Bethesda was widely praised as having the best event of last year’s E3, where Fallout 4 stole the show and went on to become a huge sales sensation. The publisher didn’t offer anything quite like that this year, but it showed a solid lineup with some interesting twists and turns.
The Bethesda pre-E3 briefing event served to highlight two trends that are occupying an ever-greater mind share among the dedicating gaming audience: eSports and virtual reality (VR). The event led with a cold open into a trailer for the revival of a powerful franchise in Quake Champions, the new version of what id Software studio director Tim Willets praised. “Yes, Quake is back,” Willets said. “The game that defined competitive multiplayer is back, and it’s better than ever.” Willets reminded the audience that Quake was a pioneer for eSports, and is still played in tournaments worldwide.
Willets described Quake Champions as “a competitive arena first-person shooter for the PC designed for all skill levels,”underscoring the desire to bring in as large an audience as possible. Id Software knows what delights the fans, as can be seen by the enthusiastic reception for Doom last month. “We know high-end performance is critical,” Willets said. The game features 120 Hz graphics with unlocked frame rates, and is designed for world-class eSports play at every level. As part of the launch plan, Bethesda will be supporting competitive tournaments and leagues, and providing more information at the upcoming QuakeCon in August.
What really made the Bethesda E3 event stand out how it took a step forward into VR by announcing Fallout 4 for the HTC Vive, coming in 2017. This project helps cement Fallout 4 as a leading brand, and will draw more people to the Fallout franchise. Additionally, it positions the company as a technology leader, cements the Fallout brand, and may help drive more people into buying Fallout games on other platforms.
With both Quake Champions and Fallout 4 VR, Bethesda is building up an existing game brand by extending it and appealing to the hardcore gamers who make up the E3 audience. Industry observers were impressed with Bethesda’s lineup.
“Bethesda’s follow-up from last year’s spectacular press event was overall very strong, featuring several titles that are popular with the core gaming audience,” said SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen. “Notably, Bethesda is getting hip to recent changes in the games market: after its success on mobile with Fallout Shelter, it is now also pursuing competitive gaming with Quake Champions. Bethesda has the ability to take an early lead in the VR market as one of the big publishers throwing their weight behind the new platform, following its announcement of Fallout 4 for HTC Vive scheduled for release next year. Provided these titles develop into the success we expect them to, the question who will acquire Bethesda will undoubtedly re-emerge in the months to come.”