Battlefield: Hardline, A Trophy Hunter's Diary

When the Earth was young and the stakes seemed high, all that would remain to showcase our video game related triumphs were a few initials scrolling slowly, or far too quickly, on a flickering screen. Now though? No, now things have changed...

Was...was that opening too dramatic? I can never tell anymore.

Regardless, I'm here to have a conversation about a certain shooter some of you may have heard about: Battlefield: Hardline. It has it's flaws, Jeff having mentioned a few of them during a fairly recent bombcast in fact. Despite them though, I find myself returning to it over and over again these last few weeks, like a moth to flame. Was it the riveting story? Hahaha...No. The tight gun play? Nah. The surprisingly stable (for a BF game) multiplayer? Nope. This particular moth was drawn not to a flame, but the sweet shine emitted by possibly easy trophies!

Now, before some of you run away at the mere mention of them, let me defend trophies a bit here. A trophy or achievement can bring about a lot of reply value for a game. Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor is a good example of that, the activities it requests in order to earn them a nice balance between just playing through the story and messing about with all the game's systems in ways that you may not have tried.

Hardline goes a more simplistic route, often tying a trophy/achievement unlock to the "old standbys" like finishing a chapter or getting a few kills with a new weapon or item. It was in this kill-focused trophy that I encountered a problem: The grinding...oh dear lord, the grinding!

If you Look At The Trophy List, you'll see just a standard collection of stuff I mentioned. You know, complete this mission, find x item, finish on this difficulty, etc. along with a few that make you do some fun side things (Tasers! Tasers everywhere!). Hidden there in that list, however, lies an evil presence. A dark beast that isn't there for replay value or entertainment. No, this creature demands your time, all of it. Your skills, faultless. You must be a machine, a cold calculating beast yourself.

This terrible spirit has a name: They call it "Menz In The Hood" and...and it's impossible to keep this foreboding tone going when the name is that dumb isn't it?

To save you a trip to the trophy hunters den, that particular trophy has become the bane of most who try to earn it. You think to yourself "Well, I'll just unlock the weapons I need and get the kills right?" Oh you simple fool! No, not this time. Now, here, at this very moment, you must get not one but two classes to basically their max levels to even qualify to get the guns. Then, and only then, will you be allowed to start working towards the criteria to actually get the guns themselves.

What's that? You completed these kinds of things already? Hah! They didn't count then you silly person you: Do them again, and mean it this time! You'll actually start hoping, as I did, for people to drop the already unlocked guns so you can pick them up and get closer to that dark trophy's goals.

Or perhaps it's not a beast at all? Maybe this is instead a dark messiah, it's rage-inducing requirements causing others in the hunting community to band together and boost the hell out of this thing? Because we are. Oh man we surely are.

So what was the point of this blog, hmm? To unite all trophy hunters towards a common goal? To shed more light on a shooter with far better online functionality than the studio that normally makes the battlefield games?

Nah, not really, I just wanted to say I enjoyed the game and that I disagreed with Jeff's dismissal of it. In long prose because, hell, why not?

Thanks for reading along with my hubris folks. Now then, if you'll excuse me, I still need to unlock this damn shotgun...

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A Sincere Request, An Attempt To Right Wrongs

I won't sit here and mince words; This is about "Gamergate." It is not some awkward attempt to drum up pageviews or some other form of insulting viral nonsense. It is something that I have been wondering for some time and I do, honestly, truthfully and completely, want feedback on this.

I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember. From paddles to trackpads, joysticks to Oculus, I've played all that I could get my hands on. Now though, in times when I genuinely felt like we could finally prove that our hobby is so much more than that, we instead get the stories of harassment, of fear, of people who worry for the sake of their own family over something that should be a non issue - sexism in gaming, in culture, in the world as a whole. Life moves so fast and our egos move right along with them in such a way that perhaps we don't realize how little progress we've actually made in all these years.

I don't write this as some kind of surrender notification or, even worse, as an excuse to turn the other way. No, this is for something that is actually useful. A set of questions that I hope we can all ask ourselves and come to a helpful conclusion. They are simple, honest and, hopefully, something we can all focus on...

What can we, as a community and as just decent human beings in general, do to change the state of gaming to begin with?

