For saying this was Bethesda’s first ever press conference, they put everything they had into it—giving us so many great trailers from a plethora of games coming out in the next year. We got a lot of info on games we expected were coming, like Doom, Battlecry and Dishonored (after another damn ‘leak’), but we also got a few nice surprises too. However, there is absolutely no doubt though that Fallout 4 stole the show and blew everyone’s mind (thanks to a great delivery by Bethesda Game Studios’ Game Director, Todd Howard). For saying we only saw the trailer just two weeks ago, we now know a hell of a lot more about the gameplay, story and new features. I will be going through every game and let you know about every detail and every thought I had about each reveal, starting with the brand new reboot of Doom. Ready? Let’s go!
Doom, spring 2016 (Xbox One, PS4, PC), Id Software
Marty Stratton (Executive Producer, Id Software) showed off the reboot for Doom—the mother of all first-person shooters. We start off with some single player footage from a UAC Research facility on Mars. Right from the get go, we witness an insane amount of brutality and blood—thousands of bullets and body parts go flying through the air, all whilst showing off an atmospheric setting filled with splendid lighting and detail of the facility. The fluidity of the movement seems to reflect the original, and even though it is twenty years ago since the original Doom was released, Id Software have remained true to its roots, by building a brand new adventure for the current gen of gaming. Going back to the violent nature of the game, we were truly spoilt; we saw a demon’s leg get snapped off and the foot used as a knife to the eye, jaws ripped off, skulls punched into mush and heads being pulled into two pieces—disgustingly fun! The spirit of the series is definitely in this reboot—its over-the-top violence and constant onslaught of demons and beasts never let up. We also saw a massive range of weapons, such as the special shotgun, plasma rifle, rocket launcher and of course, the chainsaw (which tore through bodies left, right and centre). At the end of the Doom presentation, we also got to see more single player except this time, we are shown the depths of hell in all its glory. Unlike the research facility on Mars, hell was an archaic, eerie and murky world of fire and death. Yes, there were demons, but we also got to see two bigger, deadly enemies. The first looked like a larger ‘bloater’ from Left 4 Dead. The protagonist was blasting it with countless rounds of plasma bullets and rockets, until he ripped out a grenade-type device from his chest and shoved it straight down his throat. BOOM! The second of the two larger foes was the ultimate evil—the one ruler of the entirety of hell itself: the Devil. From all of the single player footage, we were given a good idea of how fun the game will be and what we are likely to expect from its single player mode. Personally, I’m not sure I’ll give it a go. Doom fans will go nuts for it because it sure looks like a great gaming experience and is seems very true to the original, but for me, it seemed like it could be a very generic experience. The demons didn’t seem necessarily threatening and the settings came across a little bland, but that’s just me.
Along with the single player, we got to see the multiplayer. Honestly, it looked very similar to Halo in terms of the maps and weaponry, but it is still early days and for saying it isn’t released until next year, there is plenty of time left to showcase how great it could be. One of the coolest things about the Doom reveal was the introduction of a new feature called Snapmap. Snapmap is a brand new mode that allows you to completely create your own challenges, multiplayer maps and environments to upload or play straight away, ‘at the touch of a single button.’ Some of the examples shown were four-player deathmatches, a co-operative mode that sees you take out wave after wave of demons with your friends and another co-operative mode that allows you to earn credits for every kill, allowing you to go and purchase weapons and upgrades in the store.
All in all, Doom looks like it has a lot of potential with some great new modes and some cherished old ones, completely rebooted and looking better than it ever has before.
Battlecry, 2015 (PC), Battlecry Studios
Erm…I didn’t really get Battlecry. The trailer we got to see felt very much like a Tarantino rip off with an OK art style, but what looked like a lifeless combat system. Of course, with only being treated to a two minute trailer, we don’t really have a lot to go on. I personally found it a little dull; I’m not a huge fan of online multiplayers in the third-person so some of my quarrel with the reveal can fall at the gameplay. I’m sure when the beta comes out and I get to play the game, I may be a little more enthused by it; however, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by Battlecry.
