With Black Ops 4, Call Of Duty Is Now Just Following the Leader

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (aka CoD: BlOps 4) was announced yesterday, and for the first time in a long time Call of Duty is changing things up.  Instead of the usual frantic multiplayer we have been playing for a really (really) long time, it is now 5×5 and adopting roles and unlockable soldiers, so if you were thinking Rainbow 6: Siege by way of Black Ops, you would be right.  Meanwhile instead of a five hour over the top campaign to give the game a focus and a theme, they have instead added a mode called Blackout.  You and dozens of players are dropped in to one map, and the last person/crew surviving wins, AKA PUBG/Fortnite.  The only thing that looks the same is the Zombies mode.

It is clear the well ran dry with the creative team over at Treyarch, so they just looked around and copied what was popular, and what is insane is that it might be working.  I mean this is the first CoD: BlOps I have been interested in, in years.  Battle Royal with helicopters and verticality?  That sounds amazing.  A faster more streamlined Siege?  Yes please!  And co-op zombie killing has always been fun.  I mean it is pretty much just their horde mode anyway.

While it is a shame Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is ditching a lot of what long time fans have come to expect, at least they are copying all the right games.  If they can deliver everything in one well balanced and polished title, it will be hard to say no to.  Being able to switch from Siege to PUBG, and then take on a zombie horde all on the fly with the same group of friends sounds like a lot of fun.  So I will be following CoD: BlOps 4 with great interest.  It may be the one that finally brings me back in to the fold, but only because it stole from all the right people.

If Your Game Needs Co-Op To Be Fun, It Is Not That Good Of A Game

I have been playing some Ghost Recon: Wildlands on and off with my friends and family, and it is great fun to play that way, but it is boring to play by myself.  It is the usual Ubisoft sandbox and icon vomit of a game.  It feels completely uninspired, but add in some friends and all of the sudden I am having a good time.  Mostly because my friends are causing all kinds of chaos, interrupting my well thought out plans, or just generally chatting while we play.

Here is the thing though, almost all things are better with your friends.  Coffee shops are okay by yourself, you can read a book or get some work done, but add in a few friends and it is a much more enjoyable experience.  Hanging out and watching Netflix is better with other people, so it should be no surprise that Icon Hunt: The Game is better with someone crashing a helicopter in to an SUV while you are trying to snipe a couple of narcos.

All I am saying is that for a game to be truly good I should want to play it on my own, and I don’t really get that pull from Ghost Recon: Wildlands.  Other games have this problem as well, but you will always see the comment, “It is really good with a couple of friends.”  You would hope so, since friends make everything better.  It was smart of Ubisoft to include the mode to cover over the issues that Wildlands has, and most games should include co-op if they can, but the game should be the selling point, not your friends.

The War For The Planet Of The Apes Proves There Are No Bad Ideas!

At this point you have either seen the Planet of the Apes prequels, or you are not interested in seeing them, but here is the deal, they are way better than they have any right to be.  War for the Planet of the Apes continues this trend, finishing the trilogy off perfectly.  Though it makes no sense by itself, so if you haven’t watched Rise and Dawn yet, than you really need to because War is the best of the three.  Somehow beating the curse of the third movie.

Since it is hard to review the third movie in a series were they all build on one another, I am instead going to use it to prove a point: For the most part there are no bad ideas.  If someone a decade ago would have come up to me and told me that some of the most thoughtful and well constructed blockbusters of the next ten years would be prequels to the old Planet of the Apes movies, I would have laughed at you.  What a terrible idea, but instead Rupert Wyatt (Director of Rise) and Matt Reeves (Director of Dawn and War) have created something wonderful.  How? By working hard and elevating the material.  Finding ways to explore humanity through the eyes of apes just gaining their sentience, continuing to find new and interesting ways to explore a being’s fight for survival, and the universal importance of family.

