One Tamriel is the Improvement Elder Scrolls Online Needed, But it’s Still Missing Something

When my friends and I jumped in to Elder Scrolls Online at launch, there was a unanimous sense of disappointment in the air. As we created our characters and ended up questing on opposite sides of the world, we realized something: for being an MMO, they certainly made it difficult to play with other people.

Continue reading “One Tamriel is the Improvement Elder Scrolls Online Needed, But it’s Still Missing Something”

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E3 2016: Bethesda Revives, Reveals, and Updates

Last year Bethesda had quite possibly the best presentation in all of E3 2015, and that was pretty impressive considering it was their first conference ever. This year’s presentation may not live up to last year’s standards — revealing Fallout 4 and a new Doom will do that to a publisher — but there’s a lot to look forward to for fans of their games.

Side-note: I thought it was a nice touch that each of the presenters sported a little rainbow ribbon, paying tribute to the tragedy that occurred in Orlando, Florida without bringing it up verbally. Good on you, Bethesda.

I do wish they’d have shown more gameplay instead of cinematic trailers. No one at this conference seemed comfortable talking in front of a live crowd either, aside from Tim Willits from id Software.

My predictions:

  • Skyrim remastered with mod support, instead of Morrowind
  • Wolfenstein 2 revealed
  • The Evil Within 2 revealed
  • Dishonored 2 is the marquee game and we finally see gameplay
  • Doom DLC and multi-player revamp discussed
  • Fallout Shelter coming to PC and consoles (Vita please!)
  • A very boring TESO presentation
  • TESO core game will be free-to-play

Quake is back.

Bethesda opened up with the reveal of Quake Champions, a competitive online multi-player game exclusive to PC. The cinematic trailer did little to wow me, showing off different hero types and their (assumed) exclusive abilities to dash, warp, and shield themselves. My guess is that it’s their take on Overwatch.

I loved Quake and Quake 2 growing up, so the thought of playing a new Quake with the same quality as this year’s Doom release hyped me up pretty fast. Then that whole “competitive online multi-player game exclusive to PC” bit popped my party balloon. I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but give me campaign or give me death. Looks like I get death.

Bethesda will reveal more info on Quake Champions later this August at Quakecon. Judging by the smattering of applause from the audience, there wasn’t much interest in L.A. You have to take in to consideration that most of the crowd was press on their phones and laptops taking notes.

Elder Scrolls Legends is shown. Again.

Elder Scrolls Legends is Bethesda’s free-to-play mobile card battle game that takes place in the Elder Scrolls universe. The opening cinematic was mostly storyboards and still shots with a voiced narrative briefly explaining the goings on.

I’m not sure if it’s the IGN stream I was watching or the actual stream itself, but the trailer cut out 20 seconds in and went dark for about 10 seconds before resuming. Just E3 being E3.

The 2nd trailer of the show, and the 2nd to be nothing more than a cinematic. They did briefly show a little gameplay, which looked a bit like Hearthstone (another Blizzard game). Not my thing at all.

Elder Scrolls Legends is currently in beta, and you can sign up at Bethesda.net.

Fallout 4 getting three new DLC packs.

A video of Todd Howard is shown, thanking fans for the colossal amount of support the series has received since last year’s E3. I always like when developers and publishers thank their fans. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Fallout 4 just received new story DLC in Far Harbor (and a recent price fuck-up, courtesy of Xbox), but Bethesda isn’t done yet. The open-world RPG is getting three new DLC packs over the next 2 months.

Contraptions Workshop expands on the polarizing base building mechanic of Fallout 4, adding things like elevators, armor and weapon racks, track kits that don’t seem to do much of anything, conveyor belts, and sorting machines. The DLC will be available next week.

Vault-tec Workshop also expands upon the base building mechanic, but allows players to build their own vault. The only other thing mentioned in the DLC trailer was that you can experiment on dwellers, but it just showed them taking a spin class or something. Vault-tec Workshop will be available next month in July.

The third DLC pack opens up a new amusement park zone called Nuka World, but there were no details given aside from its August release window. The park appears to have a roller coaster, something resembling Seattle’s space needle, and a snow-capped mountain.

I really didn’t care for the base building mechanic, and without any details on Nuka World, none of this makes me want to revisit Fallout 4 anytime soon.

Fallout Shelter coming to PC, getting significant update.

