On and off for the past weeks (months? Significant chunk of lockdown? Time has no meaning) I've been on the quest to find a new first person shooter to play online. Part of it is because I very clearly have time but part of it is also an attempt to force myself to exit my comfort zone of silently shooting half the enemy team by myself (which these days usually amounts to Leroy Jenkins'ing and dying a lot) and actually engage in team games with voice comms.
Here are my adventures. And if folk have any other suggestions during the Steam sale that would be dandy
Escape From Tarkov
Okay, yeah. This is not at all what I just said. It is very much silently killing half the enemy team. Or, more pointedly, getting mowed down by people with a lot more patience than me who are rocking body armor that is nigh impenetrable for me. Still, I love the aesthetics of Stalker and that is some Stalker-ass eastern european manshooting.
For those unaware, the basic premise of Escape from Tarkov is that you buy or loot guns, go on missions, and repeat until you die. When you die, you lose everything you were carrying (except for what is in your secret stash and what you have insurance on and blah blah blah). So it is basically an instanced mission version of the old DayZ/Rust style proto-Battle Royales in that it is about balancing progress versus risk versus reward. And, like all those proto-BRs, it is almost never worth not assuming everyone is going to kill you. And I definitely had a few awesome runs of just going in with a pistol and a backpack and leaving with a nice rifle and even some body armor. Repeat a few times and it is awesome.
Until you try to progress and start getting funneled. I need to come back to this in a few weeks/months when the game is stabilized but doing this a few days after a wipe (all progress gets reset for everyone) was a real bad idea as it just seemed like a bunch of Streamer Ass Names had grinded all night and were mugging it up for streams by hanging out where the newbies would be (quest wise) in full body armor and good ARs. Funny the first few times but, after a while, it just feels like I am playing to be someone's content and not for myself.
Still, the concept is awesome and I love just unloading half a mag at someone as they rush through a door. And Tarkov has some of the best gun feel of any "realistic" shooter and I REALLY wish Nikita (lead(?) dev) were a bit less of an a-hole about a lot of things (some of you may remember their stance on female player models...) and just made a mode that lets that gunplay thrive.
Still, will probably go back to it eventually
The game that came from that "realistic" Battlefield 2 mod. Movement feels really good. Gunplay feels... adequate. LOVE the tutorial and the idea of communicating with my squad sounds fun. I am the guy who played the hell out of medic in TF2 and Overwatch. I don't need the kills and am perfectly happy to help cover other people.
So yeah... fuck other people. Checked out three of the newbie friendly servers. LOTS of outright racist squad names (which I guess are player names?) and a few disturbingly jingoistic. And if you connect you get voice chatter that makes full second iraq war era Cartman sound eloquent and kind. I hear that getting on the clan servers is the way to go but... I am not going to subject myself to constant racism and abuse to MAYBE like a game.
Alright. Let's check this out. I remember really liking botmatches in Insurgency and it was kind of cool to learn that full color night vision is a thing while I was doing research for this
And... its fun. Suffers from "I am going to tell everybody about every part of my day like when I walked outside and there was a tree and then now I am going to make dinner after this and I am going to eat chicken because I like chicken and this bit is getting annoying but I don't know how to stop because it really was this level of frigging motormouth that I haven't experienced since people had the ps4 camera plugged in and didn't know they were on voice chat" but that is more one of those situations where you think <please shut the fuck up> rather than feel the need to actually say it.
And its fun and the community seems surprisingly okay with accidental teamkills (reminds me of Chivalry back in the day). But the gameplay loop just feels weak. PvP is CS with really long respawns and PvE tends to be all about organizing the camping of a point and then having long respawns anyway. Another "maybe I'll come back to it" games
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: The Current Version
When absolutely nobody seems to be able to answer what a game does for anti-cheat it does not fill me with confidence. I am "fine" with kernel level models if they are from semi-established companies and they actually do something. This being proprietary and secret and confusing leans more toward the Valorant scenario and I trust;/tolerate Activision... a hell of a lot more than Riot. But it is one of those things where that is more about how many problems I have with Riot than Activision not being a bad company as well
Wait, are those seriously nazi war criminal prestige skins? God fucking damn it
Thanks to the discord for folk pointing out people still play this. Popped in to a match or two and it was still really fun. Probably my favorite non Bad Company 2 battlefield and it is still a great game. But... I played these maps a LOT back in the day and there doesn't seem to be a huge crowd for the DLCs. And it is still me silently murdering everything (and I actually still am somewhat decent) and not actually using teamwork
The World War 2 version of Squad. There is no way this ends badly, right? Right?
So yeah. Checked it out the evening of the steam sale and there were two and a half servers worth of players. First match was mostly people being silent except for one guy who would not shut up about his tank commander not talking to him. When someone says "tank supported by infantry across the field. Coming toward us on the bridge to the south" the response is not "my commander hasn't given me orders". it is "Oh fuck, get ready". And you gotta love when people feel the need to bring some of that Islamophobic racism and supplement it with a lot of "sieg heils" during the post match screen.
But, glutton for punishment that I am, I moved on since at least they were just shitheads when they were celebrating. Next match was fine until people started getting frustrated that the self proclaimed first time squad leader (who was asking for help and offering the role) was having trouble and we were losing previously captured points while probably stomping an incredibly unbalanced team. And after getting cursed out for holding the line in the building south of the current point (managed to get six kills) I have decided that is not the game for me
Closing Thoughts and What is Next
So... fuck Gamers. It REALLY is frustrating that there doesn't really seem to be a way to play a team oriented game without having a dedicated crew to play with. And that is fine for a lot of folk but I am just not consistent enough to really grab one of those.
Still considering checking out Rising Storm but not really feeling that this point. Between the world, the verbal abuse, and the unrelenting reminder of how racist and toxic the video gaming community tends to be... I don't think I want to play with other people.
Still, I guess the main takeaway is that to play a communication and teamwork oriented team with other people... you need to engage with other people. And other people suck.
Tarkov was fun though. And unless Dice REALLY screws it up (which is not outside of the realm of possibility) I am probably grabbing BF6 at launch, whatever the setting.