This isn't some epic question is it? We're not really so far afield that we don't even realize this is going on right? I think we are, in multiple ways. I'll admit to being blind to it, to thinking that is wasn't as big a problem as it had been portrayed. I will also admit, right here and now, that I was horrendously wrong on that...can you do the same?

Make no mistake, I seek not to blame one or two gamers here - I intend to blame us all. We watched it happen, for years in many cases. Why? I wish I could tell you, I really do, but I lack the ability to see on so large a scale. That is why I'm writing this message today, a day when stories of yet another female developer being harassed and threatened made headlines. Not on a gaming site where it should have been, not in low whispers around it as it happened, and may have been stopped right then and there by people who should have known better. No, this happened on MSNBC. On a nationwide news network that took the time to run the interviews and the stories that most of the "news" outlets we respect should have done so already.

I don't intend to mock GB here: The work Patrick has done in this area is already well documented after all. But what of the rest of our supposedly understanding community? What about the people who probably knew about it ahead of all of us? I mentioned before how I once felt great pride for my hobby, how I imagined it as finally reaching an apex that we could all be proud of. I was mistaken. A fool blinded by many factors, as were many of us I suspect. That leads us to the most important question of all:

What Do We Do About It?

It is that simple really. I'm asking you folks: What should we do? I don't mean this is some backhanded way. I want to help - How do I do it? Give me information on it. The best links you can find: From petitions that may actually prove useful to twitter handles and company e-mails. Who do we speak to? What should we say?

I've been playing in a fantasy gaming world for years now - It's time to get back to reality. We can do this, I know we can. So let's find a way to do it. And do it soon, before we scare an entire gender away for no other reason than our...well, whatever the hell reason people are doing this for.

I'll make mistakes, I'm bumble with sources and type the wrong websites, but there has to be a way to make a difference besides little blog posts like this. I say we find them.

UPDATE [10/14/2014]:

Well the forum thread, aka "mirrored version" of this blog entry, was locked on me for overlapping with another thread...which is also locked so...guess this was a waste of time then? If the best we can do is "Don't be a dick" then I think we're well past the point of no return then. It was worth a try at least. Granted, I'll follow that advice, since it seems like common sense, but beyond that? Very disappointed with how this went down. Now people can't reply even if they wanted to...


Hype For Call Of Duty? What The Hell...

Surely anyone who cares (or really likes hating things that still make a lot of money). there was a Multiplayer Reveal Trailer for the newest Call Of Duty. Didn't see it? Here it is:

Now then, before I get deep into this, let me give a little background into my FPS history as it relates to this craziness:

I have been playing the CoD series since two. No, not Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops 2, just Call Of Duty 2. It's been a love hate thing most of the time but, for me, the multiplayer is an excellent time waster when you don't have the ability to sit down and get into some deep mentally challenging expereince. That isn't to mock the games themselves though. Truth be told, simple action and a bombastic story have their place, just fire up any summer blockbuster for example, so a game merely being loud and fun works fine for me.

There were dark times though during my little CoD legacy, most involving people yelling INFINITY WARD or TREYARCH at the top of their internet lungs in pointless attempts to defend a certain studio over another. For the record: I stand on the Treyarch side of things, World At War being a fun time and both Black Ops games matching up well too.

Back on topic though: Modern Warfare 3 was terrible, Ghosts wasn't much better. They were serviceable games that played and controlled as well as their peers but just lacked something to me. Though I just mocked people for siding with them, Treyarch's games always seemed to be about pushing things along for the CoD series. People will argue that may have hurt them but I think that is why the games made by them are so obviously "theirs." There is a feeling of refinement there, a sense that the studio was working to make changes not for the sake of making them but because they felt like it would work. MW3 and Ghosts lacked that to me. Even with the changes, it felt by the numbers. A Call Of Duty [Insert Number Here] because there had to be one, not because is would be great to play.

So why then, why do I feel this building hype for the non Treyarch developed Advanced Warfare? It seems simple in retrospect - It's nuts. The team appears to have looked over their design and said "Look, we're giving people power armor in the campaign, let's just crank this nonsense as far as it can go for the multiplayer!"

I applaud that logic. Call Of Duty MP, at it's core, isn't about how serious it takes itself or how realistic it should be. It's about doing crazy stuff and having others around to share it with. I could go on about how unbalanced the weapons were in Modern Warfare 3, but why bother? I could point out how the big story reveal of Black Ops 1 was kind of dumb, but for what? One way or another, you've got tales of glorious victory and occasional failure to tell. Go out there and tell them.

