This week saw updates to Bethesda titles Fallout 4 and Skyrim to make them Xbox One X Enhanced. According to the developer, Both now benefit from 4K and Dynamic resolution, with Fallout 4 also getting enhanced draw distance for trees, grass, objects and NPCs and enhanced God Ray effects.
Bethesda have been a great supporter of the Xbox One X, with all their current line-up of titles (except Prey) being improved for the new console. Check out their official website for all the details on these games.
There’s been a lot of these novelty pinball tables for Zen Pinball 2. Game, TV and film franchises have seen their unique traits pinball-ised and gathered together on tables that faithfully represent the source material yet still function relatively realistically as far as pinball goes. However, it’s still a delightful treat to see some of these creations come to digital life, and the Bethesda set are some of the very best.
All three tables look, sound, and play splendidly. They are gorgeously rendered with aesthetic trimmings from their source games, realised in the semi-realistic style of Zen Pinball. Animated figures adorn the sides, top and bottom of the tables, interacting with other animated figures or the table directly. Meanwhile, the traditional pinball hazards are replaced with theme appropriate ones from the games they represent. In the Doom table a Cyberdemon fills the top right corner, the Lone Wanderer ducks and dodges at the bottom of the Fallout table whilst a super mutant wreaks havoc at the top, and the Skyrim table is teaming with dragons whilst a lone Dragon Born means to fight them from the left side. They all look terrific, sporting smooth animations and detailed textures, and some excellent sound effects. In some cases these details outshine their source, thanks to the wonderful Zen Pinball engine.
Every inch of each table has a little surprise for you, whether it’s the dragon that launches the ball on the Skyrim table, the bumpers on the Doom table unleashing the shotgun sound effect when hit, or the mini games played on a Pip Boy on the Fallout table. It’s all so charming, authentic, and in utter service of the games they’re based on.
It goes even further with their dedication to the games that inspired them with the tropes they invoke that have no right to be in a pinball table but gives these particular tables all the more depth. Both the Fallout and Skyrim tables have you generate a character, picking SPECIAL stats and your combat class respectively. In the Fallout table, trapping the ball in certain pits is analogous to entering stores allowing you to purchase Rad-X, Stimpacks, and gear with earned caps. Meanwhile, the Skyrim table allows you to equip your character with new armour and weapons, which are shown on your character’s figure. Losing all your balls isn’t the end either, as you can choose to continue as the same character in further play-throughs, amassing more gear and weapons. Additionally, both RPG tables lets you choose different companions and factions; it’s very much the core o the original experiences recreated in pinball form.
However, the RPG features do break up the otherwise fast pace of pinball, with frequent stops and starts. Fans of the source material may still find these trappings amusing and interesting, but the pinball enthusiasts that simply want the table setting may find it frustrating.
The Doom table is more pinball friendly. There’s weapon swapping on the character figure but it keeps to the fast paced action of pinball, which incidentally fits the FPS. Copious multi-balls, the super-heating of the ball to cause more destruction, and a heavy metal sound track represent the game wonderfully and add some extra aggression to the pinball.
The tradition of missions on Zen Pinball tables continues here, with things like shutting down the reactor on the Mars research station for the Doom table, completing jobs for the Railroad in the Fallout one, and even sleeping at the inn during the Skyrim table, which in turn advances the clock to give you a night-time version of the table. The mini-games are here too, tasking you with navigating a tiny dungeon with a ball by tipping the table, or bursting demonic sacks by bouncing the ball around a small arena with floating stones, or playing little games on your Pip Boy.
Indeed, the Doom table feels the most cohesive, melding the Doom FPS with the pinball mechanics harmoniously and creating a fast table that’s visually interesting but mechanically familiar. The Fallout table skews more towards the Fallout RPG experience than pinball but is tight enough to allow the pinball shenanigans to work in-between the stops and starts. The Skyrim table suffers from a harsh design that can easily cause the ball to tumble straight down the middle and in-between your flippers, making it more frustrating than fun.
These tables based on Bethesda games are remarkably clever. They take the two experiences – the source game and pinball – and attempt to meld them, and they are mostly successful. However, some annoyances, especially to the Skyrim and Fallout tables, do hurt the pinball action a bit. But, my word, are they visually spectacular.
