The Doom table makes me want to play Doom real bad.
I like that my Switch has become a pinball machine, though I’m becoming less and less enthusiastic about playing it on anything but my TV. Handheld or Tabletop modes are fine in a pinch, but these pinball tables are detailed and should be displayed on your TV for maximum enjoyment. This point was driven home by the new trio of Bethesda tables, which need to be played on the biggest screen you can find. This is kind of a downside, but to be fair all three tables are gorgeous.
Let’s start with the heavy hitter: Doom. This is the most traditional pinball table of the trio, featuring lots of looping paths, pop-up enemies to knock down, a cool spinner target, and maybe the most unique bumper trap I’ve ever seen (use L2/R2 to rotate them). The Doom soldier casually stands on the left and the Cyberdemon sits atop the table, looking as badass as possible. This table emphasizes a mission structure: hit the pinball into a yellow portal and choose one of several missions, some of which are tougher than the others. These often result in trying to hit the ball through certain loops but one of the weirder missions has you playing, essentially, Arkanoid on a tiny sub-table, trying to knock over demonic rune stones by guiding your paddle with the L2/R2 buttons. The music and voice samples of the DOOM table are keys to its success—I feel this is the most exciting table and the one I spent the most time on.
Next up, Skyrim. Both this table and the Fallout table share a feature in common: they try to meld RPG mechanics with a pinball table. I was reminded of that NES classic Pinball Quest, though here things are obviously more complex. In Skyrim, you start the game by creating a character using the L2/R2 and A buttons. This process is fairly painless, however you’re using the table’s LED screen to do so, and reading it can be a pain, even on the big screen. You’ll spend a surprising amount of time on the LED screen for equipping items, managing bonuses, opening treasure chests, accepting quests, staying at the Inn, etc. The table itself is deceptively simple-looking and hides a lot of complexity. I had to play around with the view (X button) to get a good idea of how big the Skyrim table actually is.
It’s not a bad table, but the RPG mechanics kind of drag it down. I can see a certain kind of player, or possibly a big Skyrim fan, getting into this but as a man who prefers traditional pinball action, I wasn’t too enraptured. I appreciate that it’s trying to be different (your character progress is even saved from game to game) and I do enjoy the table but it’s nowhere near as good as the Doom table.
Finally, the Fallout table tries to find a happy medium between the two. Again, you create a character (using the LED screen, which is embedded in a Pip-Boy arm band) at the beginning and you’ll revisit the LED screen for certain activities, like buying items at the store or choosing an alignment. However, the RPG trappings aren’t as prominent as the Skyrim table. The Fallout table is quite large but, again, you have to mess with the View button to get a good idea of the layout. This table has maybe the worst secondary flipper position of all three tables in that they’re both hard to see and it’s difficult to judge where the ball is in relation to them. In general, the Fallout table is too busy, visually, and it can be tough to figure out where you’re supposed to be shooting the ball. I don’t want to say I straight-up dislike the Fallout table, but it’s far and away my least favorite of the three.
In general, I think the Bethesda tables will appeal largely to Bethesda fans. However, the Doom table should be enjoyable to most pinball aficionados, and I daresay it alone is worth the price of admission.