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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare- Part IV Review and Reflection, Lessons on the Price of Aggression and The Costs of Conflict With Unstated Goals

“We get dirty, and the world stays clean.” –Captain Jonathan Price

Upon arrival in St. Petersburg, Garrick and Price break up the Al-Qatala meeting and manage to capture Jamal “The Butcher” Rahar. Interrogation is unsuccessful, so Price steps things up by threatening to shoot his wife and son, forcing Rahar to answer their questions truthfully. Although Garrick is tempted to execute Rahar, he ultimately lets him live, accompanying Price over to Baurci, Moldova, where Hadir has planned an offensive on General Barkov’s estate. While Price provides overwatch, Garrick investigates several locations and ultimately finds Hadir, who reluctantly tells the pair the location of Barkov’s chemical weapons facility in Borjomi, Georgia. The Russians demand that Hadir be remanded into their custody, and while Price complies, he asks that they be allowed to hang onto the intel Hadir had. With Farah and Alex, Garrick and Price mount an attack on Barkov’s facility with support from American forces and link up with Price’s contact, Nikolai, to retrieve explosives. The accompanying detonator is damaged during the fighting, Alex volunteers to stay behind and set them off, while Farah sneaks on board a helicopter and manages to kill Barkov. In the aftermath, the Russian government disavows Barkov, and Price works with Kate Laswell, a CIA Station Chief, to discuss the formation of Task Force 141 so that they can prepare for a major operation against the terrorist Victor Zakhaev. With this, Modern Warfare‘s campaign draws to a close, and while perhaps a more unconventional experience in that Modern Warfare‘s missions play out more slowly, the game nonetheless tells a compelling story about warfare, specifically how those who engage in conflict without an aim beyond subjugation and the destruction of a people will be doomed to failure: in an Israeli parable, a hunter tasks his dog with pursuing a rabbit so that he may have dinner, and while the dog was an apt hunter, the rabbit runs for its life, outpacing the dog, who was merely running to serve the hunter. Here in Modern Warfare, Barkov is portrayed as being someone who wished to eradicate Urzikstan and its people: his decade-long campaign against the nation is met with frustration because Farah and the country’s people are fighting for their lives, to preserve their home against a foreign aggressor. While Barkov only fights for glory and some twisted view of the world order, Farah fights because Urzikstan is the only home she’s ever known, and in this way, she and her rebels simply have the superior and resolve to outlast their foe.

While the outcome of a given conflict is determined by many factors, including equipment, training and tactics, historically, warfare is also fought on morale and motives. Quite simply, a nation or faction that wages war with a clear objective in mind, and has a plan for achieving these objectives will have the motivation to fight the war swiftly. Conversely, if no objective exists, and no plan exists, warfare becomes protracted, and the longer a given war drags on, the more likely it is that the instigator will lose. In Modern Warfare, Barkov’s motivations are self-serving and callous; he seeks to dominate and subjugate Urzikstan. From the player’s perspective, Farah and her people are fighting for a legitimate reason: she simply wants her homeland free of Barkov’s occupation. In knowing what’s at stake and what stands to be gained from resisting Barkov, Farah and her people are able to fight with uncommon resilience and determination. The same trends can be observed in reality time and time again: during the Vietnam War, the United States sent soldiers over to Vietnam to “contain communism”, whereas North Vietnam was simply trying to rally the nation together and survive. In the Soviet-Afghan War, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan out of concern that Hafizullah Amin was planning to support the United States and create an opening to install Babrak Karma, a Soviet-friendly leader. In both cases, the Americans and Soviets failed to account for the locals’ determination to resist and make their own way forwards, resulting in protracted conflicts that proved unpopular with the people back home. With parallels in history, Modern Warfare warns players about the futility of warfare. Generally speaking, one should not endorse warfare where diplomacy is an option, and further to this, those who do desire open conflict with another nation are likely those with the least understanding of how severe consequences can be for all parties involved. For instance, social media users tend to revel in warfare, seeing it as a treasure trove of footage for farming retweets and upvotes. Such a world-view is one completely lacking in empathy and represents poor conduct, standing in stark contrast with works of fiction that place people in the shoes of those who fight wars to emphasise how people should count their blessings where there is peace, and to never willfully wish for or instigate conflicts.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Upon arriving in St. Petersburg, Garrick is given a choice of sidearm. I went with the Desert Eagle: although harder to control than the other pistols, its stopping power is unparalelled. The aim of this mission is simple: capture Rahar. Killing him will end the mission, so one must be careful in their shot placement, and as soon as the meeting between Rahar and the other Al-Qatala members is disrupted, Rahar will take off, occasionally stopping to take a few potshots at Garrick and Price. In reality, the Desert Eagle can be suppressed, but the results won’t be quite as pronounced as video games.

  • After taking down the first foes of the mission, I picked up a P90 for additional firepower. On missions where improvisation is the name of the game, I tend to ditch the staring pistols immediately: automatic weapons and their large capacity make it far easier to deal with multiple foes at once. As Rahar beats a hasty exit, Garrick and Price follow him into the streets of St. Petersburg. There’s a distinct chill in the air about this day, and while the firefights in this mission are brief, it was a novel experience to have a running gunfight in a location I’ve previously never visited in a video game.

  • While games are intended to entertain, first and foremost, they do offer topics for conversation, as well. Once Price and Garrick corner Rahar, they will interrogate him: the stakes mean that Price has no qualms in using Rahar’s wife and son as bargaining chips. While the consequences of letting Rahar walk are doubtlessly severe, there is something reprehensible about threatening Rahar’s family to get the required intel on Hadir’s location. The moral ambiguity shown in Modern Warfare is a reminder to players that in warfare, good and evil is a matter of perspective, and moreover, even the so-called “good guys” will occasionally commit acts of dubious morality in the name of the greater good.

  • Seeing these messages in fiction is meant to show players that things are rarely as clear cut as they seem, and this is why in general, I don’t like making any judgements about foreign events. Tragedies and conflict stem from complex causes that interact to create a perfect storm, and it is often the case that the media will abstract out these causes, causing people to assume that warfare results from simple terms. The reduction of conflict to an “us versus them” mindset is deleterious and leads to dehumanisation of one’s opponents by removing important details from an issue.

  • Thus, when Modern Warfare gives players the full agency to shoot Rahar in the head during the interrogation, a part of me felt that, as one operative in the picture, it wasn’t right for Garrick to make this call. One aspect of Tom Clancy novels I’ve always respected is the idea that one’s enemies are worth more alive than dead, at least from an intelligence picture. Given that dead men tell no tales, it makes sense to keep someone around as a resource if they appear to be someone who may possess the key towards stopping worse atrocities. As it was, I decided to spare Rahar.

  • With Hadir’s location found, Price and Garrick head on over to Moldova. Garrick begins the operation with a suppressed EBR-14 and a suppressed X-16 pistol. Both weapons are whisper-quiet in the game, so when coupled with using darkness as cover, allows one to sneak through dim areas undetected. This mission offers some flexibility as to how one wishes to complete things, but the outcome will always be the same, with Hadir eventually being found. The EBR-14 is an excellent weapon, and because of how important stealth is here, there is actually no reason to switch off the starting weapons initially, since unsuppressed weapons will instantly give one’s position away.

  • The EBR-14 is most useful for taking out foes, while the X-16 pistol is a nice way of snuffing out lights that may give the player’s position away. During this mission, Price will alert players to the presence of a light detector on the left-hand side of the screen. When the meter increases, one is in a brighter area and is at risk of coming under enemy fire. IRNV goggles are used extensively in Modern Warfare, to a much greater extent than previous games, and while this emphasises the clandestine nature of special forces operations, this also precludes players from appreciating the visuals in Modern Warfare.

  • As memory serves, Modern Warfare is one of the first Call of Duty games to incorporate real-time ray-tracing into things. Without ray-tracing, some lighting effects look a little cruder: while ray-tracing often degrades performance, I’ve read that allowing the game engine to handle the calculation of lighting effects actually simplifies things for developers, who no longer have to go in and bake everything in. This, at least theoretically, would free developers up for other tasks. In Modern Warfare, real-time ray-tracing is very subtle, but in some games, like DOOM Eternal and Metro Exodus, the differences are night and day, warranting a revisit of these older titles.

  • I would eventually make my way over to the church to investigate the site, while Price stays behind to provide covering fire. On a few occasions, Price also will helpfully shoot out lights, creating more darkness that covered my advance. Upon arriving at the church, I managed to find a suppressed shotgun. Although with a lower rate of fire than the X16 pistol, it felt nice to have a reliable weapon that could one-shot any foe silently at close quarters. Indoors, I removed the IRNV goggles to get a better look at things, although given that some areas are quite dark even when lit, it became apparent that it was easier to keep my goggles on.

  • Throughout the Moldovan safehouse, Garrick will encounter hostages, both dead and alive. Each area will have one live hostage that Garrick will speak with, and initially, there won’t be any evidence of anything unusual going on. Players attempting to speed-run the mission won’t be successful: similarly to Bad Company 2‘s Sangre del Toro mission, one must hit all of the objective areas to learn the intel needed to get into the central house of Barkov’s estate. At this point in the mission, the number of foes increases dramatically, and semi-automatic weapons are less effective.

  • Fortunately, foes begin dropping suppressed automatics, and picking these up gives players a better chance of dealing with numbers. For individual foes, the EBR-14 remains more than adequate. One point of curiosity was that, no matter what weapons one picks up in this mission, all of them have the infrared laser sight module and suppressors. Although it gives the mission a bit of an unrealistic feeling in a game that is otherwise quite committed to realism, the tradeoff is that it gives players more options. For me, this meant, once I got my hands on an automatic weapon, the concern with being entirely stealthy evaporated, since I could now shoot my way out of tricky situations.

  • While Battlefield and Call of Duty traditionally feature campaigns that allow players to go loud, recent instalments have placed an emphasis on stealth. It is not lost on me that notions of stealth go hand-in-hand with the idea that military operations are supposed to be surgical in precision and minimise collateral damage: the fewer bullets one fires to accomplish their objective, the better things will be. Of course, the best solution is to negotiate things out so bullets don’t need to be fired at all. However, in a video game, intense firefights are what players come for.

  • Players seeking to experience this level of combat will still find it in the multiplayer modes: campaigns are designed to be introspective experiences. Here, I’ve gotten my hands on an AK-47 with an extended barrel, suppressor and 75-round drum magazine. With more than double the capacity of the Famas rifle, I felt confident in dealing with whatever stood between me and the objective. I did end up trying the Famas, but Modern Warfare configures it so it’s a burst-fire weapon only. Burst fire weapons have always been tricky to use in video games: in reality, they’re excellent because they allow for rounds to quickly be put on target, but games balance them out by making individual shots weaker.

  • Price and Garrick eventually capture Hadir, who was acting out of desperation: he saw the chemical weapons as a means of taking revenge on those who devastated his homeland and Farah’s life. However, Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote captures the consequences of this best: one must not become a monster when fighting monsters. Modern Warfare shows how even the most well-intentioned people can be compelled to commit atrocities in the name of their cause. However, there’s no time for argument: Barkov’s helicopters begin hammering the area with rocket fire.

  • The last segment of this mission abandons all stealth: one must get to a tunnel’s entrance in order to finish the mission, and in the chaos, while soldiers will fire upon Garrick, Price and Hadir, there’s no time to return fire. This is where an automatic weapon becomes useful: one can quickly deal with anyone between them and the exit. In the end, Hadir is captured and turned over to Russian authorities after Price negotiates for their being allowed to keep the intel from Hadir. Hadir’s story is that of a tragedy: while he wanted to avenge his people, in the process, he resorted to acts of extremism: one can understand where Hadir’s coming from, but this doesn’t make his actions defensible.

  • Modern Warfare‘s final mission is befitting of Call of Duty: in conjunction with the US Armed forces, Price and Garrick, Alex and Farah participate in a full-scale offensive on Barkov’s secret chemical weapons facility. As Alex, players begin with Hadir’s custom rifle and an M4A1 armed with an M203 under-barrel grenade launcher. This segment of the game is brutal: enemy fire fills the air, and I don’t mind admitting that I fell to enemy fire as a result of carelessness on several occasions here. This speaks to the importance of playing tactically, although I note that the allowance for respawns made every death a learning moment.

