Disposable Teammates – The Downside of Apex Legends

If you haven’t noticed, there is a new kick ass game out there on PS4, XBox One and PC and it also happens to be free to play.

Apex Legends still hasn’t lost its luster in almost every way but one. Unless you have a lot of friends that have adopted this game as their primary go-to FPS Battle Royale you are essentially doomed to get paired up with random players. My experience to this point as a level 20 player has been getting paired up with level one and two players that don’t use mics. Usually I don’t mind being on a team with noobs. In case you haven’t noticed the name of the website – I understand noobs and the plight of being one.

The worst part about the current matchmaking is that if you find a couple gamers you enjoy playing with Respawn hasn’t implemented a way for you to stick together. One thing Blackout has done a decent job of doing is having a section of ‘Recent Players’ that you can access between rounds. This wouldn’t seem like a big deal as so many teammates go by the wayside when you get into a match and die in the first 20 seconds – but on those few occasions you get paired up with a couple decent Apex players, it would go a long way to be able to team up with them or even add them to your friends list after the match.

Hopefully this is something they can take care of in the near future. Rumor has it that they are already working on things like this for the game. If only the developers at Call of Duty listened to the community as much as Respawn seem to… for now, we can still smile about the fact that at least we have Apex to play instead of the Blackout which has suddenly become more stale than your grandmother’s Christmas candy.

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Apex Legends Just Killed Blackout – In Three Days

I didn’t know what Apex Legends was last week. I didn’t know it was in development, let alone coming out on consoles and PC – for free. I was knee deep in Call of Duty Blackout shrugging off multiple 2nd and 3rd place finishes after getting concussion grenades to the face with a quick burst of fire to finish me off.

Then I saw the Titanfall community on Reddit talking about some sort of non-Titanfall (yet, still kind-of Titanfall) Battle Royale game. I chalked it up to gaming nerds complaining about something that didn’t exist. Suddenly, I start seeing the game Apex Legends marketed and talked about more and more over the next 72 hours. I ended up on my smart phone as I was blasting my quads on the spinning bike at my local gym (it’s my passion… if you don’t get the reference just google it).

I logged on and started by playing a couple matches on February 6. I was so bad at the game after having played Blackout for months that I ended up going back to Blackout for the rest of that night after getting my teeth kicked in and voicing my displeasure on the live stream. The next day something changed – I wanted to give Apex another try, but I wanted to go at it more slowly and methodically just to get a feel for how it worked. It was the best decision I’ve made in gaming in quite some time.

The best comparison I can make for Apex is that it is a cross between Titanfall (gunplay/aiming), Borderlands (general looting feel), Fortnite (albeit in first person), and a splash of Overwatch (players with unique abilities).

Apex had over 10 million players in the first three days of release. That is amazing. That’s not even the most shocking aspect to me. For what it’s worth I got the most out of the reactions from David Vonderhaar on Twitter over the last 24 hours or so – he is the studio design director for Blackout. While I generally appreciate the pressure and the hard work that goes into keeping a game like COD/Blackout running with such a massive following, his tweets scream frustration and desperation just days after Apex released.

Do you ever feel like the harder you try to do the right thing the worse you do? That feels awful.— Lord Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) February 8, 2019

I love this tweet because it illustrates my point. You are diverse. You don’t all agree. You are not made up of just Twitter or Reddit communities. You are beautiful. You are complicated. You are right. You are wrong. https://t.co/7zZ5dm0bAT— Lord Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) February 8, 2019

The best part about Apex coming in out of left field and slapping Call of Duty in the face isn’t even about the games themselves. It’s about the developer of Apex.

Respawn Entertainment created Apex. You might recognize the bigger names of Respawn (Jason West and Vince Zampella) as the original names behind Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare back when they were at Infinity Ward. These guys had a very public falling out with Activision and after a few years they ended up coming back as Respawn and creating the Titanfall series. They lost their ability to create Call of Duty games and were forced to make something new and different with Titanfall – and they succeeded. Titanfall 2 is still widely played by the close-knit community and now to have Apex come out of the blue and take the hearts and minds of so many Blackout players from Call of Duty is some of the best schadenfreude I can think of from the perspective of Respawn and the developers over there.

