ComicsVerse is at E3 2018! Throughout the week, we’ll be posting news, analysis, and press releases from the biggest gaming convention in the world. Today, we take a look at what Bethesda had to offer.

You may know that I have a love-hate relationship with Bethesda, but when they get it right, they deserve credit. Yesterday, Bethesda delivered a blowout presentation at E3, with new releases, free updates, and a ton of gameplay. Here’s a list of highlights from the presentation:

RAGE 2

So…the conference started with a rock concert. No, I’m not kidding. People often make fun of the over-the-top extravagance of E3, but this was just silly. As I listened to the frontman repeatedly shout “ARE YOU READY TO RAGE,” I was left feeling charmed, annoyed, excited, and confused. The perfect Bethesda experience.

The rock concert leads into the official announcement of RAGE 2. I gotta say, I wasn’t particularly excited about getting another RAGE, but this presentation changed my mind. We were quickly treated to a trailer, as well as an extended look at the gameplay. The world looks downright beautiful, especially for a post-apocalyptic game.

So, What Can You Do In RAGE 2?

In RAGE 2, you play as Walker, a post-apocalyptic ranger. Yes, the pun is both obvious and intended. Honestly, I was worried that this game wouldn’t have its own identity in the face of FALLOUT, Bethesda’s other apocalyptic game. I couldn’t have been more wrong. RAGE 2 is dripping with personality. It feels like MAX MAX had a baby with FAR CRY. RAGE 2 looks over-the-top, violent, silly, and enthralling.

The gameplay looks extremely fast-paced and hectic. Like its predecessor, it places a heavy focus on vehicle combat, as well as traditional first-person shooting. The gunplay looks incredibly visceral, “punchy” and satisfying.

The player has a number of “powers” at their disposal as well. We saw the player “blink” across the map at high speeds, evading enemy fire. At one point, the player waved his hand and sent an enemy floating into the air like a rag doll. All this chaos blended together into a delightfully violent display. I can’t wait to see how the guns and powers synergize with one another.

RAGE 2 releases in Spring of 2019. There will also be a playable booth at E3.

THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE

Bethesda E3
(courtesy of Zenimax)

After a brief showcase for ELDER SCROLLS LEGENDS, we turned our focus to THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE. While I feel the game does a poor job capturing the more unique aspects of Tamriel (I still think they ruined Summerset), I have to admit the game itself is pretty good.

It seems I’m not the only one who feels this way, because according to the developers, ESO has over 11 million players. That’s a pretty gargantuan number for a modern MMO. That being said, we have no idea how many of these players are active so take that with a grain of salt. I haven’t played in over a year, but I’m likely part of that 11 million.

So we learned two big things about ESO: we’re getting a new DLC focused on werewolves, and the next expansion for the game will be “Mirkmire,” focusing on the Argonians of Black Marsh.

DOOM

After the ESO show wrapped up, we saw a pretty metal trailer for DOOM: ETERNAL.

Now, the big highlight of this presentation was the reference to “hell on Earth.” For longtime fans of the series, this is a callback to the original DOOM 2, which took place during a demonic invasion of Earth. Will we be visiting Earth in ETERNAL? Only time will tell.

We didn’t get a chance to see any gameplay, but more information will be revealed at Quake Con this August.

QUAKE CHAMPIONS

Speaking of QUAKE, we got a quick look at the upcoming QUAKE CHAMPIONS. The developers describe it as “the fastest and most fun multiplayer shooter. Period.”

It may seem like QUAKE is hopping on the latest bandwagon of arcadey, fast-paced shooters, but this couldn’t be further than the truth. If anything, QUAKE created this trend years ago. As one of the earliest esports, this latest game is being made with competition in mind.

If you want to try it out for yourself, there’s a free trial starting now. If you start this week, you can keep playing after the official trial closes.

PREY

Prey was a pretty fantastic game, and apparently, Bethesda isn’t done with it. We’re getting a huge free update that’s available today, which includes several new game modes, including new game plus, survival mode, and a new story mode.

At some point, we’ll also be getting a DLC called Moon Crash. According to the devs, Moon Crash is an infinitely replayable experience. It appears to be a rogue-like with dynamically generated levels. The goal is to escape the moon without dying.

But my favorite announcement has to be Typhon Hunter.