Just think of it - You've got a power suit and jump jets people! The possibilities for insanity are almost limitless!

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Welp, It's Been A While, Let's Get A New Post Up Here

Damn man, has it really been two years since my last blog post? Craziness!

Guess between all the commenting on videos here and just generally trolling around the boards, I may have forgotten to update things around here. We can change that though, it's okay right? Sure it is! So, since every person online is usually an ego maniac anyway, I'm going to use this opportunity to talk about what I've been playing. In particular order, here we go:

Thief (PS4)

Now, I've Already Mentioned my feelings on Thief, but I really do want to enjoy the game so I keep playing it, possibly looking for some part of it, not matter how small, that gives me hope for the IP's future. It is one of my favorite franchises and I just had to try, you know? Sadly it just isn't happening. From the open world that isn't really open to the horrendous load times every time you open a door or window, I can't justify it to anyone. Fans of the series, like myself, will be mad about what has happened to it and people who have never seen a Thief game will just look at it and go "My, what a generic stealth game this is." In case it wasn't obvious, it only broke my heart to go deeper into the game. Such a wasted opportunity.

Battlefield 4 (PS4)

Another illustrious member of my previously linked list, BF4 has actually shown more improvement that I expected. Most matches I hop into run smoothly and, minor hitches aside, I only leave games now by choice rather than when it forces me to. Only problem now, and I have no immediate proof of this besides my own jaded viewpoint, is that the game seems to be a purely "Pay To Win" scenario now. People who have the expansions seem to flat out have better, more powerful weapons than I do. Can I prove that beyond looking at the specs and making guesses? No, not really, but the game just seems to have a hint of BS to it when I get killed by guns I never heard of that just happen to be very accurate compared to my own. Could it be I'm just bad at it? Rest assured, I'm not here to blame it all on the game, but some stuff seems, shall we say, unlikely.

Besides this scenario, my biggest complaint about the game at this point is how mismatched it feels to me in relation to ranked games. Much like the bullshit I dealt with in Titanfall (before trading that "game" in at least), I consistently get paired up against teams who are at least level eighties. Keep in mind, I am a Level 30 so it doesn't exactly seemed balanced in any sense of the word. Could just be me whining instead of trying to get better with the little spare time I have, but either way I'm not enjoying my time with Battlefield 4 these days. Pity.

Watch Dogs (PC)

With a collection of some of the most unevenly scored reviews I've ever seen, I didn't know what to expect from Watch Dogs. It is GTA with a more serious side? A stealth game with some hacking? A total waste of time and money? The proof that the next generation of games is here?

First things first: People really, really need to stop getting their expectations so damn high. How in the name of all that is holy could a game released near the beginning of a console's life be the greatest scion of all that gaming will be on said console? It can't, it won't and people should be ashamed for falling into that trap. Hell, by that logic, Fantavision defined the Playstation 2. Temper the hype folks, it will serve you well in the future.

As for the actual game: I'm enjoying it quite a bit. The story telling tries to make you care and, in my case, actually succeeds so far. The combat is fun, the hacking mechanic is limited but enjoyable and it's always a blast to set up traps using the hack-able objects around the game's world. Are there problems with the game? Naturally, but I haven't encountered one that makes me outright hate playing the game.

Only thing about Watch Dogs that can hamper your enjoyment of it is the economy within the game. If you use your ability to hack into people's bank accounts often enough, you will have more than enough money to buy just about every weapon very early on. Couple that with how simple the starting silenced pistol makes everything and it becomes almost hilariously easy to sweep through the first few hours.

Overall though? I'm liking it and look forward to playing it some more.

Speaking of which, I'm gonna go do that right now. Later people.

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Starting Things Off Nerdy

It Begins

So, yeah, I need to get part of a quest done, but why just type some random nonsense? There is nerdy stuff afoot!

First of all people, look at this and then come back to me...

Done? Good. Wasn't that thing sweet looking? Man December is looking good for the model nerd who, um, can't get a hands on with a real model.

That and the news that a demo of Metal Gear Rising is coming with the upcoming Zone Of The Enders collection has got me psyched. So much random robotic action, so little time!

Guess that's it then; gotta keep this first blog post short, lest I bore the hell out of you...what? Too late? Screw it then, I'm out!