The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: First person shooter

Call of Duty: WWII- A Reflection on the Open Beta

“Hot today, forgotten tomorrow. I’m not buying anything.” –James Marshall

Activision has stated that development on Call of Duty: WWII began long before negative reception to the franchise’s shift into future warfare began. The full title will release on November 3, and during the last weekend of September, an open beta was available for Steam players to try out. Offering five maps and four game modes, the beta was an opportunity for players to test the game out prior to its release. After installing the beta initially, I found myself unable to run it; the game would not load, and it was not until I reinstalled the title where the game would open. After entering my first few matches, it became apparent that the game has not been optimised fully for PC yet: frame rates dropped, the game stuttered, and death followed. When frame rates stablised, I began my own boots-on-the-ground experience, making use of the different divisions to get a feel for the gameplay. Call of Duty has always been more about small maps and fast-paced combat, as well as kill-streak rewards over the slower, more methodical and large-scale gameplay that characterises Battlefield 1. Maps feel like closed-off sets designed to give the sense of a well-designed paintball arena, rather than the wide-open spaces of Battlefield 1, and the numerous corners and hallways encourage a very aggressive, forward style of gameplay that rewards reflexes over strategy. Filled with details, from aircraft flying overhead and artillery, to muddy and damaged set elements, maps definitely exude a WWII-like atmospheric that, in conjunction with traditional movement systems, looks to return Call of Duty back to its roots. However, well-designed set pieces and premise can only carry a game so far, and the major deciding factor in whether or not a game is worth playing lies with its gameplay and handling.

During moments where the Call of Duty: WWII open beta was running with optimal frame rates, the game feels modestly smooth, although the Infinity Ward engine is definitely feeling dated. Movement is a little jagged and uneven, feeling somewhat sluggish. In a game where the goal is to move around in a high-paced environment and play the game aggressively to score points, the movement system is not particularly conducive of this particular play style, as I found myself getting stuck in geometry on more than one occasion, leading to death. Inconsistencies in movement and hit detection meant that the Call of Duty: WWII open beta felt like one protracted match on Prise de Tahure. I was dying to players coming from unexpected angles and places. Exacerbated by lag, I would open fire on players first, only for them to whip around and instantly nail me, suggesting that I had in fact been firing at air when my client put a player on screen. Performance issues aside, the chaotic nature of Call of Duty multiplayer environments and an emphasis on twitch reflexes with a high RPM weapon over finess means that Call of Duty: WWII‘s multiplayer certainly isn’t for me. This beta reminds me of my advancing age – long ago, I enjoyed close quarters combat for the rush it brought. With age comes decreasing reflexes, and I’m not able to keep up with the whipper-snappers out there now. The kind of gameplay I might have preferred a few years ago no longer feels fun to me compared to methodically picking off distant enemies and moving cover-to-cover.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Call of Duty: WWII introduces a new game mode called “War”, which is a close-quarters objectives-based match. On the “Operation Breakout” map seen in the beta, Allied Forces must capture a German outpost and then build a bridge, allowing their tanks to destroy an ammunition depot. German forces must prevent the Allies from succeeding. The game mode is admittedly similar to Battlefront 2‘s Galactic Assault, albeit a much smaller-scale version.

  • I’m not sure if this were the case in earlier Call of Duty multiplayer games, but in Call of Duty: WWII, there are different classes players can spawn in as, from the jack-of-all-trades infantry class, to the more nimble airborne class that emphasises high speed gameplay. There’s also an armoured class that can equip heavy weapons, the mountain class that is suited for long-range sniping, and the expeditionary class that dominates in close quarters.

  • Here, I equip the Bren LMG, Perrine’s weapon of choice from Strike Witches. However, despite its WWII-setting, I do not feel that Call of Duty: WWII is able to capture the Strike Witches atmospheric and aesthetic anywhere nearly as effectively as does Battlefield 1, despite the fact that the latter is set during World War One. This further stems from the very static, arena-like maps as opposed to the larger, more natural-feeling maps seen in Battlefield 1.

  • I’ve heard folks complain that the STG-44’s sight to be completely inauthentic: while it is true that modern electronic red dot sights with LEDs were developed during the 1970s, the concept of a reflex sight has been around since the 1900s. Earlier sights either depended on ambient light to function or else had a built-in light source whose operational time was constrained by limited battery life.

  • I only spent two hours in the Call of Duty: WWII open beta on account of a cold that saw me sleep most of the weekend that the beta was running, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on too much. By comparison, when I played through the Battlefront 2 beta last week, I had largely recovered and so, put in closer to nine hours over the Thanksgiving Long Weekend. During the moments where I was feeling a little better, I hopped into a few matches and found myself outplayed at every turn.

  • Averaging a KD ratio of less than 0.25 in almost all of my games, I’ve found the movement and handling in Call of Duty: WWII to be very poor. This is especially problematic, considering that Call of Duty: WWII is meant to be a fast-paced shooter where reflexes and high sensitivities are king: slow movements and aiming made it difficult to aim and fire, taking away from the run-and-gun style of play that Call of Duty emphasises.

  • I’ve heard that client-side modifications were widespread during the open beta, allowing people to one-shot other players with instant headshots, or else gain awareness of where all of the other players were. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I would prefer a hardware ban for folks caught cheating as Blizzard has implemented in Overwatch: this forces all but the most resourceful of cheaters with deep pockets to think twice before using tools to bolster their in-game performance.

  • On my end, I do not believe I encountered any cheaters. The biggest enemy ultimately ended up being the game performance itself: my hardware, while four years old, is no slouch with respect to performance. Nonetheless, I saw the game dip below 15 FPS during some moments, and I could only watch as other player lined up their sights and pasted my face into the walls. The lag, coupled with the fact that the beta did not even open made the Call of Duty: WWII‘s beta a little difficult to enjoy; the Battlefield 1 and Battlefront II betas were characterised by a straightforwards setup process where I activated the installer and then joined matches without any difficulty.

  • From a visual perspective, Call of Duty: WWII looks average at best, especially when compared with some of the other titles available. Textures are a bit dull, and lighting isn’t terribly complex: in fact, I feel that the graphical fidelity of Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare: Remastered to be superior. While this is just a beta, Call of Duty: WWII does not inspire me to give the game a go, whereas Battlefront II‘s beta convinced me that, provided the loot crate system doesn’t completely suck, the game might merit a purchase shortly after launch.

  • I saw some footage of Cr1tikal playing through the closed beta a month ago, and recalled his use of incendiary shells in the expeditionary class. In his video, Cr1tikal criticises the map design, and ultimately, makes extensive use of the shotguns to squeak by in a match before switching over to mountain class briefly. I was hardly surprised by the expeditionary class’ efficacy with incendiary shotguns and found myself doing much better than I had in previous rounds.

  • Stationary weapons in multiplayer shooters are always a death-trap, leaving users exposed to attack from behind and snipers, but here, I use one of the mounted weapons to defeat another player from a distance. Despite the splintered wooden poles, shattered concrete bunkers, muddy ditches and remnants of sandbags, the maps in Call of Duty: WWII simply do not feel as though they are World War Two settings, but rather, feel like World War Two-themed settings.

  • The under-barrel grenade launcher in older Call of Duty games was counted the “n00b tube” for its ease of use. Under-barrel grenade launchers are gone in Call of Duty: WWII, but the incendiary shells of the expeditionary class are probably going to be regarded  as fulfilling a similar vein: despite dealing the same damage as a conventional shotgun shell, the incendiary shells apply damage over time by means of burning opponents hit, and because they replenish fully on death, they are an appealing weapon for beginning players who can gain a kill even after they are killed.

  • During my time in the beta, I did not hear any complaints about use of incendiary shells and so, like Cr1tikal, I used them during the later period of the open beta. I’ve heard that the release version of Call of Duty: WWII will see several changes, and one of the top-most changes proposed will be reducing the damage dealt by incendiary ammunition.

  • During one particularly lucky short, my pellets outright took out one opponent and burned another to land me a double kill. One feature in Call of Duty that I’ve never been fond of is the killstreak system, which rewards players purely based on how many kills they’ve gotten before dying. The most infamous killstreak bonus is the tactical nuke, which instantly wins a game for the team that the player triggers it on. Overall, I prefer Battlefront II‘s system, where playing the objective and actions helping teammates will unlock battle points that can be spent on perks.

  • Despite the closed, arena-like maps, the Operation Breakout map has long, open avenues that are well-suited for sniping. The Commonwealth rifle proved fun to use: it’s a one-hit kill bolt action rifle, and coming from the likes of Battlefield 1, where I’ve acclimatised to bolt-action rifles lacking a straight-pull bolt, this weapon wasn’t too far removed from my usual play-style. I never did get around to learning the performance attributes of the different weapons, and I didn’t make it far enough to unlock most weapons. Instead, I looted weapons from other players to give them a whirl.