You have a simple objective: follow the path until you reach a settlement and speak with a specific person to progress the plot. It’s so very simple. But there’s this yearning every time you take a step, every time you hear a woodland creature in the distance, every time you spot a ruin, a cave, a diverging path. There’s a call to adventure you simply can’t refuse. And so you answer that call. You step off the path well-trodden and venture into the unknown, the wilderness, the mysterious natural and unnatural structures amidst the snow, mountains and trees. You mean only to take a quick look, to scope out the area, perhaps mark it on your map for later exploration, but in what seems like a few minutes, hours pass.
You’ve travelled through labyrinthine cave networks, slain foul beasts, discovered treasures and filled your pockets, and you’ve now emerged, nearby or perhaps even precisely where you first entered. The critical path still lies within the clearing, ready for you to trot on back to it and continue your journey to civilisation. And so you do, continuing along it, determined not to be distracted again. But you are distracted, for there is another cave, ruin, diverging path that begs to be explored. Again a quick look turns into hours, and again you’ve returned to the path. You push on, surely no more will you be tempted away from your simple, oh so simple objective. But you are, again and again and again. More hours pass, your pockets weighed down with treasures, your character level soaring. You’re never going to reach that damn settlement, you were a fool to ever think you would. The call to adventure is too strong, this land too enchanting, inviting, vast, beautiful, and rich. Welcome, adventurer, to Skyrim.
Indeed, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s greatest strength is its world of adventure. Seldom few games offer this kind of variety and wealth of content. You can, and you will, get lost for countless hours in the wintery lands of Skyrim, hunting monsters, searching for riches, searching for power and fame. You’ll encounter odd characters with strange quests, you’ll happen across situations that send you down a path of adventure, perhaps you’ll even find notes that point you towards more quests. In fact, wherever you go and whatever you do, you’ll find unexpected and delightful content to explore. It’s a masterclass of emergent gameplay, something Bethesda have continued to do across multiple Elder Scrolls titles, with Skyrim offering one of the most accessible and open action RPG experiences to date. And The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition allows you to experience this with all its extra DLC, with precisely the kind of refinements you’d expect on the latest console hardware.
Enhanced textures bring the world to life like never before on consoles. Character models are now richly detailed, as is the vegetation and terrain. Meanwhile, the draw distance had been increased significantly to make the already stunning vistas all the more awe inspiring, with the volumetric light rays shining elegantly through the tree canopy, whether from the shine of the sun or the moon. Furthermore, reflections from water and terrain see an improvement that helps elevate the presentation to compete with modern day titles. Indeed, the visual enhancements have worked wonders on a five year old title from the last generation. However, it’s the improved loading times that really impress, making exploring faster and more fluid, allowing the experience to immerse you to a far greater degree.
However, underneath it all is the same game from 2011, and despite the splendid improvements, there’s still a few tells. The most prominent are the animations, which lack fluidity when characters and monsters walk, run and go about their day. It is especially obvious in combat, where its rigidity shows age. However, for a title that allows for such a range of combat techniques, be it sword, shield, club, axe, bow or magic, it’s hardly a deal breaker. Additionally, the increased draw distance can stretch a little too far and reveal the edge of the game world, or a section of terrain or objects whose textures have yet to load in.
It’s also the same old game in terms of content. All DLC in included but if you’ve experienced it all before, this doesn’t necessarily offer anything new. However, with a title this large and full of content, it’s entirely possible that you’ll encounter very different things from one playthrough to the next, and now thanks to the inclusion of mods, you can guarantee it.
Yes, like Fallout 4 before it, Skyrim Special Edition supports mods, allowing you to download new quests, weapons, items, characters and more from a huge library of user created assets. It opens up a variety of new things to do and experiment with, and it’s exciting and satisfying to do so.
Thanks to the huge variety of rich content on offer, Skyrim has always been a title that’s particularly well-suited to repeat playthroughs. Skyrim Special Edition’s enhancements make it all the more enjoyable. Indeed, it’s hard not to recommend. Whether you’ve explored this wintery wilderness before, slaying dragons and other beasts, discovering more of the lore behind the Elder Scrolls and crafting your own legend within it, or whether you’ve yet to experience this award winning RPG, this is the best version available.
If you’re intending to check out reviews for Bethesda’s upcoming The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Special Edition or Dishonored 2 before committing your hard earned cash, then you’ll be disappointed to learn that there’ll be very few, if any, reviews of either title before release day. This is due to Bethesda’s review code policy, which means review copies won’t be sent to reviewers until the day before release.
