The 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is set to run from today, Tuesday, June 16th until Thursday the 18th promising millions of gaming fanatics news about their favorite games and gaming companies. Though the event has not started yet, there have been numerous live streamed press conferences since Sunday night; including the event that had most people salivating like a starving hound, Bethesda Softworks. This was Bethesda’s first ever E3 press conference and they did not hesitate to make it a memorable one.
With announcements like a new Doom project for the spring of 2016, a new online game hub called Bethesda.net (pronounced without the “dot”), a new Battlecry, The Elder Scrolls Legends (a free-to-play strategy card game based on the worlds of Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online), Dishonored 2 (which now lets you play as either a male or female character) and Dishonored: The Definitive Edition (a remastered next-gen console ready release of the original game), and a new online mobile game called Fallout Shelter (now available on iOS devices but soon will work with Android), people had a good reason to be excited about the year ahead. But the main event, the entrée if you will, was the news about what we can expect from Fallout 4.
At 6:45pm PT, Bethesda’s Todd Howard walked out on stage in front of a room full of people donning glowing wristbands, dressed in Vault 101 jumpsuits and NCR Ranger gear, and filled with feral anticipation. In addition the event was broadcasted live, so countless others were anxiously staring into the glow of computer screens, waiting to be amazed. After a brief history about how far video games and video game expos have come in the past 21 years (since he started at Bethesda) he suggested that this week will be the world’s best week of entertainment ever. This statement could be picked apart and argued with but with the stellar lineup from Bethesda alone (not to mention, a new Mass Effect game and the earth shattering announcement from Microsoft that the One will now be backwards compatible for many games), many would agree with him. A few minutes later, Howard brought our attention the main event with the line “And in the world of entertainment there are very few things as good as Fallout”. And the crowd goes wild!
He went on to explain that they have been working on Fallout 4 since the completion of Fallout 3 and in the past four years it has been their main drive. The audience was then awed with artwork depicting the attention to detail the artists had put into creating a post-apocalyptic Boston set to music very similar to the theme song from Fallout New Vegas. The final image on the screen is emphasized because it shows the a shot of a serene suburban street with a city skyline in the background. We were then told that, this is where the game is going to start, before everything went to shit. Then we were taken into the game as Howard presented the gameplay showcase. This showcase takes us, without spoiling too much, through character development, the events leading up to the bomb and shots of gameplay in the wasteland. Also quickly introduced is an enhanced dialog interface, companion commands and an updated VATS system that seems to slow time down rather than pause it completely.
As it was with the official game trailer released on June 3rd, the graphics in the gameplay seem to be more reminiscent of 3 and New Vegas, with slight improvements but not the crystal clear next-gen console game definition some were hoping for. This seems to be a deliberate move as much time, money and energy has been put into this game and developing it for the Xbox One and PS4. Honestly after the years of hype, anticipation and hoaxes we would have been excited for a game with the original fallout’s graphics. That said the game looks beautiful and is going to fill the gaping void that has been in our lives since the last Fallout game was released.
After the gameplay walkthrough, Howard began discussing the Pip-Boy from its origin (as the world’s most advanced smartwatch) to a view of it in the game. We are shown its functionality and enhanced interface along with the introduction of mini-games that can be played on it. Then he made us fall in love so very hard by announcing that they made a real Pip-Boy to be packaged (with a limited supply) with the collector’s edition of the game (which is open for pre-sale now). And unlike many collector’s edition toys this one is functional. A smartphone can be put inside of it and Bethesda made an app for it to create a 2nd screen experience for the game. He then states that usually 2nd screen experiences, from his experience, are just stupid gimmicks, but then he says “but like, as far as stupid gimmicks go, this is just the best fucking one I have ever seen. It is awesome!” Obviously even if you don’t splurge and buy the $120 collectors edition to get a Pip-Boy, you can still get the app and use the functionality on your phone like a loser.
Then as if that wasn’t enough Fallout news, Howard went on to introduce Fallout Shelter. A mobile game that lets you create your own vault and be the overseer of it. In the game you will have full control of all of the resources and people in the vault. You will also have the ability to adjust their stats and inventory along with the ability to send them out into the wasteland. It is a very impressive looking game and in the vein of The Sims and SimCity with the charm of the Fallout series. What makes it even better is that it is FREE (with no paywall timers) and can be run offline. What was even more impressive (I know I was thoroughly impressed before that last bit too, but they keep wowing us!) is that it was available in the Apple App Store that night!
Then as if we weren’t already drowning in our own drool and tears of joy, Howard brings us back to Fallout 4 to show us one more exciting feature of the game. You can now collect scrap materials and build structures like houses, furniture, resources, terminals, power grids, defenses and shops in real time. This feature has just taken Fallout over the top. Channeling Minecraft but making it so much prettier, they have made the game more dynamic than we could have ever imagined. Essentially you can build a settlement of your own, make it grow and defend it from Raiders. What more, this functionality works throughout the game allowing you to craft mods for Power Armor and over 700 mods for the 50 base weapons in the game. Of course all of this functionality is an optional part of the gameplay but we all, no doubt, will be making cool shanty towns and turret gauntlets.
Howard finished up his portion of Bethesda’s E3 press conference by showing an impressive montage of more of the combat, weapons and enemies set to the classic jazzy radio sounds that has made the Fallout series so iconic. Then he thanked us all for our patience in waiting for the release of this game and announced that it will be coming out on November 10th of this year.
All in all Bethesda’s debut into the E3 press conference world was a stunning success. Todd Howard’s presentation kept mouths gaping open and the love for Bethesda Softworks burning like a wildfire. I has been seven years since Fallout 3 let us see the vault and wasteland in a whole new dimension and 5 years since New Vegas (though that one was made by Obsidian, it was still a Fallout game) got “big irons on his hip” stuck in our heads as we wandered the Mojave. We waited (somewhat) patiently for a word, picture, soundbite or anything alluding to the fact that Fallout 4 was coming. I must say that Bethesda’s new Fallout game seems to have more than made up for all of the waiting and longing.
You can watch the full E3 presentation from Todd Howard here.