Bethesda kicks off 2016 with a huge event to celebrate their newest games and updates. Here's a breakdown of everything that happened.

Bethesda announces Quake, Skyrim Remastered, VR, and more at E3 2016

Bethesda kicks off 2016 with a huge event to celebrate their newest games and updates. Here's a breakdown of everything that happened.

Bethesda sure knows how to make a lasting impression. Rather than simply waiting for the E3 conference to begin the festivities, the game company decided to start E3 week off with a bang by hosting their own private pre-show party. A theme seemed to be introducing their fans to whole new versions of the classic games they love — along with some updates to existing IPs.

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In case you missed anything, here is a breakdown of everything that happened so you can feel like you were right there on the floor as well.

The Opening Ceremony

The event started with hosts Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb of former G4TV fame reminiscing about the successful year Bethesda has just experienced. From the overwhelming acclaim achieved by Fallout 4 and its app-exclusive counterpart Fallout Shelter, to celebrating the growth of MMORPG Elder Scrolls Online and FPS Doom. This portion was filled with tidbits of trivia related to Bethesda as a company, as well as jokes among the industry and behind the scenes looks at the hit releases of 2015. That’s when the show really started.

The Big Reveals

Welcome to the show!

The show opened up with a load up screen showing a list of all the titles Bethesda has worked on. It then dramatically dropped down to a new command line, one that began to spell out Q-U-A-K-E.

New Game: Quake

Quake is back, and it seems Bethesda has high hopes for it making a strong return to the competitive eSports scene. The new Quake will have unlocked frame rates and is intended for 120hz screens. After having played it, it’s easy to see how well this game takes advantage of that.

The combat is quick and ruthless, with rockets you can automatically detonate after launching — allowing for some pretty awesome splash damage kills. There is also a buzz saw weapon featured in the trailer that effortlessly guts your opponent.

The arena mode being demoed was a take and hold objective type map. The characters are fully customizable, from standards such as armor coloring, to minute details like how dirty armor is or the patterns on weapons. Players also unlock hack modules which can help your gameplay by doing things like granting you bonus armor if you find you’re doing poorly, or allowing your friends to share their experience with you.

There was also mention of specific characters with their own abilities and stats, but we only saw loadouts such as Assault, Sniper and Ambusher. The demo may currently only have one character in it, since they were definitely pushing named characters in their shared media.

Perhaps my favorite part is that there is a reference to owling as one of the taunts. Quake will be available on PS4, Xbox One and PC with no definitive release date yet.

New Game: Elder Scrolls Legends

Now you may not consider this to be a new game at all, since Elder Scrolls Legends was originally announced at E3 last year. This year however, there was a playable demo available, and the devs were eager to talk about what would make this game different from its competitors.

First thing you’ll notice when you start playing ESL is the two lanes mechanic. Being an avid Hearthstone player myself, I’m pretty comfortable saying I know my way around the game board, and I enjoy the new challenge this feature brings. In something like Hearthstone, you’re contending with your opponent for board control so that your minions can carry you to victory. In ESL, you have two boards to compete for.

Minions that you summon onto the field have various effects, some of which you’re probably familiar with — like charge, stealth, and summon abilities (battlecries in Hearthstone). Where ESL changes things up is the prophecy system. For every five health your avatar loses,you get to draw a card. With prophecy, when certain cards are drawn this way, they can typically be played immediately, usually with powerful effects.

Some other features of note include a story mode that unlocks cards as you play through and make choices regarding your character. There are multiple branches you can travel, and each one unlocks a different card that will become unattainable from the story mode, but can also be received through crafting or packs. This results in players leaving the story mode with decks crafted to their preferences.

The developer I spoke to also told me that expansions will be thematic to areas around Tamriel, and that the story will also be expanded upon throughout the game’s life. Another fun aspect for fans of the Elder Scrolls franchise is that different races have different effects and strengths, such as wood elf cards typically prioritizing injured enemies, or Argonians granting benefits to your magika curve.

I was surprised to find that this game easily stood out to me as the most fun to play at the event. I’ve long since grown bored with Hearthstone, not for any negative reasons, but simply because I’ve become so used to seeing the same decks or strategies over the years. I still get excited for new expansions, but the thrill of the new flavors of the week grow stale in my mouth quickly.

