Last year Bethesda decided to hold its own pre-show event on the Sunday before E3, so you can blame them for the current vogue of publishers extending what is already a very long week. Isn't Sunday the day of rest? Where does it end? Will E3 eventually start two weeks before its 'proper' start date, as every major studio and publisher tries to go first, until we're trapped in an Orwellian state of permanent terror/showcasing?
Probably. Anyway, last year's experiment obviously worked for Bethesda, and so here we are again. The event kicked off with a Quake Champions CGI teaser trailer, featuring Magneto and Storm. Tim Willits, studio director at id Software, took the stage to talk up the Return of Quake. There was a giant 'YES' from the crowd, the first of many. Willits professed that the series has been a pioneer for esports. Tim is wearing a jacket with jeans and a v-neck t-shirt. He looks like he's attempting to play Jude Law's dad.
Regardless, he then went on to talk about unlocked framerates, punctuating that news with the incredibly self-satisfied look of a man who knows his audience. No gameplay was on show, but we're told it's a PC-only multiplayer shooter which will be very Quake-y. Well, yes. We get that. There'll be more at Quakecon, obviously. Maybe this time Wolverine will turn up.
Job done,Willits then departed, to be replaced by global VP of PR and marketing, Pete Hines, who gave us a quick recap of the successes of Bethesda's last year. The Elder Scrolls Online was named MMO of the year, we were told, but Pete declined to mention by who. There was some talk about user mods, about the success of Fallout 4 and Doom. We then moved on to the The Elder Scrolls Legends, a card game. Cool.
Todd Howard then turned up, looking for all the world like he was cosplaying as the Canadian Prime Minister who had become trapped in a trophy cabinet. He mentioned updates for Fallout 4: contraptions, building your own vault etc. He then told us that the company knew about something else you'd been asking for, and yes they had "been working on it". No, it's not stable frame rates, it's Skyrim HD! Maybe this time it will actually work on one of the machines it's released for, eh?
The Canadian PM took his leave, and we moved on to Arkane: in particular Raphael Colantonio, who walked out with a t-shirt on which makes light of the whole 'Press Sneak Fucks' controversy, where he briefly forgot that video game journalists weren't just another arm of PR and marketing. To be fair to him, given the amount of whooping from the auditorium it's sometimes easy to forget. He showed off nu-Prey, which appears to be Dead Space meets Groundhog Day. Amazingly, despite the many false starts the project has had, it somehow appears less interesting than the very first Prey game. Onwards.
Then there was some Doom news - new SnapMap stuff, new DLC - before Elder Scrolls Online was talked up again. ESO bossman Matt Firor does well with the material, and is the only person in the entire presentation who didn't sound like he'd run up a mountain immediately prior to taking the stage.
Bethesda VR was up next, with Pete Hines telling everyone about Doom VR and Fallout 4 VR,and that they would be coming to HTC Vive in 2017: which was some genuinely cool news. Adam Sessler then turned up, looking like he got dressed while navigating an explosion in Topman.
Finally, after all of that preamble, we got what we came for: Dishonored 2. Harvey Smith took the stage, looking confident. He had every right to be: the game looks fantastic. Smith and co. were confident enough in the world to just show it, rather than cut together some bang bang bang trailer (although that did, naturally, follow), and it did a great job of showing off the game's beautiful art style and cool new multi-part powers, which were probably inspired by the insane player-created stuff on the first game. The best part of the entire show, in fact, was watching Emily Kaldwin use an Outsider device to switch timelines while investigating a dilapidated manor, enabling her to jump through time to solve puzzles and kill people. I fucking love Dishonored.
Anyway, after that Harvey took his leave, and Pete wrapped up the show by telling everyone in attendance they would be getting a special t-shirt, which drew a depressingly enthusiastic response. Not that it mattered: Bethesda had Dishonored 2, and if that game doesn't turn out to be Very Good Indeed I'll be, well, let's not think about that, eh?