  • Respawning in games (or a lack thereof) are a core part of the mechanics: games that disallow for checkpoints and respawns are unforgiving and demand players to approach things with caution. Whether it be through the story or the mechanics, games can act as superb metaphors for life. However, there is a limit to this: those who cannot differentiate between reality and games will be met with frequent setbacks. One example that is especially vivid was a 2020 publication to The Economist, where an interview was conducted with activist Wong Chi-Fung. Chi-Fung an activist who also happened to be an avid fan of Gundam Versus, cited the game to be a parallel is his own efforts and stated that “when you get knocked down in one game, you just have to start another”.

  • The problem with seeing life as a video game is that real life tends to be unforgiving, and one cannot undo mistakes made in reality by loading a previous save. The Economist interview speaks to Chi-Fung’s immaturity – the interview was conducted while Chi-Fung is actively playing Gundam Versus, during which he is barely able to maintain his focus on the interviewers’ questions. As it turns out, Chi-Fung’s interest in Gundam is less about the mobile suits and more about the politics: he replies that “[Iron-Blodded Orphan‘s protagonists] embody the problems burdening each one of us” and indicates how his view of the world is vindicated when “the heroes are defeated, but the vanquishing regime adopts democratic reform anyway”.

  • It becomes clear Chi-Fung plainly modelled his brand of activism on a misconstrued interpretation of what is seen in Iron-Blooded Orphans and glorifies sacrifice even when it is meaningless. However, in other Gundam works, things aren’t so clear-cut: Gundam SEED‘s Kira Yamato abhorred violence and only fights with the minimum force needed to disable his opponents. In Gundam 00, Setsuna F. Seiei eventually works out that there are more ways of fighting than cutting down his foes with the Exia and 00 Raiser. Setsuna’s Gundams becomes one tool amongst several towards building a better future. Chi-Fung’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge that there are other ways to achieve long-term aims is shown when the interviewers ask about his thoughts on whether or not violent actions are justified.

  • Chi-Fung replies that he refuses to denounce violence because he empathises with their brand of thinking, and by tacitly endorsing violence as a legitimate means of achieving one’s aims, it is clear that Chi-Fung completely failed to understand the themes of Gundam. Similarly, publications can become out of their depth when dealing in these topics. The separation between fiction and reality is important because, while fiction often is a commentary on reality, they are crafted in such a way as to convey a specific idea, as well as showing the consequences of specific actions.

  • A part of this includes simplifying politics and abstracting out parts of a system so they fit the story better. The end result is that well-written stories are tight thematically, but they also make many assumptions in order to convey their themes. This is why when I go through stories, I always stop to consider the creator’s intents and their thoughts on a specific topic that the story covers, rather than attempting to cherry-pick elements to fit my own world-views. As it was, I found that The Economist’s article ends up being an endorsement of an unhealthy mindset: to the well-adjusted mind, fiction is about entertaining people, not about encouraging people to embrace violence for one’s own gratification.

  • I remark that, if The Economist desired an insightful and thoughtful conversation on games and the merits they bring, I’d probably be the better choice, although admittedly, my profile is much more unremarkable (for one, I’m a software developer). Back in Modern Warfare, I’ve finally cleared the seemingly endless waves of soldiers Barkov has at his disposal and finally enter the chemical weapons factory. Because the strike teams have no idea what they’re up against, they don gas masks. At this point in time, I was beginning to run out of .308 Lapua rounds for Hadir’s rifle and discarded it for an SVD equipped with FLIR optics.

  • The logic of doing so became clear shortly after: Barkov’s men disconnect the power, plunging the factory interior into darkness and giving the defending soldiers the upper hand. Having FLIR optics levels the playing field, allowing me to methodically locate and pick off foes without wandering into a trap. In Call of Duty, most missions can be completed without switching up one’s starting loadout, and in previous titles, I’ve gotten by reasonably well. However, this can create complacency, which in turn results in frantic moments if one enters a situation they’re not prepared for. Conversely, folks willing to experiment a little and capitalise on whatever options are available to them may have an easier time of things should a situation shift suddenly.

  • After exiting the factory’s power plant, Alex returns outside to link up with Nikolai, who’s provided both explosives and a detonator needed to bring the factory to the ground. Nikolai has featured in previous iterations of Modern Warfare, being a Russian informant who has infiltrated Imran Zakhaev’s faction and provides assistant to Price. In Modern Warfare, Nikolai’s role has changed somewhat: he’s now the leader of a private military company and has a strong sense of morality, doing what he feels is right to stave off chaos.

  • The biggest surprise in the finale mission was the appearance of a Juggernaut. This foe is probably the single toughest enemy in the whole of Modern Warfare, capable of absorbing an insane amount of damage thanks to their heavy armour. Luckily, this Juggernaut is only armed with the PKM, and is vulnerable to flash-bang grenades. I ended up defeating the Juggernaut using a combination of flash-bangs and the DP-12 incendiary shotgun, whose flammable buckshot deals damage over time. The Juggernaut’s appearance knocks Alex back and wrecks the detonator.

  • While Alex prepares to set off the charges manually, Garrick and Price have headed over to the pipelines. Garrick is initially armed with the FN SCAR-17 and an MGL-32 multiple grenade launcher. They come under heavy fire, and I responded by immediately ducking off to the side. At these ranges, I found the SCAR to be unsuited for combat and quickly switched over to the MP7. Although it takes a few rounds to down each soldier, the increased mobility and the fact that its hip-fire accuracy is reasonable makes it a better choice.

  • Per advice from Price, I ended up taking cover using the pipes and managed to close the distance to the gunner keeping allied forces pinned down. This allows everyone to push on forwards to the pipes that lead into the facility. In the end, I never ended up using the MGL, which only appears in the campaign. While it’s a powerful weapon, great for clearing crowds, Garrick doesn’t carry any more ammunition for it, beyond the six rounds it initially comes with. Here, I also found an M134 minigun; it comes with 320 rounds to start and is effective at close ranges, but the weapon also leaves one highly exposed in the campaign.

  • The Juggernaut killstreak, on the other hand, turns players into devastators in the multiplayer. I’ve noticed that it’s a bit of a Call of Duty tradition to save all of the most powerful weapons for the end of the campaign and only allow them to be utilised sparingly: besides ensuring the campaign stays balanced and satisfyingly challenging in the right spots, their appearance is probably also to entice players to venture into the multiplayer, where these weapons can be utilised.

  • Once Garrick reaches the pipeline, he will place the explosives onto the pipeline, and the mission will change over to Farah’s perspective. This is a classic Modern Warfare tradition: prior to Modern WarfareCall of Duty 4: Modern WarfareModern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 all featured a finale where players had to fight their game’s main antagonist in a desperate situation. Here in Modern Warfare, Farah sneaks on board Barkov’s helicopter and ambushes him. A lifetime’s worth of vengeance comes into play here, and while she’s much stronger than she had been the last time she and Barkov met, fighting Barkov still gives her some trouble.

  • In the end, Farah manages to kill Barkov. In his dying moments, Barkov continues to maintain his goal was to eradicate terrorism, and Farah kicks his corpse from the helicopter. The others subsequently detonate the charges, destroying Barkov’s factory and bringing Modern Warfare to a close. It seems that my timing for Modern Warfare was spot on: while I’d been busy, I still managed to finish prior to Modern Warfare II‘s launch. Overall, while Modern Warfare represents a change of pacing from earlier titles with respect to how the campaign is structured, it presented a very engaging story, and the gameplay was solid. With Modern Warfare in the books, I’ll probably spend a bit more time in Battlefield 2042 so I can unlock the Avancys and also resume my journey through Ghost Recon: Wildlands.

Although Modern Warfare represents only one perspective on warfare, it remains a very visceral presentation of things in a way that stands out from its predecessors. In this way, Modern Warfare‘s campaign gives players insights into why some wars unfold the way that they do: despite being significantly slower than the Call of Duty campaigns I’m familiar with, Modern Warfare ended up being surprisingly immersive for forcing players to move tactically and make calculated decisions about their next move. While I felt that Modern Warfare‘s campaign places more emphasis on night missions than its predecessors, and the scale of missions is far smaller than they’d been earlier, the characterisation and stakes are less grandiose, reminding players of how even the simplest of tasks require utmost coordination and patience. At the end of its campaign, however, Modern Warfare signifies that the story isn’t over yet; John “Soap” MacTavish is one of the operators that Captain Price is interested in recruiting, and the return of iconic characters in the future proved most exciting, especially in the knowledge that Modern Warfare II will be releasing later this month. At the time of writing, while I’ve had the opportunity to play the Modern Warfare II open beta and ascertain that my machine will run it without any problems, as well as how the game appears to be reasonably stable, I’m still deciding whether or not it would be worthwhile to pick the game up shortly after launch: at present, I am reasonably confident that I will have time to enjoy and write about the game in the upcoming months, but at the same time, I’d like to hold off and see what goes down in the campaign before determining whether or not the game joins my library. Previously, I bought Call of Duty games a few months later when they went on sale, and since I tend to play Call of Duty games only for the campaign, waiting for the discount is a logical choice. Modern Warfare II might prove to be the exception on account of how much fun I had during the beta, and while even the standard edition costs 10 CAD more than games would typically do at launch, paying about a third more to start my experience a half year earlier sounds reasonable if I am going to get into the Invasion mode earlier. For the time being, however, I am content to wait a little and see if the campaign and Invasion in the retail game will merit the additional cost of admissions, as well as explore Modern Warfare‘s spec ops missions and private lobbies further.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- Reflection on the Open Beta

“Nobody knows what anticipation is anymore. Everything is so immediate.” –Joan Jett

The excitement surrounding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (I’ll refer to the 2022 iteration using roman numerals to differentiate it from its 2009 predecessor) is quite tangible, and during the past weekend, the Modern Warfare II open beta was running, allowing me a chance to try the game out for myself: after building a new desktop machine and acquiring a RTX 3060 Ti, I’ve been itching to see how the latest iteration of Call of Duty would handle. The open beta represented the best opportunity to try things out, and while I spent only a few hours in-game, I now have a better sense of what the game requires from a hardware standpoint. On the average match, my machine effortlessly maintains 120 FPS with everything cranked up, and while I have played a few matches where latency was an issue, causing some rubber-banding, the game was smooth overall. Modern Warfare II handles extremely well; movement is crisp and responsive, while the gunplay is immensely satisfying. I never had any trouble moving my character precisely to where I needed to go, and Modern Warfare II‘s firearms feel consistent. While the beta only offers a small hint of what’s to come, Modern Warfare II is stable and performs well. Matchmaking was relatively quick, and once I got into a game, individual rounds were very tight and focused. For classic modes, new maps retain the classic Call of Duty arena-style design, offering fast-paced combat encounters where close quarters firefights and swift reflexes win the day. Modern Warfare II also sees the return of Ground War (a smaller version of Battlefield’s Conquest mode) and a sandbox-like mode called Invasion, which pits human and AI players together in a team-based battle on larger maps, which in turn provides a larger environment for experimenting with Modern Warfare II‘s longer-range weapons. The range of game modes seen in Modern Warfare II‘s open beta is a fraction of the full title, and while I historically have not enjoyed the smaller modes of Call of Duty, Invasion proved unexpectedly enjoyable, giving me a chance to get familiar with the weapons before hopping into a more frantic round of domination with a better idea of how to best use the tools available to me. Surprisingly, this time around, I found myself performing with some consistency: while veteran players and folks with a great deal of spare time will run rings around me, in more matches than I’d expected, I was also able to top the scoreboard.

