Here’s to a Helluva Good Time: Doom Reveal Impressions
Thanks to my travelling man stint courtesy of my job, I happened to get access to the closed-door reveal event for id Software’s Doom revival held at the 19th annual Quakecon. Yeah, they showed the game in action. Cutting straight to the point with a spinning chainsaw blade, the footage was absolutely fucking killer. I’ve never been so excited for Doom.
The presentation began with some foreplay — precursory details about the game that set the tone for where id is heading with this quasi-reboot. Namely, we’re going back to Mars, a setting the dev team felt Doom belonged (which all but squashes the originally proposed Earth backdrop). Though it’s unlikely you need any more preamble past “demons and shotgun,” the story revolves around a research institute called UAC experimenting on Hell’s denizens, combining machine and monster because… there’s nothing else to shoot on Mars?
id scrapped the “Doom 4" moniker in favor of just "Doom" for a reason. It’s not a remake so much as it’s an homage to everything about the series that’s been lauded and beloved by fans over it’s nearly twenty year lifespan. It was stressed that this game doesn’t fall in step with the modern day FPS convention of "cover-shooting" that forces you to wait behind barricades while your health regenerates. As in days of yore, this Doom has you running and gunning, dodging flying projectiles and getting in your enemy’s face for the kill. What was shown off was fast-paced, almost reckless gunplay that called back to the genre’s formative years.
The footage had our helmeted space marine navigating a darkly atmospheric environment that resembled a cross between Aliens' LV-426 and Hellraiser's torture-scapes. The levels aren't one-dimensional planes, either. More than a few times, our marine dabbled in light platforming to get up and above; he's even got himself a short jet-pack burst that serves as a sort of double jump.
Stopping and smelling the Martian roses became a secondary endeavor, however, once demons started spilling onto the scene. This… this is where I felt a yawning maw of a craving for this game and it’s because of a new combat mechanic that, honestly, every FPS might gladly rip-off once Doom drops. In the gorey heat of battle, you’ll sometimes notice a pulsing glow envelop enemies you weaken with gunfire. That gives you the ability to launch into an instant kill finisher that literally tears demons apart. We saw chest cavities caved in, heads knocked clean off, and things happen to jaws that shouldn’t happen to jaws.
The moves are contextually sensitive, meaning that if you’re near a wall, well of course your Doom Guy will bash a demon’s skull into it. Are they down on the ground? You’re mashing skulls like you’re making wine. Happen to be mid-air? Imagine the real world result of Mario descending boots first upon a Goomba. It adds a layer of moment-to-moment choice where the result is you mincing up a room of enemies in the most horrifically pleasing way possible.
And because you’re looking to revive your health instead of regenerate it, the dev’s cleverly have demons drop healing pick-up’s, encouraging you to blast and mash away in order to chain kills and keep your energy from falling. Instead of feeling like a holdover from FPS days of yore, it actually adds this frantic, kinetic feel to the combat that just makes me salivate.
The game plans on throwing the entire hordes of Hell and its next-door neighbors at you. Some fights escalated to rooms packed with a mixed-bag of enemy types. Fireballs and claws filled the player’s vision. Luckily, a new weapon radial allows you to pause the action Mass Effect-style and choose the best killin’ instrument to make sweet music with. And, man, do the weapons look awesome. There’s an automatic shotgun equipped with rapid-fire, an intensely accurate plasma rifle, the classic overpowered double-barrel, a friggin’ rocket launcher and — though conventional — a good ol’ fashioned chainsaw that provided the demo’s most gruesomely satisfying moments of bifurcation.
Multiplayer was confirmed, though only insomuch as to confirm it existed. Beyond that, 1080p and a silky 60fps were guaranteed for the next-gen title (yes, it being Quakecon, any mention of consoles was met with immediate and resounding “Boo’s”).
The footage killed it for the crowd, ovations and loudness ensuing. For me… It made a crater of an impression. What was shown doesn’t just seem like an evolution for this series but the potential push the entire FPS genre needs to break away from tired ideas introduced last-generation. It looks fast, bloody, and incredibly fun. id definitely has something big on their hands here. Bigger than a BFG.
Fallout 4… LIVES!
No hoax this time, wastelanders. Thanks to leaked casting call documents, the next Fallout has been outed.
If you’re still mending the radiation burns that whole TheSurvivor2299 debacle gave you, your Skully-worthy wall of skepticism is understandable. Here’s the facts: Kotaku was sent the documents in question, which include dialogue scripts and character bios.
