E3 Expectations: Bethesda

Coming from an interesting conference last year that felt more like a Nintendo Direct than an average presentation, Bethesda comes to E3 once again but this time with the feeling that we know everything we’ll see. Rage 2 and Fallout 76 have already been announced and it doesn’t appear they will have much more to show. But Pete Hine has promised that we’ll see more than one unannounced projects.

Fallout 76

Fallout 76

An announcement that took everyone by surprise, Fallout 76 is still shrouded in mystery, as not many details about the project have surfaced. According to reports, it will stray from the common Fallout formula. Apparently, it will be an online game like Dust but still focused on singleplayer missions. We’ll probably see a gameplay demo looking to explain how it will work and how it will differ from Fallout 4.

Rage 2

Rage2

Coming completely out of the right field, Rage 2 was leaked and since officially announced. A sequel to a game that wasn’t particularly beloved or revered, Rage 2 took everyone by surprise, especially because of how different it looks compared to the original Rage.

Gone the grey art style of the original, here comes this colorful punk visual, focused on a frenetic action filled with explosions. The partnership with Avalanche Studios looks like the right choice as they’re known for creating exciting action games given their history creating the Just Cause series. We should see some extended gameplay.

Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset

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Released earlier this month, the Summerset expansion of Elder Scrolls online shouldn’t take much time. There will probably be a trailer highlighting positive reviews, talking about how successful it’s been and that must be it.

Another Mobile Game

Fallout

It has been a while since Fallout Shelter came out and it was quite successful so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bethesda announced another mobile game. This time I’d guess it will take place in the Elder Scrolls world.

New Elder Scrolls

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Almost 7 years ago Skyrim came out and took the franchise to a whole new level, becoming one of the most successful RPG’s ever, being released on every possible platform. It’s been 3 years since Fallout 4 was announced and Todd Howard’s team hasn’t revealed any new games. According to Pete Hines, the team has been working on several projects and even though he said it wouldn’t come out in the near future, a new Elder Scrolls could be announced at the conference.

New Todd Howard Project

bethesda

Speaking of Todd Howard and his several projects, one of them could be announced as one of the other surprises that were promised. There’s no idea of what the projects are about but given their pedigree, we can expect a quality game. A teaser or even a gameplay demo could be on stage.

Prey DLC

Prey

This has been hinted for months now. Prey wasn’t the game that many expected but it does have a fanbase craving for more content. We should expect something similar to the scope of Death of the Outsider, that came to Dishonored 2. At E3 they could bring the title again to the spotlight by showing something new, most probably a trailer.

 

 

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Has Bethesda’s Review Policy Been Successful?

Last October Bethesda announced that they would stop sending review copies to outlets, in a decision that caused an uproar not only in the media but with consumers as well. Deemed as an anti-consumer decision, it received criticism for alienating gamers, removing their ability to make an informed purchase, something that if we stop to think about, makes sense.

The rise of the popularity of YouTube created a scenario in which some gamers tend to rely less on video games websites and more on famous channels. And Bethesda saw that as an opportunity to free themselves from the need of sending review copies ahead of release, looking to decrease the power of reviews, a situation that would be a dream to any publisher.

We have seen a bigger focus of the company on creating extended demos, as a way to appease consumers, giving them a glimpse of the initial hours. We saw that happening with the release of Dishonored 2 and the Prey reboot, both from Arkane Studios, that provided big chunks of gameplay. Unlike Doom, that in spite of following the same decision was successful, Prey and Dishonored 2 have failed.

Prey

Whereas Doom was successful critically and commercially, the others didn’t manage to appeal to consumers. Dishonored 2 failed to reach the top 10 in the US in November, and Prey only reached no. 5 in a weak month of May. Begging us to think if their policy has worked negatively to Bethesda. Missing the biggest sales window, the first month of release, where games tend to make the bulk of their revenue.

Doom, a franchise with a lot of history, ended up being successful, recognized as one of the best games of last year, both by big outlets and gamers. But that didn’t carry on with the release of Dishonored 2 and Prey, franchises with a smaller market and a focus on stealth, a genre that has struggled to find an audience. They couldn’t capture the mindset of the market, attracting little attention, appearing to have a more positive reception from the media than from gamers.

Troubled PC versions didn’t really help change that situation, as both games wouldn’t run properly on that platform. A big number of refunds also helped to create a negative reception.

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The aftermath of both releases goes to show that only a few games can get away without receiving the review push of major outlets. Bethesda’s track record of releasing quality titles wasn’t enough to make gamers trust that both games could appeal to them. If Rockstar decided to do that, maybe they could be successful.

But no matter the review score they received, both Dishonored 2 and Prey felt like missed opportunities. The first received several game of the year nominations, the latter, a revival of a beloved franchise, that impressed by its world-building and unique style. To see that happening is a real shame, but it can work as a wake-up call to publishers, that can now see that gamers won’t buy their games without having enough information, as they have been burned by that before.

Mafia III was an example, selling more than 4 million copies in its first month following the same model. 2K didn’t send any review copies ahead of launch, and that back fired due to a mixed reception, with many negative reviews. From that moment on, they went on to sell only 500.000 copies since November, stagnating completely.

Wolfenstein the new colossus

Maybe Bethesda will continue with the policy and things will change, but from what we’ve seen, it has failed and damaged two projects of the company. We can only hope that it will change before Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus and The Evil Within 2’s release, before it can affect permanently their image and the goodwill they have. After all, great games deserve to be played by as many people as possible.