It is nights like last night that make me realize I am wired just a little bit weird. Last night while the world seemingly was watching the season finale of Game of Thrones, I was tuned into the E3 2015 festivities over YouTube and eventually twitch. It started early in the evening with the 2015 Nintendo World Championships, and concluded later with the phenomenal Bethesda Softworks showcase. E3 is this miraculous time of bottled hope, that seems to pump up the heart of a gamer about what might be or at least what could be. If you did not have a chance to watch it, I highly suggest you check out the Nintendo Championships. It was equal parts charming, and thrilling… and when we finally got to the heads up match between the last two contestants I have to say I was literally tense for them. The hoops that they were asked to jump through were just silly, and in the proud tradition of the Nintendo Championship… they were in fact forced to play a “game” they had never seen before.
The real excitement however started when the Bethesda showcase began. When a game company shows off its wares at one of these shows, it is a rarity that there are so many different titles that I care about coming from the same place. Doom will always hold a special place in my heart, because in theory it was the game that really sold me on the power of PC gaming. I remember my parents getting so damned frustrated with me for tying up the phone lines as I dialed into a friends computer to play the game cooperatively. I remember spending hundreds of hours creating my own levels and imagining what my own version of the game might bring. I devotedly played the derivatives like Heretic and the oddball narrative spinoffs like Strife, because I literally could not get enough of the game. The problem being that with Doom there also comes a lot of disappointment, and strange decisions like that god awful movie.
The problem is that ID Software for whatever reason lost its way. The last Doom game shipped in August of 2004 and we have had to endure a decade of waiting. There was this period of time where ID seemed to forget what made its games great in the first place, as it curiously focused instead on building more complex engines… than creating interesting games. That wait however is apparently nearing its end, because last night we got to see Doom 4 in all its glory, and I weep at the system I will need to have to play it in all its glory. The game play was saw was this gorgeous carnal ballet of demons and zombies erupting into red volcanoes of gore and blood on the screen. It seemed to capture everything that made Doom amazing, and strutted its stuff with a level of technical detail that I am just floored by. What makes me even happier is it seems this time they did not forget that it was ultimately multiplayer that made the Doom franchise famous. They showed off this awesome new tech that will maybe once again make level creation simple enough that anyone can pick up the map builder and start making awesome things. The builder also seems to support the creation of game play modes themselves, so I am really hoping that we once again start to see some innovation from the community in moving the FPS genre forward.
If Doom was not enough, moments later the folks from Arkane Studios took the stage to talk about the leaked announcement of Dishonored 2. Dishonored holds a special place in my heart because it is in theory a “stealth” game that I actually loved playing. Granted this is because it allows you to play the game in a way that takes all sneaking about and stealth game play out of the mix. The awesome thing is, it apparently also plays extremely enjoyably for the folks who do want to stealth about and have a zero body count. It is one of the few games that both myself and Tamriello raved about when it was released, so quite honestly I was going to snatch up whatever game came from them next regardless of its hype. All of that said it looks like the continuation of the original Dishonored game is going to be amazing. One of the most interesting features of the first game is the interaction of the character Corvo Attano and his “charge” Emily Kaldwin. As you play through the game, your actions effect the upbringing of Emily. If you play the part of a bloodless hero she focuses on the good things in life, or if you are like me and go for 100% bodycount… she focuses on the death, destruction and carnage.
In Dishonored II the trailer shows us that dear Emily has apparently followed in your footsteps and takes up the role of righting wrongs at the point of a sword. Ubisoft really needs to watch what Arkane is doing because they are fucking nailing it. They are giving us both an awesome and interesting male lead, but an equally interesting female lead. To make things even better it seems that they are apparently not just carbon copies of each other. Both Emily and Corvo will have unique abilities and game play styles that will cause you to approach the level design slightly differently. In theory this means that you have at least two fresh play through of the game, and four if you are trying to get a bloodless victory on each and a full body count victory as well. Personally I am likely going to play through twice because there is no way I can somehow stomach playing through this game in a full on stealth fashion. If my actions in the last game “raised”Emily… I would not want to meet her in a dark alley, because I am certain “my” Emily would be a brutal and heartless killing machine.
If all of the above was not awesome enough… we all were waiting anxiously for more tidbits of news about the latest game in the Fallout franchise. The Fallout fans out there were absolutely not disappointed, as the floodgates opened with information about the new game. This game is apparently set in Boston as has been long rumored, and for the first time we get to see the world “before the bomb”. They showed a few minutes of the character creation segment of the game, and the events leading up to being forced to go into Vault 111. I am really happy with the way they are doing this, but one of the confusing parts about the demo was that people seemed to be excited that you can create a female Vault Dweller. Far as I remember you have always been able to choose to create a female vault dweller, or at the very least you have been able to since the birth of the modern Fallout series with 3. That confusion aside the new system looks great and I should be able to create a Vault Dweller I am happy with. The world out there to explore looked phenomenal, and I got flashbacks to the moment I set foot of the vault into the Washington wasteland for the first time.
What was even more amazing however is when they started going into the systems. Apparently this time around we are going to be able to fully mod out our weapons and our armor to create brand new items that don’t exist out in the world. Each component is modular and changes the function of the items they are attached to, and while they spent a lot of time creating brutal versions of Laser and Plasma rifles… all I could sit there and imagine were the awesome shotguns I would ultimately create. This was not all of the awesome however, in that they showed this amazing modular housing system that was like the next version of what was made possible with the Skyrim Hearthfire system. In the trailer they showed these insane bases that they had built using the system allowing us to essentially create our very own “Megaton”. This is playing down my alley because I always spend so much time kitting out my player housing in the Fallout games, because it allows me to have a place to be a packrat. After showing all of this goodness, to have me salivating… they did the ultimate mic drop. Apparently this is all going to be available this November 10th. I should probably give warning to everything that I know… because I will not be seen or heard from for at least a month.
Missing the Point
Now is where I am going to diverge from the full on “fanboyism” for a bit to comment on something I have seen said so many times. I do not know who Fierydemise is, but the above comment was retweeted into my timeline. I have no problem with this person, and my commentary isn’t really directed at them, but instead something I have seen for years. When a traditional Bethesda “Fallout” or “Elder Scrolls” series game is released, there is a group of people that seem to go into them expecting a deeply tailored narrative experience. Quite honestly if that is what you are looking for you might be missing the point. These style of open world sandbox games are not really about being told a story, but instead giving you a launch pad and a creative engine for you to wander off and tell your own story through your interaction with the world. I love them so much because they give me the freedom to enter a world without deep narrative shackles. They don’t care one bit if I wander off in the opposite direction the in game indicator is telling me to go, and find my own experience out in the wasteland.
There are so many games out there that give you a very “on rails” narrative experience, and in each of them I try my damnedest to ignore it… and tell my own story. I appreciate these games so much because I don’t have to ignore anything. They give me little nuggets of story when I crave it, but also the insane hardcore explorer porn of going off and conquering an uncertain world. It has been said that these games sacrifice fidelity for freedom of exploration, and I am completely fine with that. I guess for me maybe it comes from cutting my teeth playing games in an era essentially “before stories”. It also helps that I am far more combat drive in a game than story driven, and often times finding myself frustrated when getting bogged down in a series of cut scenes. There have been so many times when I have waited for games to “open up” and let me “do my own thing”. With Bethesda titles, I know the moment the character creation is over… that they are going to let me off my leash to go bounding madly into the distance and cause havoc. These games are designed specifically for me, and people like me… and please don’t try and shackle them with deep narrative.
Source: Tales of the Aggronaut
Bethesda Just Won E3