While skill-based matchmaking meant I was more likely to pitted against players of a similar skill to myself, one aspect of Call of Duty returned to me in full during the course of Modern Warfare II‘s open beta. By default, the voice chat is enabled, and this meant, moments after slaughtering an entire team because of a bit of beginner’s luck on my end, I was screamed at and branded a cheater. In this instant, I immediately recalled why I typically don’t play multiplayer games with voice chat on. I endured the banter befitting of youth and young adults with far more time, and far fewer responsibilities than myself, for the duration of the round. After listening to another player on my team complain about how no one on the team besides himself knew how to play Modern Warfare II, I exited the lobby, dug around the settings and after a few minutes, located the options to completely disable voice chat. The remainder of my open beta experience was more peaceable, although it became clear that Modern Warfare II‘s UI is unintuitive and difficult to navigate. I’ve grown accustomed to Modern Warfare‘s UI, which, by comparison, is very clear and easy to use. The menu system in Modern Warfare II makes it difficult to access one of the game’s most anticipated features: the revised and updated Gunsmith. Modern Warfare II has streamlined the experience by developing a progression system in which one unlocks attachments for a weapon platform, and then these attachments are shared amongst all of the different receivers (weapon types) for that platform. This approach is intended to cut down on grinding, and shared attachments mean one is able to immediately kit out newly-unlocked weapons to bring their handling characteristics closer to what one already has for a previously-unlocked weapon for that platform. On paper, this means using new weapons will be a more enjoyable experience because one won’t need to go through the entire unlock process again. The Gunsmith upgrades are fantastic and cut down on time spent just unlocking stuff, allowing one to experience more of Modern Warfare II. This approach is quite welcome: contemporary titles often drag out the progression to encourage replay, but this makes for an exhausting experience, so seeing Modern Warfare II adopt a more streamlined approach is encouraging. For someone like myself, someone who’s got limited hours to game, a reduced grind means there is incentive to play occasionally without worrying about an overwhelmingly long journey to unlock everything; seeing this in Modern Warfare II does make the game’s multiplayer modes more enticing.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I decided to start my open beta experience in the Invasion mode and immediately found myself netting a few kills about human foes. The larger size of these maps, coupled with how players are spawned into things, means that one isn’t likely to die instantly after spawning in: this is something that had dissuaded me from playing Call of Duty, and even in bot-only modes, I’ve found that the small map sizes and relative lack of sightlines means that sniper rifles and marksman rifles are less useful in more traditional modes.

  • However, in Invasion, larger maps and the inclusion of AI bots mean that players have a chance to orient themselves and blend in. I started out with the M4, and this jack-of-all-trades assault rifle proved to be a perfect choice for combat at short to medium ranges. Throughout the open beta, the M4 became my go-to weapon choice for most maps and modes, and I ended up getting it to level sixteen before the beta ended. The fact that I could almost reach the level cap for the M4 over the course of two days shows that Modern Warfare II, at least in the beta, has a reasonable progression system.

  • If the pacing is similar in the final release, Modern Warfare II would be a game that works with my schedule: lengthy progression pathways dissuade me from gaming because I don’t have the same time I did back in the day, and games that allow me to play at my own pace usually have the most longevity in my books. Back in Modern Warfare II, after giving Invasion a go, I decided to return to the modes that I typically have the most trouble with. Close quarters environments mean map knowledge is vital, and in Call of Duty, I’ve not learnt the maps anywhere nearly as well as I had say, Halo 2‘s Lockout (which I can still draw from memory).

  • However, in the beginning, Modern Warfare II‘s skill-based matchmaking (SBMM, a means of matching players into servers based on their relative performance) system put me on a server with average players, and after spawning in, I achieved a feat that would not be seen again for the remainder of the open beta: I scored a Killtacular (in Call of Duty terms, a “quad kill”) after four of the enemy team’s players ran around a corner and surprised me, causing me to empty my entire magazine into them in a moment of blind panic. This ended up being the play of the game, and even though my team ended up losing, I ended up at the top of the scoreboard on my team.

  • Domination is basically a scaled-down version of Conquest, in which players must capture and hold points to score for their team. The way maps are designed, there are many flanking routes and plenty of cover around some objectives, giving defenders and attackers a fair chance at doing their part. The maps in Modern Warfare II are intricately designed and features a great deal of clutter, giving them a lived-in aesthetic that stands in contrast with the sterile maps of Battlefield 2042. While Battlefield traditionally excels with larger scale maps, ever since Call of Duty entered the battle royale market with Warzone, their large-scale map designs have improved dramatically.

  • While I don’t play Warzone and generally are not a fan of battle royale, I don’t mind admitting that Warzone is probably the best-designed battle royale game out there. Call of Duty‘s approach to the genre is skill-based: firefights can be turned around if one knows their map and weapons, and the game keeps things simple in its inventory management. Moreover, while Warzone does have weapon cosmetics, the emphasis on having cosmetics is reduced compared to the likes of Fortnite. Seeing MrProWestie and JackFrags in Warzone has piqued my curiosity for the past two years: ever since the global health crisis began, Warzone has offered players a novel experience to immerse themselves in.

  • I sat out Modern Warfare and Warzone in 2019 because my desktop wasn’t able to handle it, and while I don’t feel that I’ve missed out on Warzone, watching people play it did get me interested in giving Modern Warfare a go. Here, I managed to get a five-streak in a match of TDM. I rarely strayed from the basic M4 loadout during the beta because it had been so reliable, and in fact, the only limitation about the starting M4 loadout was the fact that one “only” gets a 30-round magazine. Against individual foes or a pair of enemies, 30 rounds is more than enough, but handling multiple foes in a spray-and-pray situation is quite tricky.

  • Unlike the Call of Duty: WWII open beta five years ago, where I fared extremely poorly, my performance in Modern Warfare II was somewhat improved to the point where I was having fun during my matches. The only exception to this was early on, when I hadn’t figured out how to disable the voice chat, and therefore, was privy to some of the nonsense other players were spewing. The Call of Duty community is known for situations where middle school-aged children play alongside adult players, and their actions on the voice chat have become quite unwelcome.

  • While I didn’t encounter any middle school-aged players, it turns out that the older players are equally as immature: when I joined a TDM round and got a few lucky kills on the opposing team, I was met with screeching and expletives. When I die in a given game, usually, I’ll either handle it quietly and move on (if I was legitimately outplayed), or laugh at the results (especially if I lost in a way that was unexpected or hilarious). Games are about having fun, and I’ve never felt that my sense of self-worth was determined by my KDR or W/L ratio in a given game.

  • Once I blocked out the voice chat in the Modern Warfare II open beta, my experienced improved dramatically. While a squad of friends would definitely find squad channels valuable, playing with what are colloquially referred to as “randoms” (basically, people one doesn’t know in real life or have any sort of online friendship with) means that little is to be gained by using voice chat, especially if said randoms are being immature and spamming chat with juvenile comments. Playing Modern Warfare II with just the in-game ambience and dialogue is more than enough, although on the flip-side, it does show that Modern Warfare II‘s voice chat system is working as expected.

  • The same couldn’t be said about Battlefield 2042‘s open beta: while the game was still functional and mostly stable, the beta from last year was nowhere nearly as smooth as Modern Warfare II. It is clear that, from the state of their respective open betas, Modern Warfare II is in a much better position for launching in October. Here, I’ve switched over to another domination match on what would become my favourite of the maps during the open beta: Farm 18 is an abandoned cement plant turned into a live fire training ground, consisting of a kill house surrounded by flanking routes.

  • In most of the games I’ve played, matches end up being quite close, and I found that while there were times where I ended up losing, my performance would never be so bad as to be demoralising (as I had experienced during the WWII beta back in 2017). I’ve heard that SBMM for Modern Warfare II‘s open beta was very aggressive – when watching MrProWestie, he’d remarked that after doing moderately well in a game, he was subsequently matched into a “sweat” lobby, one where everyone was try-harding to the point where even a full-time content creator was having trouble keeping up.

  • There were a few occasions where I did feel that SBMM put me into a game with players far more skillful or determined than myself, but even in these games (which were rare), I would eventually get into the swing of things and manage to hold my own. In the worst matches I played, my team still ended up losing by a few points, and similarly, in the best matches I played, my team won by a small margin. I did find that during games against tougher foes, I would always gain a sudden burst of performance and mow down foes one after another – while not enough to single-handedly turn the tide of battle or turn my KDR positive, such moments were fun and encouraged me not to drop out of a game mid-match.

  • Breenbergh Hotel was another map I particularly enjoyed. For domination, two capture points are located inside the hotel (one in the restaurant, and one in the lobby). The last capture point is located outside. The corridors and clutter in the hotel meant that long-range weapons aren’t viable here, and for this particular match, I spawned in with the base M4 without any attachments; I levelled up far enough to unlock custom loadouts, and as I worked on ranking up the M4, I eventually picked up the 45-round extended magazine for it.

  • Between the extended magazines and suppressor, I suddenly found myself much better equipped to score back-to-back kills before needing to reload: while tap-firing works well for medium range combat, in close quarters, the sheer chaos means that automatic fire ends up being the norm. Having fifty percent more ammunition to work with increases one’s survivability in these situations, and while the tradeoff is a longer reload time, reloading when out of combat offsets this particular disadvantage.

  • The new gunsmith has a similar UI to the gunsmith from Modern Warfare, but the largest difference now is that players can change out the weapon’s receiver. I didn’t get quite far enough to unlock the M16 receiver, but this approach represents a significant improvement over the original Modern Warfare, which had separate weapon unlocks for each individual weapon. Modern Warfare II allows players to unlock attachments for a weapon family, and then unlocking receivers grants access to some (or most) of one’s existing attachments. In my case, had I actually reached the M16 receiver, most of the attachments I already had for the M4 would carry over, allowing me to instantly start using the new gun without needing to work my way back up from the iron sights.

  • For kicks, I ended up equipping a slow-firing marksman rifle and got the first kill of that match. Such a weapon is unlikely to work out in the close-quarters environment that makes up the domination mode, but it was quite amusing to score kills in this way. The nature of Modern Warfare II‘s more traditional maps and modes mean that most players will prefer automatic weapons. To level up and experience longer-range combat, one must either play Ground War or Invasion, both of which provide a larger-scale match which changes up the play-style.

  • Prior to Modern Warfare, Call of Duty was known for valuing speedy reflexes above tactical play. While I’ve fared moderately well in these ranges as a result of preferring close-quarters combat from my Halo days, after I made the jump to Battlefield, I slowly acclimatised to more tactical, methodical gameplay at medium ranges. The maps in Call of Duty don’t always cater to this style, but I found that, rather than dying to a bad flank, I ended up suffering most at the hands of campers, who prefer remaining concealed in an area and scoring kills by ambushing unsuspecting players.

  • Camping will become a more popular approach in Modern Warfare II, since the minimap now hides all foes unless they’ve been spotted by a UAV or other equivalent means. The result of this is that the UAV became one of the more popular score-streaks, since it allowed one to reveal the position of enemies on the minimap for their entire team so long as the streak was active. In the absence of the UAV score-streak, I ended up using my grenades more generously, tossing them into a room and letting them detonate before I entered for myself.

  • One map I ended up playing a great deal of was Valderas Museum, which is a complex of corridors and rooms surrounding a large, open central area. The combat flows very rapidly on this map, so unsurprisingly, the M4 was my go-to weapon for this map: it fires fast enough to deal with foes at close quarters, but is accurate enough to pick off foes from across the courtyard. I ended up trying out the SMGs, and while they’re fantastic at close ranges (like their counterparts from Battlefield, they’re reasonably accurate even when hip-fired), larger maps with long sightlines make them a little less viable.

  • Besides the killtacular I got early in the open beta, I would end up scoring several double kills and triple kills once I found my flow – my customised M4 and its extended magazine proved to be an invaluable tool for clearing out capture points from attacking foes, while the ACOG sight gave me better clarity at longer ranges. Since Modern WarfareCall of Duty has done a fantastic job of ensuring all attachments have their pros and cons. While I cut my teeth in the Battlefield camp and prefer the larger-scale all-out warfare of Battlefield over the close-quarters chaos that characterises Call of Duty, recent Call of Duty titles have shown me how Infinity Ward is catching up in terms of engine sophistication.

  • After nearly a decade of being on the backfoot, I feel that Call of Duty has now matched DICE and their Frostbite Engine in terms of sophistication, and moreover, Call of Duty appears to be using their engine more effectively than Battlefield uses the Frostbite Engine – Battlefield 2042‘s beta suffered from performance issues that endured even into the game today, whereas Modern Warfare II was very smooth. DICE has worked tirelessly to fix these issues, although in my case, I’ve found that the massive upgrade in hardware is what allows me to play Battlefield 2042 now.

  • While the open beta was a fantastic way to ascertain that my machine can handle Modern Warfare II, what I’m most excited about is the campaign, which is the main reason why I play and enjoy Call of Duty. Call of Duty campaigns vary in size and scope, but they always offer an engrossing story that gives me a chance to discuss topics that I otherwise wouldn’t talk about – the political aspects in first and third person shooters invite conversation surrounding these matters, whereas most of the anime I watch tend not to cover such topics. I have found that anime tends to use politics to convey very specific messages, whereas Western entertainment is a bit more open-ended.