  • Medals are earned in Call of Duty by performing specific actions or scoring kills in a particular manner. They will confer a boost in XP, and are similar to the ribbons of Battlefield, appearing at the top of the screen. I believe they were introduced in Black Ops II, although as mentioned earlier, I’m only vaguely aware of game mechanics in Call of Duty titles and I find the game engine to be quite out-dated.

  • Some folks have asserted that Call of Duty: WWII is a blatant rip-off of Battlefield 1 for featuring similar features, including the bayonet charge and for returning things to a World War setting. At the opposite end of the spectrum, others claim that Call of Duty: WWII will cause Battlefield 1 players to switch over on account of limitations in the latter’s gameplay. Quite honestly, while Call of Duty: WWII is quite unique in both game mechanics and time period, I found that I have more fun in Battlefield 1. After one particularly tough match, I returned to Battlefield 1 and perform considerably better than I did during the Call of Duty: WWII open beta.

  • My last match during the Call of Duty: WWII beta was spent in a match of domination with the airborne class and the starting M3 submachine gun. I attached the suppressor to it and snuck around the map to get kills. Capture points trade hands numerous times during domination, and one thing I noticed is that in Call of Duty: WWII, the submachine guns do not appear to have an improved hip-fire accuracy.

  • One of the most infamous constructs to come out of Call of Duty is the notion of a “360 no scope” and “quick scope” moves. While considered to be trick-shots with little practical advantages in a real game, folks on the internet suggest that people of middle school age take the move quite seriously and consider it a viable tactic. Regardless of whether or not this is true, one thing is for sure: until the PC version of Call of Duty: WWII is optimised, trick shots will be very difficult or even impossible to pull off.

  • After this match ended, I decided to call it a day and went back to sleep with the aim of fighting off my cold. Two weeks later, I’m back to my usual self, although an occasional cough continues to persist. I usually get sick twice a year: once before winter appears in full, and once before spring completely displaces winter weather. I’m hoping that this means winter is upon us; it’s certainly been colder as of late, although forecasts show pleasant weather over the next while. Overall, I would say that I had much more fun with the Battlefront II beta than this one, and while the campaign looks interesting, I’ve got no plans to purchase Call of Duty: WWII at the moment.

Playing through the beta reaffirms the reasons behind my decision in not playing Call of Duty multiplayers, but having tried the Call of Duty: WWII open beta, there are a few things that Call of Duty does well; my favourite is the instant spawning back into a match after death. The quick time to kill is also great for high-speed engagements, even if it is hampered slightly by the movement systems. However, compared to Battlefield, which has a better movement system and larger maps that accommodate all styles of gameplay, I cannot say that I’m won over into Call of Duty‘s multiplayer aspects. The single-player elements are a different story: until Battlefield 1 introduced its war stories, Call of Duty games had consistently more entertaining campaigns, and I am looking forwards to seeing just what Call of Duty: WWII‘s story entails. From what has been shown so far, it’s a return to the European front in the later days of the Second World War, featuring a modernised take on the D-Day invasion. Overall, I am not particularly inclined to purchase Call of Duty: WWII close to launch, or at any point soon, for its multiplayer content. If the single-player campaign is impressive, I might purchase the game some years later during a Steam Sale – the game certainly does not feel like it is able to offer the value that would make buying it at full price worthwhile, but I’m always game for a good war story, even if it is a shorter one.

Far Cry 4: Remarks and Reflections at the halfway point

“When the gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers.” —Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

Set in Kyrat, a fictional country in the Himalayas region, Far Cry 4 is the fourth title in the Far Cry series, following Ajay Ghale as he is caught up in a civil war between Pegan Min, the country’s despot, and the Golden Path, a resistance movement, shortly after arriving to scatter his mother’s ashes. Inspired by the Nepalese Civil War, Far Cry 4 is an open-world shooter with RPG-elements: looting, crafting and skill advancement drive much of the game. Shortly after escaping Pegan Min’s palace, Ajay escapes with one of the Golden Path’s leaders, Sabal, and joins forces with them in undermining Pegan Min’s rule, carrying out activities ranging from simple acts such as delivering supplies to Golden Path forces and hunting wildlife in Kyrat to improve his gear, all the way up to direct action involving assassinating key figures in Min’s regime and storming facilities under Min’s control. By the game’s halfway point, players punch through into North Kyrat after having liberated much of South Kyrat and relinquished control of key locations from Min to the Golden Path, bolstering their presence. During this time, I’ve unlocked almost all of the upgrades through crafting, and have acquired some of the most effective weaponry in Far Cry 4. This journey has been incredible insofar, but was initially stymied by a lack of motivation to play the game. Having purchased Far Cry 4 back during the Steam Winter Sale, I opened the title on Christmas Day and liberated my first bell tower shortly after, but the prospect of an open world was admittedly intimidating, and after Christmas, I did not venture into Kyrat. My track record with open-world games is not particularly good: I’ve still yet to beat the main story to Skyrim despite having owned the game for upwards of four years.

This all changed after I began exploring Kyrat, capturing bell towers and liberating outposts. My first goal was to max out my weapon holster, and with the capability to carry more weapons, a world of possibility opened up. I began carrying out more side missions to gain currency and experience. The additional resources bolstered my ability to survive firefights, in turn opening up more missions. Far Cry 4‘s learning curve is not particularly steep, and past the initially imposing task of learning the game mechanics, Far Cry 4 has been an exceptional experience: stealth and brute force are both viable options, with weapons in the game for achieving both. Players are given nearly unlimited freedom in exploring Kyrat and completing the game in any order of their choice, allowing them to optimise for their preferred play-style. Players driven by completionism will naturally unlock most of, if not all the skills, weapons and crafting upgrades in the game eventually, but being able to play according to one’s preferences is a very important factor in retaining the player’s interest. Aside from its fluid gameplay and compelling visuals, Far Cry 4 also has an interesting plot; Ajay has a connection to Kyrat’s dictator, and there’s a fine balance of comedy with drama. Together, these aspects make Far Cry 4 incredibly captivating to play, and over the past two months, I’ve spent upwards of twenty hours in the game. I’ve now reached North Kyrat, and are eyeing the Buzzsaw, which should allow me to even the odds against Pegan Min’s elite soldiers: I’m playing Far Cry 4 solo and so, have no assistance for more challenging missions beyond powerful weapons and performance-enhancing syringes.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Shortly after escaping Pegan Min and acquiring a kukri, Ajay’s adventure begins. I note that I am well aware of the secret ending, that is, what any reasonable person in real life would do, and will mention it in greater detail later – while the most realistic course of action, it precludes my shooting any guns, so on my first playthrough, I’ve decided to focus on a game where I could actually shoot things. The kukri is a capable melee weapon for stealth take-downs and despite the presence of firearms, its usefulness remains throughout the game as Ajay can invest in skills that make him more proficient with the weapon.

  • The AK-47 (actually an AKM variant) is the first assault rifle players have access to in Far Cry 4. An average and unremarkable weapon in all regards, it is one of the most common weapons in the game, and ammunition for assault rifles is never in short supply. I’ve noticed in retrospect that I’ve got a large number of screenshots from the game’s opening moments, and it is because the visuals are impressive, from the water effects to the use of diffuse lighting.

  • The size of Kyrat, in conjunction with how beautifully everything is rendered means that Far Cry 4 is quite demanding when it comes to GPU requirements – the recommended requirements for GPU are steep, being a GTX 680 or equivalent. I originally was running the EVGA GTX 660 SC in my tower prior to last year’s upgrade; this GPU would have been capable of running the game on high settings with acceptable frame rates. A quick glance at these screenshots also show a frame rate counter in the upper left hand corner, and for the most part, I’m getting 75-80 FPS on ultra settings.

  • I had been eyeing Far Cry 4 for quite some time, but it wasn’t until I purchased a new GPU that I decided the time was ripe to give the game a shot. Performance no longer a concern, I began playing the game on Christmas Day prior to the traditional dinner of turkey, stuffing, ham and all of the trimmings accompanying Christmas dinner. As of late, the family Christmas tradition has become spending the day relaxing at home; we had a white Christmas last year and so, it was very welcoming to unwind without having to step into a cold winter’s evening as we were wont to do in previous years.

  • I approach the bell tower here with the goal of capturing it. Bell towers in Far Cry 4 work similarly to their counterparts in older games – the goal is to negotiate with the tricky ledges, ladders and narrow walkways to reach the top, where a radio broadcasting unit is transmitting propaganda. When a bell tower is captured, the fog surrounding it fades away to reveal locations for exploration. Besides bell towers, Ajay must also liberate outposts, which act as hubs for resting, trading and starting missions.

  • One of the earliest missions I did after liberating an outpost was a hostage rescue operation. At the time, I only had one slot for a primary weapon and decided to go with the bow, which was the quietest weapon available at the time. I immediately found it to be inadequately powered against the soldiers, and took to sneaking around the site, performing take downs on everyone before setting the hostages free. Weapon options remain limited in the beginning, but as Ajay completes more for the Golden Path and various other characters, his armoury diversifies.

