Each week I tell myself a lie about finally chipping away at a backlog. What happens instead is I fall back into my rotation of multiplayer games, currently dominated by Apex Legends but with frequent interludes into Rainbow Six Siege. In the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the state of multiplayer games, and I’ve largely come away disappointed.
Every generation brings with it its own host of innovations and problems, but something about the ongoing proliferation of the games-as-a-service/live game model feels particularly insidious. It doesn’t have to be this way, of course, but we’re beginning to see this model used as a way to take content that previously would have been available permanently and arbitrarily restricting it to a limited time window.
Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V, in a slightly different way, play with this idea of forcing players to grind during a certain period of time to unlock weapons and vehicles that directly impact gameplay. The grind in Black Ops 4 is beyond comprehension, all but guaranteeing that anyone without 10 hours to play every day would have to drop some money to even have a hope of unlocking both weapons in that game’s battle pass, which are conveniently located at spot #50 and #100 in the tree.
Battlefield V’s system isn’t nearly as poisonous as this, but the point remains that introducing new weapons and vehicles only to take them away after the window of opportunity has passed is utterly antithetical to the idea of long-term content growth for a game, and only serves as a lame attempt to maintain player engagement. I cannot think of a single reason why Battlefield 1, my favorite in the series, would have been improved by taking its many new weapons away from players who hadn’t unlocked them in time. Instead, anyone jumping into that game right now with the Premium pass—a feature of the series that I will always, if controversially, defend, especially in light of this nonsense—will find a whole host of weapons for them to unlock, with no timers and no tweets from the official Twitter account warning that this is their last chance to unlock the newest tank.
Why does there need to be a last chance? Many players have been convinced that this is a solid replacement for loot boxes and season passes (which Call of Duty still has), because technically you can unlock everything for free, just by playing. But I think we all need to value our time more. If something costs me a weekend of grinding, an undertaking I might feel compelled to do because the item is going away in a few days for no reason, then it’s not free. The untold number of hours it takes to burn through Black Ops 4’s battle pass to get a new weapon is a lot of time, and Activision knows this because you can pay real money to just skip tiers. It’s grim, and I hope it changes.
Apex Legends, Or How I Learned To Love The Hot Drop
Apex Legends is a thing of beauty. This game is so satisfying to play, in large part because the weapons sound so incredible. But I also think not enough has been said about its map design, easily my favorite of all the battle royale games. Kings Canyon has no wasted space, something that I think PUBG and Fortnite struggle with quite a bit. It’s not an inherent fault--something can be said about sprinting across an open field in PUBG hoping you don’t catch a sniper round. But everything in Apex Legends’ diverse map feels measured. Named locations feel like multiplayer maps, the paths between them twist and turn through canyons, and many of these named locations are set lower than the surrounding terrain, so you always know what you’re getting into when you approach.
It’s just brilliant. I’ve knocked out a bunch of wins with friends, and a few with randoms, in the last couple of weeks and I just cannot see myself stopping any time soon. I’m really interested to see how their battle pass goes. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns because of the current pricing model in the in-game store. But we’ll have to wait and see. That team has a lot of good will towards it at the moment, a rarity for multiplayer studios, and it would be just awful for that to be squandered pointlessly on something like this.
Metro Exodus Doesn’t Feel Right, But That’s Okay
Amidst my frequently-renewed annoyance about the state of multiplayer, I felt compelled to support single-player first person shooters, the first type of game I ever loved, by grabbing some of that Metro Exodus. Admittedly I don’t remember much from the first two games. I think I liked the first, and I remember not liking the second much at all. Couldn’t tell you why.
Metro Exodus feels off. It has that B-game flavor that I honestly kind of miss. I like walking around these dirty environments, wiping my mask off, changing air filters, pulling out my map, pumping up the pneumatic rifle, charging my flashlight. The shooting isn't great, but in a way these games are the true successor to Far Cry 2 that I wish Ubisoft would make already. It’s a real clunker, but one I can get behind.
Rainbow Six Siege Could Be Heading For It’s Best Year Yet
This is by no means a smart thing to say in a world where anything and everything can go wrong, but the Year 4 preview we were treated to at the recent Six Invitational gave me a lot of hope for this year in Siege. Year 3 struggled a bit, with Lion practically breaking the game’s meta in a wildly irritating way, crouch-and-lean spam ruining engagements, and a growing list of tweaks and features that the game could really benefit from. Many of these features are coming in Year 4 in addition to the regular release of new Operators, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Recent Site Contributions
The wiki gets nowhere near the attention it used to, but I’ll be damned if I let that get in my way.
- I filled out the Battlefield 1 wiki page, everything from Multiplayer onwards. I seriously adore this game and jumped at the opportunity to write about it.
- Speaking of the Great War, the Chauchat is one of my favorite historical weapons. That thing deserved its own page.
- I dug up a review of Far Cry Primal I wrote a couple years back and published it. I had forgotten how bereft of enjoyment that game is.
- Also wrote about Resident Evil 2, a game I’m super conflicted on. Abby’s playthrough of it has been a great way for me to revisit what I liked and disliked.