Quakecon 2019: The Year of Doom
The Year of Doom
Bethesda hosted the annual id Software gaming extravaganza, Quakecon, this year at the Gaylord Texan hotel, running from Thursday July 25 through Sunday July 28. Unique to this year was the event’s tag line – The Year of Doom. Bethesda chose to celebrate Doom’s 25th anniversary by taking over Quakecon with a host of Doom-specific events and displays to celebrate the game that started it all as well as to garner hype for the release of Doom Eternal in November. They went so far as to rebrand the conventions colors from the normal Orange and White to a more Doom-centric Red and Black. That being said, Quakecon’s core remained unaffected by the Doom-centric branding with the event centered as a PC gaming affair, featuring North America’s largest BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) LAN, a slew of new game announcements and demos, as well as a variety of panels and events.
Lead in and Main Hall
Quakecon invaded the Gaylord Texan with signs lining the walk through the atrium and all the way to the convention center itself (which is a good quarter mile walk). The Year of Doom branding remained very front and center, giving the event a different feel from years past. If anything, Bethesda upped the ante this year, recharging the convention and bringing back the excitement that Quakecon has been known for in years past.
For those of you that have attended, the BYOC line should be very familiar. The lines and signs were well done this year with schedules, convention maps, and line assignments clearly marked.
One unfortunate side effect of the recent convention-violence with the addition of metal detector to the check-in line as well as the entrances to all vendor and event areas. The security staff were outfitted in red security Quakecon branded shirts for easy identification and seemed to take the Quakecon eccentricities in stride. While the metal detectors did add an additional level of hassle to the normal process, the staff seemed to adjust things well to keep the lines moving and Quakecon attendees happy. In addition to the metal detectors, there was an increased police presence compared with past years as well as several K-9 units roaming the BYOC floor and convention center.
Drop off in the BYOC started at about 9pm Wednesday night. As you can see, I was in there rather quickly. The BYOC did not officially open until Thursday morning though. This year they enacted a strict drop and go policy on Wednesday so that the police could check the hall with K-9 units for everyone’s safety.
One of the more welcome changes to Quakecon this year was the enhanced vendor area of the convention. Over the past several years, the vendor area has felt like more of an after-thought rather than the another major aspect of the convention itself. That is not to say that the BYOC area is not an important central aspect of Quakecon, more that the vendor area should act to enhance that aspect rather than detract from it. This year, Bethesda hit it out of the park with Quakecon’s vendor area. Front and center was its Doom Eternal Ravager statue with an infinity display full for Doom Slayer helmets. The following vendors also had booths in the Exhibitor area with many vendors offering items for sale in addition to the abundance of information and live displays:
- Cascade Games LLC
- Modders Inc
- Performances PC’s
- Fantasy Flight Games
- Last Epoch Game
- Drink with Frenemies
- Dreameater Games
- N3 Art
- New Blood Games
- Fithy Casual
- Portals Edge 360
- 562 Interactive
- Crazzie Pro Gear
- Glorious PC Gaming Race
- Viewsonic Elite
- Delicious Doom
- Mary’s Marvelous Macaroons
Bethesda also opened up the vendor area to a host of charities and non-profits, spanning almost all spectrum’s of need, including:
- Dallas Pets Alive
- Anime for Humanity
- 1Up On Cancer
- Stack Up
- Gamers Outreach
Dallas Pets Alive took the show by storm with its Rage and Doom branded t-shirts featuring a dog version of the Doom Slayer and a cat version of a Rage mutant.
Of course, what would Quakecon or its vendor area be without huge displays for the current and upcoming Bethesda properties. id Software-related IP was heavily represented via the Doom Eternal and Wolfenstein areas with Fallout 76 Nuclear Winter and ESO Online Elsweyr making an appearance as well. Combined, the Bethesda exhibit area took up almost half of the hall with their recreation of a Doom research lab, a mockup of a Parisian street, and photo booths for pictures in the Fallout 76 Nuclear Winter or ESO Online Elsweyr universes. Inside the Doom research facility mockup were stations setup to play 10 minutes of Doom Eternal including a major battle sequence. The game, set to be released in November of this year, looks and plays amazingly well with some of the new mechanics being introduced making for a unique FPS gaming experience. The Wolfenstein area also had stations setup to play through the released-at-Quakecon Wolfenstein: Youngblood as well as two stations for a ten minute run through of their VR-based Wolfenstein: CyberPilot game.
On the backside of the Doom research facility mockup was a series of displays commemorating Doom’s 25 year history, very apropos given the Year of Doom convention by-line. The displays contained various replicas and mockups from each of the games ranging from Doom paraphernalia (like the comic book and board game) released along side the original Doom in 1993 to various art stills and collectibles from the soon to be released Doom Eternal.
Keynote and Parting Words
One of the most anticipated events of the convention (besides the Master Pancake mocking of Doom The Movie) was the keynote. Not only were there quite a few anticipated announcements (as well as a final cut of Doom Eternal to be unveiled), but this was also Tim Willits’ official farewell to the Quakecon community. After almost 25 years with id Software as well as being an integral part of Quakecon since its inception, Tim was moving on to other adventures. This became another running theme throughout the convention with many folks (myself included) yelling out our deepest adoration for Tim and the community as a whole. Tim also took part in the Master Pancake Doom Movie intermission skit as none other than the Doom Slayer himself. He was an integral part of Quakecon and what it has become over the years. He will be sorely missed. The full recording of the Quakecon keynote can be found at here: https://quakecon.tv
The Keynote started with Bethesda’s Senior VP of Marketing, Pete Hines, welcoming everyone to Quakecon and turning over the stage to Tim Willits to speak his peace and give his parting thoughts to the crowd. The keynote was also live streamed to Quakecon London occurring simultaneously across the pond. Pete Hines announced several enhancements to Rage 2, the Quake Pro League, the Elder Scrools Master’s Series season 2 finals, Nuclear Winter for Fallout 76, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Wolfenstein: CyberPilot, as well as introducing the Doom Eternal demo.
id Software Executive Producer Marty Stratton and Creative Director Hugo Martin introduced Quakecon to the latest playthrough demo of Doom Eternal, as well as announcing the release of Doom, Doom II, and Doom 3 to a host of platforms, including mobile, PS4, XBox One, and Nintendo Switch. The Doom Eternal features and demo from the keynote can be seen here: Doom Eternal.
Further, they announced several new Doom Eternal features – the Doom Hunter demon, as well as Battle Mode. Battle Mode allows players to go head to head, one as the Doom Slayer and two others as player controlled demons. There are a total of five selectable demons available for players to choose from.
Quakecon 2020 dates were announced as well with the 25th convention taking place between August 6 and August 9, 2020. August 2020 cannot get here fast enough…