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.

Advertisements

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.

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?


Call of Duty Black Ops 4 – Welcome Back Old Friend

Call of Duty – Black Ops 4 has brought me back to the franchise in a strong way.

I hadn’t planned on buying Black Ops 4 at all.  Not simply because the lack of a story mode (the last three iterations of Call of Duty games had some of the worst campaigns of the entire franchise).  I was holding back because I was skeptical when it came to how they would provide $60 of fun out of the box (or, digitally, in my case).

My first dive into the game was Blackout, the clone of Fortnite and PUBG in terms of open map Battle Royale.  I had played this mode in the beta only a month or so prior and was underwhelmed.  It felt like it was simply a sniper fest and it made me wonder if Treyarch would have the follow-through to support the game in a way that meant balancing some aspects.

They did.

Sniper rifles are still powerful weapons (rightfully so) but, they are also somewhat challenging to come across.  Then you have the task of finding a good scope for the weapon on top of all the other aspects you need to take care of – backpack, armor, ammunition, health packs, etc.  The best part about this is that it is all relatively enjoyable to do once you have played a few games of solo.  The real fun begins when you start to team up with other gamers.

3393766-call-of-duty-black-ops-4-pre-order-guide

Blackout is at it’s best when you are playing as a team (both Duo and Quad are enjoyable in different ways).  Teams will live and die by communication and skill.  Develop a strategy before you deploy and execute that strategy once you land.  It seems simple when stated like that, but it can prove to be difficult if you have a team member that decides to go rogue Rambo.  I have played my fair share of matches in both Quads and nothing is more frustrating from the team angle than having someone that either doesn’t communicate on their microphone or simply goes out and tries to shoot at every enemy they see (most of the time, I have found that those that do one of these do both).

The most refreshing aspect of playing in Quad teams and Duos is you suddenly meet all sorts of friendly people that would probably be saying nasty things to you in other modes like Team Deathmatch and Domination.  At first, I was a bit worried about how the interactions would go, but I was more than pleasantly surprised when it came to how often I have had great teammates in terms of being generally easy to get along with – talk about a change from the norm that ends up being a great thing.

While I have had a great time with Blackout and will continue to play the mode it does leave a bit to be desired when it comes to customizing your character with the stock game.  Regular multi-player is a different beat altogether.  You get all of the weapon camo and appearance customization you want (whether you buy some or simply earn it through the natural progression of the game is up to you).  I’m not the type of gamer that lives and dies by getting diamond bling camo on my weapons.  I simply try to live and not die in the game.  I will take skill and victory over decoration any day of the week.  However, it is still a difference worth mentioning when it comes to Blackout vs. Multiplayer.

Multiplayer is still in need of some balancing when it comes to certain weapons.  My experience with assault rifles has been less than enjoyable most of the time.  It seems that the stopping power of assault rifles is on par with side-arms, making them more like longer range pistols than assault weapons.  The opposite can be said in general for pistols (oddly enough).  I have been one-shotted by more pistols from a long range than I care to number in Hardcore TDM.

The other aspect of frustration that seems to always exist is getting spawn camped by teams that know how to take advantage of relatively small or bottlenecked maps.  I have been killed within 2 seconds of spawning quite a few times.  More often than not, it will result in simply quitting out of the game rather than subjecting myself to going 3 and 17… that kind of Kill:Death ratio is quite frustrating to deal with as a noob, as a seasoned player – it’s ridiculous.  The other point of annoyance that seems to be a mainstay for COD is quick scoping.  It is back and annoying as ever.  Just go in to your games knowing that there will most likely be a sniper camping for you with a quick trigger finger ready to deliver rage quits.  My best advice for this is to learn each of the maps, find the sniping spots and learn how to flank or avoid them.  While I have experienced some of the YouTube montage clowns I have been happy to see that most of the snipers are at least using mid to long range attacks for the most part to this point.

The specialist abilities and kill streaks are quite a bit of fun to roll with this year.  I must say you will quickly come to despise Ajax and his shield as well as Prophet and his Roomba from hell.  There are some rather enjoyable experiences from these specialists that I didn’t typically appreciate back in Black Ops 3 as they do seem well balanced for a game that has always tended to breed exploiters that find any way to cheat to gain an edge.

If you were on the fence about buying Black Ops 4 (or if you were totally against it because of the last couple games) you might change your mind this time around.

Just remember that this game is primarily online multiplayer and there is no story mode/campaign.

If you need a new teammate in Blackout on the PS4, feel free to send me and invite at PSN = Outspoknpoet!

 

Happy Hunting!

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

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’?