E3 2015: Bethesda Recap

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As far as debut’s go, this is probably one that will live long in the memory for all of the right reasons. Bethesda took a giant leap to the stage at E3 (at the Dolby Theatre which hosts the Oscars, no less) with an already impressive level of hype.

Doom, whilst teased last year to select convention attendees and an extra three second clip last month, was very obviously going to be on the agenda. Fallout 4 was also going to be hotly anticipated and late on Saturday some leaks began to appear for Dishonoured 2 thanks to some tech-testing fluffs. But we had no idea (which is actually quite a thing in this day and age) of what was going to happen.

Doom was first out of the blocks and it did not disappoint at all. iD Software have been incredibly quiet since RAGE and lost their lead guru John Cormack to another reality. But that doesn’t seem to have dampened the original core concept of Doom or its successors – over the top, gory violence. It’s a simple concept really, to just kill all the things in a outlandish manner with big guns, but it’s very rarely executed well (pun intended).

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We saw some excellent melee attacks including a guy having his face smashed in by his own, still attached, broken leg. We saw some fantastically smooth gunplay and weapon selection and some fast and fluid movement. The things that made games like this and Quake excellent is the fast frenetic pace of the games that heighten the excitement, the fear and the adrenalin of the game, and Doom looks to have it in abundance. We were treated to a very well lit and molten factory level set on Mars which seems to have channeled all the tropes of horror science fiction with the cinematographic flair of more recent times, including a good Red Dwarf-esque mobile hand passkey that got a good laugh. We were then treated to Hell with demons coming at us from all sides and the final shot of a BFG volley cutting to black.

The most interesting thing in this is what looks like the first Next Generation console level editor. A simple tool to snap rooms and place objects to create your own levels and game types for multiplayer. Think of Halo’s Forge but with much easier room placement. This is Doom Snapmap and it looks excellent for the creative people and modders that have always been key to the franchise’s extended success. It’s something that will certainly breathe a lot of life in to multiplayer and is a great way to get people to stay involved. Especially on the console market as the game will be coming on PC, Xbox One and PS4 in Spring 2016.

Keeping with the online focus, Battlecry announced an upcoming beta. The online team based combat strategy game looks like a crazy cross between Team Fortress and a non-fantasy MOBA. It’ll be interesting to see but we’ll have to wait until the beta’s have come before we get more of an idea on the game.

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Next up was the team from Arkane Studios, who’s Dishonored completely took the critics and gamers by surprise a few years ago. Now it’s most definitely back with you being put in to the position of Corvo once again… Or you can play as the daughter of the Empress, Emily Kaldwin. This is what we were shown and it’s great to have a new female protagonist to play with. The steam punk setting is well and truly alive with some focus on the high flying speed running and magical abilities, in a totalitarian world of death and decay.

If you’re worried about playing Dishonored 2 because you missed the boat, never fear. Arkane are releasing a collected edition of Dishonored this winter with some new textures and all the DLC. This Definitive Edition is coming for PC, Xbox One and PS4… I’ll be honest, I’m very excited for it and of all the ideas I had for a remaster (if you can call it that) Dishonored was not the one I was expecting to hear from at this conference.

Another game I wasn’t expecting to hear anything about was the recently released Elder Scrolls Online, but we got a nice little video of some new areas coming to Tamriel Unlimited on both PC and Console and we’ve also been treated to a new card game call Elder Scrolls Legends (Presumably “Scrolls” was taken by someone else?), although we’ve seen nothing of it. I was also hoping to see or at least hear some news of the other Bethesda franchises like Quake and The Evil Within, but we just got their logos at the end. At least they’re still there and more may come in future.

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Speaking of the future, ready your Pip Boys. I could talk to you a lot about Fallout 4 but you should just watch the conference from 1 hour and 5 minutes in. Returning to the Wasteland, you will walk the area of Boston with your companion Dog and do as you’ve always done – explore, fight and customise. You’ll start your story pre-bombs which give a little tongue in cheek look at the psuedo-1950s lifestyle and create your character. This looks incredibly as the old style of sliders and templates have disappeared. Instead you just select the part of the face you want and just play away, regardless of gender (hurray!). You’ll wake up 200 years later as the sole survivor and are set free to explore. No spoilers.

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The customisation is incredible though, from very specific parts of guns to your heavy armour set, clothing and even building your own settlement, Fallout 4 looks to be far and away the best open world role-playing game in terms of player individuality. Creating a world to you, the player that you have affected seems to be one of the things that Fallout 4 is bringing out, which is something the other hinted to. But the technology is now here to make it happen.

Speaking of technology, the Pip Boy is updated to be more than just a static menu (as the developers know you’ll spend a lot of time there) and has become a lot more dynamic. You’ll also be able to interchange memory tapes for audio and even games. We’ve seen a good version of both Donkey Kong and Missile Command in the demo (the latter is increidbly appropriate) and there’s a lot more to come. Especially if you’ve got your eyes on the collectors edition that includes a working Pip Boy… Well sort of. This soon to be gold dust peripheral is a wearable phone dock that allows you (with a free app) to use the whole thing as a second screen and be your Pip Boy access. The app is coming anyway so anyone can do it, but having your own Pip Boy as you play? Well that’s just swell. We also have the Sims/XCom/Tiny Tower-esque Fallout Shelter. A fun little distracting building game where you become the overseer of your own vault, released for free last night on iOS.