  • In earlier Call of Duty games, the “overkill” perk allows one to carry two primary weapons, and the default loadouts in Modern Warfare II‘s open beta similarly have two primary weapons. Here, I swapped over to the shotgun and promptly downed a foe defending one of the capture points. I don’t play the multiplayer extensively, so I don’t know which perks are the most effective for different scenarios, but I have heard that Modern Warfare II changes the way perks work: besides two base perks, players will automatically unlock two special perks to change the game dynamic.

  • I ended up returning to the Invasion mode so I could do some sniping, and en route to a good vantage point, I ended up being ambushed. The sniper loadout comes with the Signal 50 by default – this was the only long-range weapon available in the open beta, and it was obscenely powerful. However, being a sniper rifle, players are left at a disadvantage if they’re in close quarters. Fortunately, the sniper loadout comes with an automatic pistol which works in a pinch. Battlefield 2042 recently introduced the PF51, which fulfils a similar role.

  • The Signal 50 proved to be a remarkably fun weapon to use, and I ended up going on killstreaks with it. Here, I unlocked the Cruise Missile, which lets one drop a missile onto a target similarly to how Battlefield V allowed players to call in a V1 or JB-2. While higher kill streaks offer powerful bonuses, I found that overall, the best score streak unlock is the UAV owing to its ability to instantly reveal enemy positions on the minimap. The removal of enemies on the minimap after they discharged an unsuppressed weapon became a point of contention for long-time players. Some argue that this encourages camping, while others hold that this means players can equip other attachment besides suppressors.

  • One of my favourite moments during the Invasion game mode came when I managed to score a kill at 295 metres. Unlike Battlefield 2042Modern Warfare II retains a means of showing players the distance of a particularly impressive kill, and I admit that it was quite satisfying to land this kill. During this match, I ended up climbing onto the water tower at Sarrif Bay and spent the better half of the game sniping foes from afar.

  • Towards the end of the beta, I unlocked a battle rifle. Although I’d initially struggled with the weapon, after getting a few kills with it, I ended up hitting my stride. During this game, my team was outmatched, and I don’t mind admitting that I was more interested in trying out the battle rifle than I was in playing the objective. However, despite losing the match, I led the team on the scoreboard: I was finding that I was regularly finishing first or second in spite of my generally poor knowledge of Call of Duty mechanics.

  • Overall, I found myself having a great deal of fun during the Modern Warfare II open beta, significantly more than I’d anticipated, and considerably more than I did during the WWII open beta. I had sat out the Modern Warfare and Cold War open betas in previous years because I’d modified my previous machine in a way that prevented it from being updated to Windows 10. Last May, I ended up merging the user profiles back together and then updated my machine to Windows 10, but by that point, the i5 3570K was beginning to show its age. With my new desktop, I’m looking forwards to having the hardware needed to run games for the next six to eight years.

  • I’ll wrap this post up with one final kill from the Hurricane SMG and remark that I’ve just finished Modern Warfare‘s campaign. I’ll write about my thoughts on this come October, and in the meantime, I’ve got one more post lined up for September – I’ve finished Spy × Family‘s first season and found it a remarkable anime, so I look forwards to sharing my thoughts on why this anime is universally acclaimed, as well as some of the things that Spy × Family does especially well from an espionage and surveillance perspective.

With the open beta in the books, I now have a much better sense of what Modern Warfare II entails. Beyond my usual reasons for keeping an eye on a Call of Duty title, I know that Modern Warfare II now offers a fantastic alternative to the close-quarters combat of the usual maps, and the unforgiving environment of Warzone, which requires a squad and time commitment to yield maximum enjoyment. Invasion has proven to be a surprisingly enjoyable change of pace: maps are significantly larger than the typical maps for domination and TDM, giving one a chance to snipe and use vehicles, but at the same time, the allowance for respawns means that there is tolerance for making mistakes, and applying learnings from said mistakes immediately. The last time I played a Call of Duty open beta, it would’ve been five years ago, when WWII was released. Back then, the multiplayer gameplay proved underwhelming and clunky. However, it is plain that Activision has improved their game considerably since then: Modern Warfare II looks incredible, and for the first time, I see myself playing a Call of Duty game’s multiplayer component. In conjunction with a campaign that looks excellent, there is a very good chance that I will be checking out Modern Warfare II shortly after it launches. Between a promising title and the hardware to do so, I am presently leaning towards picking the game up after I’ve had the chance to to preview the campaign’s content and see for myself how things handle following launch. I’ve traditionally picked up Call of Duty games for their story missions and therefore don’t get much replay out of the games, but in the case of Modern Warfare II, between the presence of multiplayer modes that interest me, in conjunction with a Spec Ops mode and the fact that I’ve enjoyed all of the Call of Duty campaigns I’ve previously played, I am reasonably confident that Modern Warfare II would be a game that engages me. All that’s left now is for the early-adopters to give me a bit of additional insight into what I’d be getting into, and then I’ve got enough to make a decision as to whether or not Modern Warfare II is worth the full price of admissions, or if it will join my library at a later date.

Battlefield 2042: Celebrating 1500 Posts, Becoming A Master of Arms Through Adaptive Design Choices and Regaining My Proficiency As A Marksman

“If you so choose, even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities. If you so choose, you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.” –Ralph Marston

After a solid first season of content, DICE has appeared to have righted the ship – their new map has proven to be a hit in accommodating all play-styles, and the new weapons were fun. While content has come at a glacial pace, what has arrived has been enjoyable, and DICE’s has several updates announced. With plans for returning the specialists into class-based roles based on their gadget choices, along with to rework the existing maps so they have more extensive cover, Battlefield 2042 is slowly inching back to a state that players had been expecting since the game’s launch almost a year ago. While the hour is late for DICE, since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is releasing in October, the improvements made to the game so far and those that are on the horizon has meant that, together with the seasonal unlocks, Battlefield 2042 has offered players with the incentive of returning again. I had not expected to put any time into Battlefield 2042‘s multiplayer proper, but over the past few months, I’ve found myself returning; although my reflexes aren’t what they used to be, and my map and weapon knowledge nowhere near what it’d be if I play with the same frequency I did a few years earlier, I am finding that I am having fun in the matches I join. The latest map to join the Battlefield 2042 rotation is Stranded. Set in the Panama Canal, this map consists of plains and hilly ground surrounding a derelict cargo ship whose cavernous interior is open for exploration. The map’s design is such that there are areas to accommodate all play styles. Inside the container ship, the narrow quarters mean that submachine guns and shotguns dominate, whereas outside, sniper rifles and marksman rifles are effective. Vehicles and zip-lines allow players to traverse the map easily, and the variety of environments mean that combat is varied and ever-changing, demanding that players be familiar with both close quarters and long range tactics in order to be successful. The variety of combat options available to players on Stranded has proven to be remarkably entertaining, and like Exposure, provided hours of enjoyment. Overall, Battlefield 2042 is gradually returning to a state where it is fun again, and with the multiplayer enticing me to return to the game, I’ve now amassed about ninety-two hours of time in the game. I had not expected to partake in PvP again, but one element in Battlefield 2042 has made this experience significantly more enjoyable – the fact that I am able to unlock attachments for weapons in the solo mode.

While Battlefield 2042 may have altered the core mechanics behind its class system, suffered from performance issues and started players with poorly-designed maps, the one aspect that Battlefield 2042 has been a front-runner in is its solo mode. In this area, Battlefield 2042 has demonstrated exemplary innovation, providing a full-scale environment for one to test new weapons and attachments. Previously, Battlefield had only given players a firing range to test recoil patterns on weapons one had already unlocked, and so, when one decided to make the switch from their preferred weapons to try something new, they would always start with the base weapon and no attachments. This left one out of their element, and at a distinct disadvantage in a firefight, especially if one were going against players who were using weapons that were customised precisely to their liking. This makes it difficult to find the motivation to use newly unlocked weapons and get a feel for them. Conversely, here in Battlefield 2042, the fact that one can play full matches against AI bots on maps means having the chance to learn how a weapon handles in a practical situation against foes that offer a reasonable idea of how said weapons might perform against live foes in PvP. Moreover, because one can actually unlock attachments for their weapons in solo mode, it is possible to kit one’s weapon out and determine what attachments best suits one’s style well before one ever sets foot in a live match. In this way, I was able to unlock enough of a given weapon’s attachments and learn about them before ever going against human players. The end result of this was that, when I did end up returning to Battlefield 2042 for Exposure and Stranded, I already had a loadout I was comfortable with using. As such, when playing against people on a live server, I never once felt as though my loadout was putting me on the backfoot, and ultimately, irrespective of whether or not I won a match, I ended up having fun exploring the map and blasting foes with the tools available to me. This has contributed greatly to my enjoyment of Battlefield 2042, and looking ahead, I am of the mind that the solo mode in Battlefield 2042 should be a feature that future titles incorporate into things.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Before going any further, I will stop to mention here that this is my 1500th post, speaking to the amount of time I’ve been writing for. If memory serves, the last time I hit a milestone would’ve been when I hit 1000 posts back in October 2018. The last time I wrote about Battlefield 2042, it would’ve been late June. Back then, Season One was getting started, and I remember having a fantastic time on the map. The biggest reason I was able to suddenly jump into a PvP environment was because by then, I’d already had all the weapons unlocked, along with a sizeable collection of attachments.

  • Prior to the first season, my older machine struggled to run Battlefield 2042, so I mostly spent my time on the solo servers. While experience here is capped, and ribbons can’t be earned, every kill still contribute to a weapon’s usage. Stranded allows for medium and long range combat outdoors, but inside the derelict cargo ship, narrow corridors and chokepoints make it an excellent place for folks running close quarters weapons. At this point in time, DICE still hasn’t applied any updates towards how specialists work yet, so for the time being, it’s still possible for players to customise their loadouts completely. I typically go with Angel because of his ability to drop loadout crates, which allow me to change roles at will.

  • Updates in the future are supposed to constrain gadgets to specific specialists, although at present, I’ve not heard of any plans to constrain weapon types to certain specialists. While the current situation in Battlefield 2042 doesn’t affect my ability to contribute to my team, I have noticed that running Angel means I can operate fairly independently of other players, which defeats the purpose of teamwork. Similarly, if I can switch out my weapons at will, I’m much less reliant on teammates and therefore won’t rely on them as much. This has resulted in players opting to play the game without a thought for teamwork: revives, resupplies, repairs and heals are much rarer than they’d been in earlier titles.

  • Limiting certain specialists to specific gadgets and weapon types is, on paper, all that’s needed to bring Battlefield 2042‘s class system back: specialists are simply a more evolved version of the archetypes Battlefield V introduced, and since every specialist has a dedicated ability, one could make the case that with gadget and weapon constraints, specialists would actually increase team play, since players now are limited to only one gadget that lets them to fulfil a team role, and therefore must depend on other players for support.

  • Battlefield 2042‘s latest updates introduces statistics to the game, and while I’m a little disappointed that the more interesting measures, like longest headshot, no longer appear, the game does give some insight into how one is doing. At the time of writing, I’ve got a 53 percent win rate and a KDR of 0.76 – I’m certainly not a skillful player by any means, as I only play for fun. In Battlefield V and Battlefield 1, I put in a little more effort towards improving because I had significantly more time to play, but I also remember how things were more stressful in the earlier titles because time-limited unlocks could only be done in live multiplayer matches.

  • Conversely, here in Battlefield 2042, I’m not particularly worried about staying alive long enough to complete my assignments because, if I should miss them, there will be a chance to re-attempt things in a solo server. In this way, I’m able to focus purely on having fun whenever I come online for a match of Battlefield 2042 and not worry too much about my individual performance in a game. KDR to me matters less than helping my teammates out, and I frequently top the scoreboards because I make liberal use the tools available to me beyond my primary weapon.

  • Rather than focusing on kills alone, I do my best to ensure my teammates have enough health and ammo to survive firefights, know where their foes are and bring them back into a fight when safe to do so. This approach has helped my team to victory on several occasions and allowed me to complete assignments asking players to win a certain number of matches. However, I am able to hold my own in firefights where appropriate: playing solo mode has allowed me to learn all of the weapons well enough to choose what works best for me, in addition to providing access to enough attachments to make life easier.