  • One of the biggest joys about Far Cry 4 is the ability to explore Kyrat in great detail, even if fast travelling between outposts is usually how I prefer moving about to start missions. Unscripted events can happen during these travels, ranging from karma events which require a quick trigger finger to save Golden Path fighters or stop Royal Army elements, to unexpected animal attacks: I’ve been waylaid by rhinos before while driving to a mission, totalling my ride and very nearly killing me. I would’ve died there had I not been near a mounted gun, which I used to annihilate the rhinos.

  • When it became available, I upgraded to the recurve bow, which is a straight upgrade from the standard wooden bow. It can be fitted with a sight (although the elevation markings are just for show) and highly effective as a stealth weapon for longer ranges. Killing animals with arrows will yield bonus karma points and double skin, making it an excellent tool for gathering the necessary skins to upgrade Ajay’s carrying capacity.

  • I unlocked the M-79 break-action grenade launcher during a Kyrat Fashion Week mission, which entailed killing a rare fish with explosives. It is unlocked when players liberate nine bell towers, although the Fashion Week or armed escort missions also will provide the weapon. It is easily the best side-arm Far Cry 4, and despite its low rate of fire, can deal incredible damage, effortlessly destroying enemy vehicles and even helicopters if used correctly.

  • Just how effective is the M-79? This image speaks volumes about what this simple grenade launcher is capable of. Early in the game, it is limited only by how many grenades one can carry, but the results are undeniable. Here, I finish off a propaganda centre mission, which involves destroying a propaganda manufacturing installation and then fending off the hordes of Royal Army soldiers that appear afterwards. Far Cry 4 involves a combination of missions that require stealth and those that necessitate players going in loud, so one of my earliest priorities was getting my weapon holsters up to speed.

  • The final skins required to fully upgrade the holster are from honey badgers, which, despite their small size, are incredibly ferocious and can output damage similar to a bear, tiger or rhino. In fact, their size makes them harder to hit, making them one of the toughest enemies in the game to deal with initially. I recall getting the five skins by driving a technical into an area with honey badgers, throwing down some bait and then levelling takers with the mounted MG. Once I had the holster, I could now carry three primary weapons at once, and for the most part, I prefer having an assault rifle, one suppressed long range option and one specialised weapon.

  • The rationale is simple enough: assault rifles excel at medium range combat and have a good firing rate that allows them to be competitive at close ranges. On top of that, ammunition for an assault rifle is commonly acquired, so there’s very little fear of running short of ammunition. I like having suppressed sniper rifles, as they can be used to dispatch distant foes without alerting other enemies, and the special weapon usually depends on the mission (I usually carry a shotgun). The M-79 rounds things out, being an incredible one-handed anti-vehicle measure that I can employ even while driving or flying. This balanced loadout allows me to be effective in all ranges, although different players have different preferences for loadouts, and some folks will recommend having a bow on them at all times.

  • Here, I am doing a mission for Sabal during a Balance of Power mission. These missions can impact the storyline and decide whose influence amongst the Golden Path increases. By this point in the game, I’ve unlocked and purchased the Warrior, the signature version of the AK-47. Standard AK-47s cannot be modified with optics or barrel upgrades, so the Warrior is an improvement overall, featuring a suppressor, red dot sight and extended magazine. The difference was immediately noticeable, and it was here that I really began enjoying Far Cry 4.

  • The M700 became my sniper of choice once I unlocked it: more accurate and powerful than the SVD, it can be fitted with a suppressor that makes it useful for silently dispatching targets from range. While it is a bolt-action rifle and quite slow to fire compared to the semi-automatic SVD, I prefer it for its firepower and used it to great effect in capturing outposts, as well as for hostage and assassination missions.

  • With my loadout now figured out, the entire world lay ahead in Far Cry 4, and I began exploring with more confidence, knowing I had the tools I needed to survive. There are various items and locations scattered throughout the game that confer experience points and other bonuses, including contributing to new weapon unlocks, so it is well worth it to spend some time and explore locations thoroughly in Kyrat.

  • Besides honey badgers, the other enemy of Far Cry 4 that has little purpose beyond being a total aggravation are eagles. These monstrosities are capable of killing Golden Path soldiers and even carry entire pigs into the air, although thankfully, they are not durable. A single well-placed shotgun blast or assault rifle rounds will be enough to stop them from terrorising Ajay: they can attack out of the blue, but can also be escaped by entering vehicles.

  • Because I opted to go with Sabal’s mission initially, I was given a flamethrower. The flamethrower in Far Cry 4 is a splitting image of its predecessor in Far Cry 3 and is a powerful close range weapon: ignited enemies are quickly taken out of the equation, running around in a panic until they burn to death. While powerful, it is stymied by its high fuel consumption and low range, which has the additional risk of potentially burning the player if they’re not careful.

  • I recall a memorable hostage rescue mission where I had outfitted myself with the MS16 battle rifle. When I opened fire, however, I was shocked to learn of the weapon’s report. It turns out I had not equipped the suppressor as originally thought, and hastened to right things, although I’m not too sure if I succeeded, or if I failed the operation. A reasonably effective weapon at longer ranges, the Ms16 uses assault rifle ammunition and fulfils the intermediate role between that of a sniper rifle and automatic assault rifle, although I generally prefer engagements at closer ranges and so, have not made extensive use of this weapon.

  • One of the biggest challenges in Far Cry 4 up to this point was unlocking the Bushman by competing in the arena. It took me around a week to reach level ten, and while the grind was quite tedious, I did pick up a few tricks by playing the arena; the most useful was the knowledge that Molotov cocktails can essentially one-shot heavies in the absence of other weaponry. I concede that the atmosphere and sound effects of the arena (especially the sound of the doors opening before a round) were fun, and in the end, it were the animals that proved to be the greatest nuisance to defeat.

  • The resulting unlock, the Bushman, was well worth it. It’s an upgraded P416, modelled off the Patriot Ordnance Factory P416 assault rifle, intended to be an upgrade to the M4A1, and despite sharing a very similar name, is quite unrelated to the Heckler and Koch HK416 assault rifle. In Far Cry 4, the base P416 is a slight upgrade from the AK-47, dealing more damage. It is not found until players unlock North Kyrat, but having the Bushmanwith its extended magazine, suppressor and ACOG renders the P416 a moot point: the Bushman is easily the best primary in the game: with a good firing rate, damage model and magazine, it has the additional advantage of being easy to find ammunition for. There are more powerful weapons, but ammunition is less common.

  • The vegetation can be ignited by flamethrower, the Molotov cocktail or even the repair tool: small wildfires can be started that quickly eliminate enemies and wildlife using these weapons. There is one disadvantage: careless fires can also destroy vehicles, and I recall one occasion where I blew up my buzzer because I set the forest on fire trying to take out some soldiers. The buzzer is a helicopter that is the best vehicle for getting around Kyrat bar none: while it will refuse to fly above certain altitudes, its high speeds make it an incredible way for moving from point A to point B.

  • I progress through Kyrat to the City of Pain in order to apprehend de Pleur in his headquarters. That mission proved to be quite an exercise in patience, since I could not simply go weapons loud. After a few attempts using stealth, I succeeded and extracted de Pleur. When the mission was finished, I learned that his fortress was weakened and took it without too much difficulty.

  • The Bull is an upgraded M133 shotgun featuring a reflex sight and suppressor, making it an effective stealthy close-quarters option. I got quite a bit of mileage out of the Bull after unlocking it: it’s capable of dropping most targets with a single shot and was remarkably useful on hunting missions where the goal was to hunt honey badgers. This moment also showcases the beautiful lighting in Far Cry 4: I’ve opted against screenshots of Kyrat by night because it’s actually quite dull-looking.

  • The mission to take back the brick factory and capture a drug scientist proved to be a remarkably entertaining one as Ajay gets drugged up breathing fumes inside the factory. It’s a surprise that would only be surpassed by the first mission to Shangri-la. The Shangri-la missions are quite distinct from Kyrat, and the name will bring to mind James Hilton’s description of a fictional paradise in his 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, although Shangri-la in reality refers to a city in Yunnan.

  • Kyrat fashion week missions involve killing rare animals with a weapon type. Far Cry 4 is nice enough to give players the required weapon, although if one happens to have a weapon of the type specified, the mission can very quickly become a walk in the park. When I reached Far Cry 4‘s halfway point, I had every crafting upgrade completed except for the explosives bag and loot bag. Most guides advise going for the loot bag first, but I personally would upgrade the weapon holster first.

  • The Bushman’s only downside is that the ACOG can be a little tricky to aim with its chevron crosshair, but subsequently, this is the premier weapon to utilise. One thing I’ve neglected to mention up until now are the syringes, which come in five varieties. The most useful one is the healing syringe, which restores health. The hunting syringe is one of my favourites, allowing Ajay to immediately spot enemies and animals without leaving cover. The others, I’ve made less use of despite their powers: the focus syringe allows Ajay to move faster, the overdose syringe somehow doubles weapon power, and the survival syringe is useful for close quarters combat.

