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.

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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!

COD Is Dead

Call of Duty was my go-to game during the Modern Warfare Trilogy.  From the campaign to the multiplayer it was at its best between 2007 and 2011.  While I agree that there were decent titles released by Treyarch in the time between these releases, MW was my favorite experience altogether.CodMeme

By the time Activision (the publisher and owner of the Call of Duty series) decided to part ways (unceremoniously fire) the main brains behind the Modern Warfare trilogy it had become obvious that two things were happening.  Call of Duty was still growing at an incredible rate and Activision was going to milk/destroy the game for every drop of money they could get.codisdead

Now that we are firmly into the new generation of consoles (PS4 and XBox One) it is easy to see what their strategy has become.  Cosmetic changes to weapons, loot boxes, and everything else that can be made into a micro-transaction in order to milk every last dime out of your bedazzled wallet.

The days of playing some of the coolest games with your friends are long gone.  Sure, you can still party up with your buds and wreck some lobbies if you want.  However, a lot of the focus has turned to two things – replicating the success of Fortnite, PUBG, & the concept of ‘Battle Royale’ in general and pandering to the streaming crowd on YouTube and Twitch.

Black Ops 4 won’t have a typical campaign, which isn’t something COD has really focused on since MW (sorry, but Black Ops 3 was one of the most insulting campaigns from a story perspective, maybe ever… until I played Infinite Warfare, anyway).  It feels like Activision’s new motto is ‘Call of Duty, we know you’ll buy it anyway…’.

While Battlefield 5 will be including their own type of Battle Royale, I must say EA DICE has impressed me with their move to not only open accessibility by simply including playable female characters but they have also announced that they will not have a season pass or maps that you have to purchase separately.  You can still option your way to buying bedazzled gear, but it isn’t being forced on you like COD.

It seems to me that Call of Duty has decided that they don’t need a rather large group of gamers.  While I have fond memories of the old titles and the MW Trilogy in particular I must say that at this point the feeling of not wanting eachother is mutual.

COD IS DEAD

Are You A Cheeser? Signs You Are An Exploit Abuser And How To Save Yourself

Hi, my name is Outspoknpoet and I am a cheeser.  (At least, that’s how I think it would go if we were forced to attend a support group for using game exploits.)

im-baking-like-a-toasted-cheeser

I am a bit old school in my views of video games.  If there is something in the game that makes it easier to beat a CPU opponent, it is meant to be used… and maybe (always) abused.  For those of you that consider yourself an untouchable ‘purist’ that has never and will never use an exploit in a game I have two things to tell you.

1 – That’s BS and you know it.

2 – You are the gaming version of a hipster, congratulations.

Now that we have covered those bases, here is a quick definition from my point of view that covers what it means to be ‘cheesing’ and therefore makes you a ‘cheeser’.  Cheesing is simply defined as using a feature or mechanic in a video game in a way that exploits the AI in a way that it wasn’t necessarily intended to be used.

For instance, a few years ago I posted a video that showed the broken trade logic in Madden 12 and how you could use it to essentially trade for every single first round pick in franchise mode at the time.

The same goes for gameplay mechanics as well.  If there is a certain part of the game that you are playing where the CPU AI will move and opponent or make the opponent in question do something outside of what you would consider to be smart or normal  and you trigger that to happen if you can – that is cheesing.

Also, in sports games (especially Madden) there is a tremendous problem with cheesing that not only occurs against the CPU, but also against real-world opponents online and on local console match-ups.  A prime example of this in Madden (which seemingly hasn’t been fixed going into Madden 19) is almost every version of the screen pass.  It not only locks certain animations into motion, but it almost always guarantees a long gain on the play.  Those of you that have played Madden Ultimate Team know what I am talking about.  I would venture to say that most of us have used this more than a few times.  Here is an example…

Now, for those of you that get the picture.  Here are a few ways you can fix the problem on your end.

  1. Don’t use the play or the exploit – it really is that simple.
  2. In Madden, set up house rules for playcalling, running a certain exploit play once a game (or once a half) is a good start.
  3. Stream your games for others to watch.  Assuming you aren’t doing a speed-run (which is basically built on exploits, sigh) this kind of thing will keep you honest because there are witnesses.
  4. If it’s a difficulty thing and it can be changed (All Madden is known for making the CPU into a cheesing (if not completely cheating) AI.  I have found that setting it to All-Pro and making the sliders a bit less forgiving can be helpful.
  5. Decide what you want from your gaming experience.  If you are the type that just wants to blast the CPU all day long, go for it… cheese away.  Don’t expect to get a round of applause from your friends or anyone else – it’s your game.  You do you.

ONE THING TO NEVER DO!!!!!

Don’t cheese in online games.  We have all run into people that will use certain plays in sports games or certain tactics, characters, and/or weapons in any amount of other games.  It ruins the experience for everyone (even you) when you are cheating.  It quite simply is super uncool and if it can be proven, you should be banned from playing that game online – thankfully, some developers are taking this seriously.

Have fun out there.  Just don’t be a cheeser.

