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E3 Anticipation: Bethesda Bucking the Trend



With E3 right around the corner, the biggest game companies in the World are adding the finishing touches to their scheduled conferences. From the 13th to the 15th of June the Los Angeles Convention Center will open its doors to thousands of raving gamers, journalists and other high-end industry giants as it sets the stage for the biggest gaming announcements. The shocking, the delightful and the downright bizarre permeate the event in delectable fashion; anybody who’s ever been to E3 will have felt the constant state of wonder and intensity as they squeeze through the busy crowds and countless game booths. Rest assured there will be new announcements that seemingly come out of nowhere, but publishers are eager – now more than ever – to tease their game prior to E3.

On April 26th Activision gave Sledgehammer Games the go-ahead to host a live public event of the latest game in its prolific series: Call of Duty: WWII. On the 18th May, Activision and Bungie hosted a similar event for the first official gameplay footage of Destiny 2. While there is nothing wrong with advertising your product months in advance of the release date, it does imply that their inevitable E3 appearance will merely consist of a gameplay update and some substantial conference time that could’ve been dedicated to a completely new game.

Our internet-friendly companion the rumour mill, continues to turn as it always has – and always will – but there are two titles we know almost nothing about, and they’re both the intellectual property of a sole publisher: Bethesda. The Evil Within 2 rumour has been circulating for a while now, and the fact that developer Tango Gameworks have remained tight-lipped for quite some time suggests an E3 announcement is imminent. It is, however, a new Wolfenstein title that seems more of a sure-thing especially when Bethesda’s other top heavyweights have either been released within a year, or it’s too early in the development cycle for another franchise announcement.

Those who watched Bethesda’s excellent conference last year would’ve noticed the computer screen image of a list of games and their release dates. The fifth title down displayed as “New_Colossus” didn’t have a release date associated with it, but for any of those who played through to the end of MachineGames sleeper-hit Wolfenstein: The New Order, the reference to the New Colossus is an enticing one. The original game sought its identity through reintroducing old-school FPS mechanics in a market that took itself far too seriously. Where else could one dual-wield shotguns and lay waste to an endless barrage of enhanced Nazi super soldiers in an alternate history where the Third Reich took over the world using ancient supernatural technology? Whereas as other shooters were focusing their time and attention on portraying the horrors of war and its lasting effects on the human mind, Wolfenstein had you assume the role of the badass Captain William “B.J” Blazkowicz and his pure prejudicial hate of the Nazis and their mechanical monstrosities.

The best aspect about Wolfenstein: The New Order was that it had no right in being as good as it was. MachineGames had previously worked on Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay and 2007’s The Darkness; both arguably mid-tier games. After 7 quiet years and the news they were rebooting a seemingly irrelevant franchise, you’d be forgiven for thinking Wolfenstein would just be another occupant of the dreaded bargain bucket. Lo-behold the game’s brilliant, and it’s simply because the developers went out of their way to make the game constantly surprising and entertaining. The alternate-history factor is fascinating and undeniably silly, and the way in which paper clippings are scattered around the game provide the player with an intriguing insight into the downfall of the free World. The story itself is thoroughly enthralling as it introduces characters the player soon cares for, and the cutscenes featuring the main antagonists only help embellish their delightfully sadistic nature. The infamous cutscene on the train with the deceptively inconsequential choice you have to make is both chilling and telling: MachineGames had fun making this game, and they aren’t afraid to mess with player expectations.

Everything from the audio files depicting a rebellious young woman doing her bit for freedom (albeit violently) against her Nazi overlords, to the quasi-hub World of the Resistance base are all welcome additions to a game that could’ve quite easily have omitted these small, yet important details. For the New Colossus to exceed the quality of its predecessor, it’s going to need to be, as Cliffy B says it, “Bigger, better, and more badass.” How you get bigger than a Nazi space center on the Moon is anybody’s guess, but if anybody can do it, MachineGames can, and they’re going to do it at E3, or so the rumour mill would have us believe.

Going back to the original point before this long fan-induced tangent, Bethesda have decided to buck an E3 trend long in the making. There hasn’t been so much as a logo for the New Colossus, and it’s is exciting – this is what E3 was all about before social media ran riot around every tidbit of news and leaks. It’s difficult nowadays to play a game without having seen heaps of trailers and gameplay footage. Like films sometimes it’s refreshing to watch a movie without having heard any prior information about it, maybe this is an old-school way of thinking, and maybe we’re dwelling too long on the nostalgia factor of a bygone era, but too much information can be a bad thing. This is why I’m excited going into E3: I have no idea what direction they’re heading for this Wolfenstein sequel, and with this, I can be truly excited as I watch the footage from home.

This is what E3 used to be about: surprise, and I believe Bethesda believe in this too.


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