  • I’ve made it to Noore’s Fortress after eliminating her in the arena, and armed with the Predator, an upgraded M700 with improved accuracy and magazine capacity. However, it’s got a low rate of fire, and does not hit as hard as the Z93, a powerful rifle firing .50-calibre rounds whose standard version can be equipped with a suppressor and extended magazines. However, it’s still a major upgrade from the M700. I managed to defeat Noore’s fortress quite quickly, picking off distant targets with the Predator and eliminating the rest with the Bushman.

  • The time had finally come for me to complete the missions based out of Kyrat’s “International Airport”, really a landing strip. There are several missions set deep in the Himalayas Mountains, instigated by Willis, an American OGA who appears in Far Cry 3 and is necessary to advance the narrative. He deserts Ajay at the end of his mission line, leaving Ajay to be captured by Yuma and Pegan Min. The subsequent missions proved to be one of the trickiest I’d encountered in Far Cry 4 since the mission to capture de Pleur, and I was most relieved to finally escape the Himalayas camp.

  • Upon returning to Kyrat, the time has finally come to blow open the concrete barrier and punch through into the North. Apparently, my actions have placed Amita in power, so I had to steal a fuel truck while it was still moving. I was unable to gain enough momentum to drive the truck into the barrier, but my immense arsenal allowed me to destroy the barrier anyways. After this came one of the most entertaining firefights I’d ever had in Far Cry 4: with Royal Army soldiers coming from the North, the mortar emplacement proved to be an incredible asset.

  • After a pitched battle, the way North is finally open, which means it’s time to go clearing out the bell towers so I can get my mitts on the Buzzsaw. It’s not a bad place to be, considering that Battlefield 1‘s In The Name Of the Tsar is coming out in September, which corresponds with more Battlefield 1 in favour of Far Cry 4. While we are on the topic of wars being fought in the Eastern front, I will be looking to write about the Brave Witches OVA very soon. My copy’s arrived, and while I’m quite busy, the upcoming long weekend should offer a brief respite that will allow me to take a look at the OVA I’ve been waiting for since December last year.

My impressions of Far Cry 4 are unlikely to change too dramatically as I continue through the game, and I will be returning once I’ve completed the game to discuss a more serious topic, using Far Cry 4‘s narrative as a backdrop. There’s a topic that’s been on my mind for quite some time, dealing with ignorance in issues surrounding nations and the resulting call to action in the absence of a more well-developed understanding of the topics at hand (as well as the usual tendency for discussions to devolve to ad hominem attacks). This will be the basis for the discussion I have in mind for Far Cry 4 once I reach the end-game, and as a fictional experience, I’ve found that Far Cry 4 does a fantastic job of capturing a hypothetical situation where a call to action manifests as direct action. Having said that, it’s largely fun and games as Ajay fulfils the role of a one-man army in Kyrat insofar, blowing up Pegan Min’s armed forces in a hilarious manner and listening to the entertaining radio programmes of Kyrat. While things appear quite easygoing for the most part, the Golden Path’s leaders, Amita and Sabal, express a willingness to go to any lengths to achieve their goals regardless of what implications their approaches entail. This element forms the darker, grittier side of Far Cry 4 that will be explored as I move into North Kyrat and begin liberating facilities, as I’ve done in South Kyrat. Of course, the first goal will be to get the remainder of the bell towers and unlock the Buzzsaw.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Final Review and Impressions

“Peace to the fallen.” –Honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty

Upon reaching Earth and fighting to reach Riah, who’s escaped, Reyes’ plan fails when Riah bests him in one-on-one combat and commits suicide, signalling for a full-scale SDF invasion. Admiral Raines is killed when the Olympus Mons fires on the UNSA headquarters, and Reyes decides to board the Olympus Mons, fighting his way to the bridge and killing Admiral Kotch. Commandeering the Olympus Mons, Reyes and the Retribution launch a desperate attack on the SDF shipyard to disable their fleet and ship-making capability, although they crash on Mars surface before any real damage can be done to the shipyard. Rallying the survivors, Reyes commences a ground assault on the shipyard, and Salter gains access to an SDF Destroyer. E3N sacrifices himself to unlock its moorings, and Reyes activates its weapons, allowing Salter to destroy the shipyard. Reyes himself is ejected into the vacuum of space and dies from flying shrapnel, with the knowledge that their mission was successful. The UNSA honour their sacrifice in a ceremony, and its shown that Salter survived the assault with three other soldiers. Thus ends Infinite Warfare, my first ever Call of Duty title set fully in space, away from the modern warfare setting. Overall, the diversity of settings and weapons give this game a different feel from previous Call of Duty titles – the sum of these components come together to create a remarkably entertaining campaign whose biggest draw is simply being able to shoot things in space. However, Infinite Warfare is far from being a shooter devoid of a thematic element.

By the end of Infinite Warfare, the main thematic element is that sacrifice may be necessary to achieve a longer term victory even if the short term costs are high. Infinite Warfare presents this directly, bereft of any excess symbolism and other obfuscation. Quite simply, Reyes makes the ultimate sacrifice to cripple the SDF, knowing that he is giving up his life so that SATO and the UNSA can fight another day to keep the SDF at bay. This was a non-trivial decision, and the ending shows that it was the right decision: themes of sacrifice are quite common in anime, and one particularly noteworthy example is the contrast between Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Yūki Yūna is a Hero – there are some uninformed who believe that the former surpasses the latter on virtue of Madoka sacrificing her life to become a god for the sake of her world and Homura, whereas Yūna falls short of being a hero because the ending “undermines” her sacrifice. However, this is not true: both are heroes in their own right, prepared to give up their own well-being for the sake of others, but in the case of Madoka Magica, Madoka’s premature sacrifice allows Homura to undo everything she’s created. While a fine anime, Madoka Magica fails to account for when a sacrifice is appropriate: this is something that is explored more appropriately in Infinite Warfare. The stakes are laid out: if Reyes and the others are not ready to do what it takes, even giving up their lives if it comes down to it, to destroy the SDF shipyard, then only more casualties will follow. Salter continues channeling Reyes’ spirit, doing her best to bring him back alive, and Reyes himself does his utmost to complete his mission and survive. That Reyes dies at the end illustrates that fate is not always so kind, but it was not a death in vain. This is something that a great deal of anime fans fail to comprehend: heroics will involve sacrifice, but sacrifice need not be total, and dying in the line of duty needlessly can have far reaching consequences in the future. Reyes’ sacrifice is a calculated one, made on the basis of facts, and it is shown that he makes the right call, standing in contrast with Madoka, whose sacrifice only served to drive Homura to despair and ultimately undo everything Madoka had built out of a want to protect her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • So here we are, at the final two missions of Infinite Warfare, where the pressure is on to find the means to defeat a seemingly technologically and definitely numerically superior enemy: it is definitely an interesting experience to be fighting against a faction said to surpassing the protagonists in capability, and there are points in the game that bring back recollections of some folks I’ve known who present themselves to be far more capable and accomplished on social media than is reality. However, social status in online platforms is really a paper tiger: hard work and humility are far more potent in the long term than likes, shares and re-tweets.

  • Thus, when playing through Infinite Warfare, it is a constant reminder that even against what looks to be unfavourable odds, what prevails is a constant amount of sustained effort and persistence. The SDF may look to be imposing, but Captain Reyes and his crew’s determination to get the job done allow them to dismantle the SDF leadership and war machine one component at a time. By this point in time, the SDF High Council is largely gone, along with most of their best soldiers, and it’s a race against time to find Riah.

  • The EBR-800 becomes superbly useful in the dark streets of Geneva when used in conjunction with drones and seeker droids, which automatically locate and neutralise enemies hidden in the ruined buildings. Its versatility in Infinite Warfare is such that the weapon is useful for most situations in a variety of ranges, owing to its ability to switch rapidly between a long-ranged shot and automatic fire for closer ranges.

  • I find a KBS Longbow here: the only bolt-action ballistic rifle available in the campaign, it is, on an per-shot basis, the most powerful and accurate long-range weapon, featuring high stopping power at the expense of firing rate and reload times. On my playthrough of Infinite Warfare, I did not manage to find all of the weapons available in the game, but I did manage to complete all of the side missions. On a future playthrough, this means I will have access to upgraded weapons, which could be useful for playing Infinite Warfare on higher difficulties.

  • Having said this, I’m not too sure if I will be looking to go through Infinite Warfare again – for one, the game occupies a non-trivial amount of hard drive space, and it’s a time commitment to go through again. I imagine that the most likely course of action is that I will uninstall Infinite Warfare in the near future for the purpose of saving disk space even in spite of my enjoyment for the game. Shortly after exiting the church, Reyes finds himself face to face with Riah, who handily defeats him in hand-to-hand combat before committing suicide, signalling for the SDF invasion to begin.

  • A window of opportunity opens up after the Olympus Mons appears: while it destroys the UNSA headquarters and causes Admiral Raines’ death, Reyes is determined to settle things between him and Admiral Kotch once and for all. He orders a Jackal to his position and flies towards the Olympus Mons under a distraction the Retribution creates, managing to board. It’s a fierce firefight once Reyes hits the hanger, although there is plenty of cover to make use of here. With patience and returning fire, the hanger is soon cleared, allowing Reyes and his team to move on.

