Last weekend, thousands of fans of strategic, virtual violence descended upon the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine for QuakeCon, an annual gaming celebration that offers first glimpses of some of the most anticipated game releases of the year.
The people who turn out aren't ordinary
If this sounds like the signs of some kind of clinical psychological disorder, then you've never played a game by id or Bethesda; their groundbreaking titles, such as Wolfenstein 3D and the original Doom, tapped into a previously unknown crop of hardcore, heavy-metal-loving gamers.
Since 1999, QuakeCon has been the place where id Software and its sister game studios debut their new crop of bone-crunching shooters and digitized story lines. Here's a look at some of the games that id and Bethesda plan on releasing in the coming weeks and months.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for PC, PS4 and Xbox One (Oct. 27)
This game improves on previous incarnations of id Software's fictionalized war shooter, which follows protagonist Capt. B.J. Blazkowicz. The 2009 third edition attempted to breathe new life into the franchise with a Third Reich theme, but it presented too many unnecessary obstacles when all you really want to do is run around and blow holes in Nazis.
When Bethesda and MachineGames retrieved the franchise, they learned from those mistakes and produced 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order. Now they've teamed up again for another loud, bloody and brilliant first-person shooter that picks up where The New Order left off.
B.J. awakens from his five-month coma to learn that the Nazis are still ruling the world with an iron fist. We played the opening level, where the player, as wheelchair-bound B.J., must fight through an army of invading Nazis on a stolen U-boat. A second, story-driven level shows what Main Street USA would look like under a Nazi regime's control.
The story, its villains and highly stylized setting are very compelling. The sequel hasn't messed with what made The New Order or its original, 2-D sprite predecessor work so well. You get to carry big guns and shoot them at the scum of the earth over and over, and it never gets boring. You can also choose to take a somewhat stealthier approach so you don't alert an elite guard who can sound an alarm to send in more troops. Both modes offer loads of gleeful, murderous fun.
The Evil Within 2 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One (Oct. 13)
Horror survival games have gotten stale over the last few years because of the monotony of zombie-themed shooters such as the Resident Evil franchise, which has become a lumbering zombie with no discernible endgame. The Evil Within delivered a game that felt confining, confusing and bewildering, and for once, that's a good thing.
Detective Sebastien Castellanos is on a mission to rescue his daughter, whom he thought he'd lost forever. This time, he's up against hordes of diseased human-zombie hybrids and a villainous photographer who is creatively inspired by piles of bodies.
The sequel is as creepy and tense as the first game. It doesn't rely on cheap jump scares to keep you on edge and instead delivers a solid story inspired by Japanese horror and American horror. The third-person shooting style doesn't get boring because you care about the characters.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider for PC, PS4 and Xbox One (Sept. 15)
Steampunk isn't just hot in cosplay communities right now; it's also drifted into gaming. Bethesda's Dishonored takes the bizarre concept of mechanized weaponry and mixes it with sorcery to deliver something wholly original and fun. It's also one of the more challenging first-person shooters, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on what you like to do in these games.
Just like the other Dishonored games, the player's path doesn't run along a straight line. You're dropped into an open world as the assassin Billie Lurk, who uses her ninja-like skills to sneak up on her enemies, blend in with crowds, leap across rooftops and fight guards with swords. It's a cool character to play.
However, it's easy to get lost if you don't know where you're going, and the wide array of weapons and tactical gadgets gives you a ton of options to plan your attack and make your move. It's more for the player who likes having other options to destroy targets besides attacking them head on.
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Doom VFR for the Vive and PlayStation VR (TBD)
If all you care to do is blow scum suckers away with huge weapons or assault them with blunt or sharp instruments at close range, Doom VFR will more than satisfy your thirst for
This virtual edition of id's classic Doom first-person shooter series puts players in the anonymous boots of UAC's hardcore hell fighter, who uses a variety of heavy artillery to blow demons back to hell in several bite-sized pieces. The limitations of the newly emerging VR medium take away some of the features that have made other versions of Doom so fun to play, but it's still satisfying and enjoyable.
You have to move across the level in short bursts or by literally transporting your body to different parts of the map. So if you're cornered by a demon or surrounded by bigger enemies, it's harder to escape from danger.
However, the ability to move the game's most iconic weapons with a simple wave of your hand delivers a new dimension of playability to the Doom franchise. Imagine how much fun it will be to actually swipe at your enemies with a chainsaw using all of the muscles in your arm rather than just the ones in your thumb.