E3 2018 Weekend Roundup: Microsoft and Bethesda

Bethesda and Microsoft's presentations before E3 2017
Chase Gamwell 2018-06-11

Continuing on from our earlier coverage on E3 2018, Microsoft and Bethesda’s press conferences were full of big announcements. Both companies have made quite the splash this year, so let’s start by looking at…

The Microsoft Press Conference

This year, Microsoft was out for blood, which that was apparent from the opening moments of the conference when it debuted the trailer for Halo Infinite:

Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t offer any additional details about the game, but this was a hell of a way to start off their press conference. From this point on, the rest of the showcase was a relentless march of games – 50 total, 18 titles with console exclusivity, and 15 world premiers. There’s a lot to get through, and a lot of it interesting.

Sea of Thieves

It’s no secret that SoT was a total disaster. Despite Microsoft’s insistence that the game is insanely popular, I haven’t heard of many people that harbor unbridled joy at the thought of sailing across an empty sea filled with tiny islands. Between digging up chests, collecting skulls, looting shipwrecks, and skull forts, there isn’t that much to do that doesn’t, ultimately, involve carting loot from one place to another.

That being said, Rare is doing their damndest to evolve the game from “playable tech demo” to something actually worthwhile. To that end, two expansions were introduced during the press conference: Cursed Sails (coming in July) and Forsaken Shores (coming in September).

Forza Horizon 4

As a fan of driving games (I have my own wheel and everything), I have to say that I was impressed by everything revealed about the newest Forza game. The world is set in Britain and features dynamic time, weather, and even seasons. And the coolest part is that the game world is shared, so what one player experiences is synced to all other players in the same world. There are even world events designed to draw all players to a single location for mass participation.

My only concern about this particular reveal is that the game comes out in October. This puts its release around three months behind The Crew 2, Ubisoft’s open-world racing game, set to drop later this month. I’ve already participated in the closed beta for the game (twice), and I plan to join the open beta before the game’s release later this month. I can say that Ubisoft has already crushed this formula twice. While the gimmick of changing seasons sets Forza Horizon 4 apart, the game still feels like it lags behind when considering the fact that The Crew 2 includes cars, motorcycles, boats, and planes. Either way, this title is worth keep an eye on if you’re into racing games. I’ll definitely check it out later this year when it releases.

Dying Light 2

This game probably surprised me the most (actually…second most, behind Microsoft’s final trailer of the night). The first Dying Light game felt done when I beat it. I knew Techland has been working on something new, but I didn’t expect it to be another Dying Light game. Now, it was stated that this game was a sequel to the first, but it wasn’t made completely clear if it’s events are a direct result of the first or if something else happened outside of the context of the first game (I’m interested to see if they cover this in-game).

More interesting, however, is that the developer has taken steps to make sure that the choices made in this game have a PROFOUND affect on the game – how it looks, how it plays, and the events that occur after a decision is made. The example shown at the showcase was impressive and I’d be even more impressed if they can manage to effectively deal with all of the compound choices the player will make over the course of the game.

Gears of War 5

For fans of the series, this will be a delightful announcement. At first, I thought that Gears Pop would be the only Gears announcement at the Microsoft Press Conference, but they didn’t disappoint with the following trailer:

Cyberpunk 2077

I almost missed this trailer. It interrupted Phil Spencer’s final monologue, and the cut to the screen was so sudden that I thought the stream I was watching had ended early. But I rewound stuck with it and was treated to the following trailer:

It’s been a while since CD Project Red first announced Cyberpunk 2077, and it’s about time we heard something new about the game. This is just a cinematic trailer for the game, but CD Project is actually at E3 in force this year, so maybe we’ll get some other news as the week progresses. I will keep an eye out!