Unsurprisingly, the docs are not labeled “FALLOUT 4 BY BETHESDA” in neon red ink. The project is actually referred to as “The Institute.” But evidence stacks to the sky in favor of its true identity; there’s numerous references to locations either shown or named in previous Fallout's, the casting director for “The Institute” happens to be the same person that cast for Dishonored and Skyrim, and in one monologue, the franchise infamous line “War… War never changes” is uttered.
A lot of info gathered in the documents also pieces together rumblings spanning the year since Fallout 4 rumors began to kick up. You might recall news of Bethesda’s dev team doing some location scouting at Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology some time back. MIT — already having played a small part in Fallout 3, though called, wouldntchaknowit?, The Institute — features as a setting for a mission.
The Commonwealth, which is the name bequeathed to the remnants of Massachusetts in series lore, was also rumored way back as the mused over setting for the next Fallout. The Commonwealth, of course, is name checked along with other series specific settings.
It’s all a pretty goddamn convincing argument for the existence of Fallout 4 (or, rather, whatever it will eventually be called). Of course Bethesda denied to comment on the leak, and until then, I cannot in good journalistic conscience say Fallout 4 is official.
The fuck am I saying? Journalists have no consciences! Fallout 4 is happening, folks. Crack open a dusty Nuka-Cola and celebrate. (In the event this is another great yank on our chain, please place your blame solely on Kotaku. See what I mean about the no conscience bit?)
Doom Co-Creator Leaves id Software for Good
John Carmack, one of the original fab four that founded id Software, has resigned from the company after clocking in 22 years of service.
An outspoken supporter of the Oculus Rift — do a Google image search for “John Carmack” to view hundreds of pictures of the man shoving the virtual reality headset in people’s faces, his own included — it was previously announced Carmack would assume the role of chief technical officer at Oculus VR. Bethesda Softworks, id’s parent company since 2009, was quick to assure the public that Johnny Boy would still remain on board as a technical adviser.
Given the headline, that obviously fell through. Taking to the internet’s megaphone, Twitter, Carmack explained in earnest that “it just didn’t work out.”
"Probably for the best," he wrote, "as the divided focus was challenging."
Alongside industry personality John Romero, Carmack created Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Quake. In other words, some of the most influential video games to ever hit the market, and instrumental in forming the FPS genre as we know it today (sans all the recent military games; unless the military is downplaying the amount of demons, nazis, and nazi-demons it fights on a routine basis).
Presently, John is exiting the studio he founded amid development on the long gestating Doom 4 — a title first announced in 2008. Production on the sequel is said to have run into several hang-up’s, not least of which was a forced rebuild of the entire game and concept once the original build was deemed wholly unsatisfactory (while leaked assets for the game looked promising as hell, apropos to Hell finally being unleashed on Earth, internal sources say the game just wasn’t very Doom).
In a statement from id Software, the studio reports that Carmack’s exit will not negatively affect current projects, his work on the id Tech 5 engine and related technology already having been completed. “We are fortunate to have a brilliant group of programmers at id who worked with John and will carry on id’s tradition of making great games with cutting-edge technology. As colleagues of John for many years, we wish him well.”
Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition Fall Bound
Arkane Studios’ surprise 2012 hit, Dishonored — a game that felt like Bioshock and Thief got their drink on and then their freak on — is making a return this Fall with its own Game of the Year bundle.
Dropping from the rooftops onto your PC, PS3, or Xbox 360, the $39.99 package includes the original title and, but of course, every piece of downloadable content produced for the game, including:
- Dunwall City Trials
- The Knife of Dunwall
- The Brigmore Witches
- Void Walker’s Arsenal
Dishonored: GoTY hits retail October 8th (U.S.) and October 11th (Europe).
Interested to know what’s next in store for Arkane? A sequel to Dishonored is being scraped together by Arkane’s French division while, despite their own insistence against it, then followed by the revelation their insistence was bullshit, it seems Bethesda has tapped Arkane Austin to take over Human Head’s Prey 2, ditching the former studio’s turbulent progress on the game in favor of rebooting it from the ground up and poising it as a spiritual sister to System Shock 2.
Information on the sci-fi shooter ends there though as Raphael Colantonio, Arkane’s Creative Director and the man that first dismissed the Prey 2 rumor, has since instructed his team to deny inquires from “press sneak fucks.” Gotta love the industry, man.