  • Now that I’ve got a GPU capable of real-time ray-tracing, I’ve elected to max all of my settings out and turn ray-tracing on for Battlefield 2042: serious players will set everything to low and disable all of the fancy features to get as many frames as possible, but for me, playing on full settings means getting the best immersion into the game. Here, I notice the reflection of the red cargo containers on my weapon: the K30 is the Kriss Vector, and it’s the fastest firing submachine gun in Battlefield 2042. It was fun to watch the reflections change in response to where I was on the map.

  • As a submachine gun, the K30 excels in mowing down opponents at close range and in exchange, is ineffective at longer ranges. Of the submachine guns in Battlefield 2042, I’m most comfortable with the K30 and MP9: they’re reliable weapons for short-range battles and maintain high accuracy when hip-fired. The deck of the cargo container is an excellent place to use submachine guns, and in live matches, this is a hotly-contested location because the deck offers unparalleled vantage points of the entire map.

  • The team that controls the Charlie capture point can actually get to the ship’s upper decks and gain a considerable advantage as a sniper. I’ve enjoyed control of this position on several occasions, enough to make use of the DXR-1 to pick off foes from the control points below. This is the best long-range rifle in the game bar none at the time of writing, and I’ve unlocked the 10x optic for it, allowing me to place my shots with confidence. Since Battlefield 2042‘s bolt-action rifles all have straight-pull bolts by default, it makes it easy to see how much I need to adjust my aim by if I miss my first shot.

  • Making use of the proximity sensor by chucking one into a heavily populated area will automatically spot everyone, and any teammates will also be able to see them. If teammates then score a kill against a spotted foe, one will receive experience points equivalent to getting a kill. This is a trick I picked up off Battlefield YouTubers: while I’m ambivalent about streamers, there are a handful of people I greatly respect. MrProWestie, LevelCap, JackFrags and TheRadBrad are my favourite gaming personalities, offering a balance of useful and informative content that is simultaneously humourous.

  • The main thing about these YouTubers is that their videos are genuinely helpful. Whether it’s the points of feedback MrProWestie provides for Battlefield, loadout suggestions from JackFrags, general news from LevelCap, or TheRadBrad’s approach for levels I may get stuck in, watching their videos aids me in improving my game. This is what I look for in online streamers; anyone who consistently provide useful information is worth my while. I don’t watch YouTubers or streamers for their personalities alone, but rather, how well they can deliver what I came for.

  • While I typically don’t watch streamers, the reason why TheRadBrad, LevelCap, MrProWestie and JackFrags are engaging enough for me to make an exception because, after watching their videos, there’s an incentive to try out something they’ve suggested, and I’ve done several things during my time in Battlefield that were directly inspired by some of their videos. My favourite two include camping at the end of Hamada with dynamite and a panzerfaust from JackFrags’ “How to have fun in Battlefield 5” video, and LevelCap’s “I BOMBED a Bomber!” (also in Battlefield V).

  • The relative lack of content in Battlefield 2042 means that my favourite YouTubers have gone on to play other games like Call of Duty: Warzone, and it is in part for this reason that I’m now following developments on Modern Warfare II – while I have no intention of playing Warzone IIModern Warfare II itself looks exceptional, and I’m quite excited to see how this one unfolds. If the launch is solid, I do see myself picking up and playing Modern Warfare II shortly after. Hardware is no longer a challenge, so whether or not I’ll pull the trigger on Modern Warfare II is going to be dictated by how engaging the campaign looks, and how stable the game is.

  • Back in Battlefield 2042, the benefit of throwing a proximity sensor and collecting assists is apparent to me, giving me a chance to contribute to my team’s efforts. When I first began the Master of Arms season, I was losing every match I played. I’ve never been a deft hand in getting kills, but my enjoyment of Battlefield 2042 comes from utilising every tool in the arsenal to score points. In many matches, I end up in the top quartile of players simply by reviving, resupplying, healing and spotting for teammates, and even if my KDR is negative for that match, I’ll have a good time anyways.

  • With this in mind, I do get the occasional kill here and there: here, I pick off a foe shortly after my team’s captured the second sector during a round of Breakthrough. Of the two biggest modes in Battlefield 2042, Breakthrough is one I especially enjoy because of how it clusters players together into small areas. In the chaos, it can be a great place for reviving, healing and resupplying entire squads, as well as spotting groups of enemies. On the flipside, Conquest is better for vehicle-oriented goals and sandbox moments. I enjoy both modes, as both offer a different way to play.

  • When it comes to sniping, being a defender on Breakthrough offers one of the most action-packed environments for sniping. By this point in time, I’ve unlocked the 10x scope for the DXR-1, and its reticule is among the cleanest of the high-magnification optics, making it easy to keep track of one’s target even as they’re moving. While I do have a holographic sight and an 8x scope as well, I’ve found that, at least for the sniper rifles, I rarely need to utilise the + system in order to change out the attachments because they’re so specialised that I’ll stay far away from the frontlines.

  • Here, I’ve unlocked the AM40: this assault rifle is based off the Avtomat Malogabaritnyj Model 17, which was unveiled by Kalashnikov Concern in 2017 and is intended to replace the AKS-74U as a close-quarters rifle. Five years since its introduction, the AM-17 has seen limited use and isn’t quite ready for widespread service yet. Battlefields 2042‘s implementation of the AM-17 places the AM40 as a cross between an assault rifle and submachine gun, giving it a high rate of fire best suited for closer-range engagements.

  • Initially, the base AM40 is is stymied by its small magazine size: players begin their journey with a twenty-one round high powered magazine, which allows the weapon to reach out a little further than if standard rounds were used. To gain a feel for the weapon, I ended up playing a few rounds in solo mode and became comfortable with using the AM40 to take on a small number of foes before ducking behind cover to reload. The iron sights on the AM40 are reasonably clear, but since the K8 holographic sight is unlocked after a mere five kills, I swapped over to that immediately.

  • The AM40’s presence in Battlefield 2042 is in keeping with how the other weapons handle: the + system means that most assault rifles can be tuned for longer range or shorter range combat, and while the other rifles can be changed into a makeshift marksman rifle, the AM40 can be transformed into a makeshift submachine gun in a pinch. The idea of being able to change one’s roles on such short notice actually was probably meant to mirror how specialists can equip any gadget of their choosing and maximise versatility. While this is a great idea for single-player games, the whole point of multiplayer is to work as a team. As such, I would argue that making gadgets and weapons class-specific, but then retaining the + system would strike a balance between flexibility and encouraging specific roles for team play.

  • One unusual behaviour I noticed since Master of Arms began was the fact that attachments would sometimes “freeze” for the AM40. For instance, if I reached 120 kills and unlocked the TV 2x optic, that optic would actually be unavailable for selection and still show as locked. It would then become unlocked after I left my current game and then hit the next unlock tier, after which all of the previously locked attachments would unlock. If this is a bug, one hopes that DICE would rectify this: it’s not a game-breaker, but it is a bit of a nuisance.

  • While the NTW-50 is the last weapon unlocked in Battlefield 2042, it is highly situational and only really useful in certain scenarios. Originally, the weapon had been quite effective at damaging vehicles (three shots could destroy hovercrafts and the LATV4 Recon), but DICE quickly made a patch to reduce its power. Being an anti-materiel weapon, the NTW-50 remains somewhat effective at damaging vehicle parts and can one-shot soldiers at close range, but its slow rate of fire and low muzzle velocity makes it ill-suited for most combat encounters.

  • Here, I rush capture point echo, located on the eastern edge of the map near the Russian deployment, with the PKP-BP. Until the Avancys was introduced, this was the only other light machine gun available to players besides the LCMG, and I’ve found the PKP-BP to be my preferred LMG of choice when locking down control points owing to its higher firing rate and starting capacity. This weapon is powerful enough so that a single player with one can lock down a choke point on their own, and its recoil is manageable, allowing it to be useful in a range of situations.

  • I still recall how the K30 was the last unlock in Battlefield 2042‘s open beta, and here, I managed to get the jump on two players who were camping on the tower south of the ship. I had enough ammunition to deal with two of the three players, but the last player caught on, and as I fumbled with the revolver, said player sent me back to the spawn screen.

  • Here, I defend capture point bravo in the final few moments of a losing match: an uncivilised and unskilled player on my team, Peskoly, spent the entire match spamming the text chats with complaints about how my team wasn’t doing enough to keep him alive while he flew. I therefore found it unsurprising that Peskoly didn’t even make it onto the scoreboard, whereas I ended up in the top ten by the time the match ended (despite joining later). When the match ended, the remainder of my teammates laid the blame on Peskoly for single-handedly costing everyone the match.

  • It does feel strange that Battlefield 2042‘s team chat only allows one to communicate with their team, whereas in previous titles, one could also message players on the other team. While this does make sense from a team perspective, one of my strategies in older Battlefield titles was to call out anyone who had killed me via camping as cheater, and this always would rile that player up so much they’d abandon the objective and team play to go after me. In a given match, if I could do this to two or three of their players, it actually created enough of a distraction so my team could make a comeback. I consider camping the height of dishonour, and have never felt guilty about using such a tactic to even things out.

  • With the text chat now limited to my team only, such a method is no longer viable. With this being said, Battlefield 2042 has been much better in that I’ve not encountered any cheats in the PvP matches I’ve played. Having said this, I retain an enjoyment of getting back at people who get lucky kills on me through camping, and here, I land a headshot on one ItsPandaMan within seconds of respawning after they’d gotten me earlier by camping: although “hackusations” are funny to sling around, there’s no substitute for headshotting a camper.

  • During the course of Master of Arms, I became much more comfortable with operating the bolt action rifles, and during my time on Stranded, I became moderately proficient with the DXR-1 to the point where I was able to score a headshots from around 330 metres away here on one Amniesa. It is a shame that Battlefield 2042 doesn’t keep track of one’s best headshot distance: while I’m not a fantastic marksman by any stretch, it is fun to see if I can score long-distance shots in a given title. In Battlefield V, my record was 356 metres, and in Battlefield 1, I managed to get a headshot from 383 metres on Sinai Desert towards the end of my time there.

  • A 330 metre headshot is not close to my old records, but this does show that I’m slowly getting used to the mechanics of Battlefield 2042. To estimate headshot distance, I used the spotting marker: I roughly know where my foes were located and where I placed my shot, so making the estimate wasn’t too tricky. By this point in time, I’ve become quite at home with using Battlefield 2042‘s bolt-action rifles and would hope that a few more are added to the game in the future, along with some FLIR optics so players can see through the smoke – since smoke grenades were added to the game, players have used them liberally to cover their position and make it difficult to aim, so adding a countermeasure for this would help with strategy.

  • I’ll round this post off with a moment of me using the PF51, a machine-pistol modelled after the Kel-Tec P50 and is designed to use the same magazines as the FN P90. With a fifty round magazine, this weapon is the perfect secondary weapon for marksmen, as it provides an automatic option for situations where one gets into a close-quarters confrontation. At the time of writing, I’ve yet to unlock the Avancys, but three weeks into the second season, I’ve made reasonable progress and more importantly, I’m having fun in Battlefield 2042.

