Their Best: Fallout 3, Dishonored, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,
Their Worst: Rogue Warrior, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow, IHRA Professional Drag Racing, Star Trek games
E3 2015 is almost here, and even though there’s still 6 weeks to go, those 6 weeks are going to fly by fast. There’s a lot to look forward to when this year’s biggest gaming convention comes around. And this year’s E3 is going to be the biggest E3 to date, especially since Bethesda and Square Enix have thrown their names into the hat.
Bethesda is somewhat of a mixed bag, though; they have a few truly great games, some mediocre games, and a few games so terrible that we’ve blocked them out of our memories completely. So let’s take a look at Bethesda Softworks’ past, present, and what they could do at their first ever E3 press conference next month.
I’ll skip the long history of Bethesda and how they were formed and blah, blah, blah. What I want to look at is their history of publishing games. The company has been publishing (and developing) games since the 1980s, when they started with Gridiron! and followed up with some interesting DOS games. In fact, the early days of Bethesda were all about the original Wayne Gretzky Hockey, an NCAA Basketball game, and even the first Terminator video game. The company even dipped their toes into the racing genre.
The early days at Bethesda appeared to be very active, and the company apparently was going for more of a quantity-based approach as opposed to quality. Many of the games released from the 1980s to the early 2000s weren’t very well received, save a few select games.
Once Bethesda left behind the days of DOS and only developing/publishing for Windows and entered into the console market, they found their first major franchise games. Of course, it took the company a little while for things to catch on and for them to find their footing. They botched their first major console game release, IHRA Drag Racing, which is now widely considered their worst game. They saved face a little later with 3D science fiction flight simulator Echelon that was generally well-received.
Of course, their first major release was The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, which sent the Elder Scrolls series into the direction it is still moving today. The open world fantasy RPG was widely commended on its scope, stunning visuals (for the time), and the fact that it was a big upgrade from Daggerfall. But the game still wasn’t flawless, and many fans and even reviewers noted its many glitches. Morrowind also spawned one of the most memorable video game villains of all time, Dagoth Ur.
Following their success with Morrowind, Bethesda dipped their toes into the FPS and horror genres for the first time with Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, which was a survival horror game that re-imagined H.P. Lovecraft’s works. It was an interesting concept and setting, and generally received a great deal of praise for its uniqueness. There were even sequels planned for the game, but both sequels fell through the cracks and into oblivion (see what I did there?).
Bethesda then tried another IHRA Drag Racing game — didn’t work. Then tried a Pirates of the Caribbean game — also didn’t work. Then they had a few Star Trek games like Encounters, Tactical Assault and Legacy which were completely awful. Of course, I don’t blame Bethesda for these less than impressive games, since no one else could make a respectable Star Trek game either.
Finally, nearly two years after their string of failed games, Bethesda bounced back into the minds of the gaming community with, in my humble opinion, their best game to date: Fallout 3. Fallout 3 was a creative RPG that didn’t revolve around fantasy elements, but instead set players in a vast wasteland with the freedom to roam about, complete quests, and attempt to survive a post apocalyptic world. Aside from its glitches — which were pretty common at that time for a game with such a big scope — the game was very well-received, and have fans waiting on the edge of their seat for the next Fallout game, which is probably a Fallout 4.
Following Fallout 3, Bethesda had some interesting concepts for games which mostly didn’t turn out to be all that they imagined. For example, Wet brought us a hyper-violent strong female lead, but failed with broken level design, lackluster gameplay and poor graphics. Of course, Wet looked like a win compared to Rogue Warrior, which was an all-around poor attempt by Rebellion (published by Bethesda). Then, Bethesda released Splash Damage’s Brink, which wasn’t necessarily an awful game, it just wasn’t very memorable. Rage, on the other hand, is probably Bethesda’s most underrated game, and the potential for a sequel is high.
In November of 2011, Bethesda released one of their most memorable and ambitious games to date, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Skyrim is still being played today — even approaching 4 years later. Skyrim really opened up what an open world game should be, and gave inspiration for many RPG games following its release, like last year’s incredible Dragon Age: Inquisition. A year later, Dishonored was a surprise hit with its creative world and unique story-telling.
Bethesda had a generally successful 2014, with the release of Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Evil Within. Those two were generally well-received, and the return to the horror genre by Bethesda is something we needed. But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the developer in 2014, as The Elder Scrolls Online was less than impressive (and continues to be as big as they’d like for it to be).
Bethesda has Wolfenstein: The Old Blood releasing today, and only time will tell if it is enough of a change from The New Order to be worth the pick-up. But, the idea for the story is a good idea, and hopefully it turns out to be a solid release for the company. Bethesda has The Elder Scrolls Online’s PS4 and Xbox One versions hitting in June, but I still don’t think it’s going to be a good game even with the graphical upgrade.
We know Bethesda is currently working on BattleCry and Doom, and hopefully we’ll learn more about these two games soon.
E3 2015 Predictions for Bethesda
Making predictions for E3 2015 for any company is admittedly a tough thing to do, since there are always surprises out of left field we couldn’t have possibly guessed. But making predictions for Bethesda is even tougher because of the company’s interesting history that has seen such highs and lows. But, what the hell. What will Bethesda announce at E3 2015?
I seriously doubt that Bethesda will re-enter into the car racing scene, so let’s count that out right now. The racing game market is too flooded as it is, and Bethesda’s entries haven’t exactly been impressive. And, It’s probably too soon to announce an Evil Within 2, especially since the company just had DLC released for it last month. With a new Wolfenstein dropping today, it’s doubtful that Bethesda will announce a new game in the franchise this year. And, forget about any licensed games like Pirates or Star Trek ever happening again, since licensed games are generally horrible anyway.
The obvious announcement the company will make at E3 2015 is Fallout 4. Fallout 4 has been rumored for quite some time, and it will allegedly take place in Boston. Of course, that’s just rumors for now. Still, I don’t think Bethesda would even be having an E3 press conference for the first time in their history if they didn’t have some major bombs to drop, the first being Fallout 4. A Fallout MMO would also be interesting, and we know that Bethesda was once working on that before scrapping it.
We will learn more about BattleCry and the upcoming Doom game, for sure. But as far as the games we don’t already know about, I think it’s safe to say that Bethesda could leave us with an Elder Scrolls VI teaser at the very end of their conference. It will be a very brief teaser, or maybe even just a logo, but we would be naive to believe that Bethesda isn’t already at least discussing the next Elder Scrolls game.
It’s also possible that we’ll see a Dishonored 2 announced at E3 this year, since that game has quite a following and was so well-received. It’s also possible that we could finally see Wet 2 or Rage 2 for the new generation of consoles (although Rage is unlikely because of the upcoming Mad Max game).
A new Bethesda IP is also probable to be announced at E3. Bethesda has done so well in the past creating and fleshing out new ideas that I think the opportunity to tell people about a new IP on gaming’s biggest stage can’t be passed up.
We will be covering E3 2015 quite heavily here at Heavy (ha), and we already have a ton of predictions and analysis up for your reading pleasure. Hopefully it all sparks some conversation and debate.