Don’t Be That Guy – Blackout Etiquette

Yes. Before you question one of my earlier articles on whether there is a ‘right way’ to play Blackout – I do realize that this might seem hypocritical. I promise you – it isn’t.

I stand by my belief that there is no right or wrong way to play Solo battle royale – do your thing, by all means. Camp your heart out or run through the world like Rambo – the world is yours Mr. Montana.

However, one thing needs to be covered right now and it will help make you a better teammate on all other modes of Blackout that aren’t Solo. First and foremost, you need to remember you are part of a team. Here are some tips for any of you that are either new to Blackout or want to have a better overall experience. This is especially important for those of you that join random teams in Quads or Duos.

Be Nice When You Jump Into The Game

There isn’t anything more annoying to a team than having one teammate come in talking smack or being rude. Blackout Quads and Duos is a great way to make new gaming friends and you should look at every match as an opportunity for this to happen. When you load up and arrive in the deployment screen give your team a friendly shoutout and ask where they’d like to drop. Something as simple as “Hey guys, how’s it going?” is one hell of a nice ice breaker. Keep in mind, you will depend on these teammates to pick you up if you get injured during the match – so, be cool to start and they will be more willing to run into the fight for you.

Keep Your Background Noise Down

We get it, you love your trap music and your children. Sometimes we can tell that they are in the same room and they are both cranked up to 11. Do everyone a favor and turn off your mic – it is just too difficult to mute individuals in Blackout and hearing your music or daily banter is the last thing any of your teammates want or need in their ears.

Death Stash Goes To The Guy With The Kill

The ultimate disrespect to your teammates is raiding the death stash of the opponent they killed without their go-ahead. While I think most of us have committed this cardinal sin – it is something I feel needs to be talked about. This is especially true if a teammate comes to your aid and takes out an opponent that has you pinned down. If you manage to run away from the fight and your teammate pulls off the clutch kill for you make sure you ask if they want something in particular out of the bag – especially level three armor.

You will find that more often than not your teammate will tell you to go ahead and take a look. However, if this happens at the beginning of a match it is better for you to let them have first dibs. They are just as thin on ammo, weapons, and equipment as you – maybe even worse off than you. So, do everyone a favor and just ask before you go and raid a bag from the kill of a teammate. There is nothing more dickish than running away from a fight and letting your team do all the work only for you to run back after the fray to vulture all the goods. So, if you want it broken down to be that simple – don’t be a dick. Oh, and also – if you do that to someone that finds it to be insulting – don’t be shocked if they team kill you for the sake of righteousness.

Don’t Hoard Trauma Kits, Sensor Darts, Barricades, Attachments

One thing a lot of noobs don’t realize is that one player can only deploy one Sensor Dart or Barricade at a time. So, having three of each in your inventory won’t help your team as much as each person having one of each towards the end of a game. If you can strategically distribute and use these pieces of equipment your team will be in great position to win.

In the same breath, please don’t take all the Trauma Kits and hold them while your teammates are looking for health throughout the map. A team with 200 HP across the board is far better off than 150 or less for three teammates and you with 200 and four Trauma Kits. Seriously, offer these to your teammates – they will return the favor in the future.

Go ahead and pick up all the attachments you need for your weapons. However, if you have a few pieces in your inventory that you have no use for give them to a teammate or drop them. You are literally wasting space if you hold onto attachments you don’t plan on using. Let those things go and grab all the grenades and throwables – that’s where the winning happens.

Tell Your Team Where You’re Going

If you haven’t found any loot to start a match and you go away from your team to explore another building, etc. Do the decent thing and just tell them ‘Hey, I need to check this place out. I have no health and no gun.’. Also, if someone else is in this situation, make it a point to go with them if they are empty handed – be a good teammate, ya know?

