PAX PRIME Booth Impressions: Bethesda

Walking into the Bethesda booth this year at the Seattle PAX, you very quickly understand that Bethesda is fully and truly a publisher. A majority of the games that were being displayed at the show (Brink, Hunted, Rage and Fallout: New Vegas) were not being developed by Bethesda itself, and instead were in the works at a variety of previously purchased studios. Unlike some of last year’s showings, every one of Bethesda’s properties drew a large, and delighted crowd this year.

Brink, coming back after last year’s fantastic showing, held attendee’s attention more than most games at the show. If you haven’t read our preview from last year, here’s something to catch you up to speed. The game is a multiplayer shooter with a free-running mechanic. Think ‘Battlefield’ with ‘Mirror’s Edge’ style movement. Although this seems like a lot to take in, show-goers, and myself, were able to pick up the controller with no preexisting knowledge of how the game works and in no time at all find themselves running over and sliding under crates, bridges and even enemies. With no hassle at all, the two opposing teams seemed to naturally pick up on the ‘mini-mission’ objective game type, which worked well to funnel combat to a specific high action point even on a large scale map. Oh, did I mention that you can slide tackle foes? Yes, you can, and yes, Brink is tones of fun. But don’t take my word on it, take it from all the PAX goers who stood in a line for 3+ hours to play a quick 10 minutes of Brink. Splash Damage, we’ll see you again in Spring 2011.

Hunted: Demons Forge, otherwise known around the interwebs as ‘Gears of Warcraft’ was one of the other pieces of eye candy on display last weekend at the Bethesda booth. The game tells the tale of two warriors looking into the disappearance of peasants who end up battling hordes of various kinds of demonry. The demons you can tackle with the wrist-shaking battle axe (thats where the head smashing comes into play) or with the no-less-fun bow ‘n  arrow. Instead of switching weapons from axe to bow, you switch, even in Co-Op, characters; from stout human head-chopper to the nimble yet deadly elf archer. Although playable solo, is just not as satisfying as smashing heads in tandem two-player Co-Op (Online, split-screen or system-link). Expect the standard fare of mystical and physical fantasy action, coming to stores sometime in 2011.

Fallout: New Vegas is, well its Fallout. There’s not much more to say about it other than ‘if you didn’t like Fallout3, then you probably shouldn’t be looking for anything crazy different here’. For those of you, including me, who liked Fallout3, well then you, and I, are in luck, this is the same awesome thing. Mojave Wasteland instead of the Capital Wasteland, Vegas instead of DC, and super awesome instead of simple awesome. With the mechanics and general ideas retained from the last edition, New Vegas looks like its had a new coat of paint. The graphics are sharper and the character faces, although still valley like, are closer to ‘silicone’ than ‘uncanny’. Again, not much to say, Fallout is Fallout is Fallout is awesome. The lines for the hands on were a solid 7 people deep per kiosk throughout the show, and the excitement was palpable. Look out for this hot piece in October, its going to drop like a brick and squish out your social life.