Waiting for the Bethesda stream on Twitch was one long musical tease for Elder Scrolls VI, which of course, never materialised beyond a quick verbal mention (along with Starfield, its next-gen role-playing game).
This year, Bethesda’s focus was on their die-hard gaming community, learning from criticism, and a ton of free games.
All hail Orion
First up, Orion is Bethesda’s awesome new streaming technology that’s been years in the making. Orion is not a game platform — it optimises game engines for cloud-based streaming, and can work with any game engine to improve player streaming experience, regardless of platform. This is a fantastic, and very welcome complement to Google Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud streaming systems. Orion works by incorporating cutting-edge new technology at the engine level to reduce latency and use 40 percent lower bandwidth while streaming.
Basically, Orion-optimised games let you stream at maximum settings no matter where you are, reducing the cost of streaming for both players and publishers. There was an excellent live demo at E3 showing a seamlessly smooth mobile Doom experience at 60fps, with no perceptible latency. Fans who want to check it out can register at slayersclub.com to try streaming Doom.
...which leads us to the most obvious and biggest announcement for Bethesda this year: Doom Eternal. Lead your best Doomguy life in a cross-dimensional killing spree across heaven, hell, the Sentinel homeworld, and who knows where else? The focus, as with all Doom games, remains tightly on gameplay. Hardcore Doomslayers are going to want the collector’s edition too, which comes with a real life-sized helmet.
There’s also Doom Eternal’s new Battlemode multiplayer mode, which pits one fully-loaded slayer against two demons. Bethesda is angling this as a skill versus strategy mode, as the demons have to work together to take down the slayer. Keep your eyes peeled for more at QuakeCon (or rather, DoomCon, given the game’s 25 year anniversary this year) in July.
Let’s start by saying Ghostwire Tokyo looks awesome. This new action-adventure game isn’t the survival horror you might think it is — rather, it’s a cryptic adventure/exploration game with occult elements, centered around a mass disappearances in Tokyo (not entirely unlike HBO’s The Leftovers). The player must figure out what’s going on while meeting different spirits, all with a story to tell (of course, there are some who just really want you to die). The Japanese spirit-demons and environments look iconic as hell and appropriately chilling.
Wastelanders is the biggest update for Fallout 76 to date, and it’s totally free for existing players. After the game’s rocky release, Bethesda have taken (the mountains and mountains of) player feedback on the chin and added a bunch of new features for Year 2: human NPCs, new questlines and dialogue trees with choice and consequence mechanics, and even a new battle royale mode. Nuclear Winter is a nod to what appears to be the most popular game format right now, which pits 52 players against each other to claim the title of Overseer for Vault 51. You can try Fallout 76 for free out this week from June 10 to 17, including Nuclear Winter.
Insanity truly rules in Rage 2’s new (and first) expansion: Rise of the Ghosts. The hilarious trailer is cut like an ‘80s sitcom video, showing new weekly drops, enemy factions, pilotable mechs, vehicles, cheats, and gameplay modes. No word yet on the release date, but it’ll be sometime this year.
Say hello to two new ways to murder Nazis — the first is via virtual reality game Wolfenstein Cyberpilot, in which a VR player turns Nazi war machines against their creators. Cop it in July.
Then there’s Wolfenstein Youngblood, in which twin sisters storm Nazi-occupied Paris in the 1980s to find their dad (yes, you can play with a friend). Announced earlier this year, Youngblood looks pretty fresh, with an Atomic Blonde mood and 80s vibes all over the artwork. It’ll be out on July 26 for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Bethesda’s most stylish premiere announcement was surely Deathloop, a one-on-one tale of two assassins trying to kill each other on an eerie island called Black Reef. Each one is trying to either end or protect an “eternal cycle” of life and death. Featuring super stylised mod-like artwork with a 007 soundtrack, this is probably the most distinctly French thing to come out of Arkane Lyon.
Elder Scrolls: Blades
If you need more dragons on your phone, Blades has you covered. It’ll be totally free, with a chunky update full of solo arena battles, custom jewellery, and a new dragon questline. It’s also available right now for mobile (people with Switches will have to wait until fall). Blades will also — mercifully — feature crossplay and cross-progression compatibility with mobile systems.
Elder Scrolls: Legends
Bethesda’s free mobile card game has a new expansion, Moons of Elsweyr, out on 27 July for PC, Mac, mobile, and tablet. Not much else to report here besides another new timesuck for us at the coffee shop.
Elder Scrolls Online
In the wake of Game of Thrones, is it too soon for us to see footage of dragons getting speared out of the sky? The answer is no. If you loved ESO’s iconic Sai Sahan, he’s back with a vengeance in the new Dragonhold instalment of ESO: Elsweyr. Bethesda let us get up close and personal with the elite Dragonguard hunting team in a sweet new cinematic (Good to note: Khajiits always land on their feet). There will also be a Scalebreaker dungeon instalment out in August.
On a completely different note to literally all of the above, Bethesda is also reworking a ‘90s PC classic, Commander Keen, for mobile. Think Saturday morning cartoons but in a mobile game format. Play as twins Billy and Billie Blaze, build gadgets to save the world, fight aliens, explore planets, and all that good stuff. You can even battle with other players. Check out the soft launch this summer via gokeen.com.