Toxic Masculinity Is The Elephant In The Gaming Room

Now that EA has released the cover picture and the trailer for Battlefield 5 it is time to look forward what should be another great title in a series that has shown tremendous growth and support over the last decade plus.

The trailer features gameplay that includes women in warzones during World War 2.  Apparently, this kind of inclusion of women in a game that doesn’t feature them as busty sex objects is offensive to boys that have aged towards becoming mediocre adults that would like to think they are manly.  They have an obvious misunderstanding of what it means to be a man.  It is worth talking about this because it is still something that we clearly need to continue working on in larger ways than hashtags and such.

battlefield-v-reacts-1528675166832

A lot of the anger is that they are showing women in combat roles.  The feelings are obviously misplaced and those that try to justify it use the weak excuse of ‘historical accuracy’.  What they seem to forget is that women and minority groups have largely been written out of history in order to preserve the societal idiocy that continues to push an often white male narrative.  For evidence of this, here is an article about a badass woman named Aethelflaed that was nearly written out of history.

Sadly, there are some rather loud personalities coming out of the digital cesspool so they can get attention for being the worst kind of person they can be.  The disgusting and uninformed posts are easy enough to find if you want to read them.  I won’t link to any of them because they don’t deserve the clicks – or the time of anyone.

It’s been almost four years since I had to tackle this topic head-on (link here) and it still leaves me stunned for some weird reason that insecure males are so proficient at existing in their little bubble of idiocy.  Part of me is holding out hope that most of these personalities are Russian trolls that are trying to sow hate and discontent within the gaming community.  Part of me knows that these people actually exist.  It makes me sad to think that there are still people out there that raise their kids with the poisonous vitriol that eventually becomes an adult with destructively ugly misogynistic beliefs and a loud mouth to go with it.

All of this said… I have to end on a positive note.

EA has impressed me with their response (link here) to the trolls by telling them that they aren’t the kind of gamers they want anyway.  I like this move because it finally shows that positive steps are being made at the top and it’s not just some sort of grassroots movement with empty hashtags and tweets.  It’s vital for companies to continue making these statements and decisions because it tells the loud boys that they aren’t needed in the first place.

No Internet, No Problem – Planning For Gaming When Online Isn’t An Option

In the coming weeks I will be experiencing something that I haven’t had to deal with in over a decade.  I will be without a broadband connection for gaming.  It isn’t necessarily something that I’m upset about, as it is providing me with the opportunity to live in the geographic region I prefer (that of which I also happen to call ‘home’).  While I will most certainly be alleviated of this lacking high-speed internet connection in the hopefully near future as well – I believe this is a great time to throw this situation into the wild.

Initially, I thought that the most negative aspect of this situation was going to be not having the opportunity to play games like Battlefield and Call of Duty online with multiplayer components.  Then it occurred to me that the primary downfall to this is the fact that I have purchased quite a few games digitally.  This essentially makes it next to impossible for me to download any of these games while I am without a connection.  So, Madden 18, MLB 17, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and WW2, the list goes on… will have to be downloaded and installed before going back home.

This situation is one that many gamers don’t have to think about often.  However, it is worth considering which games you’d like to have installed in an internet armageddon situation.

witcher3

As it stands for myself, I have to consider first and foremost deleting the digitial  games that I only play online – Call of Duty and Battlefield – I’ll see you when I have internet once again.  The next to go will be any game that I have played out for the foreseeable future – Madden 18, I wish I could say you were worth keeping (maybe when they fix CFM in 2053).

Which games are left at this point?

My digital purchases in terms of single player games is rather limited (fortunately).

So, welcome to the download family – Deus Ex – Mankind Divided, Just Cause 3, and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

These are all games I own digitally and have yet to beat the story mode within.  I wish I could say I was driven to finish the campaign for Battlefield 1 and COD WW2, but seriously – these are games I wish I could buy the Multiplayer separately for anyway.  Speaking of – I think $30 for these games with only the online multiplayer would be a great way of doing things someday.

Personally, one reminder and the main suggestion I will make is to download the biggest open world games you have with all of their DLC.  That should at least make it somewhat easier to decide some of the first games to take care of prior to moving.

Which games would you download if you were going to be without the internet for gaming?

I must say my first vote will be The Witcher 3 with all of the DLC, followed closely by Skyrim and Fallout 4.

Post your comments below.

The Intervention – When You Abandon Your Games

Every time a new game comes out I am faced with a weird sort of confrontation when I go to put the new case next to the other games/cases in my library.

It turns into some kind of intervention experience where games I have not yet completed get a chance to have a brief face to face (or case to face?) meeting with me.  With Mass Effect Andromeda coming out in the next few days I decided to make space on my PS4 hard drive and rearrange my games with the slight OCD that I typically have for my media.  It was at this moment I realized that I will have about eight months to play through some of the titles I own before Red Dead Redemption 2 comes out and makes me feel the same way I do right now.

Today I am going to do something I think a lot of gamers should do once they have a large library and consequently a decent amount of games they own that they have yet to complete (at least in regards to the single player experience).