  • As Reyes moves through the Olympus Mons, Kotch’s now-familiar visage graces screens, warning Reyes that his efforts are for naught. Reading through Infinite Warfare‘s excerpts on the SDF’s values and beliefs provides an unusual insight into their society. Even more militant than North Korea, the SDF are comically evil to an extent: so much of their way of thinking is ridiculous to the point of humour, although it could also serve as a warning about a society that is content to follow rather than take charge. The number of people out there who ardently accept beliefs and ideas expressed in social media is bewildering, and subscribing to extremist thought expressed by the unlearned is precisely what leads to an erosion of liberty.

  • Sprinting through collapsing sections of the Olympus Mons brings to mind the sort of chaos seen in a Portal 2 level; Kotch is scuttling sections of the ship in response to Reyes’ determination, but even this is not enough to stop Reyes and his soldiers. My belief in critical thinking and a healthy skepticism to information until it can be shown the information is credible drives how I take in news and information. While it’s the way of thinking that is encouraged, it also earned me some enemies of some classmates back during my time as a student – these individuals did not understand that I was opposing their ideas, rather than their person, and so, considered it a personal attack when I did not agree with them on things ranging from something as simple as how square brackets are used to more serious matters, such as whether or not it is feasible to involve all students in activism.

  • With so much time having passed since those days, I’m hoping that their grudges have long vanished – I know that I have no quarrel with them on account of how busy things are. Back in Infinite Warfare, upon learning that Kotch is in the bridge surrounded by robot soldiers, E3N hacks up the robots to fight for Reyes, and Reyes himself takes control of a robot to deal as much damage as possible before self-destructing in front of Kotch, fatally wounding him. I finished off Kotch before his last words, primarily because I was going for the “You know nothing” achievement.

  • After the Olympus Mons’ weapons come online, Reyes is given access to the F-SpAr and is set to target the Tharsis shipyard in the distance. Active SDF destroyers show up, and it’s finally time to give the SDF fleet a taste of their own medicine: it was a blast to wipe floor with the SDF destroyers, although for the short moment players have access to this awesome power, the Olympus Mons sustains heavy damage and is unable to use the F-SpAr against the shipyard.

  • The final battle at Mars has a little of everything, from fantastic set-pieces and space combat to boots-on-the-ground combat. Here, Reyes boards a Jackal with the goal of clearing the airspace around the Olympus Mons so that it can ram into the shipyard and cause enough damage to significantly lessen the SDF’s ability to construct new destroyers. I am tasked with taking on three SDF aces here and remark that, total completion of the main missions and side missions will naturally allow for the Royal Flush achievement to be unlocked (eliminate all SDF aces and captains).

  • While perhaps not quite as varied or innovative as the Titan-to-Titan combat of Titanfall 2, the Jackal sequences in Infinite Warfare were overall a thrill to play through, offering breaks in the campaign that serve to mix up the gameplay. To ensure things did not get stale during the side missions, I alternated between the Jackal Strike and Ship Infiltration operations; the main missions themselves offer a reasonable balance between flying and boots-on-the-ground combat. I nearly finish taking out the last SDF ace here and thought I had sustained excessive damage, but it turns out that Reyes’ crash is scripted, occurring as the Olympus Mons is forced to divert in order to avoid collision with the Retribution.

  • Following a crash-landing on the surface and the realisation that their initial attempt to destroy the shipyard has failed, Reyes rallies with his forces and motivates them to fight on, reasoning that either they live and cost the UNSA the future, or else risk their lives to ensure a future for the UNSA and SATO. This is a sacrifice that is reasoned through and thought out, making it one whose necessity becomes very clear. When starting the mission, I opted to go with the RAW equipped with a recharger that gave me unlimited ammunition, as well as the Trojan optic for quickly picking out enemies.

  • The value of a total sacrifice costing one’s life is ultimately determined by considering the outcomes of that sacrifice relative to the outcome of living to fight another day. In Madoka Magica, Madoka’s actions, while heroic and allowing her to help her friends find happiness, also bars her from intervening directly when Homura decides to change things. Hence, this was not a meaningful sacrifice, since its benefits in the long term were cancelled out by Homura’s actions. By comparison, Reyes and the Retribution make sacrifices knowing that they have an exceptional opportunity to damage the SDF military machine, and the outcome of this is a strategic victory for the UNSA.

  • After fighting to the shipyard’s orbital elevator station, Reyes and Salter, plus a few others, make the ascent to the shipyard while the Retribution’s crew remain on the ground to hold off the SDF. The combat is intense, and even with fire support from the Olympus Mons’ remaining weapons, it’s a difficult battle. Careful, controlled use of the RAW here allowed me to go through the mission without reloading the weapon, and it is with the fusion magazine attachment that energy weapons shine.

  • Besides the RAW, I also carried the F-SpAr torch throughout the final mission. Obscenely powerful, it’s a highly effectual means of beating the RC-8 combat drones. An upgrade to the C6 drones, the RC-8 deal massive amounts of damage and can absorb punishment, as they carry shields that can absorb incoming fire. Usually, it takes sustained firing in conjunction with grenades to bring them down, but heavy weapons make short work of them, hence my decision to hold onto the F-SpAr in case I encountered them.

  • This turned out to be a good idea, since in the corridors in the shipyard are filled with hostile elements. I encountered an RC-8 here and tossed shock grenades to stun it, hitting it with the F-SpAr while it was disabled to permanently remove the threat it posed. This past weekend has seen a recurrence of the events five years previously, as I played through Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up” after a fantastic dinner of pizza from one of the more famous pizza places in the area: their donair pizza and all-meat pizzas are delicious, having more toppings and a more flavourful crust than pizzas I’ve had previously. Today was a bit duller, as the cloud cover gave way to thunderstorms by evening, although I did manage to unlock the Chauchat Low Weight in Battlefield 1, the first of the assignment weapons for the “They Shall Not Pass” DLC.

  • I spent a total of ten hours in Infinite Warfare‘s campaign, discounting the extra hour-and-a-half I spent trying to get the game working on day one, and subsequently, the waits for the game to load. My computer, while powerful, encountered some difficulties in loading the game and some of the transitions were not seamless, but overall, ran the game at 1080p with 60 FPS on the highest settings. By this point in the game, I’m liberally using the gadgets available to fight the hordes of SDF soldiers and robots; looking back, the seeker bot and drones were my favourite options. The shield and hacking charges, while fun, were not used as frequently.

  • Salter suggests stealing an SDF destroyer to cause enough damage to the shipyard to put it out of commission permanently. While an armed destroyer is available, its weapons are offline and it is docked to the shipyard. In order to release the docking clamps, E3N offers to destroy a reactor powering the clamps, but can only do so by creating an explosion large enough to do so. E3N’s “death” was quite similar to BF-7274’s in Titanfall 2 in that both interact with a high energy source to disrupt and destroy it, and both moments result in a moving end for the robots in their respective games.

  • Reyes watches as the shipyard is destroyed, and despite Salter’s efforts to save him, Reyes does not make it: his helmet is shattered by debris, exposing him to the vacuum of space. In his final moments, Reyes dies knowing that his mission has succeeded. This brings my journey through Infinite Warfare to an end, two months after I started the campaign, and I had a fantastic time going through the game. The next Call of Duty title is a return to WWII, and is set to feature older game mechanics, such as health pick ups. I’m curious to see what it will look like, but at present, I have no plans to buy this title.

It may come as a surprise that I found the sacrifice in Infinite Warfare to be better executed than that of Madoka Magica – this stems from a worldview that people are worth significantly more alive than dead. Heroics is the willingness to do what is necessary and be selfless, to be prepared to make sacrifices for what one believes is correct, not the reckless, uncalculated self-sacrifice with the hope of making a difference. In fact, dying needlessly is unheroic, as it deprives the individual the ability to make a difference later on. Ultimately, the hate and doubt directed at Infinite Warfare was misguided and unnecessary – there’s a clear theme, solid gameplay and an impressive range of environments that come together to make the game’s campaign far more entertaining than expected. It was definitely a pleasant surprise, and I liked the way things played out because it was a logical progression of how the decision to make sacrifices is reached. Beyond these elements, the combination of boots-on-the-ground and Jackal combat in different parts of the solar system kept things fresh even if some of the mission ended up being quite similar to one another: the set-pieces in the game were stunning, and unique to the different locations reached. Overall, I would recommend Infinite Warfare for the campaign and zombies modes when the game is given a discount: the multiplayer is not particularly inspired, and the replay value is moderate, so one would not get their money’s worth should they buy Infinite Warfare at full price.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Review and Impressions ¾ Mark

“He’s one of us! Ethan! What’s the Navy’s official policy for a gunfight?”
“Send in the Marines!”

