E3 2017: 8 highlights from Bethesda’s conference

Bethesda was light on big announcements, unless you’re into a newish horror franchise and an oldish World War II FPS.

E3 2017: 8 highlights from Bethesda’s conference

You only had to glance at the chat stream after the Bethesda conference ended rather abruptly to see that fans who tuned in live to watch it were expecting a whole lot more. I guess it’s hard to top Bethesda’s inaugural E3 conference, which announced that Fallout 4 would be releasing less than six months after it was unveiled. That’s a hard act to follow, and while Bethesda’s E3 2016 conference was okay, this year definitely felt light-on. Still, here’s 8 highlights from the Bethesda E3 2017 conference.

Bethesda VR looks different than expected
I got to play the original John Carmack Doom 3 demo on the first Oculus Rift prototype. Sure, it had a whole lot of problems (as prototypes do), but the potential was clear, and playing Doom 3 with a controller made sense because you could use your head for finer aiming. Doom VR looks like it loses some of its signature frantic pace by including the teleport-to-move function, instead of fluid directional movement. I’d be happy to play it and be proven wrong, but from what was shown, it looks like Doom VR is missing the point of the need for speed in the Doom reboot. Similarly, Fallout 4 VR looks pretty neat for fans who are still addicted to Fallout 4, but it also feels like it’s a year too late. Both VR releases are poised to land later this year, but it’s odd that Bethesda didn’t have any new VR games to spruik.

Bethesda sure likes talking about already-released games
It’s hard to ignore the lack of new stuff when Bethesda dedicates so much time to games that are already out. Whether it’s the aforementioned VR versions of the already-released Doom and Fallout 4, or the Morrowind expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, it’s hard to get excited about games we already know are out in the wild. It’s not to say that any of these games look terrible, they just pale in comparison to the excitement of new announcements.

Creation Club offers a new way to charge for mods
I’m all for the promotion of the mod community, especially if it expands that community to the console space which, technically, means there will be more people interested in creating mods. Creation Club (for Fallout 4 and Skyrim) looks like in-game mod support for Bethesda games, but it’s really skins and additional gameplay content created by Bethesda and other development studios. The biggest selling point is that content is compatible with different versions and save games (unlike certain mods), but the reality that users spend “in-game credits” means Creation Club veers out of community-forged mod support and into the realm of premium content.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends strolls into Skyrim
Are you a fan of CCGs and/or The Elder Scrolls: Legends? I personally am not the biggest fan of CCGs (though I do like what I’ve played of them), and I haven’t had a chance to take The Elder Scrolls: Legends for a spin, so I can only assume that the focus on new Legends content will strike a chord with fans of the genre/game. I did like Skyrim, though, and the announcement that the Heroes of Skyrim expansion is coming to Legends may just convince me to take the CCG for a spin. Speaking of Skyrim, it looks like the 2011 game is coming to Switch this year. As expected, it doesn’t look that flash (assuming what we saw was actual Switch gameplay), and the Joy Con motion controls look tiring.

Dishonored 2 DLC reminds me I need to give Dishonored 2 a second chance
I’m sure I’m not alone on this, but Dishonored 2 was basically unplayable for me at launch (on PC). This continued even after multiple patches and driver updates. As a massive fan of the original game, it was painful to hear about the awesomeness of the sequel, but not being able to play it without the frame rate inexplicably tanking in the open parts of the game world. For those of you who didn’t have those problems or who persevered, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is coming on 15 September. Note there’s no ‘2’ in the title, which means Death of the Outsider is a standalone product (and possibly closer to the original game than the sequel), and if the trailer is anything to go by, it looks like a tonne of fun. Death of the Outsider is a standalone expansion that has players taking on the role of Billie Lurk in her pursuit of a legendary assassination: the death of the otherworldly Outsider.

Quake Champions is throwing down some serious competitive cash
Keep an eye on the site for my future gameplay thoughts on the Quake Champions beta, but Bethesda announced that Quake Champions is going to have a big ol’ competitive bash later this year at QuakeCon 2017. There’s a $1,000,000 prize pool, and Bethesda is saying that Champions takes eSports to the next level. Oh, it also unveiled a new titular champion in the form of Wolfenstein protagonist BJ Blazkowicz. If what Hines said at the end of the conference is true, Quake Champions will be officially released later this year, too.

The Evil Within 2 looks somehow creepier than its predecessor
One of my recent gaming regrets is not giving The Evil Within a red-hot go. Like Dishonored 2, the reason I avoided it at launch was because of a shoddy PC port (hmm, that sounds familiar). In terms of The Evil Within, this meant a fixed 30fps and jarring black bars. The good news for PC fans who made it past that (or waited for the patch that made 30fps and black bars optional) is The Evil Within 2 is in the works and poised to unleash on 13 October. Aside from the less-than-stellar Ordinary World cover backing track, the gameplay looks brutal, horrific, and more intense than the last outing. Consider me tentatively signed up. Now, I just have to play through the original game.

Wolfenstein is back and on an acid trip
You have to see it to believe it, but the Wolfenstein gameplay trailer ends with a character chasing a cartoon chameleon because he’s tripping. I honestly couldn’t make this stuff up. Outside of that, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks fantastic, both visually and in terms of that same blurring of old-school shooting and contemporary mechanics. It seems that the game world is more open this time around, and Machine Games has leant into the madness. It’s also clear the dev has been watching The Man in the High Castle to help present this alternative-history view of a 1960s America under Nazi rule. That’s not a bad thing, though, and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is ready to kick arse and take names when it launches on 27 October.

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