The entire documentary is available to watch on Youtube, the link to which has been placed above for your convenience
A Celebration Of Bethesda Game Studios
Best known for their extraordinary work on open world roleplaying games, History Of Bethesda Game Studios is a crowdfunded documentary by NoClip that looks at the studio’s history and work processes around building games. Beginning with their early work on Elder Scrolls Arena and finishing with a short glimpse at the future with the recently announced Fallout 76, this 90 minute documentary is informative but oftentimes lacking in an objective viewpoint, brushing over some of the more controversial topics with the studio and dismissing games like Doom, Dishonored and Fallout Shelter altogether.
With the sole focus on the Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises, this documentary combines interviews with various figureheads around the studio from Director Todd Howard through to Art Directors and Quality with in-game clips and promotional ads for the games. Looking at their insight into the processes in place from conceptualising the idea through to the finished product, the documentary splits into several parts as it explores the various important games in the illustrious history of the studio. While there’s an effort made to showcase every Fallout and Elder Scrolls game released, more time is ultimately given to Fallout 3 and Skyrim than the other games in the franchise. The documentary also briefly explains the studio’s expansion back in the mid 90s but this is very much a love letter to Fallout and Elder Scrolls rather than an expansive, insightful look at the highs and lows of the studio.
It’s ultimately this tunnelled vision that makes it feel like the documentary should have been renamed “The History Of Elder Scrolls/Fallout”. Notable games like Doom, Dishonored, Wet and Rage aren’t discussed, the Christopher Weaver lawsuit is brushed over completely and even with Fallout 4, the critical reception toward the watered down dialogue system (which was later addressed by Todd Howard as a regret for the studio) isn’t mentioned either. Still, despite this there’s a highly enjoyable documentary here and seeing the progression of both franchises from its early roots to the pinnacle of roleplaying really helps you appreciate just how far the studio has come in such a short space of time.
Bethesda are one of those video game studios that always seem to deliver the goods with their franchises, consistently surprising fans and delivering an impressively crafted open world or tightly refined gameplay experience. Of course, they’re also a studio notorious for things like Horse Armour DLC, game-breaking bugs and radiant quests and although this documentary does take a look at a few of the bugs – it’s also done in a lighthearted manner rather than a critical examination of the studio’s failings in this area. History Of Bethesda Studios is simply a love letter to the fans; a reminder of the highs of the series and just how much Bethesda have achieved over the years working as a perfect appetiser before their ensuing press conference at E3 next week.
Verdict - 8/10