QuakeCon 2013 [Dallas, TX]
Bethesda: “We Showed Three Games at E3” and None of Them Were Fallout 4
Skyrim had itself a long reign but the team behind the lauded, fantasy RPG time sink have officially ended DLC support for it and have moved on to their next project.
Given their great success in reintroducing the world to the post-apocalyptic wastelands of the Fallout universe (and reusing a Ron Pearlman soundbite that is just positively burned into gamers’ skulls), it’s no leap in logic for fans to expect Fallout 4 is next up off the bench…
However, Kotaku insists you’re stretching reason extremely thin if you believe Bethesda had a closed doors presentation for the game at last week’s E3. The rumor began its life in the words of one journalist claiming he saw one surprise Bethesda failed to announce at the most publicized industry event of the year. Microseconds later, Fallout 4 was name dropped hard enough to break the floor.
As they invariably do, the rumor grew bigger and bolder until certain sites were reporting specific details about the game including which consoles it was coming to (basically everything without a Nintendo logo on it), when it was coming out (October…of 2015), and a completion estimate of 55%. A teaser trailer clocking in at nearly over half a minute was also purported to be shown; gravelly Pearlman voice-over and all.
If members of the press really got see a forty-five minute presentation on one of the biggest franchises in gaming…Where were all the headlines? Well, whether Fallout 4 is in production or not, this “Easter egg” E3 presentation probably didn’t happen. Skeptical? Here’s what Bethesda shot Kotaku’s way:
"We showed three games at E3 - Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Elder Scrolls Online and The Evil Within. We did not show any of our games behind closed doors.”
I know what you’re thinking. “We live in a world where they swore to us Steve Carrell wouldn’t be back for The Office finale.” I know. I know. But food for thought: for all intents and purposes, E3 serves as a monolithic, flashing billboard meant to advertise to gamers the world over and permeate in consumers’ heads until buyin’ season kicks off. Why wouldn’t Bethesda want to take advantage of that platform to stir Fallout fans into a frenzy?
[If Fallout 4 is announced next week, the correct answer to that question is, “Because they’re goddamned liars. When can I pre-order?”]
Bethesda Gearing Up for Next Game; Skyrim DLC Comes to an End
The saga of Skyrim — the fifth and most successful entry into The Elder Scrolls series — is at its end. After more than a year of supporting their fantasy RPG with updates and content (including a healthy dosage of story DLC), Bethesda is moving away from their “labor of love” and is ratcheting up production on a new, unannounced title.
In an open letter to fans on the Bethesda Blog, the studio revealed segments of their development team have been in pre-production on this project but now “that game is at the point where it requires the studio’s full attention to make it our biggest and best work yet.”
Despite its resounding financial and critical success, this next project is unlikely to be Skyrim's follow up, given the team's track record. Instead, RPG fans may be plunged back into the Wasteland, if these rumors are to be taken at face value. Be it Fallout 4 or, maybe just possibly, a brand new IP, the only sure bet is that we’ll be well into the next-generation of gaming before we once again get to feverishly dedicate a hundred-plus hours into Bethesda’s next immersive world.
The Embargo’s Over, PS3 Faithful: Skyrim DLC Finally Releasing
Better late as hell than never, eh? After an exhausting wait for even the most weathered journeyer, Bethesda has announced Skyrim's downloadable content is at last releasing for the PlayStation 3 next month starting with the Dragonborn expansion.
To date, the PS3 version of Skyrim has missed out on three separate DLC expansions that the Xbox 360 has already enjoyed and basked in, each originally planned for only a 30-day exclusivity period on Microsoft’s console. Technical difficulties, delays, and several months of seething fan anger later and it was painfully clear Bethesda’s original plans went tits up.
Understanding the almost scalable wall of disappointment and frustration this has caused PS3 Skyrim users, Bethesda is offering a week long discount of 50% Off for each expansion as they launch on PSN. Once Dragonborn is out of the gate, the company is backtracking by releasing the Hearthfire expansion for those with a penchant for medieval decorating, and then the Dawnguard DLC in all of its vampiric glory.
While Dragonborn's PC date is marked down for February 5th, all three pieces of the PS3's DLC are expected throughout the same month at unspecified dates.
Fallout: The TV Series?
This might amount to no more than the internet readily springing to the nearest conclusion, but when has Bethesda’s trademark filing antics let us down before? This go around, however, we’re not talking about outed DLC. No, it would seem this new filing points to the company’s intention to take over a whole different medium altogether.
