Review: Pinball FX2 – Bethesda Pack – Travel to Hell, Fight Dragons & Collect Bottle Caps Pinball Style

It’s hard to believe that there is a total of sixty-six pinball tables for Pinball FX2 on the Xbox One, that is some serious digital pinball dedication. Well that number has now increased to sixty-eight thanks to the latest Bethesda three table pack. This pack includes two of the best tables I think I have encountered in the Zen Studio library so far. Based on three very popular IP’s you will travel to the depths of hell in Doom pinball, fight giant dragons in the world of Skyrim and go bottle cap and bobble head collecting in the Fallout table.

Being a massive old-skool Doom fan I just had to try out the Doom table first and boy was I not disappointed. The table is based on the latest Doom title and while I would have loved it to be from the Originals, I am just glad it didn’t use stuff from Doom 3. When you start up this table you will be asked to choose between two difficulties, Hurt Me Plenty and Nightmare. Zen studios have done a great job in transferring the games difficulty into the pinball universe. Hurt Me Plenty will allow you your typical safe guards like ball save and kickbacks, but if you up the ante and step in to Nightmare mode you can wave goodbye to all the safeguards. This is a splendid touch and a difficulty true Pinball Wizards will love.

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The table design itself is outstanding with the way they have managed to squeeze in pretty much everything from the game in some manner. All the while keeping the table looking as good as it does with no overcrowding in sight. The launcher is of course the good old, classic chainsaw, with Doom Guy standing to the left of the table and is on screen always. As I have said they have pretty much included all the locations from the game, with the bottom half of the table taking up the labs etc. and the top half of the table is kitted out just like hell itself. At the top half of the table the Cyberdemon towers over the table just waiting to kill you and stop you from getting the skill shot. The table also features pop up targets of demons and Doom Guy, as well as other demons appearing on a platform on the right side of the table for you to blast away.

When you have developed as many pinball tables as Zen Studios have, it must become difficult to come up with some fresh ideas. It seems though that the guys are always working hard as I have seen some a couple of features I don’t think I have seen on other tables in the past. If you manage to avoid the Cyberdemon’s ray at the launch the ball goes straight to bumpers which you can move in a circular motion. When it comes to the missions instead of timed shots, you have got to fight off demons in the form of pop up targets as well as making a specific ramp shot to shoot the demons that appear in the right platform on the table. Uncover secret areas and the ball will become pixilated which is a nice nod back to old-skool Doom.

There is so much in this table that Doom fans will be amazed at how well the transformation has went from a FPS to a pinball table in hell. All I will ask is “have Zen Studios made a deal with the Devil?” because Lucifer himself would be proud of the Doom table.

The next table I played was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim table and I must say that this must be one of the most atmospheric pinball tables I have played from Zen Studios. I must admit I haven’t played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but that did not stop me enjoying the table. In fact, I could say that it has made me appreciate the table even more and I am now tempted to try out the actual game. This table reminds of the Epic Quest table but much, much better. Zen Studios has really fine-tuned the gameplay for the style of pinball they are going for.

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The table design is that of the mediaeval universe that is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Your character stands to the left of the table while you have various other structures that will be recognisable by those who have played the game. There are rails that run under lakes and mountains as well as a giant chest in the top centre of the table, which is used for the main quests. What really stands out and impresses me most about this table design though is the enormous dragon(s) that you will fight it out with. There are also pop up targets which will appear when in battle as well as stone bumpers that will replenish your HP. As for the launcher, the ball is shot in to play by the fire of a dragon.

When it comes to the gameplay once again I am highly impressed by the transformation from game to pinball. When you start off you will be able to create a character just like you would in the game which will be saved so you can level him up. During play you will be able to access your inventory to craft weapons, sell and buy things, change weapons and armour etc. Not only can you travel places but there are also main and side quests to be conquered. Completing the main quests will result in a battle against a dragon and a nice achievement for your first dragon kill. In fact, this has been the deepest Zen Studios has gone in terms of a full character development and story driven pinball play. Your progress is saved from main quests and side quests completed to character level. In fact, nearly everything works as it would in the actual game, and there is even a day/night cycle adding to the atmosphere.

On to the last table I go which is the Fallout pinball table and once again the tables atmosphere has nailed it. If a pinball table was to survive a nuclear war, then I guess this is what it would look like. I have never played any of the fallout games although I am familiar with them, but I went in to this table with an opened mind. This table does share some similarities with The Elder Scrolls table in the sense that you can create a character, but that character doesn’t stay saved.

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I can’t fault Zen Studios on the overall table design as it certainly looks like a post-nuclear world, and this spacious table does do a great job to install that kind of atmosphere. Not only that but there is also the fine detail of rusted rails and the Vault at the back of the table is a really nice touch. On the bottom left you have the well know Pip Boy 3000 device which you will use throughout when buying items etc. Upon starting the game, you will also get the chance to bring a companion whose photo will sit beside the launcher. You have a super-mutant standing at the top right of the table and on game over will release a nuke explosion. Beside the Pip Boy there is also a stand for displaying the bubbleheads you collect.

I couldn’t get in to a stride on this table for some reason and it is, for me the weakest. That said there is still a hell of a lot to accomplish. When you get the vault at the back opened there will be a ramp that appears for you to shoot the ball in the vault, starting the many vault quests. Then you have the side quests along with faction quests as well. There are four factions each with five quests so there is a hell of a lot to do. I just wish the table saved your progress the way The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim table does.

The Good Things

  • Doom Pinball and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are worth the price of admission alone and then some.
  • Both the Doom and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim tables introduce some new features never seen before.
  • All three tables contain so much content.

And The Bad

  • I would have liked to see my created character in the Fallout table saved after game over.

My Verdict…

    The Bethesda Pinball Pack brings the table count to sixty-eight and with that many Pinball FX2 tables it must be hard for Zen Studios to re-energise digital pinball. Yet they have done just that, Doom Pinball introduces a few new features I don’t think I have seen in previous tables. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim pinball table takes an RPG and replicates it in the Pinball Universe in outstanding fashion. The fallout table brings a wealth of content in respects to quests and side quests, even though it was my least favourite in the pack. There is no denying though that fans of Bethesda’s most iconic IP’s will have plenty of fun. Even if you haven’t played any of the games there is still some great silver ball action for pinball addicts.

Lucifer himself would be proud of the Doom table.

About no1phil

PR Manager & Editor for XLC Gaming Network. I have been gaming since the ZX Spectrum days growing up through many generations of consoles. A bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to gaming genres. When I'm not either being shot at, dancing, scoring for the other team or racing I am trying to become a guitar God with Rocksmith 2014.