Doom sets it up, and Fallout 4 knocks it out of the park

Bethesda put on its first official E3 showcase on Sunday, where a massive audience at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood--and hundreds of thousands more watching online--saw the publisher bring forward a stellar lineup of marquee properties on Sunday night.

Emceed by Bethesda's Global Vice President of PR and Marketing Pete Hines, the showcase started with a bang, with the introduction of developer id Software's upcoming game Doom. With a blisteringly fast-paced demonstration showing a space marine blasting his way through demons both in an industrial facility on Mars and in a canyon in Hell itself, Doom hit the gas pedal and never let up. The audience even got a thrilling glimpse of the series' iconic BFG weapon, much to its delight.

Doom is not only about a tense, fast-paced single-player experience--multiplayer is also a critical element of the game's design. Inspired by the classic death matches of the original 1993 game, Doom's multiplayer modes will include domination, freeze tag, and clan arena.

This new installment stretches beyond the core game experience and emphasizes customization. To that end, Doom has a new feature called SnapMap, an easy-to-use, cross-platform customization tool. Even players with no experience in map design can create new levels and share them with the click of a button using SnapMap's simple interface. Players can alter the game's logic to create entirely new experiences, which adds even more layers to the gameplay. Doom will be available for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, releasing in spring 2016.

From a classic title to an entirely new one, Bethesda switched gears to discuss Battlecry, a multiplayer, free-to-play action game for PC, which pits factions against each other in team-based challenges. Developer Battlecry Studios announced that worldwide sign-ups for the game's global beta are now open, and that the game will be playable at Bethesda's E3 booth this week.

Following the Battlecry announcement, Bethesda unveiled two new titles from Arkane Studios, both from the developer's hit Dishonored stealth-action series. Dishonored 2 is once again set in the lovingly rendered steampunk world of the original game. This time, however, players can choose to play as returning protagonist Corvo Attano or newcomer Emily Kaldwin, his former charge. Each character brings his or her own unique powers, abilities, and weapons to the game, each offering a very different experience.

Dishonored 2 is all about creating memorable gaming moments that come from player choice, and not pre-scripted events. Players can go through all of Dishonored 2 without killing a single enemy--or cut down everyone in their way, hurl magic spells, set deadly traps, and leverage any combination of the game's combat-oriented styles. Dishonored 2 is in development for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Bethesda did not provide a release date.

Bethesda did reveal that this fall, fans can look forward to Dishonored: Definitive Edition for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Definitive Edition includes the original Dishonored--plus all the downloadable content and upgraded graphics for new-generation systems--onto a single disc.

Next, Bethesda announced upcoming content for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited's on PS4 and Xbox One, and showed an enticing video--including a hint that the series' infamous Black Hand guild of assassins may soon make an appearance in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

On the heels of The Elder Scrolls Online, Bethesda announced the upcoming Elder Scrolls Legends, a free-to-play strategy card game based on the vast Elder Scrolls mythology. Coming to PC and mobile platforms later this year, Elder Scrolls Legends lets players experience the deep mythos of the series in an easy-to-play and hard-to-put-down format.

Todd Howard--acclaimed game designer and lead on Fallout 4--arrived on-stage to thunderous applause.

"E3 is the best week of entertainment ever," Howard said, and went on to praise the critical role that video games have played in shaping the world of entertainment over the course of his long career.

Howard and his team are now focused on what must be one of the most hotly anticipated role-playing games ever: Fallout 4. The sequel to the multi-award-winning and best-selling Fallout 3, Fallout 4 is set in Boston and begins just prior to the events of the nuclear apocalypse. Players begin the game on a normal day in a peaceful suburb, going through their morning routine in a cleverly disguised character-creation sequence. Eventually, bombs go off and the player wakes up 200 years later in the shell of a ruined Boston, with nothing but sheer wits (and an eventual canine companion) to aid in the fight for survival.

The presentation showcased a comprehensive set of brand-new gameplay additions. Crafting is now a much deeper part of the experience than ever before; players can dismantle items and fixtures they come across and use them to build structures or even entire bases. By building up these bases, players attract traders, who sell some of the game's best items. The bases must also be defended from desperate raiding parties.

Fallout 4 includes more than 50 base weapons and more than 700 modifications, allowing for a huge amount of customization in combat options. How players want to fight is up to them, as they will be able to play Fallout 4 as a straight-ahead first-person shooter, a third-person action game, or (using the series' patented V.A.T.S. system) a hybrid turn-based strategic system--or any combination of the three. Fallout 4 will be released for PS4, Xbox One, and PC November 10--a short wait for what is sure to be a watershed in the open-world role-playing genre.

Finally, Bethesda announced an entirely new Fallout spinoff property: the free-to-play Fallout Shelter. Designed to simulate the role of an overseer of one of the series' iconic Vaults, Fallout Shelter challenges players to marshal the Vault's limited resources and help their band of survivors make it through the apocalypse. Players build their bases, train their people, and eventually send them out into the wasteland to bring back rewards. Fallout Shelter is now available for iOS.

In all, Bethesda's first E3 press conference was a resounding success, impressing all comers with not only the diversity, but also the depth and scope of its titles, and the many platforms and genres that serve.

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