Battlefield 2042‘s implementation of solo modes and AI bots, as well as how the unlocks earned here carry over into the PvP modes, allow players to approach the game at their own pace. Unlocks are no longer dependent on spending a large amount of time in PvP, making this ideal for folks who don’t have a considerable amount of time to spend on keeping up-to-date with their gaming. Multiplayer games are typically designed for folks whose schedules do not include housework and other day-to-day tasks to tend to – they involve a nontrivial time commitment, making it trickier to keep up with weekly assignments and unlocks. For instance, last season, I ended up missing out on the Ghostmaker R10. However, Battlefield 2042‘s implementation of unlocks allows me to earn the crossbow by means of completing an assignment. Earning twenty-five headshots and three takedown kills is what this assignment entails. While takedown kills are rather difficult to perform, any takedowns carried out in solo mode do count towards the total. This means that I am able to earn the crossbow even though I’d missed the original window. This approach is excellent for people like myself, and while Battlefield 2042 may have noticeable shortcomings, its approach towards unlocks is exemplary. In fact, besides suggesting that future Battlefield games would benefit from such a system, I argue that Call of Duty would also find this approach viable. Call of Duty games have always excelled in providing AI bots, but here, all of the weapons are already unlocked for players to experiment with. Unlocks for use in PvP can only be earned in live matches, and this can make it tricky to rank up new weapons, especially if one is playing against skilled players. This is why feel little incentive to play Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer mode in PvP even though the AI bots have proven fun – I only have the starting weapons available to me, and the competitive atmosphere means playing against humans can be quite stressful. Conversely, if the upcoming Modern Warfare II allows players to rank up weapons families in both PvP modes and against AI bots, it would offer busier players with more flexibility in how they wish to play the game. Call of Duty presently has the upper hand over Battlefield, but Battlefield hasn’t struck out completely – while Battlefield 2042 may have its limitations, allowing progress to be shared between private matches and PvP is the one area where Activision would do well to take a leaf from DICE’s book.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare- Part III Review and Reflection, Remarks On The Horrors and Desolation of Warfare

“If you can transcend from the dark rut of disempowered thinking to the bright light of an empowered agreement with reality, you will see opportunities, not barriers. You will see the finish line, not the hurdles.” –Steve Maraboli

Having lost their target, Garrick, Alex and Farah coordinate to take The Wolf out in Urzikstan. The ambush is unsuccessful when General Barkov’s forces appear and fire upon both the rebels and Al-Qatala. During the fighting, Farah learns that Hadir had been the one who orchestrated the theft of the Russian chemicals, and he uses it to kill all of Barkov’s soldiers. In a flashback, Farah and Hadir were orphaned during Barkov’s operation and were captured. While imprisoned, Farah eventually became recognised as a commander for the rebels and managed to break out of prison. In the process, she encounters Captain Price. In the present day, Garrick and Alex mount an assault on The Wolf’s Compound, and although they are successful in apprehending The Wolf, Hadir is nowhere to be found. Farah’s organisation is subsequently dubbed a terror group, and Alex decides to remain in Urzikstan, against orders, to fight alongside Farah’s forces. Meanwhile, acting on intelligence that Hadir may have been responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Russia, Garrick and Price head to St. Petersburg, where they meet up with Nikolai, one of Price’s old contacts. Having finally resumed my journey, I’m three quarters of the way through Modern Warfare, and the game’s gritty portrayal of warfare sets it apart from the cinematic set pieces of earlier titles. Here in Modern Warfare, the ugly side of conflict is shown: war isn’t heroic and only serves to perpetuate more conflict. It’s a different thematic direction than the older titles, acting as a sobering reminder of the horrors that can arise from war in a significantly more visceral manner than did the earlier Call of Duty games. Modern Warfare is especially effective in its messaging because of its first person perspectives; through giving players a chance to play as Farah when she witnessed her father’s death, and again as a prisoner in Barkov’s prison, Modern Warfare strips away the agency from players.

When Farah was a child, she lacked the physical strength to take down a Russian soldier in a direct confrontation. The powerlessness is apparent: although Farah has a makeshift knife with her, it takes several attempts, and during the whole ordeal, Farah must hide from the soldier. Until now, players have grown accustomed to being able to expertly sneak up behind a foe and take them down in a single, swift stroke. However, Farah doesn’t have this power as a child, and in this way, eluding the Russian soldier turns Modern Warfare into a game of suspense and patience. Similarly, when Farah does find a revolver, the recoil is so great that missing any shot results in instant death. The first person perspective also gives players a brutal insight into why Barkov is an enemy. At his prison, Farah is powerless to fight Barkov and can only endure as Barkov’s men torture her for information. The inability to do anything to better her situation in this moment speaks to the sort of despair and resilience she and her fellow rebels must have experienced until they had the opportunity to break out and fight back against their oppressors. Depriving agency from the player, when done in moderation, is an especially effective storytelling mechanism: in a game where players have the power and tools to make a difference, taking this away really emphasises the abject terror of being unable to defend oneself. This approach is known in liberal arts as a “disempowerment fantasy” by denying freedom and creates the impression that goals cannot be achieved. Although some folks are of the mind that disempowerment fantasies make for superior games by forcing players to feel bad about the characters, the reality is that, when poorly executed, disempowerment fantasies force players to acknowledge their perceived inabilities. However, when done well, as is the case in Modern Warfare, showing moments of disempowerment also encourages players to delve further into the story and appreciate what is possible when one is provided with the means of make a difference.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The eighth mission is predominantly a sniping mission, and players will gain access to Hadir’s custom sniper rifle, a bolt-action rifle that fires .338 Lapua Magnum rounds with armour-piercing capabilities out to 600 metres. The mission is an extended version of One Shot, One Kill and similarly requires players to adjust for both wind and bullet drop. To be successful in this mission, Farah’s advice should be taken: she will provide all of the information one needs to estimate distance and projectile deviation, and players will have a chance to get a few practise shots off before The Wolf’s convoy shows up.

  • Aside from Hadir’s rifle, Alex also has access to a handful of other weapons. The AK-47 grenadier varaint with a red dot sight is also provided, and with its large magazine, it’s a suitable weapon for short and medium ranges. Picking off the Al-Qatala fighters from range is straightforward enough, especially since they will take cover among the structures in the town below: hitting moving targets when the wind shifts is tricky, but for the most part, the Al-Qatala fighters stand still, giving one a chance to line up their shots.

  • It’s now been two weeks since I installed the RTX 3060 Ti, and having now had the time to test its performance, I’ve found that the card has proven to be exceptionally capable with the tasks I’ve sent at it. Modern Warfare handles extremely well, and the rendering artefacts that had been present previously are absent now. Weapon models therefore look extremely polished and sharp. The GTX 1060 had no problem with framerates, but I imagine that it might’ve had trouble rendering some of the textures. The RTX 3060 Ti is about 133 percent faster and is better able to handle lighting effects, so this isn’t too surprising.

  • From a temperature perspective, my RTX 3060 Ti idles at around 50° and reaches 65°C under load. Altogether, I am very satisfied with the video card’s performance: the improvement is roughly similar to when I made the upgrade to the GTX 1060 from the GTX 660, which was present in my original build from 2013. That machine had been built for moderate gaming, and while it couldn’t run period titles with everything set to ultra at 60 FPS and 1080p (for instance, the GTX 660 struggled with Battlefield 4), it had proven to be more than enough for the games I’d been interested in.

  • The release of DOOM in 2016 was eventually what convinced me to upgrade, and for six years, the GTX 1060 had continued to be my workhorse GPU, handling everything I tasked it with, including Metro Exodus and DOOM Eternal. While the old GTX 1060 is still in fighting shape, my decision to upgrade came from the fact that I was looking to get something that could handle VR more effectively on top of being able to mess with real-time ray tracing. In this way, much as how DOOM led me to upgrade to the GTX 1060, it is fair to say that DOOM Eternal and Half-Life: Alyx encouraged me to step up to the RTX 3060 Ti.

  • Back in Modern Warfare, the mission to apprehend The Wolf gives players a chance to experience Zero Dark Thirty for themselves: after cutting the lights to The Wolf’s hideout, the Infrared Night Vision (IRNV) goggles come on. In this state, players cannot aim down sight, but instead, make use of a special laser sight that’s only visible when IRNV is enabled. This mission’s emphasis on room clearing and stealth brought back memories of Zero Dark Thirty‘s portrayal of Operation Neptune Spear, where JSOC coordinated a successful raid at Waziristan Haveli to neutralise Osama bin Laden.

  • Similarly to Zero Dark Thirty, I waited for teammates to breach the parameter before entering, clearing out each room with caution: women and children are present on site, and some women will reach for nearby weapons. While it’s a snap decision to fire upon any combatant who’s armed, seeing unarmed women initially can throw players off. These aspects of warfare are conveyed to players through this mission, and it is in this way that Modern Warfare is able to excel as a game, by giving players a glimpse of how difficult it is to make decisions in the moment.

  • For this mission, as Garrick, players are equipped with the M13, which is outfitted with a reflex sight, suppressor and 1 mW laser, which can only be seen with the IRNV goggles. The M13 in Modern Warfare is based on the SIG MCX and while it’s a select-fire weapon chambered for the 5.56 mm NATO round, in the campaign, it’s configured to only fire in semi-automatic. The choice to constrain players to semi-automatic in the campaign is deliberate, meant to remind players to pick their shots carefully.

  • The lights momentarily come on after the first building is cleared, and a sweep of the premises finds that The Wolf is nowhere to be seen. Here, I look back into the electrical room, where a hot water heater can also be seen. The composition of this photo actually reminds me of the basement to the building that housed my first start-up, a former nurses’ quarters that had been around since the 1920s. A year ago, I revisited the site with a friend and found the building to be demolished: it must’ve sat empty since we’d closed up shop during the September of four years earlier.

  • Here, I pass through a room filled with computer equipment, storage media and physical files. Such a room would represent a treasure trove of information surrounding terror cells, but in this moment, the mission’s objective is to locate The Wolf. Moving through the cramped hallways and dark rooms in this mission was quite claustrophobic, and there are several moments where I used my flashbang grenades to buy myself some breathing room before entering a room with an unknown number of occupants.

  • As I climb the stairwell to the final floor, I noticed that it turns to the right, and in a moment of déjà vu, I gripped my mouse a little more tightly in anticipation of an unseen foe that was almost certainly around the corner. Moments later, the operator in front of me double-tapped an enemy combatant, and then shot him a few more times for good measure, bringing to mind a moment in Zero Dark Thirty that almost certainly inspired this scene. However, unlike Zero Dark Thirty, The Wolf isn’t on the final floor, and with the second building cleared, orders are given to turn the lights back on.

  • In a scene reminiscent of Zero Dark Thirty, the other operators immediately begin taking the place apart and recovering everything of value – even though The Wolf isn’t present, the communications The Wolf have with his cells could provide valuable intelligence on what Al-Qatala could have planned for the future and stop them ahead of time. Typically, once the material is recovered, it is passed along to intelligence analysts, who then pick everything apart, turn it into reports that then impact what operations the government and armed forces subsequently action.

  • The mission’s perspective switches over to that of Alex, who accompanies Farah in pursuit of The Wolf through a subterranean network of tunnels. While a relatively small map compared to Call of Duty‘s larger missions, the urgency is still felt in this second half. The tunnels are filled with makeshift traps that Alex must disarm – Bad Company 2 had done something similar in its missions, where tripwires would set off explosives that could injure or kill the player, and this forces one to be mindful of their surroundings.

  • Alex starts with a pistol and shotgun, so I immediately looted an AK-47 from a defeated Al-Qatala fighter. The starting Model 680 (an 870 MCS) is a solid shotgun in the tunnels’ close quarters, as every pull of the trigger fires off a deadly cone of buckshot that will shred foes. However, as a pump-action weapon, missing in the narrow tunnels can prove fatal. This particular Model 680 is armed with a red dot sight, although traditionally, I’ve found that shotguns can be fired from the hip with reasonable accuracy and don’t need to be aimed,

  • One of the aspects about campaigns that I’ve not been terribly fond of in campaigns is how there’s almost no options for weapon customisation. One game that did a fantastic job of this was 2015’s Battlefield Hardline: the campaign was extensive and thoughtfully done, and as players completed assignments in the story missions, they could unlock accessories and attachment for their weapons the same way they could for the multiplayer. In this way, the game allowed players to kit weapons out precisely to their liking, and while players were rewarded for stealth, players can always revisit the game and go loud in every mission.

  • As I pass by a lamp in the tunnels, the Model 860’s smooth textures become thrown into sharp relief. I’ve enabled ray tracing simply for kicks, and while the effects are subtle, it is nice to see light effects being rendered in real time. If disabled, games will use baked lighting, and there are a few areas in Modern Warfare where these effects are most pronounced. I still remember a conversation with a coworker at my first start up. Back then, real-time ray-tracing was still a novel technology – the techniques had existed to do it, but it remained out of reach for most consumers because of the incredibly high hardware requirements.

  • NVIDIA’s Turing cards brought real-time ray-tracing to consumers two years later – these cards have dedicated hardware for ray-tracing, which carries out calculations in parallel with the tensor cores to improve performance. The Turing cards were revolutionary, and while the gains in performance haven’t been quite as impressive as the gap between the Pascal and Maxwell cards, modern cards mean that real-time ray-tracing will continue to be more common in games as a bonus feature for those looking to really immerse themselves.