Bethesda invoked this policy earlier this year for Doom, and yesterday on their official blog, Gary Steinman, Bethesda’s global content lead, confirmed they’ll be sticking with it for upcoming releases. In it Gary Steinman says:
With the upcoming launches of Skyrim Special Edition and Dishonored 2, we will continue our policy of sending media review copies one day before release.
This, of course, means reviewers will only get 24 hours before the game hits shelves, less than that when you take into account sleep. For both titles this means some outlets may rush their reviews, providing potentially inaccurate, and limited accounts of the game’s quality. These are more likely to convey a general feeling about the title rather than analysis. Other outlets, who take their time won’t be providing reviews for several days, if not weeks after release, advertising the game beyond normal timeframes and keeping it fresh in consumers minds.
The blog post goes on to say:
we want everyone, including those in the media, to experience our games at the same time.
From a business perspective this makes sense. Consumers are more likely to purchase titles that have no criticism to put them off and Bethesda can limit the amount of information that’s out of their control. This is hugely anti-consumer. Through this policy Bethesda are preventing you from learning about the quality of their game until release, by which time they will have earned their money through pre-orders and day one purchases.
Like most things, the best way this can be changed is by voting with your wallet and not pre-ordering or purchasing on day one. Waiting for reviews, videos, forums, and word of mouth to convince you of a game’s quality before purchasing is the best way to show Bethesda that their method of minimising risk is anti-consumer, and to ensure your money is well-spent.
Bethesda are back at E3 for the second time and they have landed with a bang (albeit after a slight delay on the start time). A whole host of really exciting news has come out of the conference, here’s a quick round-up for you of the highlights.
Skyrim re-mastered for current gen consoles, yes the rumours where true. Skyrim is coming back in a fully remastered version.
Two additions for Elder Scrolls Online, the first is the Dark Brotherhood DLC out this week on Tuesday (14th of June) the second is One Tamriel, a level free mode where the whole world is open to you free from level restrictions, you can party with who you like and go where you want. Coming in fall this year.
Elder Scrolls Legends – a new game, this is a strategy card game for mobile devices.
Some more dlc coming in a variety of forms. The first named Contraptions adds machinery and more workshop options. A build your own vault and Nuka world, which looked like it may be a theme park of sorts, but we will have to see.
In conjunction with the work being done on Bethesda VR Fallout 4 will be released in 2017 on the HTC vive.
Snap map update with logic options single player additions and lots more.
2 new multiplayer modes, Exodus (a 1 flag CTF style game) and Sector a multi zone capture game
Unto the evil – the first premium dlc with 3 new multiplayer maps called Offering, Cataclysm and Ritual. A new playable demon called Harvester and a new gun, as well as new taunts and armour sets.
Dishonoured 2 announced with a big gameplay reveal and a release date of November 11th 2016, special edition collectors are available with some toys and additions for the big time fan, for a short time pre-orders will also get you a copy of the first game.
A reboot of Prey, set on a spaceship with a psychologically thriller twist, a very impressive trailer was shown but not what looked like in game footage#
Quake Champions – arena shooter coming to PC
fallout shelter – new enemy battle and more content and will be available to play on PC
Loads more conferences and news to come! Can’t wait to see what else comes up
June will finally see the release of The Elder Scrolls Online for Xbox One. Already out on both PC & MAC, The Elder Scrolls Online was one of the most highly anticipated MMORPG releases for a long time. With a great initial response from both media critics and players alike Bethesda have released some new screenshots in preparation for TESO’s release on our beloved home console. Enjoy the gallery below.
Zenimax Online Studios announced The Elder Scrolls Online: Imperial Edition last week, and today they are giving you a more in-depth look at what comes in the box.
The meat of the Imperial Edition is the nifty and scary looking Molag Bal statue. As well as the hefty 224 page guide to Tamriel. It also comes with some digital content that can only be unlocked by purchasing this edition.
Check out the unboxing down below:
The Elder Scrolls Online is coming out on the Xbox One in June 2014
Nothing has been officially confirmed, and it is also not yet known if the listing is an error considering The Elder Scrolls Online will make its way to the shiny new Xbox One console in due course. If true, then Bethesda follows in the path of Square-Enix who are releasing what appears to be a PC quality version of Tomb Raider (basically Lara’s bouncy new hair-do) – Skyrim on Xbox One would possibly be of same or better quality than the PC edition.
If and when Bethesda confirm that Skyrim is “officially” being released on Xbox One, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.