The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Tag Archives: Discussion

iOS 11 is True Level

 

“Wow, it’s so…oh my God!”
“Yeah, True Level, bitch.”
“Everything’s crooked! Reality is poison! I wanna go back!”

–Morty and Rick, Rick and Morty

While it’s not the Mid-Autumn Festival, iOS 11 released earlier today, bringing with it a host of powerful new features to Apple’s mobile operating system platform. This year, I’ve been running with iOS 11 on my iPhone since late August as a result of requiring the operating system for compatibility testing at work, and back in June, I tested iOS 11 with my iPad. While an impressive operating system, iOS 11 also rendered my iPad incapable of publishing WordPress posts, so I reverted to iOS 10 to ensure that I could quickly publish my Kimi no na wa talk on short order if needed. However, in the time that’s passed, Apple has refined and polished iOS 11 significantly – it’s as responsive as iOS 10, and all of my apps are operational this time around. The differences between iOS 10 and iOS 11 on an iPhone are largely under-the-hood: there’s a new Control Centre that offers customisation, and a new file system app, but beyond this, iOS 11 remains quite similar to iOS 10. Having spent a half-hour exploring iOS 11 on an iPad, the differences become much more pronounced. Multi-tasking is much more powerful, and after mastering the new gestures to being up the Control Centre, I am given an immediate overview of all open apps. The beta did not allow apps to be closed with a swipe, but the release version returns this feature. It’s easier to place apps side-by-side, and there’s a powerful new drag-and-drop feature that allows me to pull image and text from one app and place them into another. The new dock makes the iPad feel more like Mac OS X than ever before, giving my iPad Air 2 a rejuvenated feel to it.

  • The most noticeable change on the iPad’s home screen between iOS 10 and iOS 11 is the presence of a Mac OS X-like dock. Fresh after installation, I have no previously used apps here, and while simple, the inclusion of an option to immediately return to my three most recent apps was one of my favourite features of iOS 11 when I tested it in the beta, allowing me to access very quickly recent apps without needing to open a folder.

  • I admit that opening Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will take some getting used to now that it’s been moved to the right from the bottom, but the new Control Centre has a distinctly iOS feel to it now, compared to the more Android-like multi-tasking interface seen in earlier incarnations of iOS. One feature noticeably absent from iOS 11 is the fact that I cannot hold down on the Wi-Fi icon and select a network to connect to (or do the same for BlueTooth).

  • The dock can be accessed from any app, making it possible to now jump to one’s favourite apps or more recently used app much more quickly than previously possible. The changes to Safari, the default browser in iOS, are subtle: corners of the URL bar are now rounded, in keeping with Apple’s latest themes, which are inspired by magazines. I’ve never been too big of a fan of this format, but the theme feel a lot more unified now in iOS 11, since the App Store also makes use of the layout, and the larger text size does make things pop a little more.

  • Once I mastered the gestures for multi-tasking, I was able to read about and watch GochiUsa simultaneously without any difficulties. Familiar and novel at the same time, iOS 11’s improvements are most noticeable on an iPad: only the iPad Air and later will be able to upgrade to iOS 11. With iOS 11, however, Apple drops support for 32-bit apps. While they’ve been phasing this out and have encouraged developers to submit 64-bit builds since iOS 9, iOS 11 marks a point where there’s a hard cutoff. Users with 32-bit apps will find that they no longer open.

  • This is Apple’s file system on iOS 11: it’s modelled after Mac OS X’s Finder, and while it does not provide access to an iOS device’s local file system, it is quite functional, working with iCloud. I foresee storing some of my documents here in the future to make use of the system, even if I’ve previously been not so big with iCloud. It typifies Apple’s tendency to only provide features once they’re fully fledged, and once added, iOS users find the features immensely useful. This prompts the choice of the page quote, which comes from Rick and Morty‘s third season: once one experiences something of a high standard, it’s hard to go back.

Other features added with iOS 11 include an improved file system, which has allowed me to free up upwards of 4 GB of space on my 16 GB iPhone 6 (this is something I was most pleased with), a new image compression format that allows images taken from the camera to take up a little less space, and upgraded Siri, which feels more powerful than it has previously. The keybaord on the iPad has been improved so one no longer has to hit another button to access some numbers and symbols, which could be useful for conversations and writing passages that are rich with symbols and numbers. On the developer side, I’ve also got access to Xcode 9, which adds the long awaited Swift refactoring capability and an upgraded error system that makes it easier to find and correct errors in code. AR Kit and Core ML are exciting new additions, as well, and while I don’t foresee a use for these APIs in the near future, there is no doubt that these powerful new libraries could allow developers to make apps of a much greater utility and immersion than before. This year, the upgrade paths for both Xcode 9 and iOS 11 proved remarkably smooth: I still vividly recall the year where a botched update forced me to restore my iPad. On the other hand, things this time around were as simple as hitting the “Update” button and entering a password. I’m curious to see how I’ll make use of the new features in iOS 11, especially for the iPad, in the days upcoming. One thing is certain, though: iOS 11 is a very welcome update, and explaining the title of this post, “True Level” is sourced from the latest episode of Rick and Morty. In this context, something that is “True Level” is sublime, and of an incredible quality, rather than referring to a hypothetical surface where every possible point is perpendicular to the plumb line.

