Video games, in terms of who developed what and who published, are a tricky thing to unravel. When we refer to Bethesda games in this article this includes a few companies including id Software, Bethesda Softworks, and Arkane Studios just to name a few. Not to mention the company that rules over them all, ZeniMax Media.
Just know that when we say Bethesda, it could mean other studios are involved. Anyway for the purposes of this article we only included one game per series, good, or bad. This means we had to exclude Fallout 3, a clear top tier game, in order to talk about another entry. Let’s see who made the good, and who made the naughty list!
10 Best: DOOM (2016)
Who knew that after DOOM 3, which was disappointing at best and infuriating at worst due to a lack of flashlights among other things, that a reboot could reignite the console first-person shooter?
By the time of this reboot's release, the original DOOM was over twenty years old. To see it come back and feel so fresh after the series was dormant for so long was a true surprise. It’s too bad the sequel got pushed until 2020, but hopefully it’ll be just as good if not better. The wait will be worth it.
9 Worst: Brink
Brink was touted to be the next Team Fortress 2, which to this day remains the go-to class-based multiplayer shooter/hat-trading simulator. This game had a lot of backing from Bethesda while Splash Damage had worked on multiplayer modes in their games before including DOOM 3.
However, even though the reviews were mixed, the negative side of things was consistent on calling Brink out for being broken both in terms of connection issues and because it felt like it wasn’t done.
8 Best: Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order falls into a similar camp with the 2016 reboot of DOOM. It was a classic series from the 80s and 90s that no one seemed to care about anymore. Making a new game then felt like a cash grab.
Low and behold it brought a new twist to the genre of not just first-person shooters, but the sub-genre of World War II shooters. Spoilers: the Nazis win and humanity is trying its darnedest to resist their regime. It was a darkly fresh story on top of being a fun game.
7 Worst: Rogue Warrior
An action game starring Mickey Rourke sounded great. Who wouldn’t want to live out their gameplay fantasy as one of Sin City’s best characters, er, we mean actors? Unfortunately, Rogue Warrior fell so short of expectations that even Mickey Rourke couldn't save it.
While the end credits rap kept it from being completely irredeemable, the rest of the game is a slog. It is buggy, unimaginative, and just plain boring. In the end, it was as if the alpha build of Rogue Warrior was accidentally shipped on launch day instead of the actual game that still needed a couple of months to complete.
6 Best: Dishonored
A better, more thought out stealth game from Bethesda would be Dishonored via Arkane Studios. It was a spiritual successor to Thief, which was a series the studio had previously worked on in another life. That is to say the company was built from former developers of that franchise.
Anyway, the blend of classic stealth maneuvers with cool powers akin to BioShock in an infested city was mesmerizing. Who knew whalebones could be so powerful? The Outsider, that's who.
5 Worst: Hunted: The Demon's Forge
Hunted: The Demon's Forge was an attempt to make a co-op fantasy action game in the vein of some of the more classic Dungeons & Dragons-inspired spinoffs, including Champions of Norrath. Needless to say, it didn't work out.
It also boasted itself as a more mature version of similar fantasy worlds, which ultimately worked against it. The final game is an ugly mix of browns, the dialogue is awful, and the combat isn’t satisfying in the slightest. You're better off playing some classic D&D with your friends in the comfort of your guest room.
4 Best: The Evil Within
The Evil Within is a bit of a divisive experience, but since it’s on this list, one should know how we feel. Yes, the story is rather obtuse forcing players to piece it together via newspaper clippings and notes. Even then it is kind of a mystery with plot holes aplenty.
It doesn’t do anything new gameplay-wise in respect to the survival horror game, but what is there felt like what the sequel to Resident Evil 4 should have been. Think of it like Leon Kennedy's field trip to Spain plus Inception. For us, that was enough to make this game awesome!
3 Worst: Wet
Wet is another game heavily involved with a Hollywood star, only in this case it was Eliza Dushku of Dollhouse fame. This game was a throwback to grindhouse films, which was seeing a resurgence of sorts around this time in 2009 thanks to the likes of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.
However, Wet doesn’t quite stick the landing with this idea feeling and is just another generic third-person shooter with some ok to bad dialogue exchanges. Rage got a second chance so maybe this will too someday.
2 Best: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
If we can't talk about Fallout 3, then Skyrim is the next best thing. What is there to really say about it at this point? It came out in 2011 and is still being ported from the HD remasters on PS4 and Xbox One to the Switch to even VR. Plus it still gets supported by fans via Steam using mods!
It’s a game that could be likened to what Final Fantasy VII did for turn-based RPGs, turning non-gamers into fantastic. Skyrim was a game changer; no ifs, ands, or buts about it and remains as easy to jump into today despite some graphical setbacks.
1 Worst: Fallout 76
The choice is obvious since we mentioned Fallout 3 couldn’t be on here. Let’s talk about New Vegas. Just kidding! Despite numerous patches and lots of damage control, Fallout 76 continues to be a train wreck a year after its initial release.
It had a rough launch due to game-breaking bugs and people not getting their special editions' promised canvass bags. Then Bethesda promised big changes were coming this fall at E3, including quests and NPCs. That content has now been pushed back and in its stead, the developers put up dedicated servers one could subscribe to for an obscene amount of money.
We’re starting to feel like this is some sort of demented social experiment. No game can really be this bad and mismanaged, right?... Right?!