Reviewing E3 2015: Bethesda Press Conference

2015 was a really exciting year for E3, and it started off with a bang. Bethesda Softworks had their very first E3 press conference, and it happened shortly after announcing Fallout 4. This was kind of a crazy move, you would think that kind of announcement would be saved for the press conference. But getting that out of the way beforehand only made it more exciting to think about what was in store.

The conference starts with a montage of game developers from Bethesda’s various studios. This is pretty cool, putting a human face on the company. It’s also a good reminder that Bethesda is a lot bigger than just the team that makes Fallout and Elder Scrolls. There are members of id, Arkane Studios, and Zenimax Online Studios all featured.

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Next, Pete Hines, the VP of PR at Bethesda, takes the stage. He gives the typical “welcome to E3” speech that we’ve all come to expect from these things. Then he mentions a little game called Doom. Now, Doom was already announced, so this wasn’t exactly huge, but no one outside of those who attended Quakecon earlier had seen any of it. Pete Hines calls Marty Stratton, executive producer at id out on stage to present gameplay footage.

Even a year later, Doom is still stunning. The characters and environments are all impressively detailed. Character movement is noticeably higher than most modern FPS games, making it seem closer to the first few Doom games. The way the enemies just fall to pieces when hit with powerful weapons is incredibly satisfying, even if it is a little silly.

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This screenshot taken from a YouTube video doesn’t do the game justice

Next up, we get a quick multiplayer trailer. It looks totally fine, but nothing particularly new or exciting. But then we’re introduced to Snapmap, Doom’s user-generated content system. It seems really flexible, allowing players to make new levels or even entirely new modes. I think it looks a little complicated, but Marty Stratton claims that it’s simple enough for anyone to be able to use it. I guess we’ll find out for sure in a little over a month.

Battlecry is next up, and honestly, I had completely forgotten this game existed. It’s a team-based multiplayer game, that seems to have an emphasis on melee combat, although there were some classes shown that use guns. It didn’t look particularly interesting and some of the footage looked janky at best. But, it sounds like they’re still early in development, so maybe they’ll turn things around.And for all I know, maybe it plays really well. That can be hard to judge from just watching a video.

After Battlecry wrapped up, Harvey Smith and Raphael Colantonio from Arkane Studios take the stage. They announce Dishonored 2 with a CG trailer. It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to see actual gameplay, but a lot of games are announced this way so it’s not too surprising. Unfortunately, I’ve never played Dishonored, so a lot of the context was kind of lost on me. We’re introduced to one of the games main characters, a woman named Emily Kaldwin. We see her jump around a steampunk-like world using special powers that seem to let her teleport. She gets to the office of some guy, kills two robot guards, and then attacks the guy. Yeah, that’s a pretty vague description, but like I said, I have no context for this game. Looks cool though. I have a copy of the first game, just never played it. Might have to check it out before this one comes out.

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Next is a trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. We get to see a bunch of new zones and it all looks pretty cool. I just wish it was for a new single player Elder Scrolls game. I’m not the biggest of fan on MMORPGs and have never played ESO, so there’s not a lot I can say about this, but it does look good. I’m sure people who like those sorts of games were very excited.

Finally, Todd Howard is brought out to talk about Fallout. I find it easy to forget just how exciting this was at the time. It seems like people fall into two camps with Fallout 4, either it was the next masterpiece from Bethesda, or it was a giant disappointment. Unfortunately, even though I do like the game, I fall into the latter camp. But at the time, this was all very exciting. We had just gotten a Fallout 4 trailer a little while earlier, and now we were going to see some gameplay.

Even though the game came out months ago, and even though I was ultimately pretty disappointed in it, Fallout 4 still looks really cool. They start with a montage of concept art, which is great to see now that I have actual context for it. We also get to see the character creator, some of the early story set up, and some combat.

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Then they showed off the actual physical pipboy that came with the collector’s edition. It’s a neat little thing that let’s you wear your phone and access menus in the game,  and the audience goes nuts for it. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone using it to actually play the game, but hey, it looks cool. Continuing to talk about phones, Todd Howard announces Fallout Shelter. I never played Fallout Shelter, being a Windows Phone owner prevented me from getting most of the big mobile games, but I’ve heard pretty mixed things about the game. It looks like a fairly typical free-to-play phone game, but with a Fallout flavor.

Now back to Fallout 4 to show off the building system. Admittedly, it looks pretty cool. However, having actually played the game, the building system is one of my least favorite thing about it. Thankfully, it can largely be ignored. But hey, it looks cool, and got people excited, and that’s really what E3 press conferences are all about.

And that’s the show. Overall, this was a really good press conference. Most publisher specific press conferences tend to be pretty boring, but this one wasn’t. Bethesda’s already announced that they will have another press conference this year, so let’s hope it’s just as good.

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