A Date With Nagisa Furukawa of CLANNAD as a Thought Experiment

“According to the Myers Briggs test apparently only 4% of the population got my result. Making it harder to find people I can “let inside” or truly feel connected with. It’s just a test but it often feels that way…” —Ab imo pectore

Having taken a look at the distributions, my personality type stands as one of the most common, with an estimated thirteen percent of all folks having it. The story behind my Meyers-Briggs test is simple enough: I was asked to do it as a part of a team-building exercise for work, and unsurprisingly, ended up with ISTJ. Known as the “Guardian”, individuals of this personality type are fiercely adherent to facts and rules, working hard to complete tasks delegated to them. Honest, direct and dutiful, ISTJs also tend to have a talent stack, excelling at nothing in particular, but possess reasonable competence in a range of different areas. They also can be unyielding and blunt, as well as less willing to deal with spontaneity than people with a different personality type. That captures my essence very succinctly, and it also leads me to wonder how I am projected to get along with different personality types, especially considering that in practise, I generally get along with most people in a professional sense. Describing my professional interactions would be too dull to warrant a post, but what if we added some flair to things? For this discussion, then, I will take a look at aspects of my own personality and use those facets to determine just how well I would get along with someone like Nagisa Furukawa, whose personality is considered either ISFJ or INFP.

  • While I cannot truthfully say that Valentine’s Day is my favourite holiday of the year (that belongs to Thanksgiving and Christmas), I remain largely neutral about the event. Consider this: it is a bit disheartening to have no one special to celebrate it with (-1), but on the other hand, it means I can save a small amount of money and direct it to either my savings or spend it on something for myself (+1). With that being said, for those of my readers who are in a relationship, I wish for you a Happy Valentines’ Day, and for the readers like myself, I offer a Happy Singles Awareness Day!

The “Defender”, ISFJs are supportive, reliable and loyal (incidentally, the same things I would look for in a relationship), but can also be rather shy, find it tricky to express how they feel and can overburden themselves with challenges as they try to help those around them. These attributes describe Nagisa well, but she also has some elements of the INFP personality type: she’s driven by her sense of optimism, making the most of every situation, values harmony and holds a strong sense of creativity that allows her to resurrect the drama club and bring her dreams to life with a performance of Girl in the Illusionary World. Similarly, she does take some things personally, blaming herself for causing her parents to give up their dreams of being in theatre. For this discussion, we assume that Nagisa is an INFP: her creativeness in expressing herself in the play she likes and the Great Dango Family, coupled with her general desire to wish for everyone’s happiness and her response to learning about her parents’ past means that she can fit into this category. In general, an ISTJ and INFP relationship could function with effort and some compromise, although some folks say that such a relationship would be remarkably difficult, so this post aims to put that to the test, using the personalities as a starting point, and then determining whether or not someone with traits similar Nagisa’s is someone that I can appreciate as time passes, and we know one another better.

We suppose that Nagisa is an INFP, a personality type with a four percent frequency: the ISFJ personality, while one I am fond of, would not offer much in the way of interesting discussion. My ISTJ and Nagisa’s INFP means only one of our traits overlap: we’re both introverted — we would understand and appreciate the value of quiet time and share moments with a small group of close friends. I can hold interesting conversations about different topics, so if the right topics are available, fun conversations can be had. However, there’s always the possibility that there isn’t enough communications between the two. I’m not very good with subtle hints (scuttlebutt has it that I accidentally rejected some people without saying a word because I missed their messages) and typically, need to be hit over the head, as it were, to know how someone is feeling. My sensing component will find newfound perspective from Nagisa’s imaginative thinking, and at the same time, my practicality balances her tendency to go off into her own world. While projected to offer some challenges in conversation, I am a touch more imaginative than the average ISTJ, so I could follow her flights of fancy in a conversation.

Next up is my thinking to her feeling: warm and compassionate, one of the things that stand out about Nagisa was this side of her personality. She genuinely cares about those around her and supports them as best as she can, standing against my usual no-nonsense “let’s get it done” approach. These two opposite traits complement one another nicely, allowing for decisions to be made with a balance between compassion and reason. However, my way of speaking is very blunt: I call things as I see them, and could inadvertently hurt Nagisa, while she’s unlikely to speak her mind. I’m not good with subtleties, so miscommunications could arise. To make things work, I’ll need to be more sensitive, be more attuned to things and pick things up on my own, while Nagisa would find it useful to be a little more direct. The most interesting set of attributes to consider will be judging-perceiving: I’m very fond of schedules and well-designed plans, allowing for freedom and the unexpected only if some semblance of a plan exists. Spontaneity does not typically fly with me: I’ll turn down hanging out with friends if informed about it less than a day in advance, for instance, since that time was blocked off for something else. Similarly, my penchant to be organised can come across as overbearing for INFPs. Fortunately, while coming across as rigid, I am more adaptive than the typical ISTJ; I appreciate spontaneity if it falls within a plan. With an open mind, judges and perceivers can get along — the perceivers can bring a breath of fresh air into the judge’s life, while the judge can help a perceiver become more organised. On the whole, while the personality differences between a ISTJ and INFP would initially cause some conflicts, over time, I imagine that they could reach a compromise and find themselves in a happy relationship, truly connecting with one another.

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  • I have a special announcement to make with this post: CLANNAD is nearing its ten-year anniversary, and so, I will be doing posts on CLANNAD once the ten-year mark passes. Because there are a large number of episodes in CLANNAD, doing episodic reviews will be impractical. Instead, I will drop by on the date where an arc ends to take a look at the events and contributions of that particular arc in the context of the whole story.

So, supposing that both partners open-minded enough to make things work, the final realm that this discussion will explore what kind of first date might be suitable for an ISTJ-INFP couple: without it, this post simply wouldn’t live up to its title. Before we begin, I profess that I am not nearly familiar enough with Japan to properly consider organising anything resembling a date there, so we will suppose that I’m running home field advantage. Further, we suppose that language barriers are not a concern. Looking off the idea that Nagisa and I are both introverts, I think that Calgary’s Shakespeare in the Park at Prince’s Island park would be a good first date considering her interest in drama. A twenty hectare park on an island, it is located right at the heart of the city and offers an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the core, featuring flower gardens and paths set right underneath the cityscape of Calgary’s central financial district. The choice of something like Shakespeare in the Park is motivated by Nagisa’s love for the stage and drama. To be able to visit a performance of an old classic under the summer sun would provide a calm setting for enjoying a Shakespearean play and consider different perspectives on what things like Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet entail. Such a conversation might be shared following the play’s conclusion at the nearby Café Blanca over a cup of coffee (or tea, since I don’t do well with coffee). This is, of course, just one possibility; ideas for good dates are limitless. I would certainly enjoy an experience like this, but there is a reason why this post is dubbed a thought experiment — it is not actually possible to perform this particular experiment in reality.

