You can stop asking Todd Howard now for TES VI after Fallout 76. Because it's not coming after FO76. But it is coming after the next thing.
Falling into the Stars, as fortold by the Elder Scrolls
Well. Bethesda Game Studios is going to be busy for the next five years. At least five years anyway. Good thing they have two satelite studios now outside Maryland with Montreal and Austin.
At the Bethesda Showcase, Todd Howard debuted four brand new games, three of which I'll get to here, and one we'd already seen a few weeks earlier --- and earlier before the event.
First up, the game announced a few weeks ago: Fallout 76. And frankly, I'm out. Not because it doesn't look bad, not because it's not a true Fallout game, not because it's an online game. Nope. None of those. It doesn't look bad at all. Hell, looking at the environment as you come out of Vault 76, I got super Elder Scrolls vibes. It looks just as much of a Fallout game than Fallout 4 does. And yes, it is a primarily online game but you can play it in single-player.
So why am I not going near it? FUCKING SPIDERS. IT HAS FUCKING SPIDER-LIKE CREATURES IN IT, SO THAT'S ME NOPING OUT. Or maybe peer pressure will get me to buy it anyway. It does look fun and I think making shelters and gaining the resource to nuke the fuck out of places together as a unit would be fun. It's out this November 14.
But it wasn't done there. Two more games... Fallout Shelter for PS4 and Switch, out tonight! And a brand new mobile Elder Scrolls game coming this year on iOS and Android that is being aimed for near every device possible down the line. I'll get to that below.
But then there was two more games! And these were the gigatons.
First up, the long rumoured and speculated space/sci-fi new IP, Bethesda Game Studios' first new IP since The Elder Scrolls.
Not much was shown of Starfield, but it was a statement of intent. As Todd Howard put it on stage, it was to show what was coming beyond Fallout 76 and the mobile Elder Scrolls game. In his words, it was Bethesda's "next big adventure" and that it was a "next-generation single-player game" (that could mean new hardware - Microsoft did say it was already working on the next Xbox at its event and is supposedly codenamed Scarlet).
BUT IF YOU CALL NOW, YOU'LL ALSO GET SOMETHING ELSE! Here's an transcriptional representation of what happened next from my POV watching it.
Todd Howard: "We're also building towards the game coming after that."
Me, already excited Starfield has finally been announced: Yeah, I know, Sta---WAIT WHAT!?"
Todd Howard: "And it's the one you keep asking about."
Me: WHAT THE FUCK!?
They fucking announced The Elder Scrolls VI. With the briefest of teasers that tell us nothing, leaving it to TES super fans to figure out where it's set.
And...I liked what they did with it. Starfield, I was hoping for something a little more substantial considering this has been in the works for years and I hope we get bigger look at it after Fallout 76 comes out. But TES VI getting an unveil this far out with what is practically a nothing teaser is a surprise. And actually a stroke of genius.
By unveiling Starfield and announcing The Elder Scrolls VI now, it stops the impatient wait players of Bethesda Game Studios' games get by trying to figure out what's coming next from the studio in the same everyone did after Skyrim and Fallout 4 came out. By announcing them, it stops the speculation and shows BGS's long-term future and does something very rarely done by a studio or publisher, show the long-term future of a studio's lineup in an era where everything needs to be shown within six months or a year of its release in the post-No Man's Sky era, an art form Bethesda has perfected with Fallout 4, The Evil Within 2, Wolfenstein 2 and now Fallout 76.
It's a clever play. A gamble, absolutely, depending on how far out these games actually are - I reckon Starfield is at best a game coming late next year/2020 with The Elder Scrolls VI coming 2022 - and especially considering it usually has one game in pre-production whilst rolling in actual production with the other (The first bits of pre-production of Skyrim came during Fallout 3's development, the first bits of Fallout 4's pre-production coming during Skyrim etc), but it's nice to see this for a change.
If this was any other developer or studio, this wouldn't pay off as much with the exception of one or two others. But considering the clamor to see what comes next from Todd Howard's team is already at a heightened sense? Good call.
