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.

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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!

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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’?

The Difference Between ‘Versus’ & ‘And’ – FPS Games

A few years ago EA/DICE released Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 as their preemptive attack on the hearts and minds of modern combat FPS gamers. This move was largely in response to the Call of Duty Modern Warfare regime breaking all sorts of sales records and taking a huge number of gamers hostage in their fast paced and crispy arcade-style shooter.

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That’s also where the similarities and battle between games stops in its tracks.

Battlefield 4 came out in late 2013 and still has a base of over 60,000 gamers across consoles and PC. Call of Duty releases a new game annually through one of three developers and they are widely considered the preeminent shooter when it comes to gaming these days. Where COD continues to try and freshen up a game with jump boosting and wall running, Battlefield continues to refine gameplay and tighten up on the stability of their online experience.

A lot of gamers jumped into the imaginary mosh pit of COD vs. BF a few years ago when the developers seemed to be at war. It was like they thought they had to choose sides. As time has passed and gamers grew into their habitats for shooter preference it became clear that these games weren’t at war directly from a gaming perspective. While they were certainly at war on the corporate end of EA vs. Activision they were on different planets otherwise.

Call of Duty has a more crisp feeling to its controls and handling. I compare it very much to Halo in this regard. You aren’t going to feel much recoil in the control or screen presentation – ever. It is also much like Halo, focused on maps that are largely centered on infantry based combat. Halo does have its fair share of vehicles, etc… and we will stop the mentions right there.

Battlefield has always felt slower and a bit more difficult to master when it came to aiming and firing weapons because almost every weapon felt different from recoil to carrying speed to aiming in general. Battlefield is closer to a simulation than Call of Duty will ever be. It isn’t a good or bad thing… it is just a fact.

That is why we are looking back to Battlefield 3/4 and now forward to Battlefield 5. It is my hope that Activision will release another crappy iteration of Ghosts and I will be able to save $60 to put towards the premium edition of Battlefield instead. This is because when it comes to
Battlefield and Call of Duty it will occasionally result in Battlefield versus a crappy COD game.

As for Battlefield Hardline, Medal of Honor War Fighter… etc… well, COD had my time and money during that time. Personally, I’m tired of booster jumping and wall running.

Granted… I’m also an OG when it comes to gaming, so maybe I should set aside my bias.

Yeah… nope.

Dear Call of Duty Modern Warfare – Please Come Back We Miss You

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I know some gamers out there would blow up every Call of Duty (COD) game in the world if they could. Personally, I can only think of a few I genuinely couldn’t stand (COD 3, World at War, Black Ops and Ghosts). I have enjoyed most of the other titles quite a bit. My favorites have always been the collection of the Modern Warfare Trilogy.

These titles were not only great campaigns (albeit a bit predictable) but they had hands down, the best multiplayer experiences I ever had in a COD game. The maps were usually well designed with the occasional spawn camping nightmares that would see me rage quit pretty fast. Even with the spawning issues these titles held up well. My favorite part about the move into Modern Warfare (COD4) was that it introduced kill streaks. I loved the simple 3, 5, 7 system that made every map feel like there was potential to get a UAV, Air Strike and Helicopter. They were basic and didn’t typically overshadow the battling on the map between the players.

Eventually, we got to dive into MW2 and experience the best maps, the best weapons and some of the best kill streaks ever. The only aspect that seems negative in retrospect is the introduction of the tactical nuke on top of the growing trend if overpowered killstreaks. Don’t get me wrong… I loved the AC-130 and the Pavelow, but these were game-changers for the future of overpowered killstreaks.

Even with these gains I looked forward to MW3 and it didn’t disappoint, but it also didn’t impress me much on the map end of things. They seemed uninspired at best and the kill streaks felt stale.  This is something that seems to have become a habit and legacy issue of late… not to mention the weak campaigns over the last four games after MW3… and that doesn’t seem like a trend that will end any time soon.

I truly miss the smooth handling and true battles I felt like were possible on Modern Warfare before they started adding jump boosting and wall running. Now they are adding overpowered killstreaks to a game that doesn’t need any sort of additional reason to make Call of Duty into a caricature of itself. Be it the mini-tank or the robot soldier or the HATR that shows the location and movement of every opponent in real time… these are all overpowered and take away from what Call of Duty used to be back in Modern Warfare.