Since I only have tonight to base it on, I have no way of saying whether or not my excitement for Elder Scrolls Legends is similar to this quick spirited romance with new challenge, or whether ESL truly will be a contender for the Hearthstone audience. I can however say that the game is definitely worth trying if you have any interest at all for online TCGs. The closed beta will be doing invites soon, so if you haven’t already signed up for it, it’s still not too late.

New Game: Dishonored 2

Dishonored 2 ironically had a place of honor among the developers during this event. A lot of time was spent showing the land and how everything has changed in the 15 years following the events of the first Dishonored. Players now have the choice of returning to the role of Corvo Attano from the first game, or playing as his daughter, Emily Kaldwin. Each character will have their own dialogue and take on events, as well as their own unique ways of solving problems.

Along with the normal time warping and teleporting abilities, Emily has some new abilities — such as being able to mesmerize people in an area, causing them to completely forget she was even there, or linking the minds of several opponents and causing them all to share the same fate. There is also a new shadow walk ability that allows Emily to turn her own shadow into a vicious stealth monster that tears opponents apart.

Each ability will be customizable to allow players to shape their assassin however they feel most comfortable.

One of the most amazing parts to see was the time walking, where your character is able to consult a compass that shows you the past of a dilapidated mansion you need to explore. Not only does this show off the possibilities for fun assassinations and puzzles, but it also goes to show a point Bethesda was really trying to hammer home with this game. Every mission is built around some theme, and the goal is to keep everything fresh for the player, so that it never feels repetitive, even if you play the same mission again multiple times.

Finally, they also showed off the collector’s edition for the game.

They had a display of the mask to look at up close, and the replica mask and ring look very good. Collectors will likely be very excited with the product. Dishonored 2 should be releasing November 11, 2016.

New Game: Prey

You may be familiar with the Xbox 360 release of Prey, one of the consoles’ first titles. The developers were very adamant that though this game shares similar themes, they are in no way related.

Described as a first person shooter/psychological thriller, Prey has you playing as a man named Morgan Yu who is an experiment on a space station in the year 2032. As things so often do, something goes wrong, and Morgan finds himself stuck between the people who were experimenting on him, and aliens that have taken over the station and are hunting the humans down. Players will have weapons and abilities to help them survive, but from the way the game was described, it sounds like not every problem can be solved by simply shooting your way out.

There was no demo for Prey outside of its release trailer, but we were told to expect Xbox One and PlayStation 4 releases. It is unclear if this means no PC release is planned, or if it would only be a port.

Major Announcement: Bethesda VR

The most popular booth in the room

The thing everyone wanted to see at the event was Bethesda’s unveiling of the new virtual reality plans they have going forward. The middle booth was showing off Doom using the Vive headset, allowing players to explore Hell in first person.

What was most exciting, however, was the ability to play Fallout 4. I feel like that needs to be clarified, this wasn’t just a sample of a small area of the irradiated wasteland, this was all of Fallout 4. They’ve turned the entire game into a VR experience, and it feels incredible.

Minor things like checking your pip-boy just feel so much more engaging when it’s as simple as turning your wrist. What’s even more impressive is we also already have a time line for release. Fallout 4 will be released for the HTC Vive in 2017.

As someone who has been slow to buy into the virtual reality fad, I have to say this might be my turning point. Getting to experience a game I already love in a format that just works so perfectly with it is making me wonder if virtual reality really is going to stick around. This is the kind of third party assistance these consoles have needed in order to get their foot in the door, and it’s a strong foot to lead with.

Updated Game: Fallout 4

You are S.P.E.C.I.A.L.

Speaking of Fallout 4, there are some updates coming to that as well! The game will be getting new tools for players to use in their settlement building. These include contraptions such as conveyor belts, sorting machines, armor racks, and the like.

Perhaps more exciting is the addition of a “build your own vault” option. Bethesda will be encouraging the mad scientist in you as you get to come up with your own fun ways of experimenting on the people dwelling in your new contained environment. Think The Sims except inside an irradiated hellscape. Which, come to think of it, is typically how all my Sims games have ended anyway.