–Staff Sergeant Usef Omar and ETH.3n

Reyes is recovered by the Tigris and returns to the Retribution, mopping up SDF operations over the dwarf planet Pluto and restores control of a salvage site to SATO, returns to Titan to decimate SDF vessels while they are refueling and proceeds to intercept a chemical weapons vessel in orbit over Venus. Subsequently, Reyes receives word that there is a disturbance at a SATO facility in an asteroid mining station near Mercury. Fighting both hostile robots and extremities of temperatures, Reyes and his team narrowly miss incineration and only just escape the facility, although Staff Sergeant Omar dies when Salter takes off early before their window to evacuate closes. Upon returning to the Retribution, Reyes and the others learn that this operation had been a diversion: the SDF destroy the Tigris, leaving no survivors. Reyes later devises a plan involving the beacon that Riah is carrying; this is a signal that will prompt a full SDF invasion, and in theory, cutting off the beacon will lead the SDF to assume the time is appropriate for a full-scale assault. Before returning to Earth, Reyes engages a remaining SDF operation in orbit around the sun, where the blistering temperatures only confers his Jackals limited time before they malfunction. Completing this task, the Retribution’s crew gear up for a final shot at the SDF fleet and recovering control of the solar system. This is where I am in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare after some eleven hours of play – with all of the side missions complete, I turn my attention towards the final two missions left in this game.

While very much a corridor shooter in the vein of its predecessors, Infinite Warfare provides a very uncommon approach towards its gameplay – the side missions have proven to be quite enjoyable despite their similarities with one another. This is not too surprising, as the side missions come in two varieties: Jackal strike missions are purely space combat driven, involving dogfights and attacks on SDF vessels, while infiltration missions involve boarding SDF vessels to recover high value articles or carrying out acts of sabotage. While these missions play identically, they offer additional insights into the SDF, which is by this point, very nearly comical in its portrayal. A militaristic, totalitarian regime, one must wonder if Infinite Warfare is willfully presenting a satire of such governments, indirectly mocking both Gundam‘s Principality of Zeon and Aldnoah.Zero‘s VERS Empire for their methods and principles. Developing secret weapons stolen from SATO and resorting to WMD, the SDF are unquestionably appalling, an entity that is very difficult to garner sympathy for: this makes it easy to provide a backdrop and justification for the diverse locations seen in Infinite Warfare. While the narrative might be quite thin on closer inspection, it is successful in giving players a chance to experience combat operations set in different locations around the Solar System, and while there is a degree of repetitiveness in the side missions, they are intended to supplement the relatively small number of main missions, which are rather more diverse in terms of design and atmosphere.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In 2006, the IAU formalised its definition of a planet after the discovery of several objects in the Kepler Belt with similar masses to Pluto: it has since been re-designated a dwarf planet, although scientists are still in debate as to whether or not the new IAU definition is satisfactory. The definition is seen as pure matter of semantics, and under the IAU terms, Earth would not qualify as a planet for having failed to “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit”, which is given as becoming a gravitationally dominant entity in its area, although this is loosely defined and consequently, is considered inadequate a criteria.

  • In Rick and Morty, Jerry Smith argues that “If [Pluto] can be a planet, it can be a planet again”. It’s not quite as eloquent as a formal argument, and from a personal perspective, I argue that the third criteria is indeed open to semantics: in a hypothetical young star system with several gas giants several times the mass and radius of Earth, these would not be considered planets if they are surrounded by a debris field under the “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit” constraint. This makes very little sense, and the suggested, simpler definition encompasses two criteria, which makes rather more sense: a planet should be a sufficiently large body orbiting the sun that is of a sufficient size to maintain a spherical structure, and where the size exceeds a certain threshold (e.g. a diameter of 2000 kilometers or greater). Any smaller object with a spherical shape is then counted as a dwarf planet.

  • The object of one of the boarding missions around Pluto is to infiltrate an SDF vessel and execute high value targets belonging to the SDF command: crippling their leadership will weaken their ability to strike the SATO forces. Donning a SDF uniform and equipment, Reyes manages to sneak through the vessel undetected and deactivates the life support system, leading to near total casualties.

  • I’ve now said two controversial things in this Infinite Warfare post, and while I do wonder what readers think of these topics (both of my perspective on Zeon and Pluto’s state as dwarf planet), I note that this is a gaming post intended to detail my run through a futuristic first person shooter. Hence, comments that deviate too greatly from the scope of discussion will likely not be answered in full because a proper response will be quite wordy. Returning back to Infinite Warfare, here, I participate in a mission to engage and destroy SDF fighters, as well as vessels, in a salvage yard over Pluto.

  • Very much cut and dried, the Jackal strike missions turned out to be quite enjoyable despite being repetitive owing to the different locales they are set above. By this point in the game, I’ve become very comfortable with the handling of a Jackal, which is unlike the jets of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 and Ace Combat. In fact, the controls are more similar to the Banshee of Halo and Halo 2. As well, I’ve unlocked all of the weapons and specialisations for the Jackal. I usually sortie with the default loadout, which offers a nice balance between firepower and firing rate.

  • The skies of Titan are moodier as I return to wreck havoc on the SDF A-Jak Cutters, smaller warships with vulnerable panels near their engines that can be destroyed quickly, dealing massive damage to the Cutter. The larger destroyers take a much longer period to engage: my preferred strategy is to hit it from the sides and rear, eliminating the cannons and missiles as required. After sustaining enough damage, the destroyers will explode spectacularly, although I do find it interesting that a single Jackal can do that much damage to an entire destroyer.

  • Flying above Venus’s noxious atmosphere of sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide in this mission, Reyes and the Retribution prepare to board the Hellas, which is suspected to be housing chemical weapons. That there is no “boots-on-the-ground” mission on Venus makes sense: despite being considered Earth’s sister planet, the surface is shrouded in a heavy atmosphere that exerts ninety-four times the pressure relative to Earth’s. Simply, explorers on the surface would be exposed to an unpleasant combination of extreme heat caused by the runaway greenhouse effect and corrosive elements that, in conjunction with the pressure, would make combat and movement near-impossible. Conversely, telemetry has found that the upper atmosphere, some sixty kilometers above the surface, has a similar composition to Earth’s atmosphere.

  • It is up here that the events of Operation D-CON are set. I start with the recommended loadout of a Mauler LMG and Reaver shotgun, both projectile weapons. Having an LMG is useful for situations where there is a large number of enemies, while the shotgun is well-suited for the tighter corridors of the SDF destroyer. It’s business as usual, then: make one’s way to a part of the warship, do something and then get out. While the side missions are unremarkable from a gameplay perspective, they provide additional information on the war between the UNSA and SDF, as well as unlocking attachments and upgrades for players.

  • The side missions also reuse a great many assets: it’s actually quite convenient, since the SDF warships likely have a standardised interior, it should be no surprise that all of the warships look the same from the inside. Here, I have swapped over to the Reaver for close-quarters combat, and note that the weapons of Infinite Warfare‘s campaign can be customised to an incredible extent: while there is a default recommended loadout, players can set up their initial loadout to be anything they wish (even spawning into a mission with the F-SpAr torch if they so wished). By default, the Reaver of Operation D-CON is equipped with smart shot that guides the pellets along their trajectories to an extent.

  • After reaching the weapons room, it’s a matter of clearing out the SDF, waiting for a proximity hack to complete and holding off attacking SDF while the hack is progressing. The LMG becomes useful here, and after the weapon is acquired, it’s time to get out. That the SDF are willing to resort to chemical weapons is indicative of their extremism, bringing to mind Zeon, who similarly used chemical weapons to completely depopulate a colony cylinder before attempting to drop it on Jaburo base during Mobile Suit Gundam‘s Operation British.

  • With the side missions largely finished save for one, I resume the main campaign and set out for an asteroid base Vesta 3 orbiting Mercury; by the time Reyes arrives to investigate the site for any survivors, its orbit has destablised, and the asteroid itself is rotating erratically as a result of the SDF Olympus Mons having fired on the asteriod: day and night cycles are minutes in length, with blistering heat by day that makes movement particularly hazardous. It’s a fantastic set-piece mission, and players can only move in shadows or during the dark.

  • The interior of the Vesta 3 base is eerily quiet, bringing to mind the sort of environments I saw in Alien Isolation. I began Alien Isolation nearly a year ago, a few days into June after delivering my department seminar presentation in preparation for the thesis defense. By this point, my paper was largely finished, and I had picked up Alien Isolation on a fantastic sale that saw the game go for 75 percent off. It was quite unlike anything I’d experienced before and also a highly enjoyable one, save the mission in the reactor core.

  • It took me a week to summon up the courage to attempt the reactor basement mission in Alien Isolation, and by the time I finsihed the game, it was late August. Returning to Infinite Warfare, I continue making my way through the base here, which as thus far been devoid of any human opponents. In the quiet, I shop to look around the level’s designs and notice that, like Titanfall 2, one can find hanzi (Chinese characters) in some parts of the settings that players go through. I’ve not read or written much Chinese as of late, so my recognition of more complex characters has decayed over the past several years.

