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.

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.

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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.

Madden 16 – Info Release Coming In May

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Starting on May 8 – it will be time for Madden news.

Some of it has already started as EA Announced the August 25th release date.

For many sports fans it is either the first month of baseball or playoff season for basketball and hockey.

For the rest of us it will always be football season.  This might be why as soon as the Super Bowl is over people are already in full ‘NFL Draft Mode’.  For people like myself (Browns fans) we are already prepping for the next draft before this draft is even over.  It seems that Madden is following the guidelines of those kinds of teams when it comes to improving the game.  Sure, they might have a decent season that surprises us (Madden 10 and Madden 25), but largely they are expected to finish with a losing record (Madden 06-09 and 11-13).

Madden seems to to take one step forward and two steps back annually.  While they implemented much needed changes to Connected Franchise Mode last year, it was still sorely lacking once you got into the guts of the mode.  Many of the contract negotiations were too easy and some of the retirements and signings were just flat out strange.

My biggest pet peeve as a staunch CFM player was the player progression.  By the time you get to your 5th or 6th season you will have on average 4-5 players on every team rated 90+ OVR.  It is frustrating for me to so easily build the Browns into a contender and 4-time Super Bowl winners by the 2019 season.

Second biggest pet peeve…?  Easy – The in-game NFL Draft.  It seems that every year that goes by they throw little changes into this and it is still disappointing.  The presentation is lacking as Schefter seems to say the same stuff about players every 2-3 seasons.  Then there are the teams that take a QB after already having two that are 80+ on the roster.  The list goes on and on, but what makes it hilarious at this moment is the fact that EA released their own Mock Draft (which doesn’t even exist on any Madden game).  There seemed to be logic in some of those picks – of course they took Crab Legs Winston #1 Overall.  He sounds like a generated rookie from Madden after all.

Stay tuned for the Madden 16 info as it is released!

Madden 15 – How To Keep CFM Fresh Until The Next Release

As much as I find it easy to troll EA and Tiburon for their annual cloneware – Madden 15 was the best Madden to date.  That said, it still gets to me that they don’t update rosters after the Super Bowl.  This has left many users to create roster updates and even add newly drafted players to teams in order to replicate what is happening in the league as far as rosters go.

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If you have followed NoobTubeTV over the last few years you will know that I almost exclusively play Offline Connected Franchise Mode.  Moreover, you will know that I almost always use my Cleveland Browns.  Even after finding the perfect sliders and gameplay tweaks CFM will get rather boring after a few seasons.

It is incredibly easy to build up a team into a juggernaut.  You simply need to invest in players that are between 20-26 years old that fit your play-style and keep them to minimum contracts until they are 30.  It is a widely known fact that EA has told Madden gamers that players will start to decline once they hit that age threshold.  Knowing how easy it is to relatively deal with the age issues of players and dominate with your team after a season or two of development it won’t be much of a shock to hear about people trading Madden in while they can still get some decent credit for it or simply leave it on the shelf to collect dust.  Here are a few tips on how to keep your CFM fresh.

  1. Max Contacts – Figure out your favorite players on Offense and Defense and make them fixtures on your team for the rest of their career.  In my case I had to choose between Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel.  Both players were 99 OVR by the time I got to the 2016 season and I decided to sign Johnny for the biggest amount of money and years (I believe it was 7 years, $140 million).  This will help make your salary cap management a bit tougher as you choose who to build your team around.
  2. Don’t Scout Draft Prospects – It really is this simple.  Don’t scout a single prospect during the season and you will quickly realize that what was once an incredibly easy draft process is more like real-life.  It will become more of a lottery system for your team and you won’t be able to find those ‘not so hidden’ gems in later rounds.
  3. Give The CPU More In Trades – It seems that trade logic in sports games has decided to take a nose-dive in realism.  NBA 2K actually has a trade difficulty slider (Madden needs this in the worst way!).  Do not shirk the CPU for their Draft Picks or certain players you know are franchise quality.
  4. One Draft Pick Per Round (At most) – It is far too easy (as stated in #3) to load up on 10-15 draft picks every season.  Make it a personal rule that you will not have more than one pick per round for every draft.  This will prevent you from pwning the draft year-in, year-out.  Madden has some of the dumbest draft logic in all of sports gaming, so don’t act like you really have to worry about the CPU.
  5. Coach Mode – This is something I have yet to do myself.  Simply call the plays for your team, snap the ball and let the AI take care of the rest.  This will make you look at your players in a different light and might even change the way you build your team.

Will New Rules In NFL Change Madden?

In case you haven’t been paying attention.  The internet almost blew up yesterday when the NFL announced that they were implementing a new rule against players lowering their heads in the open field to either run over a defender or tackle an opposing player.  It was then that I started to wonder how this would effect Madden NFL games, in this case primarily the ‘Truck Stick’.