Dishonored 2, spring 2016 (Xbox One, PS4, PC), Arkane Studios
Next up (after an intro by Arkane Studios’ Co-Creative Directors, Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio), we get to see a trailer for the big surprise of the conference (a surprise if you hadn’t already had the reveal spoilt by the internet), Dishonored 2. The trailer showed off a stunning landscape of a city called Carnaca on the southern edge of the world. We also got to see one of the games two protagonists, Emily Kaldwin (you know, the girl you had to save in the first game!), who looks all kinds of awesome. Not only do you get to play as Emily—we are also introduced to the protagonist from the first game, Corvo Attano. There was some cool first-person footage on display (which wasn’t direct gameplay) and a little bit of combat, but other than the trailer, we weren’t given too much information. You will have to ‘hunt down new adversaries as you alter the fate of the empire’—nothing remarkably unique about this. I can’t see the storyline being anything special but Dishonoured has always been about the stealth and reliability fn the player’s intelligence to succeed. All the while I was watching the presentation, I was thinking about how I couldn’t believe I missed out on playing the original. It was just one of those games that slipped through the net and passed me by like two ships in the night. Luckily for me, Harvey and Raphael announced Dishonored: Definitive Edition (Xbox One, PS4), coming in the fall. It will include the first game remastered for the current gen consoles and including all DLC released for it. On the whole, it looks like Arkane are on to a winner with the sequel to their surprise hit of 2012 and as its release nears, more and more details will be fed to us—hopefully including some gameplay footage that showcases all the new gadgets, combat improvements and ways of getting around the vast city of Carnaca.
Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (Xbox One, PS4), ZeniMax Studios
I had a little pocket of hope stored away for this game to feature in Bethesda’s conference, but after its console release only five days ago, I wouldn’t have been upset if it didn’t feature. I got the game on release day for my PS4 and haven’t stopped playing it. It is visually stunning with in depth gameplay and vast custom creation, with a massive spectrum of quests to undertake and ways to do them. When the game’s logo appeared on screen, I was pleasantly surprised. We were introduced to two mini trailers for DLC coming to the game in the coming year. Imperial City: Fallen Capital of Tamriel and Orsinium: Realm of the Orcs didn’t give us a lot to dwell on; however, when you’ve only just got your hands on the game itself, there isn’t a real need to start hounding Bethesda for DLC. It was just nice to know that they were thinking ahead and making sure that those that spend more time in Tamriel than their own home have some exciting looking content coming their way in the near future.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends, 2016 (PC, iPad)
This was the only real downer for me. I’m not that into card games, especially on a PC or iPad. We didn’t really get massive amounts of information from the trailer, but it looks as though the game will be in the same vein as Hearthstone and will be free-to-play when it’s released later in the year. I will say though that the trailer was nicely put together. It is clear that Bethesda are trying to please gamers of all kinds and for that, I shall applaud them.
Fallout: Shelter, Now (iPhone, iPad)
One of the coolest surprises of Bethesda’s conference was the reveal of a brand new Apple game called Fallout: Shelter and the fact that is available right away. In the game, you are the Overseer in one of the vaults after the nuclear bomb wiped out the bulk of humanity. It is your job to take care of the vault dwellers; you need to make sure they are fed, schooled and entertained so that when the time is right, they can be sent out into the world with all the right training and skills they need. The gameplay is very reminiscent of FTC, Sim City and XCOM, whereby you have a firm grip on the entire goings on and the attributes of your entire colony—being held responsible for every dweller and making sure you are prepared for any potential attacks by raiders or radscorpions etc. The fact that it is completely free and doesn’t require an internet connection goes to exemplify once more that Bethesda really does care about their fans. It’s just a damn shame I don’t have an iPhone.