Bethesda has recently registered a trademark for “an on-going television program set in a post-nuclear apocalyptic world.” Well, that’s a mighty interestin’ course of action considering Bethesda happens to be the current rights holder and publisher of the Fallout series. I’d venture to say the two notions are related in some inconceivably, far-fetched way…though I’d be damned if I knew how.
Sorry to disappoint those that thought we were on the verge of a Fallout 4 announcement thanks to voice actor Erik Todd Dellums’ tweet last week where he teased that his character Three Dog — Galaxy News Radio’s DJ last heard in Fallout 3 — would be making a return in some fashion. (That’s not to say there hasn’t been rabble about Fallout 4, though. This is the internet, after all.)
Video games on television don’t have a terrific track record — go ask Mortal Kombat: Konquest the sordid truth…if it’s not too drunk to respond, that is — but I’m not one to underestimate some of the creative minds coasting around in the entertainment business. It just takes the combination of the right talent with the right material to create the TV equivalent of cigarettes for your eyeballs. So judgement reserved until if and when this one actually happens.
New Skyrim DLC Incoming? Monday Holds the Answer
The above image found its way in the Tweetsphere (if we’re not calling it that, we’re wasting our time) courtesy of the folks at Bethesda alongside a brief message: "Full Trailer on 11/5."
Earlier this month, a Eurogamer forum user was rifling around through Skyrim's 1.8 patch source code and dug up a handful of interesting files pertaining to possible upcoming DLC content. The data entitled the content “Dragonborn” which — wouldn’tcha knowit? — is also a name Bethesda Softworks felt inclined to trademark recently.
Now, this could all be one big coincidence and Bethesda could be teasing something else entirely, but that sort of thinking is exactly how you blue-ball a perfect fangasm into submission. Go ahead, fuel the dungeon crawling beast within and jump to the only happy conclusion: more Skyrim DLC on the way!
'Course, last time we speculated on (and got overly excited for) prospective Skyrim DLC, that resulted in something akin to a medieval version of This Old House. Actually, might wanna dial back that fangasm until Monday rolls around.
UPDATE: Well, Monday rolled around and this rumor finds itself certifiable fact. Bethesda is releasing Dragonborn, a major DLC expansion centered on the first Dovahkiin and seemingly the lost art of riding goddamned dragons, for Xbox Live on December 4th, pricing in at 1200 Moon Points. Skyrim has seen timed exclusive content on the Xbox before, so as such, no official statement on either a PC or PS3 release date has been announced (let alone whether or not the PS3 will remain the content-less odd man out once again).
Next Skyrim DLC, “Hearthfire,” Turns You into a Real Estate Tycoon?
The winds traveled the news to us a short while ago that Bethesda had trademarked the name “Hearthfire” pertaining to the Elder Scrolls license, leading fans to suspect a DLC follow-up to Dawnguard was on the way.
Once again thanks to the leaky well of information that is Reddit, we’re rumored to have our first synopsis detailing Heartfire. For the story driven, it’s probably not quite what you expect:
Hearthfire, the next official game-add on for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has arrived. For the first time in the Elder Scrolls universe, purchase land and build your own home from the ground up – from a simple one-room cottage to a sprawling compound complete with armory, alchemy laboratory, trophy room, and more! With Hearthfire, the possibilities of what you can build are endless.
Hmm, well there goes all that speculation pegging Hearthfire as a potential in for a zombie infested add-on similar to Red Dead's Undead Nightmare or Borderland's Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. Sure, I wanted to Dragon Shout waves of the undead into a massive, red pulp but, uh, this is good, too. Can’t wait to accessorize the shit out of my dungeon, I guess.
Of course, Bethesda has yet to comment or announce anything solid. This could very well be a clever misguide or outright bull. And with Dawnguard an absolute no-show on the PS3 (still), it’s going to be some time before we get around to whatever Hearthfire ends up being…fantasy-world real estate simulator or not.
UPDATE: Count this one as true. Bethesda has announced the home improvement focused Hearthfire will be available for download through Xbox Live on September 4th. It’ll set you back 400 MS for any of you would-be, virtual Bob Vila’s. No announcement has been made regarding a PC or PS3 release.
Is The Commonwealth to Be Fallout 4's New Wasteland?
Bethesda’s open-world RPG formula has had the good fortune of going from popular in Fallout 3 to insanely fucking popular with the release of Skyrim. While a return to the Fallout franchise has not been made official by the company, it’s probably a safe bet that Bethesda is already pouring resources and development time into a successor considering their upward acclaim from title to title.