Call Out Locations of Enemies

Keep in mind that the number locator is great for pointing out an enemy if you are right next to your team. The flipside is that it might not be the same if you are separated from your team. Use the North, South, East and West function as well as calling out the place you see enemies.

“They are over here!” is no way to get anyone to help you out.

“They are on my right side, up the hill, behind the rock.” is a much better callout.

As you play Blackout more often you will learn the sounds and firing rates of certain weapons. If you can figure that out it will help your team even more. Don’t be afraid of calling out an enemy if you hear them as well – that is a life saver for your team in close quarters.

Madden NFL Is The Perfect Simulation of NFL Officiating

After watching the lowlights of Championship Weekend in the NFL just a few days ago I realized that we have been neglecting proper credit for the programming of the officials in Madden NFL. One thing can be said when you take a look at the penalty sliders in Madden – they are right on the money.

As someone that hasn’t booted up and played through a full game of our only NFL football option on console or PC in over a month I felt almost nostalgic for it when that helmet to helmet epic pass interference penalty wasn’t called or reviewed. It was like playing a big game in Madden (as big as those can feel, I guess) and having your own player get throttled in the same way. If you really want to see broken pass interference you should look at it on the offensive side of the ball – oh boy, that is some good simulation football right there.

Madden has been trying desperately to push their marketing through Twitter with all sorts of shout-outs and retweets of all things Madden. This includes NFL WR, Torrey Smith scoring 100+ points on his kid. Sure, we have probably all scored over 100 in Madden at some point on rookie. Sure, this is all in good fun and I don’t begrudge someone for playing the game however the hell they want to. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Madden is not improving or playing in the way it would be if it had competition – yes, it always comes back to that.

The officials in the NFL have been exceptionally bad this year. So bad in fact, that I think many fans have decided to stop watching NFL football in general. This was actually the first year in some time that I didn’t sit down and watch most of the playoff games. I don’t know how interested I will be in the Super Bowl as it is once again another appearance by Tom Brady playing against a team that seemingly was in the plans for the Super Bowl before the NFC Championship took place.

I’m not saying the NFL is fixed. I am saying the NFL IS FIXED. The same can almost be said for Madden in that MADDEN NEEDS FIXED.

Flag on the play! Too many complaints on the webpage.

Well, I guess I saw that coming.

She Got Game – Where The Hell Are The Female Pro Gamers?

Raise your hand if you have heard of Lisa Lane.

For those of you that raised your hand thinking that I meant to type Lois Lane – you can put your hand down and rest assured that I meant Lisa.

Lisa Lane is now 80 years old and she is better than you at chess.

Lisa Lane was also a mystery to me up until yesterday when I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated while I was at my local gym trying to fight off the symptoms of my mid-30’s. Ms. Lane was among the top chess players in the world back in the 1960’s. Not only was she among the best in the world, she was the first chess player to make the cover of SI – yes, before Bobby Fischer. While still at the top of her game she quit playing chess competitively in the late 1960’s. Among the reasons she stopped playing and left public life was the fact that women were in a similar position that they are still in today – being paid less for equal work. Read the article on Ms. Lane, here.

The subject of equal opportunity and equal pay for women is still a major issue almost 60 years later. The evidence is damning and it should piss you off when you see it. Another article came out on January 3 talking about the pay for Washington Wizards Assistant Coach, Kristi Toliver who is also a player in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics (WNBA players make next to nothing when compared to NBA players).  Keep in mind that NBA Assistant Coaches make $100k+ annually as you continue reading.

Coach Toliver in action

Ms. Toliver makes $10,000 a year as an assistant with the Wizards. That isn’t a typo either. For more on this situation, check out the article here.

The ugly reality of women being mistreated and cheated out of jobs and equal pay as well as their rightful place among their peers is glaring and this is possibly most true in the gaming community. I am among the many that would fail if challenged to name one non-male professional gamer for any video game or platform. Go one more step if you will and find one that doesn’t use sex appeal to further their brand. That list you were making from a google search just went back down to zero.

