Fus WOOOO Dah: A Recap of the 2019 Bethesda E3 Showcase

For its fifth E3 press conference, Bethesda wanted to take a page out of Time Magazine and celebrate…you! With its most die hard and vocal fans in the audience, Bethesda didn’t quite match the delirium of last year’s E3 showcase, but instead presented a slew of updates from its studios, plus a pair of exciting new IPs that made for an interesting, if not slightly safe, presentation.

Throughout the show, Bethesda representatives made it clear that the presentation was about the fanbase, with developers thanking their communities at every turn and fans recalling their favourite memories in Bethesda games. While passion is most certainly a great thing, pointing a microphone at passionate fans is another. If one was looking to hear fans yelling “”Yes Sir” when told about downloading an update coming later tonight or proceeding to lose their mind at anything related The Elder Scrolls Online (and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time), this was your show.

While the names of the new Bethesda projects may have leaked ahead of time, details were not. Firstly, we had Ghostwire Tokyo by Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within). People are vanishing in Tokyo, and your player character must delve into the world of the paranormal and encounter good and bad spirits to discover what has happened. No gameplay or release date was mentioned, but a stylish trailer introduced by creative director (and new internet darling) Ikumi Nakamura made this one to look out for.

The other IP is helmed by Arkane Lyon (Dishonored). While the studio may be wrapping up work co-developing Wolfenstein: Youngblood, their next project is known as Deathloop. Set on an island called Black Reef, you play as one of two ‘rivals’: Colt, who wants to escape the island, and Julianne, who wants to stay. Both Colt and Julianne will find themselves battling it out over and over again, as both are stuck in a time loop. Your goal is to break the loop whilst exploring a world designed with multiple approaches in mind.

Bethesda, priding itself as a technological innovator, is also getting into the streaming future of video games with the announcement of a new technology aimed to make it easier for consumers and publishers. Known as Orion, the promise is that instead of relying on hardware tech to better game streaming, it works on the game engine level. Bethesda touts 40% less bandwidth used, and has been able to integrate it into a variety of game engines via their respective SDK. Whether the tech works will or not, time will tell.

The last new game announcement by Zenimax Online Studios revives an id software classic. Commander Keen is being revived as a free to play mobile game, soft launching later this year. Taking the aesthetic of a Saturday morning cartoon, you play as the kids of the original Commander Keen, Billy and Billie, as you battle aliens with gadgets constructed from regular household goods.

From here out, we were in update town, as the crowd ate up every single nugget of news coming to existing Bethesda games. The Elder Scrolls Online got a fancy, if not overly long, story trailer relating to its newest expansion. Rage 2 is getting more free items and we even got a brief look at its upcoming expansion, Rise of the Ghosts. The Elder Scrolls Blades is coming to the Nintendo Switch later this year, with full cross save/cross play functionality.

Doom Eternal got a release date of 22 November 2019, with Bethesda celebrating the Year of Doom by renaming QuakeCon as DoomCon. The game is also receiving a multiplayer mode known as Battle Mode. Described as a first person fighting game, and developed internally by id software, it’s a 2v1 competitive mode where one player takes control of a fully powered up Doom Slayer, and the other two taking the role of two demons.

After its disastrous launch last year, Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard made a quick appearance to let people know that they’ve heard the feedback regarding Fallout 76, and that Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI are still in the works. Speaking of Fallout 76, the game is set to receive some significant updates in its second year. The first, known as the Wastelanders update, aims to bring the game closer to what people expect out of a Fallout game: NPCs, dialogue trees, a new main quest and much more.

The second was that Fallout 76 is catching up to the latest gaming trends and introducing a Battle Royale mode. Known as Nuclear Winter, you and 51 other players will battle it out to see who becomes the Overseer of Vault 51; you not only have to battle other players and an encroaching ring of fire, but also the various beasts of the Appalachian wilds. The mode will be available later this year, but a preview of the mode will be available this week, along with a week-long trial of the game across all platforms.

Bethesda has a reputation of marching to the beat of its own drum. While it was great to actually see some new IP and the promises of some significant updates to some less than well received games, more details on the former would’ve gone a long way. Perhaps next year, a celebration of the fans might not need to mic up everybody who wants to scream and shout every time the word ‘dragon’ is uttered.