Bethesda unveil new Commander Keen game… but it’s a smartphone app

The 2D platformer that helped make id Software’s name is getting a reboot, as The Elder Scrolls: Blades comes to Switch.

For years now Bethesda has been bringing its most famous franchises onto smartphones, with Fallout Shelter reaching 150 million downloads and both it and The Elder Scrolls: Blades hitting the number one spot in the mobile charts.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Bethesda making some new announcements during their pre-E3 media briefing, although the franchise they brought back this time was a bit of a shock – as it’s Commander Keen.

Commander Keen is what id Software did before Wolfenstein and Doom, and started life as a pitch to Nintendo to bring Super Mario Bros. 3 to PC.

Nintendo obviously didn’t go for it, so id Software transformed their work into a serious of 2D platformers fronted by mascot Commander Keen.

It wasn’t really clear how the new game worked during Bethesda’s show but a gameplay video released afterwards makes it clear that it mixes 2D platforming with a deckbuilding card game, as you control Commander Keen’s children Billy and Billie.

That probably means microtransactions, especially as the game’s set to be free-to-play when it gets a soft launch on iOS and Android this summer.

At the same time, Bethesda also announced that The Elder Scrolls: Blades will be coming to Nintendo Switch this autumn as a free download.

It’ll feature cross-play and cross-progression with the mobile game, so you can switch formats whenever you want and carry on just the same.

Despite its success Blades has come in for heavily criticism for its microtransactions and grinding, and just generally not being much fun.

Bethesda has been releasing frequent updates though, including one tonight that adds solo arena battles, new jobs, and a new quest line featuring dragons.

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