E3 2011 Coverage: Bethasda GamesJuxtapoz // Friday, 10 Jun 2011
E3 2011 Coverage: Bethesda Softworks Bethesda has been in the game for over 2 decades, and still creates a buzz when releasing new titles. This year is no different, with 3 titles that were creating quite a stir around E3 this year. Rage, Prey 2, and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. All were so sought after that previews of them were by appointment only.
Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
The continuation of the popular franchise has brought some really exciting new features. The game is a RPG style in a mythological realm where the god Alduin, which has assumed the form of a Dragon, has come to destroy the world. You play as a Dragonborn warrior questing to save the land. You can play in both first person view, and third person view, which is a very nice feature lacking from most titles of this nature. The landscape is amazing with no textured landscapes in this game; even the snow is rendered in real-time. This means that the sweeping backdrops that are normally matte painting backdrops in most games are actual environments that you can explore and look at in close detail. But the scenery isn't the only thing that has been combed over with a fine toothcomb. The fighting mechanics allow you to control each hand separately, using the left and right triggers as their respective hands in the game.
Each hand can be assigned a weapon from your inventory, which includes spells, shields, and a wide array of different weapons. Dual wielding the weapons in any combination you can think of, also allows you to increase the weapons potency. For example, dual wielding two of the same spells will result in you having the ability to increase that spells effectiveness exponentially. As you use more or less of each class of weapons, your characters abilities grow, developing you into either a warrior or a wizard. This is a welcomed change from choosing your class at the beginning of the game, and being stuck with your choice. This is a much more organic way of letting your character develop.
They have also gotten rid of the spreadsheet style skill list, and turned it into a series of constellations that represent different skill sets, and the stars within that constellation representing each skills respective powers. You also collect what they are calling "Voices", which is an ability granted to you being that you are a Dragonborn warrior, these chants grant you unique powers usually reserved for the Dragons. Anything from slowing time, to clairvoyance, allowing you to conjure a path leading you to your next objective. Like most RPG's you are questing through dungeons collecting treasures, and artifacts galore. But with over 150 handcrafted dungeons, each one is unique. Items can be inspected with extreme detail, often leading to hints which assist you in solving puzzles, and allow you to continue on your quest. And those Dragons we mentioned earlier, they’re everywhere! Swooping in on you and your enemies alike with no discretion, and each with their own AI, allowing them to create new experiences with each attack. They are not the only creatures in the games with a mind of their own though. Massive Mammoths, giants, and creatures of the age are scattered throughout the land, but not all the creatures are out to kill you. Many are perfectly fine continuing on with their natural habits, completely oblivious to your presence. With this kind of detail it is easy to see why this game is the 5th title of the series, and most definitely not the last.
Landing on an alien planet after surviving a plane crash, you are the only human, or so you think at the time. You are Killian Samuels, a bounty hunter trying to make it in a harsh unknown world. A world that has one side perpetually covered in darkness, and the other in light, creating a ring of around the middle that is capable of sustaining life. In the demo shown you are in Bowery City, a safe haven for deviants, and those looking to make some cash by capturing them. You run around the city climbing up buildings, scaling ledges, and leaping gaps, parkour style.
But unlike most games, these actions do not hinder your ability to continue firing. Allowing you to use the ledge your hanging from as cover, and fire one handed over the top of them. Your agility is not your only weapon though. You have a variety of gadgets at your disposal, including a scanner, remote shields, and many others. The scanner helps identify bounty targets, enemies, and friendlies alike. However if the idea of hunting around until you find something to hunt doesn't sound to appealing, you have the option to use the Bounty Wire to pick up jobs at a moments notice. Once you have found your bounty, and captured him, you have a choice between sending him in to collections, or interrogating him for more information. However, you need to be careful how hard you push him in the interrogation, because if he dies, so does you bounty.
While you can attack the neutral characters if you wish, your actions will affect your reputation if your actions are captured by the security bots patrolling the city. However, sometimes intimidation can be a useful tool while looking for information about the whereabouts of a specific target. This threat ability is an interesting new addition, allowing you to choose how your character is perceived by his peers. In the first installment of this series, you were more likely to be prey then predator, but in this latest version you have definitely taken a predatory role.
In a world that is struggling to survive after a collision with the asteroid Apophis, a real possible world ending asteroid by the way, you are the survivor of one of many cryogenic Arks designed to repopulate the planet. The desert landscape is the perfect setting for vehicles such as dune buggies and ATV's, and those vehicles make up a large portion of the games gameplay. Races, customizing you vehicle, and pure transportation are just some of the uses these vehicles have. This aspect of the game was done better then I have previously seen in other titles. Not your average battle races, these challenges yield new upgrades and missions for you to utilize at will to tune your whip to your personal taste. Guns and ammunition are another portion of the game with can be modified, allowing you to make spin offs of each weapon, and tune them to be more effective depending on the mission at hand.
With many different factions having evolved since the disaster, you have to choose which will be your allies, and which will be your enemies, and sometimes that changes depending on which group can help you at that particular time. The game is beautiful for having a theme which has been done many times before. And combining the different guns and ammo is a lot more useful then I previously thought it would be. If you like a fun racing battle royale with a little FPS mixed in, this is a perfect match for you.