Nothing Is Written: Reflections on the Battlefield 1 Campaign

“Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression.” —T.E. Lawrence

Bedouin rebel Zara Ghufran is working directly in the employ of legend Thomas Edward Lawrence, fighting to undermine the Ottoman Empire and their occupation of the Arabian Peninsula. Ghufran sneaks into the heavily-defended wreckage of a derailed train to retrieve a manual containing Ottoman communication protocols, and is caught by Tilkici. At the last moment, she is rescued by Lawrence, learning from Tilkici during interrogation how to summon the armoured train, the Ottoman Empire’s secret weapon. Ghufran sets out to send three messages and infiltrates Ottoman territory to do so, but before she can send the final message, she is captured again by Tilkici, who had escaped from Lawrence. Before he can execute her, she manages to kill him and returns to Lawrence; they decide to mount an assault on the armoured train. Ghufran destroys the railway to slow the train down, and together with other rebels, they manage to defeat the train in a titanic battle. In the aftermath, Lawrence has set his sights on targets in the Suez area, and feeling that Ghufran had fulfilled her revenge, invites her to participate. The last of the campaign missions in Battlefield 1, “Nothing is Written” shows daring in the face of overwhelming danger: it’s the classic David versus Goliath story as the rebels take on a seemingly invincible leviathan, and functionally, serves to show players that, while the behemoths in Battlefield 1 are titans to be reckoned with, they’re certainly not invincible — sufficient teamwork and firepower are often enough to deal with behemoths.

The final campaign mission in Battlefield 1 is perhaps the most open in terms of its gameplay, and its second act greatly resembles Battlefield: Bad Company 2‘s “Sangre del Toro” mission similarly featured three distinct waypoints to visit and gave player full choice with respect to which destination to complete first. Set in a large open area, efficient traversal becomes necessary unless one wishes to walk, and so, it becomes imperative to make good use of vehicles to get around. Both missions stand out as being set in wide expanses of desert where players are free to explore to some extent, setting the missions apart from the more linear progressions the Battlefield campaigns are wont to present. Besides bringing back memories of “Sangre del Toro”, “Nothing is Written” also gives players an incredible experience in its final act: the goal is to take out the armoured train after clearing out a village of hostile forces. While seemingly difficult to do so on account of superior enemy numbers, a suppressed bolt action rifle suddenly made the mission much more straightforwards, allowing Ghufran to silently dispatch the entire camp without being noticed. The game subsequently recommends the use of the field gun emplacements to damage the armoured train; the train’s heavy bombardment notwithstanding, I managed to disable most of its anti-personnel weapons, then ran up to the train and destroyed it using dynamite. It was a highly engaging mission that acts as an exciting end to the Battlefield 1 campaign, and with “Nothing is Written” now in the books, I will focus my attention towards the multiplayer.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • There’s a certain mystique about movies set in deserts made during the 1960s and 1970s (Lawrence of Arabia and The Spy Who Loved Me come to mind): beyond these movies, deserts also remind me of Break Blade and Sora no Woto, the latter of which was a particularly enjoyable anime that I have plans to revisit in the near future. However, this is not a reminiscence post about things like Sora no Woto and so, I’ll be going back on mission to discuss Battlefield 1‘s final mission.

  • With the expertise that DICE has gained in rendering environments like Tatooine in Star Wars: Battlefront, it is not particularly surprising that even the desolate dunes and cliffs of the Arabian desert look highly detailed. However, here, there are no Imperial Stormtroopers or AT-STs to engage: instead, Ghufran’s goal in the first act of “Nothing is Written” is to reach the marked train car.

  • Ghufran is outnumbered and out-gunned, but as Lawrence narrates, attacking as one allows for stealth to be utilised. I imagine that it is possible to complete this first section using a purely stealth driven approach, and initially, I was successful. After carefully making my way behind the train and acquiring a suppressed M1911, I carefully took out nearby soldiers. However, owing to the density of the enemies, I was eventually spotted.

  • While I was equipped with a Gewehr 98 and M911, I managed to find a Lewis gun. This made it easier to go loud, and so began a very familiar procedure of attempting to be stealthy, then having my cover blown and being forced to  shoot everything up. While the infantry are not too difficult to engage, several soldiers will make a beeline for the mounted MGs. These can lay down quite a bit of fire and damage Ghufran quickly, but dealing with them clears out the entire area, leaving Ghufran free to retrieve the code manual.

  • The multiplayer, while offering dynamic weather in its maps, do not provide night as a time of day to play under. This makes sense from a gameplay perspective: lacking FLIR and IRNV technologies means that engaging other players could prove quite chaotic. In the campaign, however, this is less of a concern and adds to the challenge of a mission. Consequently, it was quite enjoyable to fight through the night sections of the different war stories.

  • The second and third acts of “Nothing is Written” both look like they utilise a similar, if not the same, map as the multiplayer’s Sinai Desert. Games reusing assets for their single player and multiplayer components are not uncommon: 007 Nightfire is a fine example of this, where most of the maps from the campaign were modified to work as multiplayer maps. However, in the case of something like Battlefield 1, powerful engines like Frostbite mean that, by fine-tuning lighting and other subtle details, the dynamic of a map changes completely to suit the atmosphere required, whether it be a lone wolf sneaking about or a squad of soldiers fighting to control flags on the map.