The Rest

Fifty games is a lot to go through in a single press conference, and too many for a single article (considering this article is also covering Bethesda). You’ve already seen the biggest and best titles that Microsoft showcased, so, for the sake of brevity, these are all the other games Microsoft showed off:

  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps (2019)
  • The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (available for free on June 26)
  • Crackdown 3 (Microsoft only showed a brief trailer with not many details for this one, so that lands it here)
  • Neir: Automata enhanced for Xbox One X (includes DLC and releases 6/2618)
  • Kingdom Hearts (for the first time ever on Xbox and releases 1/29/2019)
  • Battlefield V (story trailer)
  • We Happy Few (8/10/2018)
  • PUBG (showcasing updates and a tease of the new snow map out this winter)
  • Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition (winter 2018)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider (9/14/2018)
  • Session (trailer)
  • Black Desert (MMORPG with a beta fall 2018)
  • Fallout 76 (I’ll be talking about this a bunch more below)
  • Sekiro Shadows Die Twice (a new game from From Software due out sometime in 2019)
  • Metro Exodus (with a release date of February 22, 2019)
  • Cuphead “The Delicious Last Course” (2019)
  • Tunic
  • Jump Force (new from Bandai Namco, a fighter mashup with a bunch of anime characters, due out 2019)
  • Battletoads (Strangely enough, due out 2019)
  • Just Cause 4 (Due out 12/4/2018)
  • Gears Pop (based on the funko pop toys, due out 2019)
  • Devil May Cry 5 (this is an actual continuation of the series ten years after DMC 4, due spring 2019)
  • Gears Tactics (a PC title that’s a prequel to the Gears series on the Xbox, coming soon)
  • The Division 2 (coming 3/15/2019)

If you’re interested in checking out any of them, you can find trailers over at the Xbox youtube channel.

New Microsoft Studios, Xbox Gamepass, and a few other things

Microsoft also announced the addition of five new game developers to Microsoft Studios, including: The Initiative (slated to work on new, exciting projects), Undead Labs, Playground Games (of Forza Horizon fame, slated to work on new, exciting projects later), Ninja Theory, and Compulsion Games (of We Happy Few).

The Xbox Gamepass is also getting a bit of a face lift. First, Microsoft is using machine learning to speed up how quickly games from the service start. Called Fast Start, games now start up to 2x faster, and they expect them to start even faster as the algorithm improves over time. This service will launch for select games with the June update. Further, they plan to add Halo: The Master Chief Collection to Gamepass later this year, as well as other games on a monthly basis. And today, The Division, TESO: Tamriel Unlimited, and Fallout, are all available to play, enhanced for Xbox One X. Probably the most important update to the Gamepass is that Microsoft will include all new games from Microsoft Studios to the Gamepass, available same day as release. This should include Forza 4, Gears 5, Halo, Sea of Thieves, and other titles. For only $9.99 per month, this is a fantastic value if you’re looking to play a lot of the games available from Microsoft Studios without shelling out $50 per game.

Finally, Microsoft announced that it is developing a network to allow “console-quality gaming on any device” and that its developers are also working on the next generation Xbox console. These bits of information were small tidbits of what Microsoft has in store for its gaming community, but interesting to hear.

Sunday Funday

As the dust settled from the Microsoft Press Conference, I was impressed by how hard Microsoft brought it to this year’s E3. Microsoft announced a ton of games and even slipped a few surprises into the mix. It’s too early to say if Microsoft “won” this year, but today’s showing was stronger than I’ve seen in a few years!

The Bethesda Press Conference

For me, this conference is the one I wait every year for. When 8:30 CST hit, I sat in front of my computer, palms sweating. I already knew that there would be details about Fallout 76, but I always wonder what other things Bethesda will bring to E3. They’re typically always surprising. And mind-blowing. This year was no different.

Rage 2

Bethesda made much-to-do about Rage 2 weeks before E3 (apparently because Wal-Mart Canada couldn’t keep a lid on things), and it went all out at the press conference as well. First, Bethesda¬† brought up Andrew W.K. to sing Ready to Die. Then, they moved on to give a few tidbits of info about the game. The takeaway was that ID and Avalanche Studios worked together to create an open-world shooter unlike any other. You play as “Walker, the last ranger of the wasteland”, and basically seem to be focused on maximum mayhem.