I think the first thing that most should do is decide which games you have the most interest in actually playing through.  While this seems easy to do you shouldn’t forget that there is probably a reason you haven’t beaten these games yet.  For myself the first aspect is determining why I bothered buying a title to begin with. Did I buy the game for multiplayer or did I buy it for the story (and other quests, etc.) and which cost me the most money – yes, the financial aspect actually matters to me.  The other aspect is why I stopped playing through the game to begin with.  That actually comes into play in a bigger way that will be covered later.

My list of PS4 games I have yet to beat includes –

Dark Souls 3, Dragon Age Inquisition, Murdered – Soul Suspect, Dark Souls 2, Shadow of Mordor, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare.

Dark Souls 3 is a game that I decided to jump into because I had finally beaten Bloodborne.  The problem with this is the fact that I never played more than 20 minutes into another Souls game.  I somehow managed to beat a few bosses on Dark Souls 3 before getting stuck in some church area on the edge of a bog and a castle/fort.  The fact that I am inexperienced in the lore of this game is also something that eats at me.  I see so many references on the Dark Souls reddit page that I just don’t understand.  So many aspects of leveling weapons, wearing certain rings, doing all sorts of things that are a complete mystery to me and then make me feel like quitting before I start it back up.  I wish I could say I’d beat this game someday with any sort of confidence, but I really don’t know that I will have the patience needed to deal with beating the third game in a trilogy that I never experience the beginning or middle of in almost any real way.

Dragon Age is a game I that I never got into for whatever reason.  I think it’s primarily because every time I find the desire to play it there is a new game available in the same type of fantasy realm that is a bit less cumbersome.  I own Dragon Age Origins on my 360 and Inquisition on my PS4.  Both games were purchased pre-owned and for a rather cheap price (both were under $10 if memory serves correctly, maybe even closer to $5).  They were also both purchased around the time I was starting or finishing Skyrim, The Witcher 3, and Bloodborne.  Once I tried to play Dragon Age it felt like I was being punished or relegated to some sort of half-cocked in-between of The Witcher 3 and Skyrim. That doesn’t change the fact that I feel like I am missing out on a huge world and a hopefully big story from BioWare. 

Murdered – Soul Suspect was a game I bought for the hell of it.  I placed a $1.50 bid on eBay and won the game (with free shipping as well).  It was clearly an early PS4 release as the graphical presentation wasn’t much to brag about.  I did enjoy the concept of an original story and a game that tore at the edges of a new experience in storytelling.  The only problem was that I got stuck in a part of the game that became more annoying than it should have been.  Between possessing a cat and trying to avoid some sort of SquareSoft version of Harry Potter dementors I lost interest and the general desire to finish the game.

Dark Souls 2 was purchased mostly because I want to play through the games and join whatever club exists that allows us to reference the ‘sun bro’ with a wink and a nod (no, I don’t know what the Sun Bro stuff means… but I want to).  The biggest problem I have with Dark Souls 2 is that it feels so clunky and slow compared to Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3.  It really is as simple as that.  I find it hard to play through a game that is almost prohibitively difficult and when it isn’t enjoyable, it makes it all the less desireable.

Shadow of Mordor was a game that I had wanted for a long time.  My friend actually bought it for me on my 33rd birthday last year.  I played about 5-6 hours of the game before I realized that it was a Lord of the Rings version of Assassin’s Creed.  Actually, I realized that aspect early on in the game.  What took me a bit longer to decide was whether or not I cared to finish the story once I had started playing through.  The answer was a big fat ‘no’.  I will beat this game at some point, hopefully… I tend to feel that way about games and books bought for me by friends and family.  It is almost as if you owe them more than yourself.  But Shadow of Mordor is a game that will have to wait until after Dark Souls 2 and 3.  So, it might be awhile.

Battlefield 1 is a game I bought for the multiplayer.  Face it, EA DICE isn’t really known for putting together any sort of compelling story for their Battlefield series.  Bad Company was decent enough in some ways, but I can’t think of any reason other than trophies to play through the campaign of Battlefield.  Every time I start to play though any of the single player aspects of this game I feel like I am missing better opportunities to experience ‘Only In Battlefield’ moments… which is why I still own Battlefield 4 as well.

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare.  Seriously, if you played through Black Ops 3 and finished it without rolling your eyes off the top of your head… I would say you deserve a congratulatory pat on the back, but I really think you might need a hug.  I got Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition for two reasons… It was on sale for $40 (which $35 was covered by selling my Final Fantasy XV) and because I all but worshiped the Modern Warfare series.  The only reason Infinite Warfare is installed on my PS4 is because it is required to play Modern Warfare Remastered (talk about a desperate attempt at getting someone to play through another garbage single player experience in COD).  I would rather play through Modern Warfare Remastered’s single player campaign instead of Infinite Warfare – that should tell you how interested I am in their stupid attempt to be more like Halo that they ever should have.

Now that that is settled, I am somehow less interested in beating any of these games and more excited about Mass Effect – Andromeda. 

Which games in your library are on your list of ‘To Beat’?