  • It turns out that the deaths at the facility were caused by the SDF hacking into the security robots and having them kill off the station’s inhabitants. These robots are now hostile to all humans and will kill them on sight, hence the wisdom of having good energy weapons: they are particularly effective, in conjunction with shock grenades, against robots.

  • Once the sunlight has passed and gives way to darkness, it’s time to move on to the next area. During one transition, the sun re-appears and begins burning Reyes – flames can be seen burning on the surface his suit, only to extinguish themselves as Reyes returns to cover. I’m not actually sure how this would work, since fires are the result of a fuel source undergoing combustion, but in the moment, this was the last thing on my mind: the only goal was to get to some cover. When the door is reached, a horde of robots appear, and Reyes must fight them off while the proximity hack is executing.

  • I manage to find an F-SpAr torch at the base, and decided to save it, feeling that it would come in handy later on. While the casualties are extensive, Reyes and his team manage to save some of the miners. In news quite unrelated to Infinite Warfare, first person shooters and games in general, the owner of the file sharing site, nyaa.se, scuttled the site out of concern that the EU’s new anti-piracy laws could land them in legal trouble. It’s been one of the bigger events in the anime community, and while my opinions on internet privacy and information sharing are my own, these events is an ominous indicator of the decline of freedom in electronic communications in the near future.

  • The deletion of nyaa.se and its associated domains leaves viewers of anime unable to acquire older shows, OVAs or movies effectively. One may then wonder if this would affect this blog in any way, and the answer to this is that I largely remain unaffected by this news – my discussions for anime series, OVAs and movies should still come out as scheduled. The next anime post will be Hai-Furi‘s second OVA, continuing with Kōko Nosa’s experiences as she struggles to deal with news that the Harekaze will be scrapped, and this is coming out near May 24. Back in Infinite Warfare, I make my way through the asteriod’s molten interior in a perilous catwalk, and here, I wield a Volk that I found.

  • A veritable army of robots awaits Reyes and the others at the extraction point. The wisdom of having held onto the F-SpAr comes into play here, and it is an indispensable asset that, when used in conjunction with the shock grenades, allows players to clear out the area quickly. The Volk is a modestly effective fall-back weapon, but its slower firing rate made its use a bit of a challenge. After eliminating the robots, Salter lands, but the heat forces her to take off, leading Staff Sergeant Omar to die in the process. I was sad to see him go, especially after seeing him warm up to Ethan. After a heated discussion on the Retribution’s bridge, the officers decide that they must now prepare to deal a death blow to the SDF by luring them into a trap. Before this can happen, there is one final side mission to complete.

  • The final side mission unlocked is a timed mission close to the sun – prolonged exposure to the extreme temperatures (exceeding 700ºC) will damage the Jackal’s components, so Reyes only has six minutes (on standard difficulty) to clear out the SDF forces guarding vital resources belonging to the UNSA. It’s a spectacular mission, although eliminating all of the SDF Skelters and Ace pilots can be a little tricky.

  • In the end, I finished the mission with around twenty seconds to spare, having spent most of my time trying to find the Ace pilots. This brings my Infinite Warfare post to a conclusion, and I note that the reason why I am suspending my writing for the next two weeks is because I am set to go on vacation quite soon. This is why the next major post dealing with anime will be the Hai-Furi OVA, and in the meantime, I will need to get to packing and carrying out preparations for this trip. I will return after my trip, before the month ends, to wrap up my thoughts on Infinite Warfare, and depending on how scheduling works, I might also do a post on the upcoming movie Koe no Katachi before May draws to a close.

The topic of Zeon brings to mind a conversation I’ve shared with a friend about Mobile Suit Gundam: despite being intended to fulfill a similar role in Gundam as the SDF do in Infinite Warfare, there are some individuals who believe that Zeon’s cause is just in spite of all of their atrocities. Their argument is that Zeon was born of noble origins, even if their methods are disagreeable. My friend thus argues that this support is to suggest a deep-seated belief within these individuals that power should be concentrated in the hands of the few, that might is right. Inspection of Gundam finds that Zeon is generally dealt the short stick: its leadership consists of fanatical bigots who view the citizenry as disposable, a means to an end, and while the citizens might be people with their own stories, the leaders of Zeon certainly are intended to be viewed as no different than history’s most infamous despots. This is meant to challenge black and white viewpoints of warfare, and consequently, the extremities in Infinite Warfare might be intended to satirise these figures, fictional and real, as well as make it clear that the SDF are antagonists, not to be sympathised with, but a force threatening freedom and liberty. It certainly simplifies the amount of discussion that can be had about the nature of warfare from Infinite Warfare, but also drives home a different theme that will become apparent as Infinite Warfare enters its final chapter.

Titanfall 2: Campaign Final Impressions and Reflections

“Protect the Pilot.” —BT-7274

Taking into the skies after the Draconis, Milita forces pursue the Ark weapon, but find themselves hampered by Viper, a mercenary. Cooper manages to take control of an IMC vessel, disable its guns and defeats Viper before pressing on to the Draconis. BT sustains heavy damage and surrenders the Ark to Blisk, before being destroyed by Sloane. In his final moments, BT gives Cooper the SERE Kit containing the MK-5 Smart Pistol, a knife and his own computer core. Cooper makes his way to a drop point, where he is provided with a new Vanguard chassis equipped with the Legion setup. Reunited with BT, the pair fight their way through the IMC forces and reach the Ark. In the process, Sloane is defeated, and Blisk complements Cooper on his resilience, remarking that strictly speaking, the Apex Predator’s contract never extended to taking Cooper out. He leaves Cooper with his business card before leaving. BT flies himself into the Ark’s core and ejects Cooper at the last moment, citing his third protocol. The Ark Weapon is destroyed and destabilises Typhon: reaching the extraction point, Cooper escapes Typhon before the planet is annihilated. In the aftermath, Cooper is formally admitted as a Titan pilot into the Marauder Corps, and it appears that BT’s AI has survived, running from within Cooper’s helmet. This brings Titanfall 2‘s campaign to an end; despite its short length, Titanfall 2 managed to create a compelling narrative for the world of Titanfall: the most distinct feature about the campaign in this title, besides the fact that there was a campaign to begin with, is that no two missions were similar.

In Titanfall 2‘s campaign, the central theme is about trust: despite BT and Cooper being unfamiliar with one another, the journeys and experiences they share to uphold Lastimosa’s mission allows the two to develop a strong bond with one another, to the extent where Cooper is comfortable with entrusting his life to BT during challenging situations. This bond between man and machine is what allows a pilot to be such an effective force on the battlefield. When Titanfall 2 first opens, Cooper narrates the incredibly powerful presence a pilot has on the battlefield: this power is almost supernatural, at least until players see, from Cooper’s perspective, what a pilot and Titan pair are capable of after they’ve become attuned to one another. Central to this syngery is trust: a pilot must trust their Titan to assist them with difficult choices, and Titans likewise will look after their pilots, giving them a very human-like nature. In its narrative, Titanfall 2 also suggests at the extent and scale that the IMC-militia conflict has been occurring, indicating that this is a universe with its won stories to explore. With nine distinct missions, Titanfall 2‘s campaign was a breath of fresh air, combining smooth platforming with shooting and mechanised combat through the Titans. Superbly fun and presenting the Militia as a sympathetic cause, it was very pleasant to play from the perspective of the resistance group, allowing Titanfall 2 to contrast Infinite Warfare, where players assume the role of a government military force working against insurgents. The different perspectives often serve to remind players that conflicts are fought not without reason, and it is such an interesting juxtaposition to go through both games.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The penultimate mission is one of the most visually impressive of Titanfall 2: set over the mountains and forests of Typhon, the goal is to reach the Draconis and stop it from delivering the Ark to the Fold Weapon. Undaunted by the fact that the Draconis has taken off, Militia forces manage to seize another IMC vessel and take off. Despite some of the jumps over the valley below being quite terrifying, these are scripted events that have a known outcome. Once Cooper is tossed to a nearby IMC vessel, his job is to stop its guns and create a space for Militia forces to catch up.

  • The abundance of weapons and ammunition here means that there’s really no concern for running dry mid-battle. The close quarters engagements and large number of enemies meant that I would personally find a shotgun and LMG to be well-suited for the firefights ahead, although an assault rifle is also useful for taking out enemies at range. The weapons diversity in Titanfall 2‘s campaign is impressive, although there are some weapons that I gravitate towards more than the others.

  • Immensely fun, one of the only gripes I have about Trial By Fire is that Cooper cannot take control of the large guns on the IMC vessel’s flank side. Strictly speaking, there’s no reason to actually use them, since it’s Militia forces in the air. Disabling the guns is a reasonably simple task: the weapons are controlled by an IMC soldier, and they can be disposed of very quickly. Once the guns stop firing, Militia pilots will board to assist Cooper with taking control of the vessel.

  • In one of the more cinematic moments in Titanfall 2, a Militia vessel flies close to the IMC ship, providing an impromptu wall that allows the pilots to wall run across to the main hanger leading to the bridge. This jump requires coordination and timing to complete: it took me several attempts to actually make it because I kept doing the double jump too early after leaving the Militia vessel, failing to land. On successful landing, it’s directly into a heavy firefight with the IMC soldiers and robots.