The first game in the series played very much like a glorified tech demo to showcase what could be done with the new engine ID brought to Bethesda, but this game seems like it’s far more mature in both gameplay and game world. We’ll find out in the spring of next year.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Everyone seems to have a card game these days, and Bethesda is no exception. They spent a few minutes on stage to announce that the card game would soon be relaunching with new visuals, and that it would be coming to Xbox, Switch, and PS4 later this year.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset

This expansion was released last week, but there were a fair few announcements about the future of the game tonight. First, the next DLC is called Wolfhunter (based around Werewolves) and should be coming soon. After that, they have another called Mirkmire (sp?) that will take players to Blackmarsh, but that one will be a bit further down the road.

Doom Eternal

This sequel to Doom was merely teased with a trailer. Expect more information to debut at Quakecon in August.

Quake Champions

This short update on Quake Champions was merely to announce that the game would continue to expand over the coming months/years, and served as an invite to anyone who hasn’t had the chance to play the game. This week (June 10-17) anyone who wants can download and play the early access version of the game for free. And anyone who downloads it this week can keep it to play after the trail period is over (though the announcement didn’t make it clear how long the game could be kept or if the download would ever expire at any point in the future).

Prey

I’m happy to say that Prey got lots of love at the Bethesda Press Conference. First, a huge update is coming out tonight, which will add a New Game + and Survival mode to the game. Further, a DLC called Mooncrash will be coming out soon. This DLC is designed to be different each time you play, so should add quite a bit of replayability to an already fantastic game. Finally, a 1v5 multiplayer game mode is making its way to Prey this summer (and will even be coming to VR). This pits a single human player against five Typhon players. If it’s anything like the prop hunt game mode from Garry’s Mod, it should be pretty fun to try out.

Wolfenstein Youngblood

This game was announced on the heels of the news that Wolfenstein II would be coming to the Switch on June 29. Youngblood, however, takes place in the 80s and features BJs twin daughters. The game is meant to be a co-op experience, but not much detail besides was provided. We should find out more later, but a trailer should do for now:

There was also a brief announcement about a Wolfenstein VR project, though not many details were given other than the title – Wolfenstein Cyberpilot.

Fallout 76

As expected, Todd Howard was brought to the stage a little over halfway though the press conference. He made plenty of jokes and talked about all things Bethesda, but we listened with bated breath, until he teased us with the next version of Skyrim:

It was cheesy, but I was happy to see the moment of self-awareness from Todd and Bethesda. It’s been years since a proper Elder Scrolls title has been released (and it might not be too many more…see below), but I’m glad to know that they’re aware of how tiring the relentless march of Skryim ports have been.

Then, he got on to all the information about Fallout 76 we’ve been dying to hear.

The bottom line is that Fallout 76 is a multiplayer title that’s always online. Every player in the game world is a real person, which means that there are going to be a lot of interesting interactions between players (since the entire concept is survival in a post-apocalyptic wasteland). To add fuel to the fire, Todd mentioned that there are nuke silos in the game that can be taken over and used against enemies. All of this will be supported by dedicated servers designed to keep the game alive for years to come.

And it definitely looks great:

My biggest concern is whether the title will be as good as the previous single payer offerings from Bethesda. Howard insisted that the game could be played solo, but suggested that it would be best experienced with friends. I can’t deny that the ability to play a Fallout game with others is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but I can’t help but wonder how exploitable the building (and nuke) systems will be. Am I going to have to worry about others constantly coming by and destroying my base (like in Ark or Conan)? Will I really be able to enjoy the single-player component of the game while others are present in the same world that I am in? And will the game wind up feeling like an MMO?