  • The second act in “Nothing is Written” can be completed in six different ways, although on my playthrough, I opted to go with the one that involves the shortest distances. At the end of each campaign level, there’s a post-game report that indicates how many field manuals, challenges and difficulty points were collected, and generally, I completed the odd challenge or two for each of the acts in the campaign.

  • I may go back to play through the campaign again in the future on maximum difficulty while trying to collect everything at some point in the future, but for now, my attention rests solely on the multiplayer. In recollection, I think that I’ve said that I’d replay several games to complete their campaigns more wholly, including that of Wolfenstein: The New Order and Valkyria Chronicles.

  • It’s a full moon as I sneak around the different Ottoman-held installations; the last full moon a month ago was a supermoon, and the next full moon is a week from now. A few nights ago, I dreamt that we could see the dark side of the moon, but scientific knowledge states that it’s not likely, given that the moon is tidally locked with the Earth. That is to say that the moon’s rotational period is the same length as its orbital period; this arose owing to gravitational interactions between the moon and Earth.

  • This is the last time I will have an image of Ghufran riding a horse to move swiftly between the different outposts, and with the moon behind me, this is the darkest screenshot I’ve got for the entire post. While a little unwieldy at times, the horse is the best way of moving to destinations. Even if one loses their horse to enemy fire, there are a few saddled-up horses at each point, making transportation reasonably straightforwards. I wonder if anyone has tried to walk the distance between each of the bases.

  • I would have loved to have a proper scoped bolt action rifle, plus some explosives at the ancient ruins, since there are a handful of snipers hanging about, plus some armour. At the weapons depot and the village, any weapon will do the trick: the goal is to take out the commander and obtain a satchel from them containing the message. This is the only other place in the campaign where pigeons are used for communications, and I note that I’ve yet to play the war pigeon game mode of the multiplayer.

  • Regardless of the order that Ghufran completes the objectives in, Tilkici will appear and knock her out. She manages to kill him in the middle of the desert, but by this point, the armoured train has already begun routing allied forces. Such vehicles were not historically used by the Ottoman Empire or their allies, but Austria-Hungary, Russia and Great Britian had trains of their own: the Austrian-Hungary armed forces deployed theirs against the Italians, while the British trains saw combat at the First Battle of Ypres in 1914. Later British trains were constructed to defend Great Britian.

  • Camped out over an Ottoman outpost with a suppressed bolt action rifle, I managed to take out all of the guards without attracting any attention to myself, and dealt with the sentry using anti-tank grenades. The trick here is to take one guard out while the other isn’t looking, just as Captain MacMillian suggests to Lieutenant Price in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. A bit of patience and steady aim is the way to go for this mission, as my first attempts to go loud ended in death.

  • Here’s a curious bit of trivia concerning armoured trains: the Canadian armed forces had their own armoured train during the Second World War. Designed to defend against a possible Japanese invasion, the train, dubbed the No. 1 Armoured Train, was equipped with a 75 mm gun, two Bofors 40 mm guns, and could accommodate a full infantry company. It was deployed in 1942 and decommissioned in 1943.

  • In order to facilitate a successful assault, Ottoman artillery trucks must first be destroyed. The fastest way to do so is to acquire some dynamite, plant a charge by the vehicle and then detonate it. Doing so while under fire is ill-advised, and during my playthrough, I chose to eliminate the enemies first so that there air would not be filled with hot lead while I was trying to complete the objective.

  • Once all three vehicles are smoldering wrecks, the armoured train itself will appear. Armed with a mortar and a variety of weapons, the train is impervious to most forms of attack. There are several field guns strategically placed around the camp, and making quick tracks to the appropriate one can allow Ghufran to get off several shots before the train gets its mortar online. Each shot on normal takes away around a twelfth of the train’s health, but once fired on, the train will target the player’s current position.

  • In the chaos of battle, allied rebels will support the player, although being only equipped with small arms, they won’t be of much help against the train or Ottoman aircraft supporting the train. Once enough damage is done to the train, it becomes immobilised, and by this point, I would recommend having anti-armour equipment of some sort, since the train will have either eliminated the field guns in the right position to deal the finishing blow, or else the train is in a position not reachable by the remaining field guns.

  • The option that I took was the use of dynamite: hiding in a crater left from a mortar round, I waited for a gap in the weapons’ firing, then ran up to the train and put down the remaining dynamite I had. It was a mad scramble to get out of the blast radius, and at last, I was in a position to finish the train off. I hit the detonator…

  • …and the train detonated spectacularly. The amount of firepower the armoured train brings to the table is staggering, making this mission one of the most difficult ones to finish, but it was superbly rewarding to complete, showing that persistence and quick thinking allows for even a behemoth to be overcome. In the multiplayer, the addition of teamwork means that behemoths definitely are not overpowered, and while they can close the score gap between the losing team and winning team, by the time they appear, most folks focus on eliminating the behemoth.

  • Totalling some five-decimal-five hours, the Battlefield 1 campaign is short but immensely enjoyable. I remark that I would have liked to try Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s campaign out, as well, but given that I’m unlikely to ever consider playing multiplayer in Call of Duty even if it is designed for my preferred run-and-gun style of play. There are numerous reasons for this, but that is a topic for another time. With Battlefield 1‘s campaign now complete, all I have left is Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s campaign to finish, and marking the first time I’ve completed not one, but three titles the year they came out. All told, 2016 has been an excellent year for games, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to play through the biggest titles within the realm of my interests.

