At first there was nothing. Empty space. The soft quiet of the void. Darkness. An idea, floating in a barren wasteland. And then, a lone voice—loud and getting steadily louder.
Thusly did E3 2015 come into being. And let me extend a warm welcome. Sunday night, Bethesda held its first ever E3 press conference at the historic Dolby Theater in Los Angeles (the same venue as The Oscars). Thanks to rumors, leaks, and Bethesda's own marketing, we already knew almost every announcement ahead of time, but…damn. That Fallout 4 trailer.
In case you were busy sleeping, eating, or otherwise going about life as a normal, well-adjusted human, here's what you missed.
Doom (a.k.a. Doom 4)
Bethesda wasted no time, kicking off with Doom (4). And oh hey—Doom exists. Like, we actually saw a hefty amount of in-game footage, and then a big ol' Doom logo splashed onscreen and somewhere in the ether John Romero's hair probably tingled a bit.
Doom is built on id Tech 6, and what we saw was split across two locations—one which seemed to take place in some sort of Mars-based industrial station complex-y thing and another they called the "Gateway to Hell." It's looking really pretty, provided your idea of pretty is "Demons literally disintegrating into dismembered body parts with the utmost realism."
The singleplayer trailers (yes, two) we saw were definitely heavy on action—this was guns, guns, guns, and then a series of explosions. And then a chainsaw rammed through a demon's skull. Either that means Bethesda's moving away from the relatively story-heavy trappings of Doom 3 or it means they're keeping those cards closer to the chest.
Personally I'm hoping it's the latter. Bethesda's sensational other shooter Wolfenstein: The New Order proved you could combine an old-school shooter with a decent story. I'd like to see some of that carry over into Doom.
We got a brief taste of Doom's multiplayer, which looks fast-paced enough to almost be a '90s shooter. The biggest news by far though was the introduction of "Snapmap" (or SnapMap?). It's similar to Halo's "Forge," allowing for in-game creation of custom maps and modes. Now I think the real question is whether Bethesda plans to reintroduce its controversial paid mods scheme whenever SnapMap launches.
Also, that name. Ugh. It's almost as corny as Drivatar.
Finally, a release date: Spring of 2016. I'd guess May, as that's when Wolfenstein launched last year and the Wolfenstein expansion launched this year.
It's been quite a while since I've seen anything from Battlecry, Bethesda's multiplayer-focused shooter. We got a brief demo during the press conference, and it…well, it still looks it'll be an interesting Team Fortress-esque shooter, if it ever releases.
Supposedly it's coming in 2015. We'll see.
Okay, so thanks to a last-minute leak involving a live Twitch stream and a hot mic, we already knew Dishonored 2 was coming. Them's the breaks.
Still, it's good to see Bethesda giving this one a second shot. Dishonored was pretty fantastic, albeit flawed, and I'm excited to see more of Arkane's world. There wasn't much to go on in the trailer—you're still traipsing around the world stopping time and generally being a crazy assassin. The only big point I noticed in the trailer is that Dishonored 2 will feature dual protagonists—Corvo makes his return, but Emily Kaldwin is now a playable character too.
The Elder Scrolls Legends
Bethesda continued to soil the Elder Scrolls name by announcing a Hearthstone-alike digital card game called Elder Scrolls Legends. Uh…Yeah. I guess that's coming. I think there was also an Elder Scrolls Online trailer too but I yawned and then it was over.
And then the moment we were all waiting for! The Fallout 4 demo was just as blown out and lengthy as pre-show rumors suggested. Half an hour of game footage. For an E3 demo? That's unheard of. Todd Howard came on stage. He said "Games are important to all of us here!" He showed us concept art! He talked about attention to detail! Inspirational violin music played!
Then he dropped the bomb (sorry): Fallout 4 starts pre-nuclear bombs dropping. That's where you're going to start creating your character. Humans still look a bit weird in Fallout 4, but the character creation is more refined—instead of changing a bunch of sliders to adjust your features, you just sort of drag your face around like some sort of horrible clay person.
We fast-forwarded after character creation to the actual game—200 years in the future. No, Bethesda didn't tell us how our character is still alive. From there, it looked like a prettier version of Fallout 3. One interesting feature: Todd Howard said you can walk away from dialogue exchanges if you want, just in the middle of talking. I'm curious whether doing so will affect peoples' opinion of you.
VATS also makes a return, though tweaked. It looks like time merely slows down in Fallout 4's VATS instead of halting entirely. That should make combat a bit more interesting than rapidly tapping the VATS button.
Bethesda's also added a massive crafting/structure-creation aspect to Fallout 4. Structure creation is similar to the house designer they used in that one Skyrim expansion, except fleshed out in a bunch of ways to be more like a survival game—complete with power grids, terminals, traps, et cetera to protect against the raiders who will inevitably attack. Though Todd Howard specified this is a single "optional" part of a "very large" game.
The other half, crafting, pertains to weapons and armor modifications. The system looks extremely customizable, with a video demonstrating that a Laser Pistol can be specced out into a Laser Sniper Rifle, Laser Shotgun, or what have you based on whatever parts you attach.
Oh, and there's a jetpack. And an airship. And damn it stop showing me Fallout 4 and just let me play it.
You're feeling that way too? Well, good news. Oh sweet mother of what's-his-name it's coming out November 10. That is not very long from now.
In weird collectible news, Bethesda's Todd Howard also revealed that the collector's edition of the game will come with a model of a Pip-Boy—one you can slot your phone into and thus use like a real Pip-Boy. There's an accompanying app that will interact with the game, which…could go either way. Todd Howard called it a gimmick, but "the best $#^^%ing gimmick," so take what you will from that.
For tablet and phone people, there's also a vault management game called Fallout Shelter that looks similar to some stuff from XCOM or maybe This War of Mine. It's a free-to-play god game that's out on iOS right this moment. So go download that, if you're one of those tablet people.
And that's it! Bethesda's over! E3 is underway. Join us again tomorrow for more E3 press conference news from Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, and EA. Stay with us all week for more from the show—most of the PC games we're most excited about won't be revealed during tomorrow's press conferences. And for minute-to-minute updates from the ground, check out my Twitter feed. I’ll be posting live updates all week.