Previews// Adventures at Bethesda

Posted 16 Jul 2013 15:42 by
The Evil Within
The Evil Within
The introduction of new formats is always a curious time. Developers decide what to push onto the new systems, what to stick with on the old ones and whether or not they should bridge the generations. I got to spend a little time in Bethesda's new office in London to check out their plans for the next year or so and, while they're certainly fully embracing the PS4 and Xbox One, the older systems are still getting a decent look-in, too.

First up, Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami's return to the world of survival horror, The Evil Within. This was the same demo seen by the lucky folks who got to head over to this year's E3. Still, I'd actually managed to come out of the frenzy with little prior knowledge of the game.

As the video kicked off I was getting a very old-school vibe. It opened on police detectives entering an imposing mental institution after a mysterious incident. The lead character did precisely what you'd expect them to do - wander off into the deepest recesses on their own with little to no regard for their personal safety.

The Evil Within
The Evil Within
Of course, the shit hits the fan very quickly. You're knocked out and wake up to the sound of dripping blood. Your blood, actually, as you're hanging upside down in what looks like some kind of human-focused abattoir where a Leatherface-type chap is wandering about chopping up some other poor unfortunate. It's here where the sheer grisly awfulness of the demo hit me - The Evil Within is truly disgusting and unafraid to show you entrails and tides of blood.

Or is it? With plenty of signs that these could all be mere hallucinations, I've got a feeling the story has plenty to reveal. While I originally thought the whole thing would take place in the institution, the end shot showing a wrecked city - the city where you just came from - offers a lot of promise. Here's hoping there are plenty of chances to explore and sneak instead of simply fleeing horriblenesses down never-ending corridors.

Because, oh yes, there is PLENTY of horribleness. Multi-armed spider lady things? We got 'em. And they are fucking nightmarish.

Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Next up, I got my hands on the brand new Wolfenstein title, The New Order. Due for release later in the year it's being developed by Machine Games, a new team made up of ex-Starbreeze staff. As you may expect, coming from the people behind such stuff as the Riddick games, The New Order has a real focus on storytelling in this new addition to the franchise. Sure, there's still plenty of manz that need shootin', but why on earth can't you do that with a bit of entertainment and humour?

Being a sucker for alternative history fiction (it's a proper thing, look it up), I'm pretty much bang in my ballpark with the new Wolfenstein. It's the 1960s and the world is very different. Things didn't go quite to plan for the Allies in WWII, so Europe now has a rather distinct Nazi flavour to it. Fresh from waking up from a coma, B.J. Blazkowicz has missed out on this whole rise of the Third Reich and - naturally, being a freedom loving all-American type, goes on a one man crusade to kill all of the Nazis.

Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Except you're not alone - working alongside various Resistance members, you're looking to fight smarter rather than harder. The section of the game I played was set in London's new museum dedicated to science and lunar technology, and I was guided through the whole thing by a delightful operative called Anya.

The whole thing has a very well put together cinematic style, but if you're looking for that Citizen Kane of gaming move on - think more along the lines of The Expendables with a dash of accelerated technology and you'll be far closer to what Wolfenstein can offer you. Plenty of guns. Lots of shooting. Much running about... The kind of stuff you'd expect from a very pretty-looking FPS.

Well, apart from one thing. Wolfenstein: The New Order is going to be single-player only. No online co-op, no team deathmatches, just a good old-fashioned storyline to work your way through as you try to save the world from a rather unique take on National Socialism. I can only hope that at some point I get to fire a huge missile at some kind of immense mecha-Hitler. It's a lifelong dream.

Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order
From a gameplay standpoint, everything works pretty much as you'd expect. There's plenty of opportunity for dual wielding whatever guns you find - double machine guns are a delight, especially for a mildly inept spray-and-pray player like me. One thing I really came away with, though, is that this latest in the series is Properly Bastard Hard (though I've been told that the dev team are still working on balancing difficulty) but, despite not being a huge fan of the FPS as a whole, this is certainly one I wouldn't mind adding to the pile for those times when I just fancy a blast. It's certainly less po-faced than something like Halo, and is all the better for it.

Elder Scrolls Online
Elder Scrolls Online
Last of all, I managed to grab a quick look at the newest in the Elder Scrolls line, the upcoming ES:Online. With Bethesda now taking their baby into the MMO world, many people got pretty excited and asked me in advance to find out as much as possible.

Sadly, there's not a vast amount to tell - the game is still very much in closed Beta at the moment, so the amount of information available is somewhat limited. I can say that it's very pretty indeed ? pretty much every Elder Scrolls game seems to be represented and the various lands have their own visual style. It plays out in the normal ES way, exploring the world in first-person mode and developing your character in whatever fashion you please ? no limited classes here.

Elder Scrolls Online
Elder Scrolls Online
There's also a heavy emphasis on crafting and combat, but will it be enough to drag the WoW faithful away from Azeroth? With subscription numbers falling in Warcraft, it'll also be interesting to see how Bethesda choose to fund the game. More information to come, as always.

And with that, my time was done. From the air-conditioned suite I was forced back onto the hot streets of London, still ashamed at just how awful I was at Wolfenstein. Maybe I should've asked to knock the difficulty down...

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