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.
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.
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:
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 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/
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.
Thanks to Nintendo re-releasing the NES Classic mini-console, the Shmees were able to get our hands on one, and we have been having a lot of fun with it. The thirty games on the console contain most of the classics you would want, and the emulation does a great job of upscaling the games for modern TVs, so everything looks the way you remember. Instead of some stretched out blurred nightmare. The menu is simple, and now you can save any game on the console, which is nice.
However, not everything is perfect. The cord for the controller that comes with the NES Classic is waaaay too short, so you will have to get an extension or invest in a wireless controller. Plus it only comes with one of them, but the biggest issue is that there is no way to add games to the system. If you were hoping to play Ninja Turtles or Metal Gear, you are out of luck, unless you hack the little box. The included games are the only thirty games the NES Classic will ever play.
It is baffling in the era of the internet that there isn’t a game store for this machine. Sure, Nintendo is already making a ton of money off of the NES Classic, but think how much more it could make selling branded SD cards for storage and extra games for $10 a pop. They would be rolling in dough. This is even truer for the SNES Classic that only has twenty-one games, and none of them is Chrono Trigger (NOT EVEN ONE!).
For $60 the NES Classic is a good deal, and a ton of fun to play with. Even if the nostalgia for some of the games does tend to wear off. It is just a shame they couldn’t make a controller cable more than four feet long, and have a way for us to add more games to complete our NES era collection.
A while ago I complained that Ghost Recon: Wildlands has a tone issue. It is a very serious setting, but in all actuality it is a co-op version of Grand Theft Auto: Bolivia, but with higher powered weapons. The Division has the same problem: New York is a wasteland after almost being wiped out by a bio-terror attack, and people are struggling to survive. Which is a great setting for a third person looter similar to Borderlands, but with cover based shooting. I mean someone has to go in and murder all those people that are looting and then take all their stuff for themselves.
The Division is all about getting better items so you can shoot bigger bad guys and then in turn get better items. All the while your character gets more and more ridiculous. I mean look at this majestic neon trash Mounty:
She has matching neon striped guns and backpack, with purple headphones, and not seen, yellow shoes that she got from giving a sick homeless person a can of pop (like in the real world, the only reason to help the needy is to get cool clothes). She might look odd now, but trust me, she could be crazier, and yes that icon by her gun does mean she has a turret that shoots taser bullets.
Listen, The Division is a fun game, and looter genre has a great loop. Getting guns and gear with bigger numbers and cooler abilities is very fun and addicting. I am just tired of Ubisoft making these super serious worlds and putting silly games in them. If you are going to have a looter in New York why not do a future version of The Warriors, and then have a bunch of crazy themed gangs (The Division’s flame thrower wielding Cleaners not withstanding). That way the player will at least feel good about what he is doing in a trashed version of the Big Apple, but no, we get a sad and haunting story mixed with zany gameplay, again. Ubisoft’s games are good, but they just need to stop trying to be so serious.