Going behind closed doors with Bethesda today was most certainly a treat. Our waiting area was filled to the brim with Elder Scrolls
goodies. After snapping a few quick pictures, we headed in to the receiving room for the discussion to begin. Sorry to disappoint, but Bethesda offered no new updates on Dawnguard
, the upcoming DLC for Skyrim
. However, what we got is in my opinion a bit more enticing.
First, creative director Paul Sage gave us a vigorous rundown of Elder Scrolls Online
. Working with Zenimax Media, Bethesda strives to create a new type of MMO with Elder Scrolls Online
. The game will feature real time combat, organic quests that change on your actions, 200 players for PVP action, and the choice to explore the world of Tamriel with friends or alone for more of a classic Elder Scrolls
Set 1000 years before the events in Skyrim
, the game will focus on the factions fighting for dominion of Cyrodil. The factions include the Daggerfall Covenant, Ebonheart Pact, and the Aldmeri Dominion. Each faction is made up from the various races found in Tamriel, and in some cases even those are alliances balancing on a thin blade. Naturally this will affect some game play down the line given the PVP aspect and the chance to have such large groups of opposing sides. The main plot of the game seems to be fairly hush hush at this point in time. Sage only briefly discussed the plot: the soul of the hero has been stolen by a daedric entity for an unknown purpose. In order to return it, the hero will be involved in the struggle to save the world.
Even in these earlier stages in development the game looks to be filled with all the rich, lush environments found in all the Elder Scrolls
games. Return to Daggerfall; explore Blackmarsh and Morrowind all over again. Sage was happy to show us that there will also be plenty of ruins and dungeons to explore. As mentioned earlier, players can explore more organically, alone or with friends and strangers. Some dungeons are perfect for raids while others will be heavily wrought with puzzles. Sage expressed that dungeons can be completed alone if the player wants, and that it should not be necessary to always run with a full group of people. We also snagged views of the variety of foes, and I must say that series fans will be pleased to see how many enemies they will have to take on. From demon spiders and golems to vicious human foes and demonic beings, Bethesda offers a huge variety of enemies to slaughter.
We watched a few brief videos of how the combat should work out in the game. UI elements have been removed, allowing players to be more involved with their actions. Skills did not seem to require cool down times. Holding down your attack buttons can change how hard your strike will be, and blocking can be used at any time. Rather than clutter up the screen with a display of health, stamina, and magic, the HUD comes up whenever you mouse over it and if you take damage, but otherwise will remain invisible. Sneaking will still be available as well. The game strives to feature a more active/reactive action setup rather than heavy interface elements. In order to incorporate multiplayer battle, synergy attacks have been created and can be used by both friendly units and enemy AI. For instance, someone could throw oil on their foes, and a mage can ignite a blazing conflagration. Two mages could blend fire and wind to create a fiery tornado. A necromancer can summon a powerful skeleton soldier from the body of a fallen ally. More possibilities will surface in the future as more units join the fray. Another new addition is finesse. During battle, how well you do provides a finesse reward. What finesse does was not too deeply detailed at this time.
Elder Scrolls Online
will be available in 2013, and Sage stressed his desire to have a game that anyone can pick up and delve into.
The second game of the conference was Dishonored
by the Arkane Studios crew. We watched a live demo showing off the various elements of the game. Set in a steampunk realm run by whale oil, the city is plagued by corruption and a mysterious illness. The protagonist, Corvo, was once a loyal bodyguard to the Empress, but was accused of her murder. His thirst for vengeance drives our supernatural assassin, but how he accomplishes this will be up to the player.
Corvo is imbued with supernatural abilities, powered by runes. Magical powers are not his only arsenal; Corvo also packs quite a few tools such as a crossbow and sword. The live demos showed off both the stealthy and brutal styles of game play. Corvo’s mission was to infiltrate a brothel known as the Golden Cat in order to assassinate two corrupt government officials who also happened to be brothers. As I watched, the player slowly progressed, keeping out of sight and rendering enemies and bystanders unconscious when necessary. After a slow but methodical and tense venture through the brothel, the assassin finally found his first target and eliminated him easily by causing the steam valves to rupture. The second brother fell victim to Corvo’s human possession; his body helplessly wandered outside to the balcony where Corvo gave him a helpful little push over to his doom. The second playthrough was meant to be more brutal, showing off Corvo’s vicious killing techniques. However, once the guards were altered, they quickly overpowered and defeated the player.
The game controlled smoothly enough for a demo build, and looked amazing. The creators sought to create the idea of having their game look like a “moving painting” and they came fairly close. The lighting effects are stunning, but the people sometimes look a bit off. In terms of appearance, Dishonored
had a sort of Bioshock
feel. I felt the influence using Corvo’s magic and guns the way one would use plasmids and guns. However, the stealth elements and vast number of options make Dishonored
stand out. In the hands on demo I tried, I utilized Corvo’s talent to possess beings to take over one of my summoned rats. The rats can be used both for the possession purpose and to sic on horde of them upon a foe, devouring their flesh in just a matter of moments. Possessing one of my little minions, I used a rat warren to bypass many dangers and reach my goal with as little resistance and bloodshed as possible. The second time I tried charging in, and met my fate by being too hasty and charged into a light wall. These walls prevent Corvo from traversing into several areas by instantly frying him, but approved enemies/creatures can go through without issue. I also learned that killing innocents may come back to haunt you: all those innocent lives taken will be tracked throughout the game.
is slated for a North American release on the 9th of October, and can be played on Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, and Playstation 3.