Now in VR!
After the doctoral theses that was the Microsoft conference (over 6400 words before I had to get the snippers), I was happy to tackle something shorter. Enter Bethesda and their conference.
I honestly had very little idea what to expect from them. The day before, amazon.de put up a listing for Wolfenstein ahead of time, so I figured that would be mentioned. I also knew that Fallout VR and Quake Champions would be mentioned. Past that? I knew nothing. My son prayed for The Elder Scrolls VI, but I knew that game was nowhere near a point where it could even be mentioned.
As before, the games listed are in order of appearance.
This one kinda blindsided me. I did NOT see this one coming.
Doom VRF, unlike Fallout 4 VR, is not a full redo of the core game. This is a new story and game. The player controls a character who was killed during the demon invasion and brought back as a robosoldier. Since this is an FPS in VR, it would not do to let players run and gun like usual. The nausea induced by all the twitch movements cannot be fun. Teleportation will be used instead. There is a sort of dash and melee move called jet-strafe that can be used, but that’s about it.
Of course, there has to be someone wondering what the “F” in VFR means. I don’t know for sure, but I figure it has to be similar to BFG. For those who don’t know, the “F” there is a curse word. You know…FUCK!
Doom VFR has no firm release date, just “sometime in 2017.” The game will support PlayStation VR and HTC Vive. Oculus Rift owners may be able to hack or patch the game for their setup, but that’s not a given.
Fallout 4 VR
Bethesda is committed to their VR push, and Fallout 4 VR is part of it.
The game has somewhat stayed intact in the transition to VR. The major changes were to the building, combat, and crafting systems. These were completely overhauled with VR in mind. The changes are not terribly complex, and all functions – yes, even V.A.T.S. – will be familiar to vets.
There’s a bit of disagreement on the type of locomotion the game will use. The trailer shows regular walking movement for the player, but Bethesda initially worked on a teleporting system as a primary means of locomotion. The option to switch between the two would be useful. People prone to motion sickness – myself included – would benefit from the option. Some hands-on testers were teleporting, so it seems the option is there. We’ll see.
Another point of confusion is what Fallout 4 VR is. For those with the season pass, this is not part of it. It is a full retail, standalone game, not an add-on. Also, there’s some confusion on whether DLC will be included. Although a statement from Bethesda states that it’s only the core game, a screenshot of the Pip-Boy shows the “Vault-Tec Calling” quest. That quest is only available for folks who have the Vault-Tec Workshop DLC. There’s no further word on the matter.
Either way, Fallout 4 VR will be a godsend for Fallout fans who want a truly immersive experience. Provided, of course, they have a PC and an HTC Vive. PlayStation VR users, however, are left in the lurch. There are no plans for the game on that platform.
Fallout 4 VR will arrive October 2017.
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is already out, and Bethesda announced that the MMO reached the 10 million user mark. Past that, the only new info concerns two planned DLC packs: Horns of the Reach and Clockwork City. No details were given past their existence. Both are expected sometime in late 2017.
Bethesda Creation Club
This is not a game, but a service of sorts. And I have a lot to say about it. I’ll be brief here.
Way back in 2015, Bethesda tried to introduce paid mods to their games on Steam. They touted it as a way for mod creators to be rewarded for their work – with Bethesda obviously getting a piece of that reward. The internet reacted the way you would expect when someone announces that stuff that was previously free was now stuck behind a paywall. The backlash was so intense that Bethesda shelved the idea within a week. Flash forward to present day. Bethesda is introducing paid mods to their games on Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network. They tout it as a way for mod creators to be rewarded for their work. See a pattern?
To be fair, this is not entirely accurate. There are several differences between the 2015 implementation and the recent one. First, unlike the 2015 attempt, mods made before Creation Club will not be retrofitted to the new program. They insist only new mods will be in the new program. Mods made prior to the Club will remain free.
Second, Bethesda is curating the Creation Club, which will offer mods for Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. In 2015, the whole operation was run on the uncurated wilderness that is Steam. In Creation Club, they are only allowing modders who meet their approval requirements in. Further, they will be supporting modders from the initial stages to localization and testing. Theoretically, this should cut down on the “horse genitals” mods prevalent the first go-around. Also, this will ensure that the mods play well with other mods, eliminating the possibility that some mods break others.
Third, Bethesda is not restricting free mods. In 2015, modders who wanted to make mods had to do so through Bethesda’s system, period. This time around, modders who either don’t wish to enter the Creation Club or are not approved can still offer free mods. It at least allows some flexibility.
So why are players still up in arms? Because you have to pay for mods offered in the Creation Club storefront. Granted, it’s not as direct. The mods will cost credits to purchase. But the credits require money to purchase. All Bethesda did was add an extra transaction layer. The credits are bought via Steam, Xbox Live, or PSN and can be transferred from one platform to another. So at least credit purchases are not locked to one storefront. Bethesda says the money paid for the mods will be shared with the mod creators. This, plus the support they give modders, is meant to incentivize quality work from modders.
I am all for a system which rewards modders for their work. Anyone who creates content that enriches a player’s experience deserves to be rewarded. And, yes, modders who get paid for providing mods will be incentivized to work on more mods. But hanging a price tag on something that was free is going to upset a majority of the user base. Plus, Bethesda is undoubtedly taking a cut for providing this “service.” If the modders received all the money, it’d be one thing. But Bethesda putting up a storefront and essentially getting paid for someone else’s work is not cool. And that is exactly what is happening here.