Maybe I am the curmudgeon of gaming and dream of yesteryear a bit too much. I don’t think that is the case. I truly believe it’s time for Call of Duty to go back to its roots. Make it a battle between players with weapons moving around maps. Take the AI out of it and bring back Modern Warfare.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Vs. Battlefield Hardline – Is The Battle Over Before It Begins?

Over the past couple years I have been eager to buy-in when it came to Battlefield over Call of Duty.

That has changed.

Say what you want about hating Call of Duty, but this rendering of Kevin Spacey alone made me want to buy the game months ago.
Say what you want about hating Call of Duty, but this rendering of Kevin Spacey alone made me want to buy the game months ago.

Now that Call of Duty has started to go in a direction that looks closer to Halo multiplayer gameplay than ever I have to give credit where credit is due.  They are at least going in a slightly different direction.  They have continued to tweak the perk system and showcase the same solid gameplay – albeit arcade(ish).  Is there bullet-drop?  No.  Then again, there aren’t many maps in the history of Call of Duty that would really need to account for that type of simulation.  Then again, you should know that going into the annual release of this title.

If you consider the fact that Call of Duty has been able to consistently deliver a blockbuster movie quality story mode since the release of COD4 in 2007 – there aren’t many shooter games that compare.  Advanced Warfare looks like it will continue this amazing success with the inclusion of Kevin Spacey as the primary antagonist.  As much as I wanted to hate on this game after the disappointment that was Ghosts, I have to admit – Advanced Warfare has made me a believer.

On the other hand, Battlefield Hardline has lost me.  I have been a huge fan of Battlefield since Bad Company 2 (especially the Vietnam Map Pack).  Battlefield 3 and 4 had me rather addicted to solid relative simulation gameplay (it really isn’t much different from Call of Duty if you are honest with yourself).  The problem with Battlefield is that it has become progressively worse in terms of single player campaign and server issues (especially at release).

What are the issues with Hardline?

First – they are trying to make this game feel like Rainbow 6 or Counterstrike.  The problem with that is that it is a game called BATTLEFIELD… not Battlezone or Battlebuilding.

Second – The idea that plastering the monicker of ‘Battlefield’ onto this game in order sell units is insulting – albeit, probably true.

Be honest – if this were called Medal of Honor – Hardline would you (or anyone else) buy it?  Hell no.

EA has pushed the Battlefield series to become more and more focused on online multiplayer rather than single player and that is fine and good.  However, we are now going into our third iteration of a Battlefield title that doesn’t pick up on the intriguing story of the guys in Bad Company.  You have to start wondering if Hardline is going to be another throw-away title like Medal of Honor – Advanced Warfighter.

The problem with that is they are now connecting the ‘Battlefield’ name with presumed failure – and that could spell the end for whatever they gained from a terrible year for Call of Duty with Ghosts in 2013/14.

I have bought in when it comes to Call of Duty Advanced Warfare.  So much so that I traded in Destiny towards the pre-order (that is a different discussion altogether).  Mark my words – Call of Duty Advanced Warfare is going to dominate FPS sales this fall and you are getting ready to see the fall of Battlefield as a respectable series.  I don’t wish COD to fall on it’s face, but I do wish Battlefield would actually return to the Bad Company storyline rather than another half-assed Medal of Honor game masquerading as a Battlefield title.

Titanfall – Will It Swing The Console Battle?

Now that we are only hours from the release of 360/XB1/PC exclusive Titanfall there are many in the gaming community that may be seeing this as the first launch of a next-Gen console missile strike of sorts.  Titanfall is developed by the former founders of Call of Duty’s Infinity Ward.  While this might already drive many to consider this game as some sort of ‘sci-fi/mech COD’ doesn’t  seem to veer from that as it is only for online multi-player action.

Titanfall is the first major post-launch console exclusive for next-gen systems.
Titanfall is the first major post-launch console exclusive for next-gen systems.

Titanfall is also coming out on XBox 360 as well as the newer XBox One.  This might be one of the more frustrating aspects for gamers that noticed a drastic drop in quality of development of games like Battlefield 4 when comparing console performance.  Titanfall has amazed many eager gamers with videos and other announcements that make this game something new in the shooter market.  It isn’t as if there has been a shortage of shooter games over the last eight years of 360/PS3.  Some have been stellar (COD, Halo, Battlefield and Gears of War).  Others have fallen flat (MAG, Frontlines, Unreal Tournament and the list goes on).

Now, on the eve of the first real battle of the next-gen console war we are getting ready to see if Titanfall will be a dramatic success or a colossal failure.