When news leaks that two of the most beloved games of all time are being remastered, you can expect that it will raise a few heart rates. And that’s exactly what has happened after a leaked document from the FTC v. Microsoft case inadvertently revealed that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3 were among a proposed Bethesda games release schedule.
This leak, probably the biggest in the industry’s history, also revealed future Xbox hardware plans, including revamped versions of the current generation consoles, and details on the next generation Xbox which is due to launch in 2028. Alongside Oblivion and Fallout 3, titles including new entries in the Dishonored and Doom franchises were among the names listed in the Bethesda release timeline that ran through to the end of the 2024 financial year.
Naturally, this has caused a sizeable contingent of social media users to descend into a frenzy of hype. It would be wise however to consider the breadth of caveats involved in this ‘reveal’ before getting yourself too worked up about the matter.
Consider, firstly, that this document was drawn up 3 years ago. As we’re all very much used to by now, the games that have been announced were all delayed from their proposed release dates, and that will no doubt have caused ripples throughout the studio. Remember when Starfield came out all the way back in 2021? To think, it seems like only a few short weeks ago.
While the list is revealing, it’s also devoid of any actual information besides titles. We have precisely zero context here from which we can learn anything about the scope of the games, which studio is/was developing each one, or how far along any of them were in the production process.
This is further complicated by the fact that these two titles are remastered versions of legacy titles. How big of a remaster are we talking about here? Xbox’s backward compatibility already does an admirable job of scaling and framerate boosting, so the thinnest definition of a remaster would be off the table. However, beyond that, all bets are off. Obviously the more comprehensive the remaster, the longer the game would need to bake in the oven.
Another vital missing piece of the overall puzzle is the question of which studio is developing these remasters. If they were intended to be developed in-house, then it’s possible that they may have been delayed or postponed as staff were pulled off to other projects where needed. If they’re being developed by an externally contracted studio, then they could be closer to release than expected.
All of this is, of course, just speculation. Because that’s all we have to go on at this time.
For all we know, either of these remasters could be ready to go at any point. It’s just as reasonable — perhaps even more so — to assume that they may not even exist at all out of the idea we see here in this leaked document.
You know how there’s always a constantly churning rumor mill claiming that every single vaguely handsome British actor is ‘tipped’ to be cast as the next James Bond? Well, there’s a truth to almost every one of those insider tips. In shortlisting the most obvious choices for a project at the broadest of levels, you’re going to weigh up all your potential choices. That doesn’t mean that they’re all getting called up for an audition.
There may be a similar thing going on here. If you’re a studio (Bethesda) laying all your cards out on the table to show your (at the time, potential) parent company (Microsoft), everything you’ve got gestating at your development studios, you’re not going to hold anything back. Regardless of how far along the actual thing might be to making it onto shelves.
In this age of constantly repackaging, remastering, and remaking games for every new generation of consoles, did anybody seriously expect that Bethesda, the studio that has milked the Skyrim horse for every last drop of worth, would not be weighing up releasing new versions of two of their other most popular titles of all time?
In that respect, the news that Oblivion and Fallout 3 remasters might be coming (possibly, sometime, eventually) really makes this news no different from the other major reveal of this leak, that being the planned future iterations of Xbox hardware. All of these things are, to a certain extent, inevitable.
Not helping the problem is that some game publishers, Bethesda included, have made something of a rod for their own back when it comes to hype culture. Let’s not forget that the first teaser for The Elder Scrolls 6 came out all the way back in 2018. Only for us to have heard nothing more five years on. In 2022 Todd Howard stated that the game was still in pre-production. As outrageous as this sounds, it’s pretty standard for AAA games to have multi-year pre-production periods these days, especially if it’s one that promises to be as much of an industry tentpole as a new installment in the Elder Scrolls franchise would be.
Remasters of Oblivion and Fallout 3 would not be close to this scale of production, but it’s entirely feasible that they could have only been in a pre-production state at the time this document was written up, and they could still be there today. As Rockstar has proven with their shoddy GTA Trilogy remaster, it pays to put an extra bit of love and care into these things.
So, should you be excited about Oblivion and Fallout 3 remasters? Sure! These are still two classic titles that deserve a modern lick of paint. You just shouldn’t be any more excited about them than you were before this unfortunate leak.
Because the truth is, there’s been no official announcement that these games actually exist in anything even resembling a tangible form. Rather than hype ourselves up over the way this game has been ‘revealed’ to the world, we should instead be disappointed that we may have missed out on a great, future “WORLD EXCLUSIVE” moment at a proper games showcase. One where the hard-working teams at Microsoft and Bethesda could have put their best foot forward with a trailer that would’ve really made people lose their minds.
Instead, all we’ve had as consolation is a look behind the curtain. A sneak peek into how a games studio operates in all its bland, corporate-speak-laden glory. That seems to me a pretty sad tradeoff for both Microsoft and the gaming community. It’s a genie that can’t be put back in the bottle, and when it comes to the more detailed parts of the leaks, such as those describing next year’s planned hardware refresh, it’s going to make a lot of the eventual announcement far less exciting.
There’s still an element of mystery surrounding Bethesda’s future games slate though. Can we all just try and save our hype for when we find out that they really are coming?
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