Is it legal? Well, Bethesda owns the rights to the games being modded. It can do whatever it goddamn pleases. Is it beneficial? Truthfully, yes. Modders will get paid, and users are assured quality mods that play well with the game and other mods.
But is it right? I say it isn’t. Why should Bethesda benefit from the work of others? It’s like Nintendo requiring YouTubers to sign up with them and letting Nintendo take a portion of their earnings in exchange for Nintendo letting YouTubers post the videos. OK, the company has the right to stand between creator and consumer and charge a toll. But is it a good move business-wise? Will the revenue generated counter-balance the ill faith generated?
Whether or not it is, they will find out. Creation Club is rolling out sometime in Summer 2017.
The Elder Scrolls Legends
The free-to-play collectible card game will now be playable on the go. Bethesda announced that The Elder Scrolls Legends will be playable on iOS and Android phones. The bigger news is that the game will also be receiving an expansion pack.
The Heroes of Skyrim will introduce 150 new cards to the game. New mechanics like Shouts and dragons – including Alduin and Paarthurnax – will be added. There will also be new heroes, including Aela the Huntress, Delphine, and J’Zargo.
There will be more new content to coincide with the mobile release. In-game tournaments will be possible. In addition, a Chaos Arena will be added. Finally, story content for the Dark Brotherhood will be added.
The Heroes of Skyrim will be released on June 29th. The Elder Scrolls Legends will go mobile the following month.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The big news for Skyrim is a port for the Nintendo Switch. The port includes the core game and three official add-ons: Dawnguard, Dragonborn, and Hearthfire. Also, the game will support motion controls with the Joy-Cons. The trailer shows a player using a sword and shield, then later a bow and arrow, with the motion controls.
In a bit of Nintendo flair, the game will also have amiibo support. In the trailer, the player used a Link amiibo to cause a treasure chest to drop. Inside the chest were the Master Sword, a Hylian Shield, and link’s tunic, all from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. So now you can be a Dovakiin and a Link cosplayer!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will launch on the Nintendo Switch this fall.
Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider
A new standalone DLC for Dishonored 2 was announced. Called Death of the Outsider, the game focuses on the main game’s quest-giver, Meagan Foster. In the trailer, she shows she is more than capable of doling out punishment. After cleaving through a number of enemies, she enters a room to rescue Daud, a prominent character in the Dishonored: Knife of Dunwall DLC. Together, they aim to take down the Outsider, the individual responsible for giving Daud, Corvo, and Emily their abilities.
Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider will release on September 15th.
Quake Champions, which is currently in beta, received a couple of announcements. The first is a bit of cool fan service. Wolfenstein protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz is being added to the roster. The second is a call for esports hopefuls. On August 26th, developer id Software will be hosting the Quake World Championship in Dallas, TX. Participants will duke it out, with the winners taking a share of the $1,000,000 in prize money.
The Evil Within 2
Tango Gameworks’ 2014 survival horror game The Evil Within made quite an impression on its release. Bethesda announced The Evil Within 2 at the conference.
The game is set three years after the original and sees Sebastian Castellanos return as the protagonist. This time, he’s motivated by something different. Years prior to the events of the original, Sebastian lost his daughter Lily in a house fire. However, Sebastian receives a surprise visit from Kidman, his former partner, who has something unbelievable to tell him. Lily, it turns out, is alive and being used by Mobius as a test subject. Their aim is to continue their work on creating a STEM world. But she’s seemingly lost in STEM. Sebastian decides to set out and search for Lily. His quest leads him to Union, a city seemingly created out of the STEM research with Lily.
The teaser trailer shown consists mostly of cinematics, with a few gameplay sequences thrown it. The gameplay looks to be similar to that of the original game. The trailer also shows a lot of disturbing imagery, leaning on psychological horror to deliver its dread. The areas shown are supposed to be manifestations of Sebastian’s mind, and they’re pretty demented. If the gameplay is similar to the original, one would hope that they smoothed out some of the clunkiness present in the original.
The Evil Within 2 will release on Friday, October 13th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Let me get this out of the way first: where can I get me a Liesel? WHO DO I HAVE TO MAIM TO MAKE IT HAPPEN???
2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order was a refreshing – and excellent – reimagining of the series. For the final trailer in the conference, Bethesda trotted out its sequel, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. From the gameplay shown, it looks like the absolute insanity of the 2014 title is back.
This Wolfenstein series is set in an alternate timeline. Here, the Nazis won World War II and have conquered the world. The original was set in 1960’s Europe. In the sequel, the decade remains the same but the location shifts to the United States. Our stalwart protagonist, B.J. Blazkowicz, is looking to help the American resistance beat back their Nazi oppressors.
Everything about the trailer mimics the tongue-in-cheek humor of the original. There are a couple of live-action sequences that mock American TV shows like Lassie with German alternatives. Eventually, the trailer explains some story elements via cinematics. Finally, the gameplay is shown. And it is glorious!
All the over-the-top action is retained in the trailer. It’s looking like this game will be another fun, explosive romp through the Reich. The game will take Blazkowicz – Terror-Billy here – to several locations, including Roswell, a flooded New Orleans, and a nuked-out New York City. Along the way, expect to see Terror-Billy’s body count to skyrocket and the silly jokes to pile up.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will arrive on October 27th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. No word yet on the release of Liesel.
On the whole, the conference was solid. There were no cringy moments, no guest presenters, and no unnecessary fluff. There were just game announcements, some of which were personally noteworthy. The only real iffy announcement, in my opinion, was Creators Club. Time will tell how that one pans out, although the vitriol is already flying. In the meantime, we can look forward to some good games.
I still want my Liesel, though.