With big releases like Shadows of the Hist for The Elder Scrolls Online and the Vault-Tec Workshop for Fallout 4 behind them, there wasn't much RPG-related for Bethesda Softworks to talk about at this year's QuakeCon. The big focus was on standalone games Prey and Dishonored 2, and especially Quake Champions, which we'll have more about later this week.
I did manage to snag some face time with Pete Hines, Bethesda's VP of PR and marketing, to ask him a variety of questions related to all of Bethesda's products. As expected, he kept things pretty close to the vest, and while I didn't squeeze any major reveals out of him, I did get a firmer idea of how the company operates and prioritizes its game offerings – even if that doesn't always coincide with the wishes of its most vocal fans.
MMORPG: You've made a lot of changes to The Elder Scrolls Online over the two years since launch: all the DLC, veteran rank changes, dropping the sub, and you've got One Tamriel on the horizon. But for a lot of players, their opinion of the game was shaped early on, in the first month or two, or even in beta. What can you say to try and convince those players to give the game another shot?
Pete Hines: I don't think there's a “magic bullet” reason, like there's this one thing you need to try the game again. I think across the board, we have continued to try and improve the game by listening to player feedback, trying some new things, introducing some new stuff, and continuing to remove the barriers that get in people's way, like with One Tamriel.
Personally, my son, who's now 13, had jumped on and started playing it with one of his friends. And I was like, “Hey, we should get on to play together.” And I told him before he started, he needs to join the Daggerfall Covenant, that's the one I'm in. But of course, he joined the wrong faction, and I told him, “You're in the wrong faction, we can't play together.” And he was like, “What? I didn't know!” So I told him, “Well, there's an update coming later this year and once that comes...”
I think little things like that make a difference. That's one of the reasons why, late last year, we did the free trial where you could download the game and try it for a weekend because we feel like the best thing is to offer folks a chance to dip into the water and try it for themselves. No amount of explaining is really going to do it when you can jump in and see all the stuff that's going on in the game. I think that's the best case that the game can make.
MMORPG: You launched in Japan earlier this summer, how's that been going? Especially with Japanese players on the North American megaservers, that hasn't caused any problems, technical or social?
PH: So far, so good. Players seem really pleased. We already had players in Japan playing the English game in North America, and their feedback was that it's a good experience.
MMORPG: The last few years you've had big presentations for TESO, but it's pretty light this year. You've still got big plans, though, right?
PH: It's not that they don't exist, we just didn't feel like now was the time. We're going to focus on One Tamriel and more of the end of the year stuff, and then when we get into 2017, we'll start talking about some of what's coming up.
MMORPG: Player housing, though? You teased that at E3.
PH: I don't think there's anything more we're saying on that, but it is on the radar and not too far on the horizon.
MMORPG: Shifting to Fallout 4, The Vault-Tec Workshop just came out for Fallout 4. You guys have done construction sets before for the Elder Scrolls, but this is more than just a way to make buildings or quests. Can you go into a little detail as to exactly how it works?
PH: It's designed to be more than just building another settlement, it's an actual Vault, which, in the Fallout universe, means something different. They were designed to protect people from the bombs, but also to conduct these social experiments, so it's a bit of both. It's a chance to build your own settlement as a Vault, these iconic locations, but also a chance to run experiments on your Vault dwellers that you attract.
MMORPG: You've got another DLC coming later this month, right?
PH: Right, Nuka World is the last one for this year. It's the last one we have planned [for the Season Pass]. It's not too far off; we'll have more to talk about on that one before too long.