Fallout Shelter has apparently been played by over 50 million people worldwide, according to Todd Howard. That’s a lot of micro-transactions.

The mobile vault building game will receive a pretty significant update. Players can undertake quests, by selecting a quest card and sending out a team of dwellers to complete it — meaning they just won’t be available for a given time frame. This is eerily similar to World of Warcraft’s Garrison system, which would make this the third Blizzard game that’s inspired Bethesda. I’m noticing a trend here.

The update will allow you to build vaults in different locations, like under a Red Rocket or the Super Duper Mart, and toss in new enemies and characters to spice things up. It’ll also revamp the combat system, allowing players to target specific enemies instead of watching their dwellers run around aimlessly during raids. Combat in Fallout Shelter right now is random and boring, so this is a welcome change.

As I mentioned in the header there, Fallout Shelter is, indeed, coming to PC next month in July. Sadly there’s no mention of a console port, which is a shame since this would be awesome on Vita.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is a thing and has mod support on consoles.

Todd Howard closed out his segment by confirming the existence of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition. He segued in to the trailer, saying something along the lines of “you asked, and yes, we’re working on it.” When I heard the music, I was really hoping for the next Elder Scrolls reveal, not Skyrim Remastered.

Considering the same team makes Fallout and Elder Scrolls, that was highly unlikely.

I really, really don’t care about Skyrim Remastered, which is essentially the PC version that’s been available for 5 years, but with mod support on Xbox One and PS4.

The trailer does a great job comparing screenshots from last-gen and current-gen consoles, so it definitely looks like Skyrim running on a good PC with some new textures, but this whole thing seems totally unnecessary. If you’re excited, that’s cool, and I’m glad you’re getting something you want.

The crowd seemed pretty jazzed by it. I just kept wishing it was Morrowind HD instead.

Prey 2 is now Prey, and a totally different game.

Prey 2 was revealed a couple of years ago, looking like a third-person Mass Effect style shooter. When that developer went belly up though, the fate of Prey 2 was up in the air. Arkane Studios, developer of Dishonored, has given the reigns to their Texas branch, and oh boy does Prey look different.

Oh, right, I should clarify. Prey 2 is now just Prey, which is a smart move, and it’s now a first-person psychological thriller that’s part narrative shooter and part Groundhog Day without Bill Murray.

The trailer shows the lead character, Morgan, waking up to relive the same day over and over again — getting dressed, making coffee, checking out his fucked up eye that appears to be more bloodshot with each awakening. Turns out you’re being experimented on, and your space station has just been overtaken by an alien life form. Fantastic.

This was a pretty great cinematic trailer, and not at all what I expected Prey 2 to become. I’m genuinely excited, but I’m keeping my expectations in check until I see some actual gameplay. There were a few quick moments of gunshots and the cinematic was in-game footage (not CGI), but it didn’t give me much to work with.

Still, this was my show stealer for Bethesda. More Prey will be shown at Quakecon in August.

Doom’s free and paid DLC revealed.

Marty Stratton from id Software begins the presentation by thanking the fans for making Doom’s launch such a success. Warm, fuzzy, etc.

Doom’s Snapmap feature is getting free updates, including construction modules, props, objects, hell visual themes, and the ability to create single-player adventures with improved logic and the inclusion of the game’s weapon wheel.

Next month Doom will receive two new multi-player modes: a CTF mode called Exodus, and a domination mode called Sector.

Later in the summer Doom will get three new free-for-all modes, including classic deathmatch. Again, these modes are all free. Good on you again, Bethesda.

In July we’ll see Doom’s first premium DLC pack, Unto the Evil, which is, of course, not free. Unto the Evil includes three new multi-player maps (Offering, Cataclysm, and Ritual), a new playable demon in The Harvester, a new gun, armor sets, taunts, and “more.”

Pete Hines then reveals that for the next week anyone can download Doom for free and play through the campaign’s first level. Not a very expansive demo for being a limited time offer, but hey, free is free.

I’m glad Bethesda is continuing to support Doom, but I wish they’d show the same love to those of us who enjoyed the campaign. Story DLC would be nice.

The Elder Scrolls Online gets a leveling overhaul and a new Dark Brotherhood expansion.