  • The merits of having an RTX series video card are most apparent when one plays games with real-time ray-tracing, and shortly after the Turing cards were released, developers began releasing updates to their games to add real-time ray-tracing. Games like DOOM EternalMetro: Exodus and Battlefield V greatly benefit from this technology, and having seen the comparisons for myself, I feel that it would be worthwhile to go back and play these games again, front-to-back – the differences are so significant that these games feel like entirely new entries.

  • Having said this, even games without real-time ray-tracing benefit from the new GPUs. As I’ve found, Ghost Recon: Wildlands can now be cranked up to maximum at1080p and still maintain a consistently high framerate. With the RTX 3060 Ti, I’ve not had any concerns about whether or not certain areas of Modern Warfare, such as the part where the timber framing is set on fire as a result of exploding fuel barrels, would give my machine trouble.

  • The real-time ray-tracing effects in Modern Warfare are a ways more subtle than something like DOOM Eternal, and I imagine that, had I been playing the multiplayer or Warzone battle royale modes, I’d leave real-time ray-tracing off. However, in campaigns, where exploration and marvelling at the graphics is a part of the experience, I prefer to have everything cranked up as high as it goes. Here, as I make my way deeper into the tunnels, I couldn’t help but get Metro vibes. I was introduced to that series when NVIDIA was doing a promotion with their Kepler GPUs and got Metro: Last Light for free with my GTX 660.

  • At the time, the GTX 660 was counted as a solid value GPU for 1080p gaming back in 2012, although it wasn’t going to run everything in Metro: Last Light at maximum settings (if memory serves, achieving this required a single GTX 690 or a pair of GTX 680s in SLI). I don’t think I ever ended up revisiting Metro: Last Light with my GTX 1060, but in benchmarks, this card would’ve given me excellent frame rates. With this in mind, I feel that playing through Metro: Exodus with the RTX 3060 Ti would be a fantastic choice, and return to Modern Warfare, where I finally apprehend The Wolf and subsequently disarm his suicide vest with seconds to spare.

  • With The Wolf’s death, Modern Warfare flashes back to a time when Farah and Hadir were Barkov’s prisoners. Hadir sets in motion a prison break, and while the mission initially has players completely unable to respond to anything Barkov does, once an explosion outside forces Barkov to investigate, Farah is given a chance to escape. One of the challenges in this mission is determining what can be interacted with, but once players figure out how to escape the prison block and confiscates a sidearm after killing one of the guards, Modern Warfare returns to form – it’s time to dispense some payback.

  • As helpful as a pistol is, Farah and the other prisoners can deal some real damage once she unlocks a weapons case. It turns out the key Hadir handed her was for such a purpose, and while all of the AK-47s available are in their base configuration, they’re more than enough to get the job done. By this point in time, iron sights are no longer a problem for me, and I had no trouble in using them to cut down all of the guards blocking Farah’s escape.

  • Real-time volumetric lighting has been a topic of interest since the late 2000s, during a time when games still largely depended on baked lighting. However, while graphics technology has improved wildly in the past decade, the heart of what makes a game worthwhile is gameplay and immersion. This is why older games are still engaging and worthwhile even if they are inferior from a visual standpoint; of late, games have relied increasingly on micro-transactions and cosmetics to continue driving profits, and this comes at the expense of game mechanics and immersion.

  • However, when a base game offers a good experience, I have no problems with picking up additional content for that game – Ace Combat 7The Division 2Ghost Recon: Wildlands and DOOM Eternal are examples of games where the downloadable content proved fun and engaging, extending my enjoyment of a title further. I appreciate that as production values in games increase, there has to be some way of ensuring developers can keep working on their craft, so for titles I really enjoy, I do not object to dropping a bit more coin.

  • Eventually, after making my way outside, I managed to pick up an AK-47 with optics, helping me to pick off foes from a longer range with increased confidence. Out here, Farah and the other rebels find themselves pinned down by a sniper. While there’s no way to kill the sniper directly, firing on the scope glint will force the sniper to temporarily retreat, buying Farah and the rebels enough time to move from cover to cover. During this process, additional guards will appear, and at these ranges, I found myself wishing for a good submachine gun or PDW – traditionally, submachine guns excel with hipfire and are a great choice for surprise close-quarters battles.

  • During the fighting, Barkov can be seen evacuating the area on a helicopter. One interesting piece that Modern Warfare chooses to portray here in this mission is Farah’s inexperience with various firearms – reloading times are longer and have different animations. Moreover, Farah can’t reload while aiming down sights, and recoil is much more aggressive. Attention to detail had previously been Battlefield‘s forte, and during the Battlefield 1 days, YouTubers were fond of showing off subtle things Battlefield did that were absent in Call of Duty. Today, the tables have turned – Battlefield 2042 lacks the same nuance as its predecessors, and Call of Duty games actually have superior detail.

  • Eventually, Farah and her compatriots will reach the warehouse. She takes down the sniper, and although her group is surrounded by Russian forces, who’ve regrouped, Captain Price and SAS operators arrive. They dispatch the Russians and accompany Farah’s group deeper into the complex. At this point, there’s no more firefights to deal with, leaving Farah to try and find Hadir. This mission sets in motion Farah’s leadership of the resistance forces in Urzikstan, and marks the first time where Price, then a leftenant, meets her.

  • In the end, Farah rescues Hadir with Price’s help – it turns out the Russians had been working on their chemical weapons programme even back during this time. I imagine that Hadir’s exposure to the gas is why he’d been so keen on turning these same weapons back against the Russians. With this knowledge, we enter the final act of Modern Warfare knowing what the stakes are, and I am hoping that there will be a chance to go loud as players work to stop both Barkov and the chemical weapons that are still loose in the wild.

  • We’re now halfway through September, and on the gaming front, I’ve been spending more time with Battlefield 2042 – between the start of the seasons back in June and the fact my machine can actually run the game at reasonable frame rates, I’ve found the game to be reasonably fun despite its deviations from previous titles. The game is in a significantly better spot than it had been when it launched, and I’m finding it to be a fairly engaging experience; I could think of worse ways of spending an evening than playing round or two to unwind.

Three-quarters of the way into Modern Warfare, it becomes clear that this instalment in the Call of Duty franchise is quite unconventional and shows how the first person perspective can be utilised to create an especially visceral story. The missions are significantly more tactical and smaller in scale compared to its predecessors, and the pacing is considerably slower. Engagements are tighter and more focused, demanding one pay more attention to smaller details. While lacking the bombastic set-pieces of the older titles, Modern Warfare manages to remain engaging precisely because of its more methodical approach towards storytelling and showing the measured patience that goes into each operation, as well as how hectic firefights become when plans fall by the wayside. The slower pacing in Modern Warfare will likely continue into the campaign’s final quarter, although here, it is worth noting that all other aspects of Modern Warfare are faster-paced, whether it be the close-quarters frenzy of multiplayer, or the pure chaos that happens in Warzone. This represents a pleasant, more introspective way of playing a Call of Duty game, and in this way, Modern Warfare shows how even in a world where multiplayer games gain considerably more attention than single player campaigns, the campaign continues to remain relevant by utilising the same tools and elements in a game to present a completely different experience, one that is worth going through. I was quite surprised to learn that Hadir had been responsible for the theft of the chemical weapons, and as I head over to St. Petersburg, I am now curious to learn how this story concludes.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands: The Dynames Loadout and Reflections on Retiring a Workhorse GPU

“Skills are skills; the same way tools are tools. How they are used defines the user, not the tools.” –Megan Derr

Folks familiar with Gundam 00 will remember the Dynames, one of the lead Gundams that was equipped for long-range anti mobile suit combat: the Dynames carries a GN Sniper Rifle and in Gundam 00, pilot Lockon Stratos utilises it to provide fire support at range, disabling and destroying mobile suits from such distances that return fire is not feasible. For close-quarters combat, the Dynames also carried a pair of GN Beam Pistols – these had a much higher rate of fire than the GN Sniper Rifle, and despite being significantly less powerful on a per-shot basis, could still deal serious damage to enemy mobile suits. Owing to its loadout and specialisation towards a marksman role, the Dynames remains a fan-favourite: the Dynames’ weapons are most faithful to loadouts that can be equipped in contemporary titles, and in Ghost Recon Wildlands, players can mirror the Dynames loadout by carrying a sniper rifle into combat with any pistol. Because Wildlands is a game of stealth and patience, the sniper rifle becomes the single most important tool in any player’s loadout: one can use these rifles in conjunction with a suppressor to pick off foes from extreme distances and whittle down the size of an enemy force guarding points of interest with only a low risk for retaliation, or target things like alarm towers and take them offline to prevent foes from calling in reinforcements. However, similarly to the Dynames’ handling characteristics, sniper rifles take a modicum of skill to use, and in Wildlands, sniper rounds are impacted by bullet drop. To make the most of these precision tools requires patience and familiarity with a rifle’s characteristics, but at the same time, folks willing to master their rifles will find an incredibly versatile and powerful tool for clearing out entire areas without being spotted, making easier to complete objectives and fade back into the shadows as Ghosts are wont to doing.

Having spent most of my time in Wildlands with the M40A5, I found a tool that was quite tricky to use – players can find the M40A5 early on and immediately gain access to a solid long-range option, but players do not have access to the higher magnification optics, which limits the weapon’s utility. Further to this, because bullet drop is quite pronounced, it may take beginners time to acclimatise, and the M40A5’s bolt-action mechanism means that the weapon is very unforgiving when it comes to missed shots. To be a sniper is to invest effort into learning the weapon’s traits and positioning oneself so some of the weapon’s shortcomings can be mitigated. However, the payoff for learning the techniques behind being a good marksman is enormous – a good sniper can eliminate threats that can result in a much less desirable direct firefight, and getting used to the M40A5’s traits provides one with an instructive experience, one that carries over to Wildlands‘ other sniper rifles. As one acquires more sniper rifles, the course of Wildlands changes: faster-firing semi-automatic rifles are effective for engaging multiple targets sequentially, while the bolt-action rifles provide exceptional stopping power that make them useful against armoured foes and materiel. Of note are Wildlands‘ 50-calibre rifles, which are so powerful, they can one-shot vehicles, and of these rifles, I’ve unlocked the BFG-50A as a result of having made the decision to pick up the Fallen Ghosts DLC a few weeks earlier, when the package went on sale for six dollars (down from its usual twenty). The BFG-50A comes with all of its attachments and optics unlocked, so the problem of needing a dedicated high-magnification optic evaporates, and because the BFG-50A is semi-automatic, it is more forgiving of missed shots compared to the M40A5. With its fifty calibre rounds, high power scope and an increased rate of fire, the BFG-50A has completely altered the way I approach situations in Wildlands. I can destroy alarm boxes from a great distance and not worry about reinforcements showing up, and if things become a little too heated, I can blow Unidad and Santa Blanca helicopters out of the sky trivially. In this way, Wildlands now feels completely different: while skill and experience are doubtlessly essentials, having improved equipment cannot be understated. Many missions that would’ve felt intimidating now feel more straightforward, and while I take great pride in completing my assignments with what is available to me, both in games and reality, I will not deny the joys of having access to better gear.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This post on Wildlands is the last one where I’ll be using the venerable GTX 1060 to capture my screenshots: this video card had been an incredible deal and offered superb value for its price tag. When it released, the GTX 1060 traded with the GTX 980 for half the price. I still remember having some difficulty in procuring one – the card was released in July 2016, and I ended up picking one up in late August. However, compared to the situation in the present day, things back in 2016 were a little more straightforward, and I still remember giving DOOM and Battlefield 4 a spin, being impressed to find that I was able to maintain very smooth framerates even with everything maxed out.

  • When I built my current desktop back in March, I decided to go without a video card and reused the GTX 1060: it still performs just fine, although there are definitely situations now where the frame rates begin dropping. My decision to pick up the RTX 3060 Ti was motivated largely by the fact that my local computer store was doing a sale on the MSI Gaming X card: the card ordinarily retails for 730 CAD, but on that one day, it was going for 110 dollars off, dropping the price down to 620 CAD. This puts it the closest to the MSRP I’ve seen since the card launched, and after weighing my options, I felt that the card would be more than adequate for my requirements.