Finally, it looks like we got hints of a new area coming to Fallout 4, in the form a theme park centered around everyone’s favorite irradiated beverage, Nuka-Cola.

We should expect the settlement update during E3 week, and we will be getting our “do it yourself vaults” by July 16th.

Updated Game: Fallout Shelter

The Android/iOS app Fallout Shelter made an appearance as well. The game will be receiving a large update to keep players coming back for more in the form of new locations, enemies, characters, and a completely revamped combat system. Quests are coming to the game, as well. If you haven’t had a chance to play Fallout Shelter but have always wanted to, your chance may be coming up, as it is also being released on PC in July of this year.

Updated Game – Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Special Edition

Here’s where the audience went crazy. Despite only being an HD remake of a relatively speaking recently released game, this game got one of the biggest shouts and cheers of the night. When you actually see it in action, you can probably understand why. The updates look beautiful. That might even be under selling it. The Elder Scrolls in general is a beloved series, and Skyrim especially has a dedicated following. This special edition will also include mods on consoles, similar to the recent Fallout 4 update, and will be released October 28, 2016.

Updated Game: Doom

Doom has had a surprisingly positive response form the community. Since this has been the case, Bethesda has quite a lot planned to keep those fans happy. Some upcoming changes will be free updates to the snap maps feature, which allows players to customize and create their own arenas, as well as fiddle with game modes and allow other people to try. Think Mario Maker, but in the depths of Hell. Just like the adorable Nintendo title, the only limitations are the map maker’s imagination. That’s why Bethesda plans on giving these people more tools to help design the unique level the players have in their minds.

There will also be new competitive updates, including a new versus game modes like 1 flag CTF entitled “Exodus”, as well as a King of the Hill mode named “Sector”. There are also three more modes coming that will be available for free download, including the classic deathmatch mode.

Finally, the first DLC Unto the Evil will be released in July. This will feature three new maps, as well as a new demon simply named, “The Harvester”.

If you haven’t had a chance to play Doom yet, Bethesda is making the game available for free download if you wanted to try out the first level of the game. This offer expires at the end of E3 week.

Updated Game: Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online moments of the show seemed almost…apologetic. There were a couple times of the show where they seemingly went out of their way to discuss the unsuccessful launch of the game, followed by developers saying, “but look how much we’ve grown”! It felt akin to running into that guy/girl/other you used to date that you haven’t seen in years, and s/he is very excited to tell you about how much better they’ve been in the past years, but behind those sad eyes you can tell they just want you back.

Which isn’t to say that would be a bad thing! Don’t get me wrong, as easy as it would be to poke fun at ESO, the game definitely looks like it’s made some big improvements since its shaky launch. This may be a huge turning point for the game. Bethesda used this event as an opportunity to make an announcement that pretty drastically changes how the game is played.

In the new One Tamriel update, players will be able to explore the entire world, syncing their level to whatever zone they may be in, regardless of their play time. This allows players to access all content of the game instantly, which is unheard of in modern MMOs. Not only does this shake up the genre, but it also returns ESO to what so many fans love about the Elder Scrolls franchise: exploration.

The Closing Ceremony

#BE3 was the social media tag being used everywhere you looked.

After the show let out and everyone was winding down they had a thematic area for everyone to unwind, including beer mugs with Elder Scrolls emblazoned on them and giant turkey legs to really sell the experience. The band Blink 182 showed up to kick off their new concert and players were given a chance to test out an arena in the new Quake, as well as play a few rounds of Elder Scrolls Legends with the developers there to answer any questions.

Over all the event was a huge success for Bethesda, and the amount of effort they put into a pre-show party like this really shows how seriously they plan on taking their endeavors going foward. This is their second year in a row now having their own big event, and it seems like they’re going to keep going for as long as they continue to put out blockbuster games.

Have a favorite game you saw from the event? Let us know in the comments what you’re excited for!

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Joshua Potter
Joshua Potter (AmeNemA) is an avid video game player, having been hunting ducks and collecting coins since he was a toddler. Now he applies his years of knowledge to writing about the games he's come to love.