When Todd Howard takes the stage, you know something momentous is about to occur and for Bethesda, E3 2018 was about as big an event as a game maker can have in a year.
After announcing the rumored though still surprising Fallout 76, Howard also teased the next installment in The Elder Scrolls series as well as the dev’s new marquee IP, Starfield.
Though Fallout 76 stole much of the show, mainly due to its being heavy on details and nearer in release than the others, the next Elder Scrolls title is nothing to be dismissed and, in addition to the other games on their slate, Bethesda is slated to become a titan among titans in the Olympus of game publishers and developers.
An online game, Fallout 76 transports players to the mountains of West Virginia and pits them against each other – or forces them to cooperate – in the a post-apocalyptic brawl inspired by the series’ unique Atomic Age aesthetic. The game will not feature any NPCs or traditional quest lines as found in the other games but instead aspires to be entirely player driven, a first for a Bethesda title. Though Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls Online foray proves the company’s mettle when it comes to offering online play, Fallout 76 is the company’s first first-person shooter online multiplayer game and analysts are eager to see how it turns out.
And this alone was jarring from some long time fans of the series and Bethesda in general, but Howard stresses that the future of the company lies in staying relevant in shifting tides. Exploring new game models within existing intellectual property is nothing new in the game industry, but Bethesda’s aggressive pursuit of online multiplayer and epic single-player experiences stands out in an age of ever-increasing games-as-a-service titles.
While it is expected the next Elder Scrolls title will be a traditional Elder Scrolls game, not much is known at this point about Starfield, and that has the rumor mill going non-stop. While teasing that the next Elder Scrolls title is at least two games away, Howard did discuss Starfield and its release date is even further down the road. In an interview with the Guardian, Howard said of Starfield: “We’ve been talking about it for a decade, we started putting things on paper five, six years ago, and active development was from when we finished Fallout 4, so two and a half, three years.” He then went on to stress patience – but that’s rich when you dangle so many things in front of an eager gaming audience.
Further, in a verifiable commitment to single-player experiences, Howard points to the publisher’s future Doom Eternal, Rage 2, and Wolfenstein: Young Blood, all of which promise to be amazing single-player games in a world of increasing multiplayer.
The real test, however, comes this fall when Bethesda releases the now much-anticipated Fallout 76. While the company promises iterative updates and constant improvements to core gameplay to keep it fair and fun, players are still worried that Fallout 76 may be too radical a departure from the series’ traditional line. Still, as part of Bethesda’s bid for the throne, Fallout 76 should serve as an interesting case study in the publisher’s ambition – or hubris.