Typhon hunter is an asymmetrical multiplayer mode featuring regular players, as well as mimics who can take the form of any object in the world. According to the developers, it requires teamwork and improvisation to win.

Later, we learned that Typhon Hunter will be available in VR, as well as traditional platforms

Typhon Hunter will be available later this summer.

Honestly, this segment was rather awkward, with a lot of cringy dialogue and bad “jokes,” but I hardly noticed any of it. For all of Bethesda’s weirdness, this show was about the games, and the focus never strayed for too long.

WOLFENSTEIN II

A game about “beating the fuck out of nazis” (in the developer’s words), WOLFENSTEIN II is famous for over its over-the-top action, unique world, and satisfying combat. Now you’ll be able to take your nazi-hunting adventures on the go since the game is coming to the Nintendo Switch.

But that wasn’t the only announcement. Bethesda announced WOLFENSTEIN: YOUNGBLOOD, a new expansion for the base game. Set in the 80’s, players take on the role of BJ’s twin daughters, as they fight the nazi’s global regime in Paris. According to Bethesda, you can play the game with a friend, or by yourself. I love killing Nazis, and I love anything with an 80’s aesthetic, so this DLC was basically made for me.

Also, I gotta say: those ladies look pretty badass in power armor.

Bethesda also announced WOLFENSTEIN CYBERPILOT: a VR game where you to take control of enemy robots to, once again, “beat the fuck out of nazis.” I can’t wait to see this game in action.

SKYRIM: VERY SPECIAL EDITION

At last, Todd Howard took the stage to tell us about FALLOUT 76. But first, he took a moment to indulge in some self-deprecating humor.

For years, fans have mocked Bethesda for re-releasing SKYRIM instead of making a new game. Well, it seems Bethesda was listening. In a surprisingly funny parody featuring Keagan Michael Key, Bethesda “announced” two new versions of SKYRIM: one on Amazon’s Alexa, and one on an Etch-A-Sketch.

I gotta admit, as cynical as I can be toward Bethesda, this was genuinely funny. I have no problem with them spending a few minutes on this charming little skit.

Also, I wasn’t aware of this when I first wrote this, but SKYRIM: VERY SPECIAL EDITION is real. If you have an Amazon product with Alexa, ask her to “play Skyrim” and see what happens.

FALLOUT 76

Right out of the gate, we learned that the world of 76 is 4 times larger than Fallout 4. As suspected, it takes place in West Virginia and will draw inspiration from local culture and folklore.

The story centers around the residents of Vault 76. It was one of the first vaults to open, and after the bombs fell, residents were to remain inside for several decades. The game begins on “reclamation day” when the residents venture out into the world for the first time since the apocalypse.

Let’s Fix FALLOUT 4: The Railroad

At last, we finally got a chance to see some gameplay. As the player emerges from the vault, we were greeted with some stunning scenery. FALLOUT has never been as colorful, beautiful, or as atmospheric as 76.

Then came the big reveal: FALLOUT 76 is entirely online and multiplayer. Todd immediately addressed our concerns by answering some key questions. Here are some of the major bullet points:

Key Features

Yes, you can play solo, but the easiest way to survive is with your friends.

FALLOUT 76 is not an mmo. The world’s population will be limited to several dozen players per server.

It’s not a “hardcore” survival game like RUST. Todd himself described it as “softcore.” For example, death doesn’t mean the loss of progression or loss of equipment. This is a relief for many, but I still wonder how death will affect the game at all.

The game is player-driven, not story-driven. According to Todd, players will decide the heroes and villains. As such, the game will feature open PVP as well as co-op.

Players can build settlements wherever they want.

Bethesda will provide dedicated servers, and promises to support the game “for years to come.”

Oh, and there are multiple nuclear missile sites on the map. According to Bethesda, players can “do whatever they want with them,” including launching them against enemy settlements. To harness this power, you’ll need to acquire launch codes to utilize these nukes, and this may require multiple players to obtain.

Bethesda has an infamous reputation for releasing broken, buggy games. In order to address this, they’ll be releasing an early beta for the game so that players can help test it. In classic FALLOUT fashion, this “B.E.T.A” is an elaborate acronym for “Break It Early Test Application.”