Matt Firor, the MMO’s director, immediately thanks the fans (yay!) for making TESO one of the best selling games of 2015, and mentions the game has had over 7 million players worldwide. I’m willing to bet that’s 7 million accounts created, not an actual representation of their current playerbase.

For what it’s worth, I own the game on Xbox One and I’ve never seen anyone on my friend list play it outside of its launch month — even when it goes on sale. I also own a PS4 and have yet to see one of my friends logged in to TESO. 7 million is just a large number for them to throw around, but I’m glad there are people out there enjoying it. It just wasn’t a good MMO in my opinion.

Judging by the five people cheering in the audience, I’m not sure the audience was in to it either.

After a sizzle reel trailer comedically touting 578 million mudcrabs were killed by the community, Firor reveals that TESO will expand with its release in Japan on June 23rd.

We’re then given our first look at the upcoming Dark Brotherhood expansion. Unfortunately it’s mostly an in-game cinematic, but I’ve always loved the Brotherhood’s quest lines. I wish they would have gone a little more in-depth, honestly. This did very little to make me want to reinstall TESO.

The Elder Scrolls Online will get a bit of a revamp this fall under the One Tamriel initiative, addressing my main complaint — it’s just too damn difficult to group with friends who aren’t on the same quests.

One Tamriel removes the MMO’s faction restriction and will automatically scale your level to the level of the zone you’re exploring and questing in. I assume you’ll still level up as normal to obtain skill points, but being able to group with your friends regardless of their level, explore whatever zone tickles your fancy, and not sweat the whole faction lock-out thing is pretty sweet.

Matt Firor claims this is the “first time this has ever been done in a multi-platform MMO,” but apparently no one at Bethesda has played Final Fantasy XIV. You can group up with anyone of any level in FFXIV and everyone will be scaled accordingly during dungeons and optional world events. This isn’t something new, but it’s certainly a welcome change.

Blink 182 will be performing live.

And no one gave a shit.

Doom and Fallout 4 get the VR treatment.

Doom’s virtual tour of hell was available for attendees to experience, as well as Fallout 4. Fallout 4 will be available on the HTC Vive VR platform some time in 2017, under the new Bethesda VR initiative.

Dishonored 2 coming 11.11.16.

Dishonored 2 was confirmed during Bethesda’s E3 presentation last year, though we only saw a cinematic trailer. This year we’re given a new cinematic trailer, as well as two new gameplay segments showing off the game’s mobility, locomotion, Victorian-era visuals (described as “a painting in motion”), the new city of Karnaca, and a host of Emily’s new powers.

Players can also choose to play as Corvo or Emily, both of which are fully voice acted and have their own skill trees and abilities.

The environments in Dishonored 2 look fine, even great at times, but the character models are off-putting, stiff, and have weird movement animations. The gameplay demo ran pretty poorly, with plenty of frame dips and stuttering, rough combat animations, and the same weird animations on behalf of the NPCs.

I’m honestly surprised it’s ready for release in November when the demo ran so poorly, but there’s no telling how old the footage was. Dishonored never really clicked with me, and while this definitely looks like a new and improved adventure, it seems unpolished and doesn’t really have my interest.

Pre-ordering Dishonored 2 digitally on any platform will grant you a free copy of Dishonored Definitive Edition. There’s also a collector’s edition that includes Corvo’s mask and Emily’s ring, which they suggested pre-ordering (because of course). No one clapped.

They also closed the Dishonored 2 segment with a new trailer using in-game footage and a pretty great cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman.

So how was it?

Overall, Bethesda certainly had a lot more substance than EA did earlier in the day. A lot of their available games are receiving updates or releasing on additional platforms/territories, and I always like to see a developer or publisher support their game after launch.

That being said, Prey was the only interesting announcement for me. I had heard rumors that the revamped Prey 2 would be shown, but I had no idea the change would be this drastic. I don’t want to get too excited over a cinematic, though.

Dishonored has its fanbase, and I hope for them that Dishonored 2 lives up to their expectations. The demo was rough, as I said, but we have five months until it hits store shelves. Kudos to Bethesda and Arkane though for showing off a ton of gameplay.

I was mainly interested in a new Wolfenstein and The Evil Within, and surprisingly neither were mentioned in any way. This wasn’t a boring conference by any means, but it didn’t build much excitement for any of their projects outside of Prey. However, I sincerely hope that everything their fans are happy about is everything they want and more.