A couple of months ago, the talk around the interwebs would be if Bethesda was even going to have a press conference at E3 2018. What games do they have in progress? Do they really have anything major to discuss? Nothing that can be the tentpole of a conference like Wolfenstein II last year or Doom the year before, right?

Well, all it took was a “Please Stand By” and a Vault Boy Bobblehead to instantly throw any doubt out the window. Well, that and a surprising return to Rage…

Why is E3 2018 Important for Bethesda?

 

Compared to EA and Microsoft, E3 isn’t the end all, be all presentation for Bethesda. By far the smallest publisher of the main E3 conferences (yeah Devolver, that’s right, I’m not counting you), the chance to share the biggest stage in gaming with all of the big guns is always good to utilize.

The one struggle Bethesda has found is that once they get away from their big named series – Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom – they do have a more difficult time breaking into the top ten in software sales. And while the company has doubled-down on their narrative focused approach to games, which has connected with the more hardcore of the gaming fanbase, it hasn’t developed into widespread appeal in the general gaming market.

With Fallout 76, prior to the show, not much was known about what the game would be. Does it play like Fallout 3 and Fallout 4? Or is it some other type of game? Getting the word out about what this game is, in what will most likely be a similar way to how they revealed Fallout 4 at E3 2015, will pave the way towards making butt-loads of cash upon release.

But for Rage 2, a sequel in a series that nobody thought would come back, there is a lot more selling that needs to happen in order to get the masses to buy into this game. And while the preliminary trailer did some work to rebrand the game and show players what to expect, there is more convincing to be done.

What Was Announced?

A surprising amount of announcements came during Bethesda’s press conference, especially given their typical proclivity to not talk about anything happening over a year from now.

  • Aside from Fallout 76 information and the Skyrim Very Special Edition for Alexa, Bethesda confirmed that they are working on a “next-generation game” that is their first new intellectual property (IP) in 20 years, which is the long rumored Starfield. They also confirmed that they are also working on The Elder Scrolls VI, which will come out after Starfield.
  • Doom Eternal was announced, the sequel to the 2016 reboot. The teaser trailer that was shown displayed a hellish landscape on Earth. More information will come out at Quake Con in August.
  • A new standalone game following Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was also announced by Machine Games, which jumps ahead to 1980. Called Wolfenstein Youngblood, it is a departure from New Colossus, the game will be a cooperative experience where the two players play as B.J. Blaskowicz’s twin daughters. The release is slotted for 2019.
  • Mentioning the success of Fallout Shelter three years ago, the next, Todd Howard announced their next, more ambitious mobile project – Elder Scrolls Blades. Available for Pre-Order now, Blades was touted by Howard as a full Elder Scrolls experience. Featuring dungeon crawling with swiping combat similar to the handheld and mobile game Severed, along with town rebuilding elements.
  • Rage 2 received it’s “proper” reveal after being leaked earlier in the month (what more proper reveal for a sequel nobody really asked for than a live performance by Andrew W.K.). A longer demo played, introducing the lead character, Walker, and showing some of the gameplay trappings.

What About Fallout 76

  • Fallout 76, as rumored, is an online, “soft-core” survival game that is played on instances with dozens of players. The game will be released on November 14, 2018, with a beta coming sometime prior to that.
  • You can team up with other players, or you can fight with them, even to the point of finding keys and then sending off a nuclear attack at their settlements.
  • Storywise, Shelter 76 is one of the first vaults to open and allows each of the inhabitants to partake in the Reclamation, as they venture out into the wilderness of West Virginia to re-settle the area.
  • Various monsters based off of regional lore and tall tales will pepper the landscape, adding a unique feel to the environments.
  • Mechanics around building a base are back from Fallout 4, with new opportunities to be able to pack up your camp and move it wherever you wish to re-establish it.
  • Players are able to party up with any other players regardless of server placement and all progression will follow with every individual player.
  • The game has been under development for approximately four years and was created due to the teams strong urge to create an online game.
  • There was no mention of VATS and if there is any implementation of how that will work as well as any limitations to quests and if they can be disrupted by other players.

What Can I Play Now?

Typical to Bethesda, there were a few shadow drops that hit stores tonight.

  • Fallout Shelter is available now on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. As of this writing, it wasn’t available yet and couldn’t be confirmed if there is a price or not.
  • The Mooncrash DLC is available now for last year’s Prey, along with a free update including a New Game + and a Survival mode.
  • Quake Champions has a free trial of their free-to-play version from June 10-17 on PC and progression will carry forward if players choose to keep playing.

How Did Bethesda Do?

While the overall presentation was filled with plenty of cringey moments and constant pauses for limited applause, the information given was pretty extensive. Other than the deep dive on Fallout 76, there were lots of different projects discussed, but there was not a whole lot of depth given about the games.

The little bit of gameplay of Rage 2 that was shown seemed compelling, but there are still a whole lot of question as to whether this is a single-player only experience or if it will include co-op or even PvP multiplayer with it. At this point, it just doesn’t seem like there is a whole lot out there to entice players to buy in, which doesn’t give it a good chance moving forward.

And while Bethesda gave us a little bit more of a peek behind the curtain than they usually do, they didn’t really give us much information on most of the things they discussed. We know Starfield and Doom and Wolfenstein Youngblood are coming, but do not know much of anything at all. But with those games, they have time.

The one big success of the night was Prey – for the first time with anything that I have ever seen about that game I felt enticed by the DLC and other additions they’ve added since launch that I am actually planning on purchasing it and playing it sometime in the near future. If there were more pieces like this, it would have maybe led to a more productive conference for Bethesda and gamers as well.