Humour is the Best Medicine
Humour was a key component to Bethesda's show.
Pete Hines kicked it off by roasting Walmart Canada for its leak of several games, including its own RAGE 2.
"We're starting with a game that we announced a few weeks ago through our friends at Walmart Canada, perhaps best known for their low prices and ability to keep a secret."
Todd Howard was his usual charming self. Arkane Studios had a funny Prey-related skit announcing updates and DLC for it as well as an incredibly well-timed, unintentional improv gag of a Not a Mimic where the sticky note saying 'Not a Mimic' naturally fell off just as one of the devs was asked if they were a mimic And Andrew WK performed to a bunch of what essentially was audience drones.
Oh, and Bethesda took the piss out of itself by tackling the gag everyone already was: by letting us know where they're porting Skyrim to next - from Amazon Alexa to EtchASketch and smart-fridges with a skit from Keegan Michael Key.
And whilst this isn't humour, who doesn't love to hear a fuck Nazis sentiment because fuck Nazis. MachineGames and Hines were clearly on board to provide that sentiment as well in a not so subtle way.
The point of all this? How you present these events goes a long way in making your event stand out. And whilst there was some awkwardness and filer at times, Bethesda nailed its presenting for the most part. Good show.
- Fuck it, I'm in for Rage 2. It seems a more colourful version of Borderlands and well, I have a lot more trust in id Software and Avalanche Software than I do Gearbox right now. Plus, the way it announced its collector's edition in the middle of the demo was genius. Loved it.
- Along with a previously announced relaunch, The Elder Scrolls Legends is coming to PS4, Xbox One and Switch later this year. Cool. It's not a game I play, but cool.
- More story stuff for The Elder Scrolls Online coming post-Summerfall. I really should play this now with the main game, Morrowind and the new content waiting to be played.
- DOOM MOTHERFUCKING ETERNAL AND WE'RE NOW SHOOTING SHIT UP WITH HELL ON EARTH! Wait, we're inhabiting Hell on Earth right now. Can we just have a DOOM game set in this Hell on Earth? Real talk: LETS FUCKING GO! DOOM 2016 was the fucking shit and I'm all in for this. More to come at Quakecon in August.
- Quake Champions is still a thing.
- Prey has new DLC out now and coming this summer, including a mutliplayer mode where one player is human and five others are mimics. That last one sounds particularly fun.
- NEW WOLFENSTEIN GAME! FEATURING BJ'S TWIN DAUGHTERS! LETS GOOOO!
- New VR stuff for Prey and Wolf as well. Bring those to PSVR please. Or just the Wolf stuff at least.
- The Elder Scrolls Blades is a fully fledged TES game coming to iOS and Android later this year for free from BGS, but the aim is to also bring it to every possible platform, including VR, and have some sort of cross-platform support and play. I'm all for this.
- Just to touch back on Starfield, I've been waiting for this game for a long time. Fallout, good as it is, is post-apocalypse silliness that took me a while to get into. The Elder Scrolls, good as it is, is fantasy silliness that took me a while to get into (though Skyrim got me good). But space is my jam. And as much as I love Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, Bethesda doing a space sci-fi RPG is so far my fucking jam, it hurts. It may just fill that void in my heart left by Mass Effect now in light of Anthem and BioWare not planning a Mass Effect return anytime soon. And I say this as someone who has been dreaming of a sci-fi/space Bethesda Game Studios title since after Skyrim came out.
Bethesda Game Studios unveiling its long-term plans, from Fallout 76 this November through to The Elder Scrolls VI arguably four or five years from now, with a brand new IP in Starfield inbetween, is a massive gamble. But one that paid off in terms of putting on a great show and got people excited.
Plus new DOOM and Wolfenstein games and a great Rage 2 showing help add to it. And whilst not without its faults at times, its on stage presence was affirming and charming.
In what was their fourth showcase, Bethesda had their best one yet. Who knows if they can top it next year.