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.

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.

Famous Last Words – Call of Duty Still Has One Thing Hilariously Right

There are a lot of things that Call of Duty has done wrong over the years… Infinite Warfare, World War Two, Level Three Armor in Blackout, etc.

One thing they have had right for some time is being able to hear the dying words of your opponents in multiplayer. Now that we have Battle Royale it has opened a whole new level for the reactions we hear from other gamers out there. Some of my most recent favorites have been as follows –

“Oh, f*ck you, buddy.” After I sliced and diced a guy with a sneaky knife attack under Nuketown.

“But Hoowwwww?! *With a puberty squeak in the scream* After lighting up a young adult in a final fifteen gun battle in fields near the red barn.

“Dude, you’re a di*k.” After I ran over a guy trying to collect a care package in a semi-wooded area.

I will be adding more to this list and wish I could record and post the video/audio of this through Twitch, but sadly I have no way of capturing in-game voice chat.

What are some of your favorite reactions in the seconds after taking out an opponent?

Post in the comments below.

In Blackout It Pays To Play Like Solid Snake

The more I play Blackout and find myself getting to the final 15 in solos (often ending up in the top five) the more I see some similarities between my play-style and the general feel of how I played the initial Metal Gear Solid Trilogy.

It gets old dealing with some of the streamers complaining about ‘campers’ in Blackout. Sure, sometimes it can be a pain to deal with it, but it’s not like multiplayer deathmatch where you respawn – it is one life and sometimes you get screwed from your landing point all the way through until the end of the match.

I once won a match where I fell into the game late, landed next to the brick building between Train Station, Hydro Dam, and Asylum. I couldn’t move from my spot and ended up having to seek shelter in a dumpster – no joke. By the time the last three circles started to collapse I had to take a gamble and sneak up the huge mountain outside of Train Station (which also included swimming across the river. The only thing that was missing from this was a cardboard box. I crawled up the mountain and let the opponents take eachother out until I killed the final opponent for my only kill of the match – and the win.

The point of this? I remember seeing a stream of Dr. Disrespect where he raged hard after getting owned in this wonderful way. He went on a rant about how it was probably the person’s only kill of the match, blah blah blah. He was acting as childish as he could at that point. Talking about what ‘real gamers’ do, etc. It left me rolling my eyes and cheering for the person that set him off. Why did I enjoy this so much? Because it reminds me so much of knocking on walls to spook guards and whatnot in MGS.

Blackout is a great mode with its fair share of super frustrating moments for all of us. Level Three Armor on an opponent at the end of a match happens to be my biggest pet peeve at the moment. Seriously, it’s ridiculous that that armor is nearly untouchable with a full clip from most weapons. Yet, I keep coming back for more and most of the time you can find me crouched and moving from cover to cover and picking off people as they clumsily sprint through the world to their demise.

To all those gamers out there in Blackout that get angry when I take them out I only have one thing to say.

Kept you waiting, huh?

Accessibility – The Game Changer We Should All Want

I was playing Blackout Duos with one of my friends the other day.  We were having a good time going through the map (even without finding any armor WHATSOEVER!!!! ARRRRRGH!!!).  As we were advancing towards the border of the first circle I said I could hear an enemy vehicle coming from the left side of our advance.  I expected him to say that he heard it as well.  Only, he didn’t hear it at all.

I learned at that moment that one of my gaming friends was deaf in his left ear and it didn’t make me think any less of him – but it did change our tactics for the rest of the match and from that point forward.  I didn’t really make a big deal about it, but I did suggest that I could take the left side of our tiny formation at that point.  He agreed that it would be a good idea and we moved on – it was that simple.

I haven’t been able to shake that experience over the last few days.  As a former teacher I had to take into account all sorts of learning disabilities and different general learning styles.  One of the biggest aspects of allowing all students the same opportunities to learn in a classroom is access above all other things (this also goes hand-in-hand with what those in education call full-inclusion).  If you went to public school during the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s you might remember a lot of classmates being pulled from class in order to get assistance with their schoolwork in any number of subjects.  They might have had dyslexia or some other issue that simply meant they needed extra help to stay with the class or at least accomplish the same requirements of others.  I never liked the idea of removing students from the classroom when I was a student and I certainly didn’t like it as a teacher.  While there are some aspects that might require occasional departures from the class, most students with disabilities want to be with their classmates.  This is the same case with gaming… except, there isn’t an opportunity for those with disabilities to seek access to games where they aren’t at what we could consider a competitive disadvantage.

That’s where our assumptions still get us in trouble.  The idea that someone needs special treatment in order to succeed in gaming is the complete opposite of what needs to happen.  How you treat your fellow gamer has nothing to do with their mental or physical capabilities.  You treat them like any other friend or family member.  The one aspect you might start demanding is for developers (both hardware and software) to consider making changes and modifications to controllers, sound mixing, and other aspects that move everyone closer to full-inclusion.

Microsoft has a great commercial that focuses on access being something that allows ALL gamers to play the same games and support each other.  

This video pulled at my heartstrings.  Pretty sure that was the idea.

The other reason every gamer should be demanding changes and modifications to games, hardware, and peripherals (controllers, etc.) is because it will not only open the games we love to play to those with disabilities, but it will continue to drive further innovation in ways we might not even consider.  We continue to see so many amazing changes in technology at a pace that is difficult to grasp – it’s only a matter of time before we will be able to play games with our friends that can’t grasp a controller in the first place.  Actually, nevermind… there are already people that are finding a way to wreck on Blackout without actually being able to hold the controller.

Don’t forget the value of opening your mind a little bit.  You might actually like what happens when you come to better understand the needs of others.  

Here are a couple websites for you to check out if you want to dive a bit deeper into helping fellow gamers.

Able Gamers –
People with disabilities wants the same thing that all gamers want, to have fun with their friends, and family. There are so many challenges that come with living with a disability, social isolation, is one of them. Video games are unique in that we ALL use them to excape our days, and join our friends, and total strangers in a quest to win. That is where AbleGamers comes in.https://ablegamers.org/

StackUp –
Founded in 2015, Stack Up brings both veterans and civilian supporters together through a shared love of video gaming through our primary programs: The StacksSupply CratesAir Assaults and the Stack Up Overwatch Program [StOP].https://stackup.org/

Is There A Right Way to Play Blackout (or any type of Battle Royale)?

Am I the only one that gets a kick out of hearing an enemy say something in that half-second after killing their character in Call of Duty?  I have a feeling I’m not alone in this joy.  However, I must admit that one verbal reaction makes me smile more than others when it comes to verbal rage and that is when I kill an opponent as they loudly run or sprint in my vicinity – as I lay quietly on the ground, usually in the shadow of a bush or in some thick vegetation.  I will spare you the details of their limited vocabulary, but chances are good that you know some of the words that get shouted.

It did make me think for a moment about my tactics and whether or not they were lacking gamesmanship.  I quickly came to reason that this was not the case at all.  First and foremost, this game is about surviving – not stacking up the most kills.  If that was the goal, you’d see a lot more people aggressively pursuing kills and most likely resulting in a shorter match where the storm circle remains large ever at the end of the game.

This is why I think it is bad practice to camp in Team Deathmatch or any other sort of mode that requires you to pile up kills rather than survive.  It isn’t camping when you are defending in Search and Destroy – it is called tactical advantage.  It is camping when you are spawn killing opponents in Team Deathmatch because the spawning AI is broken.  Some may disagree, and I would love to hear your input in this regard.

What is your take on hiding in Battle Royale?  Is it gutless or is it tactical?