It took on average around an hour to play through each of the campaign missions (some missions were longer and took upwards of eighty minutes, while the shorter ones only took forty), so after around five-and-a-half hours in the campaign, I’ve finished all of the war stories that Battlefield 1 has to offer. The campaign ultimately resembles a war anthology in its presentation, showing glimpses of the battles and the characters that fought them, ranging from new soldiers to swindlers and everything in between. Overall, Battlefield 1‘s campaign aimed to show that, as per the game’s tagline, there is indeed a human being behind every weapon and bullet in warfare, and that everyone who fought in the Great War had their own stories to tell. With an estimated 17.7 million casualties, the number of dead or wounded was staggering, resulting in the loss of a whole generation: the impact the Great War had on the period was immense, and reshaped the world. Battlefield 1‘s campaign, though a fictional representation of this war, nonetheless succeeds in suggesting that the human cost of warfare in general is unacceptably high. It marks a departure from previous Battlefield games, which were purely for entertainment, and in choosing to step in this direction, DICE manages to paint a compelling perspective of the dawn of contemporary warfare.

The Runner: Reflections on the Battlefield 1 Campaign

“Age is no guarantee of efficiency.”
“And youth is no guarantee of innovation.”
—Q and James Bond, Skyfall

Veteran message runner Frederick Bishop encounters Jack Foster, who claims he is Bishop’s new charge. Despite his initial doubts about Foster’s capabilities, he consents to mentor Foster on the condition that Foster does not participate in any active combat. The fifth mission begins with Bishop storming the beaches in the Gallipoli Campaign and capturing a strategic location on the hill, and the next day, Bishop volunteers to run a message in Foster’s place, learning that the British forces intend to retreat under heavy artillery fire. After returning to their headquarters, Bishop learns that Foster has participated in an attack against Ottoman forces and sets out to retrieve him. Upon finding Foster, Bishop decides to cover his and the wounded’s escape by storming a fortress; Bishop orders Foster to fire a flare to signal when they’ve suceeded in escaping. While Bishop’s one-man operation is successful, he is wounded and fails to escape the British artillery, losing his life in the process. Perhaps the greatest Ottoman campaign of the Great War, it resulted in the Allied forces withdrawing and led to the Turkish War of Independence, resulting in the birth of the modern nation of Turkey. It’s a chapter in World War One’s history that I’m not too familiar with, although like the other campaigns far removed from the Western Front, these battles had a major impact in shaping the world during the Inter-War period.

The message conveyed in Battlefield 1‘s fifth campaign mission is the idea that life and death on the battlefield occurs independently of experience and skill. Joining with the intent of experiencing glory, Foster soon learns that death is indiscriminate; the difference between him and Bishop is that the latter is well aware of this and has accepted this, whereas Foster is green and thus, grows fearful in the face of death. In their short time as mentor and student, Bishop instructs Foster in fundamentals, passing along his knowledge. As a result, Foster is able to rescue Bishop during a tense moment during the campaign, but ultimately, in spite of his own experience, Bishop is not able to survive the battle. This harsh reality is thus driven home by “The Runner” to reiterate that many men, both experienced and inexperienced, were at the mercy of events around them, bringing to light yet another darker side of conflict that far eclipses the prospect of glory. By the time of the Great War, innovations in weapons meant that there was no glory, just death. The ensuing casualty numbers were a sobering reminder of how technology allowed for more efficient slaughter of fellow humans compared to past wars, and this resulted in the First World War being dubbed “The War To End All Wars”; in retrospect, there is a degree of irony in this moniker, since World War Two became an even more widespread and devastating conflict a mere two decades later.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • “The Runner” is broken up into three acts, with the first involving a Normandy-style landing of the beaches by British forces. The invasion of Gallipoli marked the first operation that would shape later amphibious landings: such campaigns opened with sustained artillery bombardment from naval vessels, followed by the deployment of soldiers to capture and secure coastal regions, paving the way for a much larger force to be deployed.

  • As the first example of a modern amphibious landing, the Gallipoli operation involved both air and naval support. Inside the confusion, Bishop must make his way up the cliffs and capture a point. There’s a combination of close quarters and distance combat, and initially, Bishop is armed with a SMLE MKIII optical for longer range engagements. A Model 10-A is available for dealing with infantry at close quarters. Here, I use a rifle grenade to neutralise a machine gunner.

  • The Ottoman soldiers man machine guns and can be a bit bothersome to deal with, since they have implausibly good accuracy. I found that hiding in the bushes and carefully lining up a shot to pick them off is probably the best option: anything else, and Bishop will be shredded. Once all opponents are dispatched, there are no more threats, allowing Bishop to move forwards towards the capture point.

  • The Model 10-A becomes an invaluable asset, as it can one-shot anything that moves in close quarters, making it best suited for handling opponents on the capture point. However, for the occasional enemy one encounters en route to the capture point, the Model 10-A can also be relied upon in a pinch. It’s said to be the best shotgun in the multiplayer, and so far, I’ve been using it extensively in TDM for the assault class.

  • One of my readers remark that the M1903 Experimental is probably the best weapon for scouts who prefer playing in closer quarters: equipped with the Pederson Device, which replaces the bolt and allows the weapon to fire .30 caliber pistol rounds. Dealing significantly less damage than bolt-action rifles, the Pederson Device equipped M1903 has a much higher firing rate and less recoil, transforming the weapon into what is essentially a long-barreled pistol.

  • If I do pick up the scout class (which will come the day I want to unlock the Kolibri pistol), I imagine that I’ll probably be better served getting good with any one of the bolt-action rifles and sticking to it, while playing rush or other game modes where opponents are less likely to sneak up on me: I heard that the M1903 experimental’s pitiful damage means that some sidearms, like the Frommer Stop, can out-perform it at close quarters, and moreover, one would likely get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from using the weapon too much. Foliage in Battlefield 1 is on par with that of Crysis 3 in terms of detail and density, but I’m getting much better frame rates in Battlefield 1 than I did with Crysis 3.

  • In the campaign, on normal difficulty, body shots with the bolt-action rifles seem to be a one hit kill. Having a bolt-action rifle confers the most authentic World War One experience in Battlefield 1 compared with the other prototype automatic weapons; it would be quite nice if there were dedicated game modes for reproducing the sort of warfare seen in the Western Front, where each class can only equip bolt-action rifles.