With that in mind, we can sink our teeth into this irradiated slice of a rumor. Speaking through the information laden avenues of Reddit, an anonymous user that “may or may not” be affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claims Bethesda is scouting the Boston region, researching the locale with the intention of using the city as a backdrop for Fallout 4.
The proverbial Pip-Boy fits given that The Commonwealth — Fallout's apocalyptic version of the greater Massachusetts area — has already been referenced in series lore. Specifically in Fallout 3, a Blade Runner-esque subplot involving androids escaped from a place called “The Institute” (need I mention MIT?) serves as one of the more prominent mentions of The Commonwealth.
What’s the most important information we can glean from this rumor? That there are even rumors circulating in the first place, which equates to the first shaky steps in seeing this franchise continue. If this rumor be fact, that means pre-production has commenced…unfortunately that also probably means we won’t see Fallout 4 until the next console cycle. That’s the industry, kids. It never changes.
Go Back to Hell - Remastered Doom 3 BFG Edition Announced
Bethesda, id’s new parent company, is releasing a retouched version of Doom 3 for the PC (surprise!), PS3, and Xbox 360. The game earns its BFG moniker through the inclusion of the original Doom 3, the Resurrection of Evil expansion, and seven brand new levels composing “The Lost Mission” — an entirely original chunk of hell developed specifically for BFG rather than assets left out of the game eight years ago.
You can expect bells and whistles like troph’s and cheevos, including online multiplayer, but little-big changes can be found such as an established checkpoint system, tightened controls, and an armor-mounted flashlight (I’m told this will help greatly). Past that, the original Doom and Doom 2 are being quietly yet triumphantly added to the collection. I suppose the publisher avoided calling the set Doom Trilogy since the titles aren’t doctored anymore than the re-releases you can find on XBLA, but I’m excited to call all of these circles of hell mine. (If they wanted to add a cherry on top that literally pries my wallet open, they’ll include a demo of Doom 4.)
Doom 3 BFG Edition is slated for the third quarter of this year. You’ve been warned.
The Red Herb Roundup - May 20th Edition
Welcome back to the roundup, folks. These be the stories The Herb didn’t quite get to because get off my case, you don’t understand the amount of pressure I’m under. On that note, I’d like to send a hearty shout out and welcome to our new followers out in the Tumblrvoid, and a sincere thank you to our veteran followers whose continued support keeps the blog from caving beneath my incredible laziness.
I’d also like to thank the gang from the witty, titty, and fun gaming podcast Smarter Than AI for having me as a guest on their fine program. Some refined discussions were had about gaming at large over more brews than I should’ve been allowed. The results were crammed into Episode V!
And now for some poorly cobbled together news:
- Not only is Univeral’s Battleship adaptation a turd in the water, Double Helix’s first-person shooter tie-in is also dead in the aforementioned turd inhabited water. I’d make a “You’ve sunk my Battleship” pun but that’d be as stupid as spending $220 million goddamn dollars on a movie based on a board game.
- ZeniMax Media, Bethesda’s parent company, went ahead and filed for a trademark on the term “Dragonborn." This action was a rung down on the priority ladder, though, as ZeniMax filed for “Fus Ro Dah” first because saying you’re Dragonborn means nothing if you can’t shout the words of power.
- Rocksteady scoffed at our secret hunting abilities, revealing that there are at least 3 to 4 hidden Easter Eggs still remaining in Batman: Arkham City. You seriously thought the Batman plays all his cards at once? Fool, this is why you’re unconscious with a batarang lodged in your shoulder.
- June 12th is the official date the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection heads to Sony’s Vita. The package is a little less collection-y than its console counterparts due to the absence of Peacewalker (because Konami already kindly offers the HD-less PSP version on PSN, fully equipped with none of the upgrades featured in the HD edition — you’re welcome). Oh, and I’m obligated to add this: transfarring.
- Apparently Diablo III had some difficulties at launch. There were consequences.
- Bioware wants to hear from you about where you’d like to see the Dragon Age franchise go next. You’ll find no sarcasm in this bullet point; communication between consumer and creator should be applauded.
- What happens when Nintendo’s favorite little outsourced developer, Retro Studios, can’t decide between another Metroid or a new Star Fox? If you’ve ever been painfully afflicted by Linkin Park and Jay-Z’s Collision Course, you already know where this is going: mash-up! Mark it as an extreme rumor for now but whatever the hell they’re working on, E3 may definitely be the platform for a big reveal.