Most gamers out there can name a few of the big names (Shroud, Ninja, Fatal1ty, etc.). It has struck me on many levels how dire the situation is when it comes to non-males in every other avenue of career. Take the US military stance on women in combat and ask yourself if you really think it’s a good idea to tell over half of the population that they aren’t qualified to protect their nation in a combat role if needed because of their genitals or assumed ‘lack of strength’. Yes, it is as stupid as I make it sound. The situation itself is infuriating if you actually think about it with a critical mind.

So, the question persists in other realms that don’t require such ‘macho’ tasks as lifting heavy things or throwing a ball far through the air (yes, I am rolling my eyes as I type this). Maybe one answer to why we don’t see non-males in professional gaming can be found by simply logging in and playing in an open lobby of Call of Duty. By the time a woman starts talking on her microphone you can almost guarantee that you will hear some jackass come out of the digital woodwork and say something disgusting or rude to her. Nine times out of ten, the verbal abuse will be unprovoked – it gets downright nasty and will reach a point that the woman simply leaves the game if she hasn’t muted the entire lobby itself. It’s no wonder non-males aren’t more prevalent in pro gaming (let alone casual gaming) when you see the nature of many of the bro-tastic gamers out there – if I were a woman, I’d be hard pressed to use my microphone in a public lobby and just kick some ass anonymously.

What makes this worse? There are some badass gamers out there that happen to be non-male. Why aren’t they more popular or marketed on pro teams or streams? The article about Lisa Lane isn’t just a story from the past – it is a reference point for the exact same issue that is happening with women in gaming (and everywhere else) in the present (just ask Kristi Toliver).

So, how do we fix this? With most other aspects of life and changing the societal structure to be fair for all people we need the efforts to happen from the top down. This doesn’t simply mean making a token change to a minor role – it means making for a level playing field in all aspects of sports, gaming, and workplaces altogether. It is my hope that I can be a voice of reason and start making the change that I’d like to see in the world.

So, if you are non-male and want to kick some ass on a Call of Duty squad (or almost any other game) and you see Outspoknpoet in your lobby send me an invite because when it comes to kicking some digital ass on my PS4 I don’t care who is on my team as long as they kick some ass too!

The One Thing Your Console Is Missing – Extended Storage

It seems like every year around the holidays most of us come into a little bit of money to spend on ourselves. This year I found myself thinking about the different games I wanted for my PS4 and was coming up short – which isn’t really a bad feeling to have when you start thinking that you have all the games you need (in my case, more than I need). The problem I faced was not having all of them accessible at any given moment.

This was perhaps one of the most short-sighted flubs of this generation of consoles. The thought that 500 GB wouldn’t be enough space for all of your games back during the 360 and PS3 would have been preposterous. However, with the installation and patches required on the PS4 and XBox One – it turns out that 500GB is basically the equivalent of the stock 20 GB HDD on the XBox 360 – maybe even worse.

If you are fortunate to have bought Red Dead Redemption 2 you might notice that it alone takes up over 100 GB. One game… 100+ GB. Couple that with the fact that I have been playing a lot of Black Ops 4 and wanted to keep Grand Theft Auto V on my console – there was no space for any other game.

I took the plunge and bought the 2 TB Extended Storage on Amazon (Western Digital). Not only was it a simple plug-in of the USB (no need for an outlet to power the drive!) it just needed a simple format (the instructions were super easy to follow) and it took all of 10 seconds. Suddenly, I was granted this new gift of space and started downloading and installing all of my games. I managed to put over 20 games on my extended storage and still have room for more.

If there is one thing you can add to your console gaming situation it would be a 2 TB extended storage. The only question you will ask is why you didn’t do this sooner.