  • There would have to be an all-class bolt-action rifle for such a game mode, and that could get interesting with respect to balance. Back in the campaign, the details in the bathhouse are intricate, and I found myself admiring the little details inside. The full Turkish bath experience is an intricate one that became popular in Victorian England: it involves hanging out in a warm room, moving on into a hot room, followed by a full-body wash, massage and cooling off in a cool room.

  • I frequently mention this, but it never fails to amaze me how quickly time’s flown by: it’s now December, and we’ve put up our Christmas decorations in preparation for this year’s festivities. This year, we’ve had a heavy snowfall on the day the tree went up, and while it’s made driving to the dōjō to help out with a kata tournament that much more tricky, it also means that the landscape’s become a winter wonderland.

  • After spending most of the level with the Gewehr 98 Infantry, I find a sniper variant that comes with a high magnification scope for long range shooting. With clean crosshairs and a smaller housing than the marksman, it’s probably the best version of the Gewehr 98. One of the challenges about picking which weapon to purchase in the multiplayer with war bonds would be knowing which weapon variant has which optics: I’m generally not a fan of the marksman optics on the bolt action rifles owing to their larger, more obstructive housing, but they do not cause scope glint.

  • I’m actually not too fond of running the cavalry class in the multiplayer of Battlefield 1, since their horses seem a little more unwieldy than other vehicles. Programmed with a decision tree that allow them to perform basic terrain negotiation, as well as jumping over short obstructions and refusing to move off cliff faces and into deep water, horses are rather more complex than any vehicle in earlier Battlefield games. In the fifth campaign mission, horses are an excellent way to returning to distantly-spaced objectives.

  • The final act of “The Runner” also happens to be the most combat driven, and now, starting with the Gewehr 98 Sniper, plus the Model 10-A, I’m ready to storm the fortress as a one-man army. Stealth hardly matters here, and I chose to shoot anything that moved. With that being said, it is quite possible to take a stealth approach and sneak past all the enemy forces, but now that I’m armed with cool guns, it would seem a waste not to use them.

  • Compared to the more vivid colours seen in older Battlefield titles, the saturation in Battlefield 1 is a bit more restrained. The end result of this is that enemies in both the campaign and multiplayer become a little more tricky to spot, but otherwise, serves to elevate the photorealistic quality of the graphics in the game.

  • According to the in-game documentation for the Model 10-A shotgun, the German forces protested their use as being inhumane despite making use of chemical weapons during the war themselves. In a bit of irony, players themselves have remarked on how powerful the Model 10-A is in the multiplayer: it is the perfect weapon for close quarters maps, and can down some enemies even at moderate ranges.

  • Armed with two kickass weapons, I ascent to the fortress gates and prepare for the largest battle seen yet in this war story. I remark that as of now, I’ve yet to hear anything about Kimi No Na Wa with respect to its home release. Anime News Network only discloses the box office totals for the movie, and there’s been a great deal of commotion about how the movie was selected for an Academy Awards nomination.

  • While exciting news, my main interest is on when the movie is able to come out on Blu Ray: I was able to watch it under some interesting circumstances, but it would be nice to have a copy of my own at a fantastic resolution such that I can do a proper discussion of the movie. I imagine that there’s a six-month gap between the theatrical release and home release: Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, Shinkai’s last work, released with a similar pattern and despite being a fantastic work, garnered none of the excitement of Kimi No Na Wa.

  • On that note, I’ve also been keeping an eye on Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days — it’s a special OVA dealing with the cultural festival, and strangely enough, was a theatrical release despite its short runtime of a single episode spanning thirty minutes. Most OVAs tend to see theatrical releases if there are multiple episodes (Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow and Tamayura: Graduation Photo come to mind as examples): I imagine that there could be a three-month wait for this one to be available, and a special for Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka??, unconfirmed for release somewhere in March-April 2017, might see a similar pattern.

  • Back in Battlefield 1, I’ve finally gotten to the last part of the last act and have cleared out the courtyard of most enemies. By this point, I’ve largely exhausted the Gewehr 98’s ammunition and was made to switch to a Cei Rigotti optical in one of the nearby weapon crates.

  • Clearing out the courtyard was made challenging by the fact that flame troopers will appear. Shooting them in their fuel tanks will do the most damage, although when things get hectic, I usually just unload an entire magazine into them after stopping, dropping and rolling to minimise or avoid fire damage. I’ve heard that elsewhere on the ‘net, folks are in the midst of yet another difficult Kantai Collection seasonal event, and going from their remarks, I am glad not to be them, where instead of players going “[name of ship] GET!”, they’re getting rekt, instead.

  • This is one of the reasons why I prefer playing shooters. They don’t require quite as much of an investment for casual folks like myself, and can be quite fun when one pulls off ridiculously cool stunts in either a campaign or multiplayer. For this last figure, it turns out that there’s also a 12G shotgun lying around here, but because I found it after clearing the area, I never made use of it. This brings the fifth mission’s discussion to a conclusion, and I’ll be returning soon to conclude my thoughts on the Battlefield 1 campaign. After that, it’s onwards to the multiplayer and my impressions of it, having reached rank 14 since I started playing it back in late October.

I’m now down to the last mission in Battlefield 1; the campaign has definitely felt like reading a war anthology relating different snippets and accounts of the different personae in World War One. Based wholly around infantry combat, “The Runner” comes across as being a run-of-the-mill mission in comparison to earlier missions in Battlefield 1, but nonetheless remains quite distinct and memorable in its own right for the dynamics between Bishop and Foster. This mission also marks the first time where I’ve been able to find a bolt-action rifle with mounted optics: earlier weapons only had iron sights, and while I’m growing accustomed to using iron sights for the multiplayer, it is such a nice bonus to have access to optics for longer-range engagements. The bottom line here is that exploring a level and hunting down weapon crates can give players access to more effective weapons beyond those wielded by enemy forces, and while I’ve been nominally exploring the campaign missions, I’ve not made a full effort to track down all of the field guides, or complete all the challenges in each mission. I might go back at some point in the future to complete all of these objectives, but for now, one last mission in the campaign awaits, and then it’s time to wrap up Deus Ex: Mankind Divided  to see where Adam Jensen’s story takes him.

