returning character Billie Lurk on a short murder spree while she searches for Daud, her old friend and leader. If the name didn’t give it away, their mission (after she rescues Daud, of course) is to find and kill the mysterious Outsider. Very little information was given about the actual DLC, but we do know it’s releasing on September 15th and will be available as part of the season pass for Dishonored 2, as a digital standalone experience, or physically on disc. Dishonored 2 was my pick for Game of the Year in 2016, so I’m very excited to play Death of the Outsider. There’s a rumor going around that this will be the last piece of Dishonored that Bethesda makes, but with the immense popularity of this series, I don’t see that being likely.

Image result for quake world championship

9.) Quake World Championships

The Quake World Championships will be taking place this year with a one million dollar prize pool. While there will be matches spread throughout the summer, the finals will take place on August 24-26 at QuakeCon in Dallas, Texas. I have absolutely zero connection to Quake and know literally nothing about the game, so I’m going to respect both of our time and just end it here.

10.) The Evil Within 2

I loved The Evil Within and have spent the years since its release patiently waiting for a sequel. Thankfully, that waiting has paid off and we’re getting a sequel this October. The best part? It’s releasing on Friday, the 13th. The Evil Within 2 sees the return of Detective Sebastian Castellanos, who (if the trailer is anything to go by) will be spending the game searching for his daughter. This trailer is packed with unsettling imagery, which is something the first game excelled with. While the story details haven’t emerged yet, I’m still incredibly excited to turn off the lights and dive deep into this game later this fall. Despite knowing very little about the game, The Evil Within 2 was my favorite game shown at Bethesda’s conference.

11.) Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

I didn’t play Wolfenstein: The New Order, but after seeing this trailer I think it’s something I should probably get on. I had a really hard time following this trailer, since it seems to expect you to be familiar with this storyline and characters, but I thought parts of it looked incredibly bonkers, which I appreciate. I mean, seriously, how many games do you know that have realistic graphics, but throw in a cartoon reptile that a character sees because he’s tripping on drugs? I’m sure this game is going to be good, maybe even great, but although I liked parts of it, I think it’s mostly a bad trailer. There’s some scenes that will randomly end and cut into another scene without making sense, it’s hard to follow from a narrative angle, and (like I said earlier) it feel like it expects you to already be familiar with its world. I’m going to try to play The New Order before this comes out in October, so hopefully I’ll have more to say about this series later.

FINAL VERDICT

This was probably my least favorite conference of the show.
With the exception of the Dishonored 2 DLC and The Evil Within 2, nothing really grabbed me. The new Wolfenstein game looks like it has potential to be good, but the trailer also looks like a mess. As for everything else? I’m just plain and simply not interested in any of it. I think Bethesda can make some truly great games, but I don’t think this conference was a good show of that.

– Zack Burrows

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