Call Of Duty Goes After PUBG With Blackout!

I was a able to secure a few codes for the ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Blackout’ private beta that happened over the past weekend, and my initial thoughts are that it is a faster less janky PUBG.  There are some things that set it apart: instead of artillery zones there are zombies, the map is smaller, the times between circles are shorter and there is a lot more loot out there, so supply drops are a lot less interesting, but other than that, it is a lot like PUBG.

The rounds start off a lot faster in Blackout with eighty-eight people dropping in to a map that is probably a quarter of the size of either of the two larger PUBG maps, so there are less empty places to hide right off the bat.  Generally you will be shooting at someone when your boots hit the ground, or you will be the one getting shot at.  However, if you can survive the drop and the initial chaos, the familiar hide and seek gameplay that PUBG is known for starts to materialize.

Though just because Blackout is more PUBG than Fortnite doesn’t mean it should be skipped.  It runs at a much higher framerate than PUBG, it looks a lot better, still not great, but better, and if you prefer the shooting mechanics of Call of Duty over those of PUBG, this will feel better.  It just feels more polished over all.

The question is will I be shelling out $60 for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4?  I don’t think so.  It isn’t that much better than PUBG, and I personally don’t like Call of Duty’s zero recoil tinny sounding gunplay.  Plus, I am not a fan the standard Call of Duty multiplayer, or do I need to play the latest zombie mode, and you know future Blackout maps will be stuck behind a DLC paywall.  Which is something about big budget shooters that I have always hated.  In other words, there is still too much Call of Duty attached to Blackout for me to switch.  So for the time being I will be hunting down my chicken dinners in the jank-filled swamps of PUBG.

The Predator Hunts Laughs!

The Predator is back in its first solo outing since 2010.  What is different this time?  It is very silly.  I am not sure that is what Shane Black and co. were going for, but that is what we got.  Imagine a competently directed big budget SyFy Original film.  I am not saying it is as over the top as Sharktopus, but there are some tonal similarities.  For someone like me who enjoys that kind of thing, I had fun, but I can see fans of the franchise being let down.

As far as plot goes there isn’t a lot to talk about with The Predator.  A Predator lands and the government lead by Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) wants his stuff.  Complicating that is Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) and his elite Ranger squad are the first people to come in contact with this new Predator.  A bunch of stuff happens, McKenna gets a newer funnier squad, and the government chases him while he chases the Predator.  Meanwhile Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is there to do science on all of it (and by science I mean shoot guns).

The Predator only has one gear, and it is high.  This movie never really slows down, and if it does, it is usually for Brown and Munn to give us some exposition.  Speaking of Brown, if there is an MTV Movie award for chewing scenery, he is a shoe in.  I mean he is literally chewing all the time, and if he had a mustache, you had better believe he would be twirling it, even though they never give him a motivation for being evil.  I mean all the people he is hunting down would be on his side if he wasn’t trying to kill them, but hey, you can tell he is having the time of his life, and his fun is infectious.

It is obvious that Shane Black wanted to make a riff on the old 80s/90s action movies, like the ones he got his start in, and there is no greater action movie from that era than Predator, but somewhere along the line ‘a riff’ got turned in to a kind of self parody.  Whether that was on purpose or not, it is hard to say, but I am leaning towards ‘not’.  I am also guessing he got a few studio notes that he had to work in to The Predator, which is probably why it feels so overstuffed.

It may sound like I didn’t like The Predator, and to be fair, I am not sure I could call it a ‘good’ film, but I did enjoy myself.  I laughed nonstop, and the movie never slowed down enough for its flaws to really bug me while watching it.  However, if you were looking for it to return to its scary mostly serious roots, you will be disappointed.  In other words, I think in order to have fun watching The Predator you will need to adjust your expectations:  Just go in expecting to watch a glorious SyFy Original.

Shmee Tries Out Battlefield V!

I have been playing around with the Battlefield V open beta, and I am happy to report that things are shaping up nicely.  V is not a large departure from Battlefield 1.  It is more of an incremental update.  The characters move a little faster, you get to spectate your squad before jumping in behind them and everyone having automatic weapons makes a lot more sense.  There are no loot boxes, but I am sure once the game launches that there will be microtransactions for cosmetic items.

The biggest changes are how health and ammo are doled out.  When you spawn you get about two clips worth of shells for your primary weapon, so to get more you will need to pick up rounds off of dead enemies or have really good support players making sure they are running around dropping crates and throwing ammo packs.  The same thing for health.  It doesn’t regenerate as fast, so you can get health packs off of the other team, or hopefully your medic isn’t out there just going for kills.  There are also stations to pick up health and ammo, so if your team isn’t handing everything out efficiently you can memorize where those stations are and make them part of your route.

