So here we are again, E3 2019. Of course, I am not writing this from the LA Convention Centre but rather from my sofa in drizzly England, where I’m watching the livestreams on YouTube. Honestly, I’m sorta glad I’m not in California, because the debacle that is me simultaneously trying to type these articles, take notes, watch the briefings and drink copious amounts of caffeine is not something I need to submit anyone else to.
With the Xbox briefing out of the way earlier this evening, it’s time for Bethesda’s offering. The disaster that was Fallout 76 is a dark cloud that continues to hang over their heads; Tim offered up that an apology should be one of the items of their briefing this year (it wasn’t).
In all seriousness, Bethesda had an awful lot to make up for this year and a spurned fanbase to win back. To his credit Todd Howard is a good sport about it all, but the dissatisfaction felt by fans is still ever-present. The studio’s gratitude to the community is apparent, but that doesn’t remove the bitter aftertaste of the game’s disastrous launch.
So, what pricked my ears during this year’s briefing, as someone who’s not really an Elder Scrolls fan? Trying to condense a packed briefing into anything resembling succinctness is difficult, but I’ve picked through my near-illegible notes to bring you a brief summary.
Fallout 76 – Year 2
Ah, Fallout 76. The multiplayer entry in the Fallout series absolutely nobody wanted, that released as a buggy, broken and unfinished mess. To be honest I think anything the studio does to salvage the situation is like putting a kiddie’s dinosaur plaster on a broken bone, but at least the content announced is free!
The Wastelanders expansion brings with it a new questline and stories to explore, but also brings human NPCs to West Virginia (finally!). Both this and Nuclear Winter, a 52-person battle royale mode wherein players vie for the role of Vault 51’s Overseer, are completely free. Also free is a week-long trial of the game, starting today. Bethesda clearly hope that these offerings will draw in droves of players, but honestly I’m not sure by how much the player-base will be expanding. Time will tell I guess.
When Shinji Mikami walks onstage you know you’re in for awesomeness, and boy howdy does GhostWire: Tokyo look ace. Instead of being Mikami’s lifeblood, survival horror, this is instead an action adventure game wherein we face paranormal evils in order to save the city of Tokyo. Presumably this is the same supernatural force that’s abducting Tokyo’s citizens, leaving only their clothes behind – or, sadly, a lone doggo. Why are they being taken? Where do they go? Who’s responsible? Most importantly, can you pet the pup? I have so many questions!
There’s precious little by way of information about this game thus far, but knowing its source we can be pretty sure we’re in for a terrific experience.
Sometimes all you want to do is pick up a gun and shoot some evil Nazis dead. Cyberpilot will let players fulfil their Nazi-killing fantasies in glorious VR. Youngblood lets us do it with a friend. Seeing as VR is more or less totally inaccessible to me, and as appealing as pretending to be a computer hacker in the French Resistance sounds like fun, I’ll keep my attention focused on the latter title.
Set in the 1980s, two decades after The New Colossus, Youngblood sees BJ Blazkowicz’s daughters, twins Jessica and Sophia, travel to Paris in search of their father whilst also aiding the Resistance in liberating the country from forty years of Nazi occupation. Taking control of either twin, players can either fly solo with an AI companion or be joined by a friend in co-op play. Releasing on 26th July, we don’t have much longer to wait to kill some freaking Nazis.
I expected greatness from Arkane, being the colossal Dishonored fan that I am. In the glaring absence of any sort of addition to that particular franchise – excuse me whilst I cry – I can instead wait eagerly for Deathloop, which looks to be one hell of an experience.
Apparently combining a ‘mind-bending story’ with intricately designed levels and the ‘play your way’ style of gameplay we’ve come to expect from an Arkane game, Deathloop is set on the ‘lawless’ island of Blackreef and tells the tale of Colt and Juliana, two rival assassins stuck in an unrelenting cycle of death and apparent resurrection. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, or why, or how, but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be there at launch to find out.
There you have it, BE3 over for another year. I’m somewhat undecided as to whether Bethesda have finished climbing out of the deep, Fallout 76-shaped hole they’ve been in since last year, but I’m choosing to remain optimistic. I just seriously hope that my optimism won’t turn out to be misplaced.