2018 was a pretty harsh year for Bethesda, but was completely their own doing. They announced and then launched a few games at E3 last year that went on to make fans pretty irate.
The smaller of the two was Elder Scrolls: Blades, which they touted as a true Elder Scrolls game designed for mobile. The reality was a game that was stuffed full of loot boxes that you had to wait hours to open unless you wanted to pay, and updates to the experience took out features that people enjoyed.
The bigger disaster though was Fallout 76. It turned a traditionally single-player experience into an online multiplayer game, and it was a janky, broken mess. The Collector’s edition did a bait and switch with the canvas bag, instead shipping a cheap nylon one, and after a series of PR blunders, Bethesda promised they would deliver a canvas bag, but doxxed all of the people who signed up to receive it in the process.
So it was going to be interesting to see what Bethesda would do this year, and on the whole they took the sensible, but rather boring approach of sticking to the games, and adopted a humble but non-apologetic tone.
Here’s some of the biggest news that Bethesda dropped at their E3 conference this year.
Fallout 76 is getting NPC’s, and a battle royale (obviously)
Bethesda didn’t particularly shy away from 76’s rough launch, with Todd Howard quickly addressing the elephant in the room. They are however apparently taking the criticism on board, and announced that as the Wastelanders update is coming for free later this year.
The update will introduce a new main quest, new weapons and gear, but the biggest announcement is the return of NPC’s. They will have dialogue trees, and your decisions will have weight and consequence to them. This will hopefully make the game feel more like Fallout to the fans, although how that will work on a multiplayer server is as yet unknown.
They also announced a new gameplay mode called Nuclear Winter, which is Fallout 76’s version of a battle royale. Mechanically it’s very similar to other Battle Royale’s, such as Apex Legends, Fortnight or PUBG, although the gunplay is the same as in Fallout 76, ie. not great.
Both Fallout 76 and Nuclear Winter are available for free on Xbox One, PS4 and PC until 17 June, so if you’ve never played before and fancy trying without risk to your wallet, now’s the time.
Arkane Studios, the development team behind the Dishonoured series, have given a first look at their new game, Deathloop. It’s set on a frozen island called Blackreef, and it is trapped in a time loop.
Details were thin, but there are two assassins – Julianna and Colt – portrayed as rivals, with one trying to protect the timeloop and the other seeking to destroy it, and will repeatedly kill each other in that goal.
There is also no release date currently.
Announced by Tango Gameworks creative director Ikumi Nakamura – who was easily one of the more charming presenters at E3 this year – GhostWire: Tokyo takes you to the streets of Tokyo where inhabitants are disappearing. As the developers of The Evil Within, you will be unsurprised to hear the game has a paranormal occult feel to it, with elements of horror and suspense.
This was just a teaser, so no further details were announced.
DOOM Eternal releases in November
The sequel to the hit 2016 DOOM game is coming out 22 November on Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch and PS4.
Bethesda are releasing a collector’s edition that includes the Doom Slayer’s helmet, but it would be remiss to not draw comparisons to Fallout 76’s collector’s edition, which came with a power armour helmet (and no canvas bag), so maybe think twice before pre-ordering.
DOOM Eternal is also getting a new mode, simply called Battlemode. It’s a multiplayer 2v1 mode, where a single Doom Slayer is pitted against two demons, who have the ability to spawn more of their brethren.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Cyberpilot
We got new gameplay footage from Wolfenstein: Youngblood, which is set two decades after the events of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. You play as the twin daughters of B.J. Blazkowicz, who have travelled to Nazi occupied Paris to look for their missing father. It’s set in the 1980s, and the trailer promises a lot of ultra-violence and Nazi murdering.
Cyberpilot is VR tie-in game, and players will be able to take control of the Nazi war-machines and turn them against their creators.
Both Wolfenstein games are coming out 26 July.
Also announced was a new patented set of technologies that will optimise game engines for streaming.
Developed by id Software, the software is game and platform agnostic, and will stream video games at lower latency and lower bandwidth, which will hopefully reduce the cost and burden of streaming games. This is particularly pertinent, given both Google’s and Microsoft’s move into game streaming.
id Software claim that Orion can reduce latency by up to 20% per frame, and requires 40% less bandwidth.
Mobile game updates
Seemingly committed to developing games for mobile, Bethesda announced a free update to Elder Scrolls: Blades that adds a new dragon quest line, a custom jewellery system that can boost your stats, new jobs, and solo arena battles. You will also be able to visit other villages later this year. They also announced that it is coming to the Nintendo Switch later this year, with cross-play and cross-progression with the mobile version.
They also announced a new mobile game, which is the rebirth of a cult classic: Commander Keen. It’s a move straight out of the EA playbook – take a beloved franchise and change it for mobile. Fans of the original series are pretty annoyed, and given that new fans won’t have the nostalgia to draw them in, it’s not quite sure who the game is for. It will release for Android and iOS later this summer.