  • The wisdom of having an LMG is useful, as is making use of the cloak to conceal myself from enemies. One of the things about this mission that strikes me as impressive is how the sense of travelling through one of Typhon is captured: even though the ground is shifting continuously, players won’t actually reach the Ark and can take the time they need to clear areas out. If I had to guess, I would imagine that the terrain below is moved around the vessel and is procedurally generated, only generating certain assets once checkpoints in-game are reached.

  • Some IMC soldiers encountered throughout Titanfall 2 are equipped with shields that can absorb a considerable amount of damage, and while they can be bested with the traditional “shoot until they die” methodology, but the more effective means of dealing with them is to engage the cloak, sneak behind them and fire, or else drop some explosives behind them to quickly deal with them. Yesterday’s post on Your Name‘s home release came out of the blue, but this one does not. Now that there’s a release date, I begin counting down the days to when I can finally roll out my talk on Your Name, but with a shade less than three months to go, there’s quite a bit to do in the interim with respect to games and other modes of recreation.

  • This is because over the past weekend, I developed a minor cold and spent most of yesterday sleeping it off: this cold signals that warmer weather is returning soon, and I look forwards to being able to walk around without the need for a heavy coat and scarf. We return to Titanfall 2, where I found that the graphics, while perhaps not quite as exceptional of those seen in Battlefield 1 or Crysis 3, nonetheless remain highly impressive. In spite of all of the things that Titanfall 2 has going for it, however, I’ve heard that the playerbase is not particularly large, even though the game’s initial sales figures were quite good, and Titanfall 2 does everything from Titanfall better, including addition of a fantastic campaign.

  • Up until now, there’s been little use for the MGL, but I figured that with the game drawing to a close, the time was ripe for me to give the weapon a shot. This is an anti-Titan weapon, but there aren’t very many moments in the campaign where Cooper will face Titans while on foot. These weapons thus become extra-powerful options for taking out infantry, and here, I unload grenades into the bridge of the IMC vessel to commandeer it.

  • Cooper will then take control of the IMC vessel and position it so that it is directly behind the Draconis, with the aim of boarding it mid-air. Cooper uses a data knife to  override the controls and maneouver the vessel: this tool is not actually a melee weapon and is intended to be placed into a slot in an enemy Spectre or turret. When a hack is complete, the enemy unit will fight for the player. Closer inspection of the data knife finds that it resembles a lightsabre handle in design. After what seems to be an eternity, Cooper is finally in position and heads out onto the deck. However, it’s not a simple walk in the park: the Mercenary Viper shows up in a Northstar-class Titan.

  • Viper is one of the trickier bosses in the campaign: his Northstar has nearly unlimited flight core duration, and he earlier shoots down half of the attacking Militia forces on his own. Owing to Viper’s mobility, the Expedition loadout or Tone loadout are the best choices for taking him on: lock-on missiles allow Cooper to whittle his health down, while having powerful shields prevent Viper’s missiles from dealing too much damage. Viper is accompanied by two Scorch-class Titans, and when defeated the first time, will come back a second time. Finishing him off will allow players to reach the Draconis and secure the Ark.

  • Cooper and BT’s actions come to an abrupt halt when they are met with the Apex Predators: refusing to give up the Ark, Cooper orders BT to never surrender it, but with the situation dire, BT asks Cooper to trust him, creating an opening that prevents Cooper’s death but also leads to BT’s destruction. Before powering down, BT unlocks the SERE Kit that provides gear to assist Cooper’s survival, evasion, resistance and extraction. In this kit is a data knife, BT’s data core and a much-welcomed return of the MK5 Smart Pistol.

  • Long considered overpowered and being a no-skill weapon to use in the original Titanfall, the MK5 has been modified in the multiplayer so that it is a boost rather than a standard weapon. It also is limited to a magazine size of twelve rounds with one reserve magazine, lock-on speed is dictated by distance to target and placement of the target relative to the reticle. Finally, players will receive a warning if a user is locking onto them with the MK5 to provide them a chance to evade. In the single player campaign, the MK5 is supremely powerful, being able to easily decimate scores of IMC infantry and has unlimited ammunition in reserve.

  • The Militia have one final surprise for Cooper: a brand-new Vanguard Titan equipped with the Legion loadout. A heavy weapons platform based off the Ogre chassis in the multiplayer, the Legion is fantastic for heavy breakthrough tactics with its ability to take and deal out damage. Its speed is its biggest liability: speedier Titans can flank around it and deal massive damage. In the campaign, the Vanguard’s solid all-around performance means that it’s really a matter of equipment that changes: the Predator cannon is a rotary machine gun that has an incredibly high rate of fire and can destroy lighter enemy Titans in seconds.

  • The Predator cannon can be configured to fire a spread of rounds similar to a shotgun, or else charge up for a longer range shot for damaging distant opponents. The Legion’s defensive ability is a shield mounted onto its cannon, which can absorb some incoming damage. Against the waves of other IMC Titans, the firepower conferred by the Legion loadout comes across as being highly entertaining: even the heavier Scorch class Titans are shredded by the sheer volume of firepower. I imagine that the Predator cannon is firing 20mm rounds.

  • The boss fight against Sloane is on par with Viper in terms of difficulty: she’s armed with the Ion loadout, and her laser core can deal massive damage in a very short period of time even if players have a shield up. The only way to survive is use of cover, dash and returning fire once the laser core runs out. The cronies that assist Sloane can also be a bit of a problem: as soon as Sloane sustains enough damage, she’ll retreat. Taking the other Titans out correspond to fewer guns on Cooper, which simplifies the fight.

  • Some of the remarks that Sloane makes throughout the boss fight are hilarious when juxtaposed: she initially states that she’ll take out Cooper for free, then mentions that defeating Cooper could land her a nice bonus. Here, I make use of the Smart Core to pummel Sloane: the Legion’s Smart Core turns the Titan into a walking cheat code. All rounds fired will automatically arc towards any enemies and weak spots on Titans, making it a powerful way of dealing with a large number of enemies or quickly whittling down the health of a boss.

  • With Sloane’s Titan nearly destroyed, I move in for the execution: Titan executions are quite brutal, and once Sloane is done, it’s time for the classic endgame events where Cooper must stop the Ark before the Militia planet of Harmony is destroyed. The ensuing act of opening the Ark up disables BT, and in a terrifying moment, Blisk appears. However, he says that killing Cooper was never a part of his contract, that the IMC should’ve included it in their scope of work, and that he’s rather impressed with Cooper’s skills and tenacity.

  • Leaving his business card behind, he takes off to see other folks with money, leaving Cooper and BT to stop the Fold Weapon. BT decides that the only way to stop the weapon now is to destroy it by overloading his reactor, and citing his final protocol, to protect the pilot, he ejects Cooper at the last moment. The Fold Weapon is destroyed and begins destabilising the planet: the last sections of Titanfall 2 involve some of the most exhilerating parkour as Cooper must move over a bottomless pit en route to the extraction point.

  • Cooper makes it to a dropship with moments to go, and it jumps into Typhon’s lower orbit just as the planet begins disintegrating. The devastation to Typhon is reminiscent of the results of firing the Death Star in Rogue One: not quite the explosive display seen in A New Hope, the slower decimation of a planet becomes a little more frightening when considering the size of a planet and the forces keeping it together.

  • With Titanfall 2‘s campaign in the books now, I found myself impressed at just how smoothly everything came together. It’s a shame that there aren’t more Titanfall 2 players around, and one will wonder if the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II will suffer a similar fate; being superior to their predecessor in gameplay and design, as well as featuring a full campaign, the consumer base’s disappointment with the first title might dissuade them from buying the game, keeping player counts low. I’m very excited to see what Battlefront II will be like, although my decision in picking the game up will largely be driven by what impressions I gain of it post-launch, when I watch some gameplay footage. This also means that in October, there will likely be an open beta.

Having now finished the Titanfall 2 campaign in its entirety, I can say that the game was very much deserving of being counted as one of the best shooters in 2016. In my books, it’s a draw between Titanfall 2 and DOOM for the strength of each game’s respective campaigns: with a strong narrative and diverse gameplay, Titanfall 2 never became dull or repetitive. Of course, I may go back through in the future and collect the pilot helmets as time permits, but with Titanfall 2‘s campaign in the books, I may take a look at the multiplayer: I’m not sure how long it would take to rank up, and I’ve heard the learning curve is quite steep, but there are private servers that I can use to grow accustomed to the controls, and also for learning the best routes through a map. With this being said, there is quite a bit on the future horizon on my plate with respect to games: Battlefield 1 Premium is offering no shortage of things to do as I aim to reach rank ten for my assault and scout class, and there are assignment weapons to unlock, and of course, I still need to complete Infinite Warfare. Thus, my discussions of Titanfall 2 will end for the present, although one should not rule out the possibility that I may return at a later date to provide some impressions of my experiences in the multiplayer.