The Legend and Tragedy of All Pro Football 2K8 – And What Could Have Been

In our office/spare room there is a secondary TV with my XBox 360 hooked up just in case some gaming needs to happen and the PS4/Big TV aren’t available. I had about an hour of free time where I found myself looking at my old 360 games and saw All Pro Football 2K8 shining in it’s nostalgic glory. Having just finished another season of Madden 19 Franchise Mode with the same stale feeling that I keep thinking will go away – I decided to boot up 2K8 for a random game. As I expected, I somehow emerged from this game happy with the 2K8 but annoyed by the current (on-going) situation that is the Madden Monopoly.

The Original ‘Legends Game’ can be had for cheap. You will be amazed with the gameplay and animations that might not even be in Madden this year… or ever.

What a game it was at the time for those of us that had only too recently seen the decline of quality in NFL football games after the Madden monopoly happened in 2004/2005. We will start with some of the basics that Madden didn’t flesh out until years later (if at all).

Double-Team Blocking was something that we had never seen carried out in the way that 2K8 introduced it. Add in reach tackles, kickers slipping, long snaps going off course and even late hits on defense (that would result in a penalty). Also, let’s not forget the interactive players on the sideline and injuries that occurred in real time – and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Sure, the wonky Field Pass and player models were the typical hilarious mess that we especially see in retrospect. “Let’s get out there and crack some heads!” was something that got old pretty fast every game you had to hear (and see) a player say it. That’s also one of the smallest aspects of the game that would have been removed in future iterations.

The best part about All Pro Football was and remains the one thing that can’t be denied – it was real football. The weight and motion of the players when you controlled them from quarterback to linebacker felt real and it still does. The tackles on nearly every play looked like their real-life counterparts – and some of the tackles were downright wonderfully brutal. Add in the running mechanics that would make your jaw drop when Barry Sanders turned a juke into a double spin and was off to the races. Also, the way in which Okoye and Campbell would truck defenders was simply nasty.

All Pro Football 2K8 was ahead of it’s time and basically gave Madden the blueprint for what would eventually destroy sports games in general – using all time great players to build dream teams must have stuck because only three years later Madden 10 introduced Madden Ultimate Team and the rest is micro-transaction history. Say what you will, but ultimate team modes have completely gutted the dreams of many sports gamers that have no desire to play online modes with other people that pour money into their teams or pick exploit plays at every turn – sports gaming has died and gone to a fiery hell reserved for all corporate hacks.

There are two reasons All Pro Football 2K8 failed in terms of sales and as a game. The first reason it failed from a sales perspective was that it didn’t have any of the rights to NFL teams. This was an obvious downer, but it should have been fully expected as EA and the NFL decided to wreck things with the monopoly as mentioned above. The second reason APF 2K8 failed was because it was such a stripped down game to begin with. The options for customizing your team uniforms and building a squad with a limited amount of real players were cool, but hardly worth bragging about as a ‘back of the box feature’.

I believe to this day that had 2K Sports continued their football development after 2K8 with fictional rosters and a full-fledged franchise mode they would have challenged Madden in terms of game quality and eventually surpassed them. If you see what 2K was able to do with the gameplay of NBA 2K it makes a football fan look up to the sky and say ‘Why, God… Why must we only have Madden?’.

As we enter the last five days until Christmas I want to once again share my one gaming wish with the wonderful people at 2K Sports.

Please… I beg you. Bring back 2K Football with the following features.

A fully fictional roster of 32 teams with players of different ages, etc. would be a nice start. Couple that with a franchise mode that can be played for 30+ seasons. Give us an experience for scouting players that involves more depth than pressing an unlock button for three attributes. Give us real football that we can enjoy – with late hits, concussions, broken bones and real time injuries in general. Give us an improved football experience based on the great start that 2K8 had in gameplay (which I can only imagine how great it would be after 10 years of development…).

Release the game on a 2 or 3 year development rotation with fixes and patches for gameplay and exploit issues as you won’t ever have to worry about roster updates.

Please, just give us a sign that you haven’t forgotten about 2K Football fans. We are still out here and we are still waiting for a decent football game.