Fallout 4, 10th November 2015 (Xbox One, PS4, PC) Bethesda Game Studios
FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4! FALLOUT 4! Now that is how you do a press conference! Todd Howard (Game Director at Bethesda Game Studios) brought the energy and humour of Michael Scott, minus the awkward silence when a joke goes awry. Seriously, Todd Howard nailed it. He informed the room that as soon as Fallout 3 was done, they had already begun working on it—all the way back in 2009. We got to see tons of screenshots of likely locations and characters from the game, but it wasn’t until the gameplay footage showed that the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as far as they could. It had been speculated since the trailer was released that we may possibly get to play some of the game from before the nuclear bomb went off. Todd confirmed that this was indeed true and proceeded to show us some footage from the game’s opening sequence. It’s a Saturday morning and our male/female protagonist is stood in the mirror, asking the other what they should look like. It was essentially the ‘create a character’ that you have seen before, except the flexibility of the creation process helps to make it much easier when flicking between hair styles and skin colour; it is also worth noting that you can still be a male or female. Another feature that has yet to feature in any of the Fallout games (and The Elder Scrolls games to be fair) is a voice for the lead protagonist. In Fallout 4, both the male and female lead actors recorded over 13,000 lines of dialogue which is kind of amazing. Once we got to do this, our main character was looking around his kitchen and fridge (spotting familiar items like Sugar Bombs, Nuka Colas and being acquainted with Codsworth, the family robot housekeeper) when there is a knock at the door. It is a salesman from Vault-Tec trying to sell you a place in a vault, as the impending threat of nuclear war is closer than ever. This segment is very much like the one in Fallout 3 and you’re the baby meandering around the room. It allows you to pick your starting stats and gives you your first look outside. Shortly after, you go into the bedroom to help settle your newborn child (which you can name by the way). Suddenly, Codsworth asks you to look at the news; the nuclear war is almost upon us and the family must head to the assigned vault (Vault 111) to escape certain death. Unfortunately, the bomb goes off and not everything has worked out the way it should have. You then emerge 200 years later as the sole survivor.
On appearing out of Vault 111, we are given a short tour of the now decimated suburb of downtown Boston. It looks so beautiful. The ‘volumetric’ lighting brings the setting to life. Those that were doubting the graphical stability of Fallout 4 once the trailer dropped can now eat their words. Even the buildings and the ground are packed with detail—lighting and colour bring the world to life and even in the harsh desolation our main character has been left to exist in, I couldn’t help but be blown away by its beauty.
As for gameplay, there are certainly some excellent additions for us to sink our teeth into. The combat was more versatile than it was in Fallout 3. V.A.T.S. is back but it seemed to flow a lot better. You also have the option to kill without it and unlike Fallout 3, you won’t be punished for doing so. The Pip Boy is also back; however, you get to do much more with it. The images on the Pip Boy are animated and more detailed; there is also a layered armour system, in-video games to play on it (Atomic Command, anyone?) with more control of your items and equipment. In the official Pip Boy Collector’s Edition of the game, you get your own Pip Boy to wear on your wrist whilst playing, and if you have an iPhone or Android phone, you can download an app to use with it by placing the phone inside. The app is free and you can still use it if you don’t have spare cash to buy the collector’s edition with, it just won’t be sitting pretty in your shiny new Pip Boy. To quote Todd Howard, after seeing countless second screen experiences being completely floored and stupid, this app is ‘the best f@#*ing one he’s ever seen.’
The last part of the Fallout presentation gave us a look at a completely new feature to the series and an improvement on an old one. Settlements can be built from scratch, using unwanted scrap and damage equipment to build houses, kennels, chairs, decorations and so much more. There are many areas in the game where you can build these houses; one of the best elements of this feature is the fact that you have to protect and defend them against bands of raiders, ghouls and other familiar foes. The creation process was shown and I have to say it looks like a very interesting concept. Computer terminals and power generators can now be built to power gun turrets so that your settlement is given that little bit of extra protection. You can also use every bit of scrap in this game; whenever you found a tin can or a toy car, there was very little use for them in Fallout 3, but in this one, you can use absolutely everything. There are hundreds of weapon and power armour modifications you can make, as long as you have the correct materials. Now, you need an item from different groups to be able to create what you need. At least one item fills every category so there is no need to throw all you junk out the window anymore. The amount of guns and modifications you can make is ridiculous—an inclusion that will help make the combat all the more impressive than Fallout 3. A good idea of what to expect from combat was shown in the final clip of the night, which started off with the line, ‘Ready to f@?! some sh!% up?’ We then saw bullets and explosions raining down on old foes and new faces (did you see the Behemoth?!), playing the old familiar twang of a GNR tune. ‘It’s good to be back,’ said the male protagonist as the final bit of footage from the night drew to a close.
The Dolby Theatre seemed happy, as did I. Never have I seen such a confident team of directors and creators deliver a solid conference with announcements of a variety of games coming out on a variety of different platforms. It seems that Bethesda have got a solid plan in action and with the final announcement of the night being Fallout 4’s release date of 10th November 2015, Peter Hines and all those that are working for Bethesda have cracked it—some phenomenal games are coming and they’re heading here very, very soon.