That can be true for all movies.  Movies with terrible premises can teach us and entertain us in all sorts novel ways, while movies with the best setups can be utter bores, or slapdash in their execution.  Wyatt and Reeves went the extra mile for movies that most people wouldn’t have given a second thought to, and they were fantastic and should be lauded for that.  All this to say, that I am still not sure I would greenlight a Planet of the Apes prequel if I was sent back in time, but at least it is good to know there are people out there who can make an outrageous idea like that work.  Plus, I am sure having Andy Serkis around always helps too.

My Take On All This Far Cry 5 Nonsense!

The game that has been all over the media these days has been Far Cry 5, and it seems that people either think it is the best game in the series, or the worst one.  What seems to be swaying people one way or the other is how they respond to the main story.  The marketing made it seem like it would tackle America’s hot button issues, but the actual game goes out of its way not to say anything about anything, and since this is a Far Cry game, this shouldn’t have surprised anyone.  Top brass isn’t going to take a chance offending anyone’s political or religious beliefs with a game this big.  They need Far Cry 5 to move a lot of copies to keep the company in the black.

However, I do understand that this can be disappointing.  Especially to players from United States.  To use our problems as marketing, and then not say anything about them is a tough pill to swallow.  It would have been nice to have a major game have an actual point of view.  Any point of view.  Even one a lot of people disagree with, but apparently Far Cry 5 goes out its way to not have one.

Does the Seed family’s religious symbology look a lot like that used by white nationalist extremists? Yes, but the Seeds have multiple African Americans in their ranks, so it is just a coincidence the imagery looks similar I guess?  Do they Seeds seem to worship guns? Yep, but they are being taken down by a bunch of gun loving rednecks all around them.  It almost makes people wonder how the Seeds took over in the first place.  Oh, they are drugging people.  Sure, that is fine.  So it is cool if I, as the player, murder a bunch of drugged up people?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   There doesn’t seem to be an alternative.

Here is the rub.  All Far Cry games are zany and crazy, but this time the craziness has hit our shores, and the story is just an excuse to let loose in Montana with a rocket launcher and a weaponized bear.  If you are okay with that, apparently Far Cry 5 is great.  If the use of current political goings-on for cool posters makes you a little teed off, maybe skip this one, but at least now we know how Bolivia felt when Ghost Recon: Wildlands hypothesized what it would be like if their country was run by a Mexican drug cartel (they threated legal action).

What Fortnite Needs To Do To Beat PUBG!

Epic’s Fortnite has been in development a long time, and then late last year they gave people the chance to enter the beta for the game if they paid $40.  This seemed like a bad deal to me.  $40 to play a free-to-play game early?  I wasn’t the only person who thought so either.  It wasn’t doing very well, plus the fun base building game was walled behind a bunch of F2P mechanics (that your currently have to pay $40 for), so Epic smartly pivoted to something they knew they could do well, copy PUBG and give it away for free.  It worked.  40 Million downloads and 2 Million concurrent players later Fortnite is a hit, but it still is not king of the Battle Royal hill.

PUBG has less downloads, not surprising since Fortnite costs you nothing and PUBG costs $30, but PUBG frequently has over 3 Million concurrent players on Steam alone, and who knows how many Xbox players the game has at a given time, but it is a lot.  In other words, PUBG rules this game space for now, but I think Fortnite can change that, if they are smart.

First they need to ditch all the F2P garbage they have been developing, and then just let Fortnite have three game modes: Battle Royal (PvP), Survive (Base Defense, PvE), and Explore (Minecraft, PvEvP).  Then give it away for free like Battle Royal and sell tons of skins and hats, like a lot, a lot.  Ding, Ding, Ding! Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!  Epic would then have a complete game with three fun things to do, and an easy monetization scheme.  AKA sell tons of digital crap for their three very fun game modes.  No city building or cool down nonsense.

If they do that, I bet more of those 40 Million people would play the game instead of just trying out Battle Royal once and figuring out that PUBG is a bit better.  They would keep playing because there is more to do, and those things are fun.  Meanwhile, PUBG will still only have its one, admittedly great, game mode, so if you get sick of that, you stop playing the game, and there goes selling all those loot box keys.