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Bethesda Pre-E3 2016 Media Briefing Summary

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 12, 2016 @ 11:55 p.m. PDT

During Bethesda's Pre-E3 2016 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for Dishonored 2, Doom, Elder Scrolls: Legends, The Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 4, Fallout Shelter, Prey, Quake Champions, Skyrim: Special Edition and more.

Sunday, June 12, 2016, 7:00 PM
LA Hangar, Los Angeles

Quake: Champions

Bethesda's conference opened with a heck of a surprise. In the wake of the new Doom comes a new Quake. Quake Champions is aiming to hit the market for fast-paced arena shooters that has been left barren since … well, the days of Quake and its successors. The video trailer showed off characters of different shapes and designs battling it out in a church-like arena, with lots of small nods to classic Quake characters and weapons. Each character will have distinctive abilities, and the team is quite intent on making a Quake game and not just slapping the name on it. The team is promising a PC release with uncapped frame rates and top-notch visuals. The game will be accessible to everyone from casual players to Esports superstars. Alas, we'll have to wait until Quakecon to see the game in action.

Elder Scrolls: Legends

Hearthstone is popular, and Elder Scrolls: Legends looks to gear up to be a competitor to Blizzard's behemoth. The idea behind the card game seems very similar to Hearthstone. Players get a hand of cards and can play those cards using "magicka," which starts at one and builds up as the game progresses. There were a few twists, though. There are two "lanes" that you can place cards in, and the lanes can have special attributes, such as forcing every card in the lane to have the Cover attribute, which means they can't be directly attacked. The twin-lane concept is a significant change to how the game plays, and it means that even familiar-feeling cards can have a pretty big twist. There will also be a story mode that promises to reveal the story of a forgotten hero during a battle against High Elves. The game is currently in closed beta but is expected to hit later this year.

Prey

Probably the biggest surprise of the evening was the reveal of a reboot — perhaps re-imagining is a more accurate word — of the Prey franchise. The new Prey seems to have little to do with the original except that it involves an alien invasion that leaves your character trapped in a nightmarish and surreal hellscape. The new Prey is set in the year 2032 and follows a man named Morgan Yu, who is at the center of an experiment to improve humanity aboard the Talos 1 space station. The experiment goes terribly wrong when aliens invade and leave him trapped in a world he doesn't understand. We only saw a few snippets of gameplay, but Arkane Studios promised that the title will contain the same choice and freedom that it brought to Dishonored. Prey is expected to hit sometime in 2017.

DLC

Bethesda has always been on the forefront of DLC, and while there have been some missteps (including the infamous Horse Armor), there have been a lot more successes. It's no surprise that a big portion of the conference was dedicated to add-ons and expansions for existing games. Doom will get a number of free content patches to upgrade the SnapMap feature in addition to a full add-on with new weapons, levels and even a new playable demon for the multiplayer.  This week during E3, a free demo of the complete first level of the game will be available on all platforms, so players can get a taste of Doom's single-player campaign.

Fallout 4 will get a whole host of DLC focused on adding new building materials for the game's Settlements, including everything from elevators to a personal customizable vault. The new story DLC, which seems to focus on a fictional theme park called Nuka Land, is coming in August. There were no huge surprises, but the addition of a personal customizable vault has been something that people have been clamoring for. Fallout Shelter will also be getting an update with new quests, an improved combat system and a port for the PC.

The Elder Scrolls Online will also get some new expansions in the form of the Dark Brotherhood pack, which adds a series of quest lines involving assassinations for fun and profit. This expansion is technically already out on PC but will be coming to consoles this week. A bigger bit of news is the One Tamriel content update, which claims to remove all level barriers from the in-game content, instead allowing players to access all content as soon as they finish the in-game tutorial.

Both Fallout 4 and Doom will be getting VR adaptations that allow you to use the new technology to the fullest, including ports to the HTC Vive. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to see this in person, as it was by far the most popular thing at Bethesda's aftershow, with a line stretching out the door. The mere idea of being able to look down at a pip-boy on your wrist is a tantalizing idea for the fledgling technology.

Skyrim: Special Edition

Shown only briefly was the Special Edition of last-generation's Skyrim. Rather than a simple HD update, Skyrim: Special Edition is a full remastering with updated visuals for almost everything in the game. The difference between the last-gen and next-gen versions is night and day, and it's pretty impressive how much extra polish has gone into this new version.  It also will allow mods to be transferred from the PC version to the console version, much like Fallout 4 allows. It's coming Oct. 26 for all platforms.

Dishonored 2

The real star of the press conference was Arkane Studio's upcoming Dishonored 2. Due out Nov. 11 this year, Dishonored 2 is set about 15 years after the first game. Protagonist Corvo is returning but appears to be playing second fiddle to Emily Kaldwin, his daughter and current empress. Both Corvo and Emily find themselves the victim of a conspiracy to usurp the throne and are forced to go into hiding. Corvo's supernatural powers aren't enough for the task, and Emily finds herself also gifted with her own set of supernatural skills.

A good portion of the Dishonored 2 presentation was focused around the art design and the new Void engine, and it's easy to understand why. Although we've only seen the brief snippets, it's a visually striking game. The Victorian-steampunk style goes hand-in-hand with the urban decay that the first game did so well. The plot has moved from the city of Dunwall to the new coastal city of Karnaca. While many of the same basic ideas can be seen, they take on a new twist in the new environment. The developers promised a much greater emphasis on verticality, and the footage seems to back that up.

The bulk of the gameplay presentation focused on Emily, likely because Corvo's powers are a known quantity even if the developers have promised upgrades. Emily's skill set varies quite heavily from her father's. She has a super-speed rushing move rather than an instant blink, and her powers seem to rely more heavily on complex manipulation. She can use her Domino power to set up chain reactions between enemies. All enemies influenced by the Domino power share the effects of what happens. If one dies, they all die. She also can summon a demonic figure that befuddles enemies and even transforms into some sort of spectral wraith form.

The final bit of Dishonored 2 was probably one of the more intriguing bits. It focuses on a sealed-off manor that is the sight of a horrible arcane ritual that left it broken in space and time. Corvo and Emily's magical powers don't work there, but they have a new gadget: a magical timepiece that allows them to view the past (when the building was whole and intact) and even swap between the past and present at will. The in-game demo showed Emily using the gadget to effortlessly kill several guards by dancing between two time periods at will.

Dishonored 2 wrapped up the show and Bethesda's press conference. It wasn't as megaton (pun very intended) as last year's Fallout 4 reveal, but it was still a very strong showing. Dishonored 2 is clearly the big game for the year, but combined with strong support for all of the titles released in the last year, it means Bethesda has a very strong lineup for the upcoming year. Regardless of whether you're a fan of the Doom Marine, Corvo or Nick Valentine, Bethesda had a little something for everyone this year.

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