With landmark events such as E3, Gamescom, and PAX taking place in every other corner of the globe, sometimes UK-based gamers can feel a little envious of the rest of the world. Things have started looking a little rosier on this front though, as Bethesda recently held Quakecon Europe, a companion to its iconic annual US-based celebration, with the event taking place at Printworks in London. Last week we weathered the blistering heat to preview the upcoming Doom Eternal and while we were there we roamed the show floor to see how things compared to our experience over in Texas.
Press and influencers were invited one day ahead of the general public, allowing them the chance to sample the latest releases free from the torture of queuing. It also coincided with the keynote held in Texas and so we all gathered in a small theatre giddy with anticipation for some fresh announcements. Reveals on the whole, at least outside of Doom, we felt were pretty lacking (it was called 'The Year of Doom', after all) but there were a few here and there that managed to snag the headlines. We learned, for example, that Rage 2 would be receiving a New Game Plus mode and an ultra-difficulty setting, and that Fallout 4, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Doom (2016) would be arriving on the PlayStation Now service.
Igniting conversation across the web (for all the right and wrong reasons) was also the news that the original Doom trilogy (Doom, Doom II, and Doom 3) would be arriving on all modern day consoles. We are sure that Doom (1993) is holding some kind of unbeatable record right now for being on pretty much every gaming platform in existence. First came applause but dismay soon followed as fans learned that they would need to log into a Bethesda account to access the classic titles despite them lacking any online functionality. Bethesda later took to Twitter proposing a fix and issuing an apology for this mishap but the damage had already been done. A shame really considering this release means three of the best classic first-person shooters are back and available at a very handsome price.
But what truly stole the show was the extended look that we got into Bethesda's headlining release of the year, Doom Eternal. Its 2vs1 online battle mode, which was first revealed at E3 2019, was shown here in much more depth and we were teased with two more playable demons: the Arch-Vile and the Marauder. We also got sight of a new boss known as the Doom Hunter, which was part machine part beast and had a rocket launcher attached to one arm and what looked like a flaming chainsaw on the other. We really liked the design of this mechanically enhanced beast and it seems like it could prove a threat both in close quarters combat and from a distance due to the weaponry that it's equipped with.
The show floor invited players to demo some of the latest releases from Bethesda with standouts being the hot-off-the-press Wolfenstein: Youngblood, as well as the aforementioned shooter Doom Eternal, as well as Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr and Rage 2. There were also PSVR booths for Skyrim VR and Doom VR as well as retro consoles including the Atari Jaguar and the PS1, which included earlier entries from the Doom series. Besides Doom Eternal though, and the Switch version of Blades, all of these titles had already been released and we didn't really get that sense of exclusivity of experiencing something brand new ahead of the rest of the world. We did, however, find it a good way to preview potential purchases and the waiting times here felt significantly shorter than in Dallas with our longest wait for a game (other than Doom Eternal) only being only around ten minutes.
After spending some time with these playable demos we found ourselves feeling burnout awfully fast as there was little in the way of side distractions present when compared to Dallas. In Texas last year we could slip away to browse the high-end gaming rigs present in the bring-your-own-computer (BYOC) area and we could also take a seat and watch esports players go head-to-head in Quake Champions. Besides a handful of panels and an art gallery comprising of just two small displays of concept art, there was little to hold our attention beyond the games that were present. To the event's credit though, some of the panels were exclusive to Europe and one particularly insightful one we caught sight of was a discussion between Youngblood collaborators Machine Games (Wolfenstein) and Arkane Studios (Dishonored) about what it takes to create a great game.
We do hold respect for Quakecon Europe as it has allowed many devoted fans this side of the Atlantic to experience Bethesda's beloved annual showcase in person. However, with mighty big boots to fill, we couldn't help but feel a little disappointed by a few things. We were hoping for more exclusives to play at the event and compared to Texas there was little to keep us occupied between the bouts of gameplay. We hope that the organisers can push past these teething issues and come back stronger for Quakecon Europe's return because during our trip to Texas last year we experienced first-hand just how magical this event can be.