Bethesda didn’t show a lot but truthfully they didn’t need to. It was a lesson in how a company can show a minimal amount of products but with a huge amount of quality. All of it coming for next generation consoles and PC. All of it absolutely captivating. Sometimes you just need to do a good job and in their debut to E3’s conference schedule, Bethesda certainly nailed it.

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E3 Recap – Sony Press Conference

You may have heard us talk about the Sony E3 Press Conference on TheGameJar podcast this past weekend. If you haven’t then go and do it, but read this at the same time. Because, you know, multitasking right?

You could argue that Sony certainly had the most invested in their conference in terms of delivering. Their console is still outselling the Xbox One (for the fifth month in a row now) and whilst the big name Christmas stocking filler battles over Xbox DLC exclusivity, Sony have very quietly bagged themselves some big names.

destiny-alpha-screen-night-timeSince the conference, two games have had some early release testing. The much anticipated Bungie original IP, Destiny, had an early exclusive Alpha release and an exclusive PS4 beta announced. As quick as that happened, Battlefield Hardline also released a multiplayer beta for the PS4. But sticking with Destiny, Sony are obviously investing a lot into the potential this game has and I think, having watched a lot of the early access videos, it is the right decision. The white PS4 console bundle with the game could be just what the people debating how to enter the current generation console market need to convince them.

The big names that Sony unleashed with gameplay certainly felt a lot more conclusive than the Xbox conference, to me personally. Sony are obviously very confident in the power of their console and that’s evident by the amount of gameplay that was shown. There was a certain confusion and potential trepidation at the gameplay reveal of The Order 1886 in my eyes. The gameplay looked interesting and atmospheric but it felt a tad confused and there wasn’t enough to excite me.

Then there was Entwined. The immediately released game that feels like the bastard of Child of Eden and After Burner. It was interesting, especially as a debut game, but again not enough for me to jump straight in to it. Then more inFamous spin offs and I zoned out a bit… Until Sack Boy appeared.

If you don’t love Sack Boy, regardless of your thoughts of Little Big Planet, then you are morally bankrupt and dead inside. As I said in the Podcast, it always confused me how amazing some of the levels created by the community happen so quickly and so effectively. But it is definitely encouraging for the PS4 community to have a truly co-op creative platformed.

far-cry-4-fc4We can skip to Far Cry 4 and how excited everyone is about this game. It’s certainly no secret about how powerful the Cry Engine is. The amount of corners and performance possibilities that the previous generation of consoles couldn’t deliver is now behind us. Far Cry’s gameplay is always great, but the environments especially are spectacular and always have been. Far Cry 4 has nailed it already. Plus elephants. Elephants dammit!

Then there was the Dead Island 2 reveal. A game I’m excited for as the promise of Dead Island (despite the lacklustre end game) was enough for me to enjoy it.

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Let’s skip ahead to the big Naughty Dog reveals. The Last of Us Remastered looks great and for those of us who have ashamedly never played it, we get all the goodies at once. Then the reveal for Uncharted 4, presumably the final saga of Nathan Drake, but the excitement was enough to end the conference in style.

Batman… BATMAN! Wow, how good did that look? Gotham has always been the most dark and atmospheric place in the ‘open world’ genre and the PS4 certainly looks like its got it going on. It was always going to be impressive but it looks great.

It may feel like I’m rushing through these and I am. Because I want to get to the two things that greatly impressed and surprised me. Firstly, Grim Fandango. I remember the original release and anyone who’s played the Monkey Island remasters will know how great the original games are, let alone the graphical upgrade they had. If there is anything that deserves the re release and the updating then it is Grim Fandango.

NoMansSkyFieldFinally it is my place to talk about the most impressive game at E3, although how well it actually runs and how smooth it is going to be interesting, is the debut game from Hello Games. No Man’s Sky is an FPS exploration game come flight sim come combat sim that is procedurally generated. The promise of practically infinite gameplay and exploration, especially with how diverse and colourful it looks, makes this game an incredibly generation defining title. Plus Sean Murray, despite being having the same name as me bias, looks like a guy who’s really invested in creating something special and inspired by great things. Part of me worries that it could be too big and too ambitious and that delays and setbacks could halt it. Although that’s a hangover of my experience of many games too ambitious for the technology and too stuck without an end purpose. This I feel will combat that, and I hope it does because for all the big titles and particle effects and grand big sellers, this game looks to be what gaming is all about and what Playstation was all about from the beginning. So, here’s hoping.

Finally I shall leave you with two pieces of information you wanted to know but didn’t know how to find out. The music for the Metal Gear Solid V trailer was Nuclear by Mike Oldfield and The Last Of Us trailer was a cover of Nirvana’s Something In The Way by a band called At Sea.

Oh and Grand Theft Auto V looks good enough to bury Watch_Dogs and I’m going to be silly enough to buy it.

What do you think about the Sony conference? Why not leave a comment or talk about it on Facebook and Twitter. We don’t bite!

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