We’ll get the answers to these, and other questions very soon because the game releases on November 14, but some will get access to the game earlier. Because the game will be online, Bethesda is going to have a BETA (Break-it Early Test Application) for some to try out. Howard said that interested parties could sign up for the beta by going over to bethesda.net, but I wasn’t able to find the ability to do so there. I’ve heard some rumblings that the beta is only available to people who preorder the game, but this information is, as of yet, unconfirmed. I’ll keep an ear to the ground and see what I can dig up over the coming days.

One final bit of Fallout news came with the announcement that Fallout Shelter is coming to PS4 and Switch tonight, for free. So, if you’ve been wanting those, pick them up!

The Elder Scrolls Blades

This was one of the most interesting announcements of the night. Basically, this is a completely free mobile version of an Elder Scrolls game, featuring console-quality graphics. By all accounts, it looks to be a pretty good-looking title, with all of the hallmarks that one would expect from an Elder Scrolls game. What’s more, Bethesda would like to bring the game to as many consoles as they can (including PC VR) for free, so that anyone, on any system, can play together. I’m interested to see how the game works out, and if you’re interested, you can preorder tonight on the apple or android store, or head over to playblades.com for a chance at early access.

Two Teases to rule them all

At the end of the night, Todd Howard took the opportunity to show us all two games that his studio has been working on.

The first was a game called Starfield:

The second was The Elder Scrolls VI:

Neither game was accompanied with additional information, but it’s safe to say that we have a lot to look forward to over the next few years!

Met Expectations?

It’s safe to say that Bethesda has hit it out of the park this year. Fallout 76 looks like an interesting addition to the series (even with all of the worries that come with moving a, typically, single-player experience online), and the teases at the end of the show made me excited for the years to come. But all the other games they showed seemed equally vibrant. As lackluster as the first Rage game was, I’m optimistic about the sequel, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to dive back into Prey for a while now.

It’s also worth mentioning that Bethesda still seems committed to the #saveplayer1 campaign it started earlier this year. While Fallout 76 is a far step away from that goal, I can forgive Todd Howard and his team for wanting to try something new every once in a while. And even if Fallout 76 doesn’t hold completely firm to that mantra, many of the other titles that are coming out do. Even Starfield was revealed as a single-player experience, and I expect TES VI to be the same. At the end of the day, we can still turn to Bethesda to deliver fantastic single player experiences.

That’s all for this weekend’s conferences. For more news, keep an eye out for tomorrow’s roundup of the Square Enix, Ubisoft, PC Gaming, and Sony conferences. Then again on Tuesday for the Nintendo conference. And thanks for reading!

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Comments

  • Pew Pew

    Nice writeup.

    Playing EVE has made me pretty jaded to multiplayer games where everyone shares the same map. They are so hard to get right.

    The fundamental problem, which is something I think I first heard from Arrendis, is that any fences a small number of brains put up a large number of brains can find a way to break through.

    For example in Star Citizen has recently introduced an Uber-like system where you can rate people based on how much they help you. They had a Q&A about it and the first question is about an exploit and the designers just splutter because they have no idea how to stop it.

    https://youtu.be/3S8NC_va-JY?t=801

    It’ll be interesting to see how Fallout 76 handles this sort of thing but I don’t have much hope. If you can destroy other people’s structures the servers will be a wasteland, lol. And if you can’t then people will build roadblocks and annoying mazes in the worst places etc.

    Shared worlds is a really hard problem, most of EVE’s game design problems revolve around these sort of things (is killing someone in highsec griefing? how should you capture and hold sov? when can you destroy someone’s station? etc). A good example is Ninja Salvaging, in the beginning loot from missions just dropped and anyone could pick it up, people complained and said they wanted it reserved for the mission runner. So it became an aggressive act to pick it up and many, many, mission runners have died to people abusing that mechanic to avoid concord.

    June 11, 2018 at 8:23 am
  • Ryan

    I picked up Prey: Mooncrash, and I’m having fun so far. The immersive sim and roguelite elements are blending together pretty well in my first few hours.

    June 11, 2018 at 10:58 am