The Truck Stick was added into Madden 06 after the Hit Stick was put into Madden 05 (back when EA still cared about defense in their games).  The Truck Stick is essentially pressing the Right Analog stick forward while running the ball with a power back in order to run over an approaching defender.  If you consider the fact that this animation has been in Madden for around eight years it is going to be interesting to see if they get rid of the truck stick in Madden 25 (aka – Madden 14).  If they don’t get rid of the animation they will have to implement some sort of

penalty detection in the game to keep the NFL happy.  Chances are good that they will simply remove the ability altogether in order to 1) Avoid more work in an already broken penalty system and 2) Make their exclusive license partners happy.

Now that the tuck rule is being taken away, should we see more actual fumbles in Madden?  Chances are good that you will still see your defenders get hurt while sacking the QB but to think that you will be able to get a fumble call on a big hit ‘while throwing’ might just be a pipe dream.

You might say that I am jaded and totally biased against EA Sports and Madden.  In some cases I would say you are 100% correct… but in reality, I have bought the game every year on release day since Madden 08.  In some cases I have actually enjoyed some aspects of the game.  Madden 13 kept me happy for the most part, but it was the little things that turned me off.  Little things include bad animations, poor blocking, non-existent real injuries, bad playcalling, etc.  I am like many football fans out there that are considered to be 2K fanboys or Madden haters – we just want good and more importantly real football.

As the NFL works harder to make football into some sort of human bumper car game I am hoping that at some point we will get real football video games again.  2K – where are you?

Madden 25 – Six Months Out

Now that the NFL Combine has started there will be a few weeks of excitement before the actual NFL Draft and the announcement of who will be on the cover of Madden 25.  Until that time comes, we are going to take a look at what this game looks like from the standpoint of ‘what is already known’.

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The first aspect of Madden that most fans are interested in is whether Connected Careers Mode will be updated and fixed.  CCM was a step in a somewhat new direction for Madden and while it provided many gamers with a new wave of interest in playing multiple seasons it also presented new problems and brought into focus (yet, again) some of the biggest short-comings of Madden.

  • Trades Are Still Broken – In case you haven’t noticed, you can trade away your draft picks and easily get between seven and ten future first round draft picks.  Player for player trades are a bit more difficult to pull off but that isn’t enough to save the atrocious draft pick trade logic that still plagues this game.
  • O-Line/D-Line Interaction – Every time I play Madden it feels more like I am playing Tecmo Super Bowl and the linemen are going through the suction motions.  This is certainly one aspect of gameplay that 2K mastered back in NFL2K5 and All Pro Football 2K8.
  • Commentary – Phil Simms is a jack-ass.  Okay, this isn’t something limited to Madden (as he exhibits this in every broadcast in ‘real life’) but his commentary is often out of place and even hypocritical.  When a Quarterback gets sacked from the blind side (Enter your Sandra Bullock joke here) he will say one of two phrases “Boy do they hurt” and then he will say a few plays later “They don’t hurt at all”.  Which is it Phil?…  or rather – Madden Devs?
  • Injuries – One of the most annoying aspects of Madden is that it doesn’t have realistic injuries.  While the NFL is trying to make it seem like football is safe, we know otherwise.  EA needs to make a decision as to whether they are going to make a representation of real football or some sort of football farce.

Keep your eyes and ears open as Madden 25 starts the annual hype machine.  You are destined to get excited and eventually let down by the beginning of September.  If you want a sports game that will make you feel like Madden is lacking – go get MLB 13 the show next week.

What Does The Madden Name Change Mean?

What’s in a name?  Apparently EA Sports thinks the 25th anniversary of Madden is deserving of a trip to the social security office for a tweak in the name.

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Madden 25 was just announced to be the official name of the only NFL game coming out this year (just like it has been since Madden 06).  The only thing that might have made people happy was hearing that the developer was working on Madden 2K14.  Keep dreaming.

Chances are good that Madden 25 will also signify a change-over in consoles just like the switch from Madden 2005 to Madden 06 also greeted the next hardware generation.  The idea of a new console is always exciting because of the possibilities in graphics and physics; but if one thing is certain we can expect one thing to dull our expectations for new software – bare bones games.

Madden 25 for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 will most likely prove to be another slight tweak or change from Madden 13.  Maybe there will be a few new animations or the ball will be a shade darker or smaller.  Otherwise, you shouldn’t expect much to change.  The new consoles that are rumored to be coming out this Christmas will most likely be priced between $400 and $500 with a pipe-dream hope of $300.  The unfortunate truth is that most of the games that will be released with the consoles will be bare bones in their offerings.  If you played Madden 06 or any of the other games that came out with the current generation you will notice how lacking they are in features.  Also, many of them don’t take advantage of the graphical capabilities of the console.

This isn’t a complaint at all.  It is merely a point to be raised in order to lower expectations for the next generation.  Not to mention the cynical view that Madden hasn’t changed many things in the 25 years it has existed.

Would love to hear from the fan boys out there.  2K and Madden alike.

Keep it civil.