For most players I don’t think these changes are too much of an issue since they will be out there running and gunning, but it does force scouts and campers to have to relocate to go get ammo more often, or have a squad that can keep them in mind and continue to circle back to drop off supplies for them, so while I can tell you there are still plenty of snipers in Battlefield V, it doesn’t seem as bad as the snipe-fest that is Battlefield 1.

If you were hoping for something totally different for Battlefield V, you may be disappointed, but if you just needed some things tweaked and a bunch of new maps, I think you will be very happy when Battlefield V comes out this November.  It will definitely be on my short list, though I have a feeling Red Dead Redemption 2 will occupy my life for the foreseeable future.

ThePaladin chooses his own adventure at PAX West 2018

Once again we made the pilgrimage to Seattle to return home and be amongst our people. The sights, the sounds, and community are a big part of what makes PAX a unique experience and each year is different. This year was far less focused and random – which isn’t a bad thing. PAX is a place where you make your own fun and because each year brings different vendors, publishers, parties, and panels each PAX takes on a different flavor.

This year we moved from place to place, panel to panel, and party to party. More time was spent in the Expo Hall than in years past and less time in the table top areas. We also ate pretty well Friday night thanks to Red Bull and Bethesda. Unlike years past, there wasn’t one game that captured our attention this year, but there are some honorable mentions:

Due Process

Imagine Counter Strike mixed with Rainbow 6: Siege. You are either a member of the SWAT team attacking or the criminal team defending. Before the assault, teams can draw on the map to formulate their plans and the randomly generated maps offer a number of unique entry points. Also don’t let Shmee get the auto-shotgun. Nerf that combo. You can find out more at http://dueprocess.info/

Roundguard

Roundguard was a game that caught my attention last year at PAX, so I made a beeline for it this year in the PAX Rising booth. I again enjoyed my time being a jumping Rogue through a colorful and fun Peggle-like game. I highly recommend checking them out at http://wonderbellygames.com/

Bloodroots

Finally there is Bloodroots. This is… its… well… you just need to play it. The thing that drew me too it was the smooth and elegant animations. I was then blown away by the frenzied, yet purposeful action that rewarded me for creativity and let me beat someone to death with a fish. Each highlighted item was a new piece of wonder I am excited to explore and discover. Check it out at http://www.bloodrootsgame.com/

Of course there is always more to talk about, like how Forza Horizons 4 just kept a smile on my face, but we’ll leave it at these three. Check them out yourself and come choose your own adventure next year at PAX West.

Shmee Enjoys Mission Impossible’s Fallout!

Mission Impossible: Fallout is the sixth movie in the franchise, and despite that fact the series shows no signs of slowing down.  There are some nukes, and Tom Cruise is going to have to run them down, literarily.  While that may sound like the plot of at least half of the Mission Impossible flicks, it still works, and the movie is impossibly fun.

The past Mission Impossible plots for the most part have been separate from the films that preceded them, with the exception of some comments about Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) relationship status, but Fallout is a direct continuation of the story started in Rogue Nation.  Ethan took out the leader of the Syndicate (Sean Harris), but the Syndicate’s agents are still causing issues, and they want to nuke the world, so the IMF will have to find out who they are and stop them.  If they choose to accept the mission that is.

Listen, people don’t go to the Mission Impossible movies for plot.  They are always convoluted, you can never trust anyone, and there will always be a ticking clock.  However, in between all that they will throw in some of the best action set pieces around.  The stories all deflate with any sort of second look.  Fallout tries to get introspective about why Hunt is doing what he is doing, but we know why.  It is so we can watch him do cool stuff while he saves the day, and all with his signature smile.

What makes this all palatable is his crew.  Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames can be relied upon to narrate the action and deliver quips, and Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust continues be a, ‘can you trust her?’, love interest that can keep up with Hunt’s antics.  She is no damsel.  Which I suppose can be said for all three, yes I said three, of the women who have fallen for Ethan in this movie.

Mission Impossible: Fallout doesn’t stray from the formula that has been working since J.J. Abrams took over the series starting with Mission Impossible III, but it doesn’t need to.  Tom Cruise doing crazy stunts while Simon Pegg makes jokes is immensely watchable.  So much so that I am sure Ethan Hunt will accept his seventh mission.