  • The decision was also based on answering the problem of whether or not I’d pick up a perfectly suitable upgrade now, with a known price, power draw and certain availability, versus waiting for the RTX 4060, a more powerful card that is rumoured to draw up to 230 Watts when under load, but supposedly only offers marginal gains over the RTX 3060 Ti. Between the (speculated) underwhelming performance for a video card of its class, coupled with unknown availability and prices, I felt it wiser to hedge my bets on the RTX 3060 Ti. Thus, I ended up picking the MSI Gaming X RTX 3060 Ti up last Wednesday, and the next day, the price had increased to 650 CAD.

  • This left me immensely grateful to have caught wind of the deal when I did, and with this acquisition, my new PC build is fully completed and ready to shine, just in time for winter. Over the past summer, I’ve spent a great deal of time capitalising on the long days to explore and enjoy culinary experiences that were unavailable for the past two years, but as the summer gives way to autumn, and then winter, I will be spending more time inside to escape the frigid Canadian winter. Although I enjoy the outdoors very much, when the thermometer dips below -40ºC with windchill, I prefer unwinding with a good virtual experience.

  • Contributing in part to the swiftness of my decision was the fact that I had read extensively on video cards within my budget and performance expectations, so when the flash sale came, I could pull the trigger quickly. With the RTX 3060 Ti, I am confident this new machine will gracefully handle what I have to throw at it, including the upcoming Modern Warfare II title, and in a rare moment, I also will remark here, with a degree of smugness, that my completed PC is about thirty percent more powerful than that of Awkventurer’s while at the same time, costing a third less.

  • Awkventurer is a travel influencer and streamer who produces solid content, but had taken to Reddit to ask for suggestions when building a new machine. At Reddit, Millillion offered incomplete advice and failed to account for Awkventurer’s use cases, resulting in a machine that is about four hundred dollars more costly than what she’d intended to use it for. While Millillion’s seventy-six thousand points of karma look impressive, and Millillion spends hours every day answering questions, I feel duty-bound to reiterate that there is no substitute for expertise and experience – had Awkventurer asked me for help rather than Millillion, I would have landed on a build that would be more cost effective without compromising performance.

  • Shortly before picking up the RTX 3060 Ti, I would end up buying the Fallen Ghosts DLC: it was clear that Wildlands was something I had come to enjoy greatly, and Fallen Ghosts adds a new campaign experience similarly to how Warlords of New York extended my enjoyment of The Division 2. When Fallen Ghosts went on sale for 70 percent off, the decision became an easy one; while I won’t likely go through the actual story missions until I finish Wildlands‘ main campaign, the DLC also gives me immediate access to two weapons which ended up changing how I play Wildlands at a fundamental level.

  • My immediate impressions were that Fallen Ghosts was worth it: right out of the gates, I gained access to the MDR and BFG-50A. The Desert Tech Micro Dynamic Rifle (MDR) is a classic with me, returning from The Division as an excellent assault rifle that has access to automatic fire, unlike its The Division counterpart, which only fires on semi-automatic. The MDR was a solid addition to my arsenal, and during my time with it, I found the MDR to be reliable as a marksman rifle for medium range engagements, as well as being versatile and manoeuvrable enough to switch over to automatic fire for close-quarters engagements if cover is blown.

  • In The Division, the MDR was an exotic assault rifle that was unique for only having a semi-automatic mode, and dealt bonus damage to enemies under a status effect. This made it a very situational weapon – the weapon was best paired with anything that burnt or bled foes, and I do remember the six-piece classified Firecrest set, with the Big Alejandro and the Intense talent, was quite effective with the MDR. However, I typically prefer to run with a six-piece classified Striker set with The House and Bullfrog. Wildlands‘ MDR is significantly more versatile and is useful in a much greater range of scenarios.

  • The real star of the show, however, is the BFG-50A. It’s the only semi-automatic anti-materiel rifle in the whole of Wildlands, and its recoil is only matched by its raw damage. Against personnel, the BFG-50A almost feels like overkill, with semi-automatic fire allowing one some wiggle room should they miss their first shot. However, it is against vehicles where the weapon truly shines: the BFG-50A is capable of destroying light vehicles and helicopters with a single shot even without the vehicle damage bonus, and I imagine that when fully upgraded, the BFG-50A will become the go-to solution for getting vehicles off my back.

  • I ended up marvelling at both the efficacy of my new toys in Wildlands and the power that the RTX 3060 Ti confers over the September long weekend, although here, I remark that I ended up spending more time outside than I did at my computer. The weather had been superb, and I took advantage of the Monday off to sleep in. After spending a morning with the housework, I prepared my first-ever Irish Nachos with a recipe that my local pub is known for: ground beef, cheddar cheese, red bell peppers, Jalapeños and grape tomatoes with chives on a bed of waffle fries. The final result was surprisingly delicious, considering it was my first time making this dish, and when paired with salsa and sour cream, it proved to be a hearty and delicious lunch.

  • In the afternoon, I ended up going for a ten-kilometre walk, which brought me to a little-known but still gorgeous lookout affording me a wonderful view of the city centre. The weather on Monday was especially pleasant – the high was 19ºC, a comfortable reprieve from the high twenties and low thirties we’ve seen all August. Summer is fast coming to an end now, and the days are beginning to shorten again; when I waken up at six to hit the gym, it’s dark outside. I am rather excited to see winter arrive this year, and being able to game on the coldest days of the year isn’t a bad way to unwind.

  • Looking back, it was pure luck that I was able to pick up an RTX 3060 Ti when I did – the card officially launched back in December 2020, but the ongoing microchip shortage, coupled with extremely high demand resulting from the global health crisis, meant everyone was struggling to find the hardware for their machines in a time when having a pint with mates or watching a movie wasn’t possible. Coupled with unscrupulous people who use bots to empty out entire stocks for scalping “cook groups” and cryptocurrency mining operations, common folks have found it near-impossible to buy GPUs at reasonable prices.

  • While demand for GPUs will lessen as the pandemic recedes, I do not imagine that scalping or cryptocurrency mining will diminish any time soon. Similarly, the supply shortages will likely continue to be an issue. This is why I decided to jump on the opportunity to purchase an RTX 3060 Ti; the perfect storm of factors could potentially make the 40-series very hard to come by. For this reason, I’ve also decided to pre-order the new iPhone 14 Pro rather than pick it up in-store once it launches on September 16. I’ve been running the iPhone Xʀ since September 2019 when my last company loaned me the device for testing (when the company dissolved, I was permitted to keep the phone).

  • Prior to the iPhone Xʀ, I was running an iPhone 6, which I bought in 2015 and accompanied me to two conferences, Japan, Denver, Winnipeg and F8 2019. My personal policy is to only replace my device when Apple stops releasing iOS updates for my device. When Apple released iOS 13 in September 2019, I learnt my iPhone 6 was not supported, and since then, I’d been looking to buy a new iPhone so I can keep up to date with development work. The iPhone Xʀ has acted as an interim device and has performed extremely well: in fact, it still feels speedy and responsive, and as a development device, the iPhone Xʀ has remained satisfactory, allowing me to fully test features that require a physical device.

  • The iPhone Xʀ would easily last me another two years, but I’d been planning on upgrading once Apple released a notch-less phone simply because it would represent a new UI approach, and so, when Apple announced their newest line of devices yesterday, they had my undivided attention. The iPhone 14 Pro introduces the new “Dynamic Island” pill for its front-facing camera and sensor array, and after seeing how tightly integrated it is with the software, the merits of having a physical device to test concepts for the Dynamic Island became apparent. As the first iPhone to have the Dynamic Island, running an iPhone 14 Pro would give me a head start in experimenting with different UI concepts.

  • Although I don’t imagine that I’ll see much use from the A16 Bionic chip or 48 MP camera right out of the gates (both of these premium specifications far exceed my current requirements), the additional power does mean that the iPhone 14 Pro would serve me extremely well until Apple no longer makes iOS upgrades available to it. To this end, the iPhone 14 Pro has proven to be increasingly attractive as a replacement for my iPhone Xʀ: although 300 dollars pricier than the standard iPhone 14, having premium features will be helpful in my line of work as it could help me explore new features earlier.

  • Back in Wildlands, I complete the latest mission, which entails capturing El Chido and extracting him to a safehouse. The capture missions are always the most tricky to complete, and even with a new loadout, it still took me a few tries to get it right – having new gear makes things slightly easier, but it still ultimately boils down to ones’s skill. For this particular assignment, patience is the ultimate asset: I ended up spotting all of the Santa Blanca enforcers on sight, picked off most of the enemies and in a stroke of luck, shot at the vehicle El Chido was trying to escape in, causing him to get out and take cover. I subsequently grabbed him, shoved him in the same vehicle and drove off.

  • I would end up losing the Santa Blanca forces following me shortly after, although my vehicle had taken enough damage to start smoking halfway through the drive. I subsequently relieved a civilian of their SUV and used it to make the remainder of the decidedly casual drive to the safehouse. With this mission complete, my exploration of Malca comes to a close. With this done, and having now found a loadout that’s working well for me, I will continue to press forward in Wildlands and see where things end up. The next time I write about this game, I will be featuring screenshots of the game running with every setting maxed out. 

  • In the meantime, Battlefield 2042‘s second season has begun, and I’m having a considerable amount of fun playing through things. Besides an engaging new map, the RTX 3060 Ti means I’m maintaining good framerates. Battlefield 2042 has come a very long way since its launch, and the game is gradually reaching a state where it is consistently fun to play. I also will be resuming my journey in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – I put the brakes on things back in August to make a dent in Jon’s Creative Showcase, but with a little more time available now, I’m looking forwards to finishing the campaign off, before returning to Half-Life: Alyx.

For the past six years, I’ve been running the NVIDIA GTX 1060 (6 GB). This video card has long been praised as being one of NVIDIA’s best video cards in that it strikes a balance between performance and price: although no longer capable of running the latest titles at 1080p with everything set to ultra, it remains a competent card. However, it is less suited for running VR titles and 1440p gaming. To this end, I’ve been long debating whether or not I would hang onto the GTX 1060 and wait for the next-generation RTX 40-series. My decision was made last week, when the local computer hardware store ran a sale on the RTX 3060 Ti – ordinarily retailing for 730 CAD (554 USD), a chance flash sale saw the price drop to 620 CAD (470 USD). This is only 70 USD above the MSRP, and it was not lost on me that the RTX 4060, which would be the tier I’d be looking to buy, wouldn’t be available until somewhere in 2023. The new 40-series are said to be a dramatic improvement, but also have a much larger power draw, and moreover, availability and pricing are both unknown. Waiting for an RTX 4060 could mean paying more for a card that has a higher power requirement and waiting until mid-to-late 2023. After weighing my options, I ended up making the call to pick up the RTX 3060 Ti (an MSI-branded after-market card). While this card won’t dramatically improve my experience in things like Half-Life 2 or The Master Chief Collection, the difference in performance is night and day in something like DOOM Eternal and Battlefield 2042. In the former, I finally have access to real-time ray-tracing, which results in a game whose visuals blow my socks off. In the latter, I can maintain a smooth framerate and not worry about hardware limitations costing me in multiplayer matches. Here in Wildlands, the game runs with everything maxed out at a solid 90-110 FPS. Although Wildlands looked quite good already, the RTX 3060 Ti allows me to run the game in a way that renders it photorealistic. In 2017, even the GTX 1080 wasn’t able to run Wildlands at 1080p when everything was turned up (only the GTX 1080 Ti was capable of this). Fast forward to the present, however, and advances mean that one no longer need a 920 dollar video card to run the game with everything set to ultra. Altogether, I’ve found the RTX 3060 Ti to be a fitting acquisition – my PC build is now officially complete, and bonus points goes to the fact that the specific RTX 3060 Ti I was able to buy, an MSI Gaming X, has a superior cooling solution and RGB lighting, a step up from the single-fan EVGA 1060 SC I’d been running before. With this large jump, I’m rather excited to continue my journey in the newer titles and revisit older titles with a fresh coat of paint in the form of real-time ray-tracing, as well as press further into Half-Life: Alyx with better frame rates. The GTX 1060 has been in service for six strong years, and at present, it’s time to retire it. I will be keeping this card as a backup, since it’s still in excellent condition, but moving ahead, I look forwards to sharing screenshots that are a little sharper and more detailed than before.