Zen Studios, the creators of Star Wars Pinball and a dozen other “that was unexpected” pinball mashups, have just expanded their eclectic arcade catalogue. Their newest release, Bethesda Pinball, is their first developer-specific title, opting not for the single-IP of games like Portal Pinball or Archer Pinball but instead featuring three of Bethesda’s series in one download. The big names on board are Skyrim, Fallout 4, and DOOM, with each game having its own table within the Bethesda Pinball app.
Fans familiar with Zen’s work should recognize the beautiful attention to detail in each table and the unique challenges that really commit to the theme at hand. The Fallout table is a gritty wasteland dotted with tire piles, broken-down 1950s-future cars, and that cymbal-clapping monkey that always has a bomb attached, with Vault-Boy adorning points placards and a Super Mutant mumbling random complaints about how bored he is. Companions and perks help you earn higher scores while a giant Vault-Tec Vault will rarely open and dole out bonus missions—often with threats of radioactive waste looming nearby that coat your silver ball in green ooze and raise your rad meter. It’s about as Fallout-y as you can get while playing pinball, and that’s not a sentence we ever expected to type.
Unlike nearly every other pinball app in Zen’s catalogue, Bethesda Pinball is free to download. This lack of an upfront cost is felt through its restrictions on gameplay: you only get to unlock one of the three tables for free. You can then play single-player on that table for 100 coins a game or multiplayer match-up—in which you have two minutes to beat an opponent’s high score—for free, up to three times. After those three multiplayer games you have to wait five hours for a refresh or pay 200 coins. Once you win 30 matchups, you get to unlock another table.
The result is a distinct lack of playability in free mode since coins are only available in matchup, and you only earn about 50 coins per victory. The good news is you can buy tables outright for real money–$2.99 each—which lets you play the table for free and offline. There’s also a “Wizard Pack” which unlocks all three tables and one week of the 2x coin/EXP booster for $9.99.
But there has got to be a twist, right? There actually is: all three of these tables were already available as in-app purchases in Zen Pinball. They were added in a December update and each table costs only $1.99. Bethesda Pinball lets you play one—and if you’re willing to grind, all three—for free. And it supposedly adds in new achievements and challenges. But if you’re just interested in the single-player, Skyrim-, Fallout-, or DOOM-themed pinball table, snagging it for slightly cheaper inside Zen Pinball is probably the better (or at least higher Charisma) choice.