The Collector’s edition comes with a map that “glows in the fucking dark.” It also comes with several figures you can put on the map and a “real” power armor helmet. Let’s hope it’s better made than the crappy Pip-Boy they gave us with FALLOUT 4.

A Smart Move…

Honestly, I think Bethesda is playing to its strengths here. They’re clearly not interested in making compelling, character-driven stories, nor do they seem concerned with traditional RPG mechanics or dialogue options. But they do love the dynamic gameplay and emergent storytelling. If they can really nail the settlement building this time, then we may have something special on our hands.

FALLOUT 76 comes out on November 14, 2018.

THE ELDER SCROLLS: BLADES

When the words “ELDER SCROLLS: BLADES” appeared, the air was taken out of the room. The ELDER SCROLLS is arguably the most popular western RPG in decades. People have been waiting for a new game since 2011. To even hear Todd speak the words was enough to send shivers down the spines of the audience.

Then we found out it was a mobile app.

I can’t tell if this was just tone deaf, or if this is another example of Bethesda’s “quirky” sense of humor, but THE ELDER SCROLLS: BLADES is not what any of us expected. That being said, it’s potentially the most amazing mobile game I’ve ever seen. Though to be fair, as someone who typically despises mobile games, this isn’t saying much.

BLADES takes direct inspiration from ARENA, the first game in the franchise. Like its predecessor, it retains a heavy focus on dungeons, some of which are hand-crafted, and others that are procedurally generated.

In terms of gameplay, it really does look like a modern interpretation of ARENA or DAGGERFALL. We saw a lot of dungeons, and a few outdoor areas as well. The combat looked…okay, I suppose, but combat has never been Bethesda’s strength. If nothing else, the game looked pretty damn good running on an iPhone X.

Features

There are several games modes in BLADES. The Abyss is basically a rogue-like, with an endless dungeon for the player to explore and survive. There’s also the arena, a one on one PvP battle mode. But the main attraction is “The Town:” the game’s story mode.

You play as one of the Blades, the emperor’s top spies and agents in Tamriel. After their order was exiled at the end of the Great War, your character returns home to find it in ruins. This town serves as the main hub for the game. This is where you’ll receive quests that take you to the world’s limitless dungeons. You’ll be able to rebuild and re-decorate the entire town to your liking. You can also visit your friend’s towns.

But BLADES isn’t just coming to mobile. Apparently, the game is coming to PC, all major consoles, and all major forms of VR. Each player base remains connected as well, so someone playing on a high-end PC can interact with someone playing on an iPhone.

E3 2018: 10 EA Play Conference Recaps

BLADES: Final Thoughts

After taking a breath and sleeping on it, I’m slowly warming up to BLADES.  It feels reminiscent of old-school PC RPGs, and I’ll be interested to see if BLADES can create the same atmospheric, enthralling adventures for which those games are known.

THE ELDER SCROLLS: BLADES will be available this fall for free. This almost certainly means there will be microtransactions, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Either way, you can register for early access now at www.playblades.com, which seems to be down at the time of this article. Classic Bethesda.

So, I honestly thought the conference was over. I was already writing a scathing response about how Bethesda teased their most anticipated franchise, only for it to be a mobile game. But I was wrong. Todd had two more announcements up his sleeves, and they were big.

STARFIELD

At the end of the night, we caught a brief trailer of STARFIELD: Bethesda’s first wholly original franchise in 20 years. We still know nothing about it, but the mere announcement of this long-rumored game was downright cathartic.

THE ELDER SCROLLS VI

Just before the show closed, we caught a quick glance at THE ELDER SCROLLS VI, a game we’ve been waiting to see for over 7 years. Judging by the brief flyover of a craggy, rugged landscape, the game is almost certainly set in Hammerfell, the land of the Redguards.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve gone from an ELDER SCROLLS fanatic to a cynical hater of the franchise. This new entry will have to do a lot to bring me back into the fold, but I’m willing to keep an open mind.

Our Thoughts On The Bethesda Presentation

As critical as I am of Bethesda, they did a pretty good job with this conference. Outside of a few awkward moments, and that cruel joke with ELDER SCROLLS: BLADES, there were some pretty cool looking games on display this year. I’m loving Bethesda’s new habit of releasing stuff immediately to the public, giving us a chance to play a new game mode, a new expansion, or even try out an entirely new game.

Here’s a link to the full press conference, in case you want to see more.

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