Avanti Savoia: Reflections on the Battlefield 1 Campaign

“The machine gun is a much over rated weapon.” —Field Marshal Douglas Haig

In the years after the Great War, Luca Vincenzo Cocchiola recounts his experiences to his daughter. A member of the Italian Arditi unit, Luca is tasked with supporting the main unit, which his brother Matteo, is a part of. Luca equips heavy armour and a MG-08/15 machine gun, punching his way through enemy lines and allowing the forces to capture Austro-Hungary positions, taking an anti-air position and repelling an attack. When the Austro-Hungarians detonate explosives that trigger a landslide to hold back the Italians, and out of concern for Matteo’s safety, Luca sets off to find Matteo, assisting Italian forces along the way. Upon reaching a captured fortress and clearing out the hostile forces, Luca finds that Matteo has died. Back in the present, Luca bids his brother happy birthday. Translating to “Go, Savoia” in reference to Italy’s period monarch and used as a battle cry to rally soldiers, the fourth mission of the campaign takes place in the Italian Dolomite mountains, the site of fierce battles between Italian and Austro-Hungary forces. “Avanti Savoia” is the shortest mission campaign of Battlefield 1, spanning only two acts, but in spite of this short time frame, succinctly captures the notion that the First World War’s impact at the family and individual level scaled to affect entire nations.

While long cited as perhaps the most implausible mission of the campaign, “Avanti Savoia” comes across as being an introduction of sorts to the elite classes of Battlefield 1. The elite classes are subdivided into Sentries, Flame Troopers and Tank Hunters, each with their own unique strengths. Equipping the MG-08/15 as Luca means players will experience the Sentry class, which is characterised by its slow movement speed, high damage resistance offered by the heavy armour and a weapon most useful at close ranges. In the campaign, Luca’s equipment allows him to push through enemy lines and lay waste to enemy positions in frenzied close-quarters combat. The MG-08/15 is terrifyingly effective against enemy infantry, and while intended to be fired on full automatic, it can be lethal in bursts, as well. After surviving an assault on his position by enemy aircraft, “Avanti Savoia” takes on a more personal tone as Luca tries to find his brother to ascertain his safety. This desparate mission gives the sense that the combatants in the Great War were still people, each with their own families, backgrounds and stories. While Battlefield 1 does not give much insight into the countless number of enemy forces killed, watching Luca’s own story does lead one to wonder what stories the Austro-Hungarian (and enemy soldiers in general) have, well beyond being game objects programmed with AI to make the player’s experience interesting.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The Arditi unit’s precursors in reality were indeed known for their armour and “Farina” helmets, playing a demolitions role that resulted in many casualties. I’m not too sure as to whether or not the Arditi themselves used such armour; while Battlefield 1 might be portraying the armour and weapons as being more effective than they were historically, the game is trying to go for authenticity over realism. This was quite a point of contention when the game came out, but with the launch past now, it seems that most folks have accepted the new environment and setting that Battlefield 1 offers.

  • The heavy armour provides serious protection against enemy fire, reducing incoming damage by a substantial amount, although it also precludes aiming down sights. Fortunately, the MG-08/15 is reasonably accurate at closer ranges even when fired from the hip and so, this section’s goal becomes a simple matter of clearing out the enemies. While the weapon is intended for fully automatic suppressive fire, I fired in bursts to down opponents to ensure the weapon did not jam mid-combat.

  • I’m ordinarily tempted to reload very frequently so I’m not caught with an empty magazine mid-firefight, but LMGs in general demand a different style of gameplay. Their large magazine capacity is offset by a longer reload time, so it is not particularly useful to reload when one still has around eighty percent of their rounds available. This leads to a new paradigm of gameplay, where I typically reload when I’m down to my last twenty percent of my ammunition.

  • Battlefield 3 and 4‘s multiplayer only allowed soldiers to carry an additional two hundred rounds in reserve for their LMGs, but the MG-08/15, both in the campaign and the multiplayer’s elite class, allows for a staggering eight hundred rounds to be carried in reserve. The original variant, the MG-08, was a general-purpose German machine gun derived off the Maxim gun for German infantry, and the 1915 variant was a lighter version, weighing around eighteen kilograms compared to the standard version’s sixty-nine kilograms.

  • The climb up the mountain is a slow one, as Luca must turn the MG-08/15 to bear against numerous soldiers. In conjunction with Luca’s armour, I almost feel bad for the soldiers going up against what would have seemed an unstoppable force against which they had little efficacy against. Time and time again, I hear the phrase “no effect on target” in shooters, and in games with more fictional elements in their settings, this is usually done to emphasise the power of their opponents.

  • Here, the fog effects in Battlefield 1 are visible: like its predecessors, Battlefield 1 uses the Frostbite 3 Engine and so, the game only represents a moderate jump in graphics. However, subtle details, especially pertaining to details in the environment, such as textures of environment assets and the player viewmodel of their weapons, have been improved substantially. One element I’m noticing is the accumulation of mud and water droplets on a weapon as one moves through the environment.

  • The reason why I’ve only gone through only two magazines’ worth of 7.92 x 57 mm rounds for the MG-08/15 is because I’ve been firing slowly. Though it might be tempting to hold down the trigger and let loose the weapon’s full rate of fire, I figured that I would try to hold onto this weapon for as long as possible.

  • The Dolomites are located in Northeastern Italy and take their name from the mineral, which is found in abundance. At present, the area is a popular tourist location, with skiing being the predominant winter sport. During the summer, rock climbing, hiking and cycling are some of the activities that visitors partake in.

  • As Luca makes his way further up the mountainside, flame troopers are present in larger numbers, and can rapidly deplete the player’s health. The mechanics in Battlefield 1 introduce a new means of lessening damage sustained by explosions and flames; by going prone, fire and explosion damage is reduced slightly, making the difference between life and death. In the campaign, shooting the flame trooper’s fuel tanks will cause them to detonate spectacularly, dealing incendiary damage to nearby enemies, as well.

  • Luca’s secondary weapon is an Automatico M1918. At present, my assault class in the multiplayer is rank one, so I should be able to purchase this weapon’s trench variant, which has a better hip firing accuracy than the factory version. The M1918 generally has a much higher firing rate than the MP-18 and is devastating in close quarters. After clearing the bunker, I somehow lost the MG-08/15 and picked up a Hellriegel in the process.

  • I’ve been playing through the Battlefield 1 multiplayer concurrently with the campaign, and so far, have largely focused on leveling the medic class. In all the Battlefield games I’ve gone through, the medic invariably becomes my most used class, typically because it allows me to heal and revive teammates on very short order. In all versions of Battlefield, and where Battlefield 1 is no exception, I hardly ever play the sniper classes, since I prefer to be in the midst of combat, armed with weapons that let me capture objectives and fend off close opponents at close range.

  • The darkening skies in the Dolomites are reminiscent of what occurs whenever a storm enters my region adjacent to the sun. The amount of water vapour in the air causes light to scatter, reducing the number of photons that make it through, creating a sense of darkness. However, once the storm is overhead, the differences in light and dark become far less pronounced.

  • Repelling the air assault can be a little challenging owing to the amount of smoke and obstruction in the skies once things really get underway. There is only one model of anti-air weapon in Battlefield 1, and while the armies using shared weapons does prima facie seem a little strange, Battlefield 1 is set before nations created dedicated weapons manufacturing firms, resulting in a plethora of weapons diversity presently seen.

  • For “Avanti Savoia”‘s second act, Luca is armed with a Villar Perosa M15, a double-barreled weapon capable of firing 1500 rounds per minute per barrel and originally designed for use on an aircraft. Although the weapon’s weaker 9 mm bullets deal limited damage, the M15 has an effective firing rate of 3000 rounds per minute, making it a beast of a weapon for hip-firing at close quarters environments.

  • While tempting to simply use this weapon, it is more practical to sneak about and silently dispatch the first of the enemies, then ascertain where everyone else is before going loud. While Battlefield 1‘s campaign tips suggest that melee kills are not totally silent, in practise, I’ve used nothing but melee kills to sneak through entire areas without being detected.

  • One of my readers has stated that Battlefield 1 is unoriginal and unimaginative for not presenting things from the Triple Alliance or Axis perspective if the game is in a World War setting, wondering why no game developer is willing to take the leap of faith and do so. There are several explanations: most developers of FPS titles are of an American origin, and there is a market demand for retelling stories of how the good guys kicked the bad guys’ asses in both World Wars. In Germany and Japan, games of different types are more popular, hence the relatively limited number of games told from an alternative perspective, and most developers probably are unwilling to present a campaign where the protagonists are doomed to fail on virtue of historical outcomes for fear of disappointing their audiences.

  • Thanks to its short effective range, I immediately traded off my sidearm for something with a bit more stopping power at a distance, and in this mission, the Gewehr M. 95 is available to fulfil that role. Despite possessing only iron sights, the ranges at which enemies are encountered in the campaign are not too high, so iron sights will be more than sufficient to get the job done.

  • There are several ways to approach the fortress, whether its sneaking in through the basement or taking a more direct route. In comparison to its predecessors, Battlefield 1‘s campaign takes place in more open environments, and offer multiple paths, making it much less linear. So far, I’ve not encountered any quick-time events, either, and overall, while I do miss the real-time weapon customisation offered by Battlefield: Hardline‘s campaign, in general, Battlefield 1 has taken lessons from earlier games and improved on its campaign.

  • My Gewehr M. 95 eventually ran dry, but I was able to source an Selbstlader M1916 Optical: the Selbstlader’s marksman variant is a medic weapon I grew rather fond of during the beta, and a few of my past gaming sessions was indeed to reach rank two for the medic class in order to unlock the Selbstlader marksman, which will be an asset on conquest matches where there is plenty of open spaces. However, as I am very fond of close-quarters combat, I also picked up the Autoloading 8 .25 extended to facilitate my preferred play-style.

  • With the fourth of the campaign mission now over, I’ve only got two missions left to experience and write about for Battlefield 1. The campaign does come across as a bit short, but it’s been quite entertaining, acting as an extended tutorial of sorts for the game’s main attraction, the multiplayer. Naturally, this means that posts for the remaining missions will come out soon, and in the gaming department, I’m very nearly finished the Prague night missions for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

In presenting these war stories in its campaign as opposed to a single narrative, Battlefield 1 is able to explore a variety of different perspectives from fictionalised accounts of the First World War. Because this war is often forgotten in the aftermath of the much deadlier and widespread Second World War, even if the stories in Battlefield 1 are fictional, they nonetheless do much to pique the players’ curiosity with respect to the untold conflicts and campaigns of the Great War beyond the familiar muddy trenches often depicted by media. Thus, through the War Stories, the more unknown sides are brought to light to demonstrate that World War One is more complex and involved much more than the Western Front alone, hence its moniker as the First World War. Battlefield 1‘s unique combination of these short stories in conjunction with unparalleled sound and visual design means that there is much to experience, bringing both the heroics and horrors of the First World War to life in a way that World War One games have found difficult to capture.