The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: First person shooter

Battlefield V: Tides of War Overture, Panzerstorm, Killtrocity and a Headshot Record

“I guess the operation can be, let’s see, Operation Sneaky Sneaks, because I want to sneakily see what the enemy is up to, then sneakily attack them.” —Miho “Miporin” Nishizumi, Girls und panzer

Overture was the first instalment to Battlefield V‘s Tides of War programme, and introduced a new map, Panzerstorm. During the past month, DICE also experienced the impact of a particularly controversial decision to increased the TTK, reasoning that new players were being discouraged by frequent quick deaths and not returning to the game. With the community feedback overwhelmingly requesting that TTK be restored, DICE graciously complied: the issue in Battlefield V lay not in the TTK, but TTD (the perceived time it takes to die). Faulty netcode gives the impression that players are dying in fewer frames than is actually the case, and at the time of writing, remains an issue; when TTK was increased, the game became disjointed. It was taking more time to take out an enemy player, further compounding the sense that an enemy should not have been able to down one so quickly. When DICE reverted this, Battlefield V immediately became considerably more fun. However, Tides of War, the continuous service programme, has also exposed limitations in Battlefield V; the assignments were not functioning and so, players could not unlock the new weapons on numerous occasions. I played through upwards of six hours of Grand Operations to get the first step of the final week in Overture to work, and others have reported being unable to unlock the new weapons, which are limited-time. The prizes for finishing each interval adds aesthetically unique, but otherwise unremarkable weapons to the game, as well as leave the medics yearning for more weapons. Between this, and bugs in the sound system allowing players to sneak around, Battlefield V looks off to a rough start; DICE does appear to have forgotten about their past successes and what made previous Battlefield titles fun. However, looking beyond Battlefield V‘s frustrations also finds a plethora of things to enjoy. Things work more often than they do not, and when one lines up a finely-aimed headshot or pulls off a successful flank, there is a sense of reward quite unlike that of any earlier Battlefield titles: Battlefield V is much harder than its predecessors.

After making my way through Overture, and steadily becoming more familiar with Battlefield V, the quality of my experience has improved since starting out. Knowing where player paths are means I can anticipate how others move around the map, and correspondingly adjust my path to surprise them, or else flush out campers from spots that are popular among those who would otherwise sit still and rack up kills without contributing to their team. Increased vehicle play has allowed me to fully upgrade my Panzer IV and Tiger I, and the return of the Ribeyrolles 1918 has provided the Assault Class with an unparalleled automatic rifle that is lethal at medium ranges, but can hold its own in closer quarters even despite its lower rate of fire. While I’ve not agreed with all of the Tides of War assignments (least of all those that forced me to play Grand Operations), the assignments that were the most enjoyable were those that encouraged team play. Reviving, healing, resupplying and repairing friendly players and assets lead to a much more cohesive experience, and it is great to be revived by players standing beside me. The vehicle assignments were also enjoyable: while vehicles remain death traps owing to how potent the Panzerfaust is, having incentive to use the vehicles and rank them up meant that my German tanks are now specialised. The promise of cosmetics and assignments provide plenty of reason to play; assignments tend to put my focus on doing something specific, and this has enticed me to return to Battlefield V in spite of all of its frustrations and bugs. It is clear that DICE hasn’t struck out on Battlefield V — weekly and daily assignments made Battlefield 1 significantly more fun, and seeing these carry over to Battlefield V show that lessons from Battlefield 1 stuck. The journey to unlocking everything and reaching level 20 in Tides of War was generally a fun one, and now that I’ve spent more time in Battlefield V, it becomes apparent that Battlefield V is much more of a skill game than Battlefield 1 was.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My initial goal was to get the Panzer IV upgraded as far as I could: in its default Ausf. D configuration, the tank is largely suited for anti-infantry engagements, as well as taking out soft targets like transports. However, the Ausf. D configuration is quite vulnerable to Panzerfausts, and is ill-suited for taking on other tanks, so my main use for it was to provide fire support onto capture points.

  • The Sturmtiger is a unique reinforcement vehicle that is intended for hammering enemy positions, and here, I use it to get a double kill in an attempt to single-handedly clear out a position on my own. Panzerstorm is an interesting map, featuring plenty of open fields that is evidently suited for vehicle warfare, so infantry players won’t have such a good time on this map. While it was advertised as being for large scale armoured combat, Panzerstorm did not deliver: each team has upwards of seven tanks, leaving 25 players to go on foot. In order to create proper armoured warfare, I feel that doubling the tank count per team would make things a lot more exciting.

  • The ultimate reinforcement remains the missile strikes: here, I scored my first-ever Killfrenzy (a multi-kill of six) on Arras using the JB-2 rocket. This match, I was doing particularly poorly on, but as time wore on, both the team and I managed to mount a comeback. While focusing on capturing points, I got lucky with kills made while defending points and eventually managed to earn enough points for the rocket strike. Seeing a number of enemies amassed at the town centre, I called in the JB-2 and the rest is history: I went KD positive, and the team won.

  • Bombers are nowhere nearly as overpowered as the Ilya Muromets now, but a skilled player can still do serious damage with one. Perhaps a carry-over from my Battlefield 1 days, the bombers are my favourite planes to fly in Battlefield V: I have no trouble getting them to go where I wish them to go, and hitting targets on the ground is straightforwards with bombs. Bombs deal massive damage to whatever they hit, enough to annihilate vehicles, but are more precise than the cluster shells, so the days of being able to empty out entire capture points with one bombing run are thankfully over.

  • We’re very nearly a week into 2019 now: the year opened with a ham dinner with mayonnaise à la Futurama‘s Judge Whitey. We used a special Dijon-honey-mayonnaise sauce that was heaven on earth, and then earlier this weekend, I made a homemade dip for yam fries that was very tasty despite lacking Chipotle that gives the dip a distinctly smokey flavour. The festivities of Christmas are past, and we enter the long dark of winter now.

  • In a particularly memorable match on Rotterdam, I went on a kill-streak with the Valentine MK VIII medium tank. After being blown apart by Panzerfausts, I spawned back in as a sniper, single-handedly defended the train station point until my squad arrived, and then sent off a JB-2 Rocket that scored a Killfrenzy. Battlefield games where things go well usually have things go really well, and thanks to the revised Conquest system, comebacks are now possible. I’ve won some games where I was certain we would lose.

  • Ever since I unlocked the MP-40 for the medic, I’ve found a versatile weapon that handles well enough for the ranges that I play at. This submachine gun is especially useful on Devastation: having spent more time here, I’ve found that my performance has seen an improvement now that I know where all of the routes are, and the close-quarters makes the medics much more useful. The capture point in the cathedral is the most hotly contested spot on the map, so a combination of smoke grenades and revivals allow one to very quickly bring their teammates back to life.

  • While advertised as a major piece of Battlefield V, I’ve actually yet to see more players tow stationary weapons to new positions to defend capture points. Here, I use the Pak 40 to hammer distant foes. When the assignment to destroy a tank came up, I considered using this as a means of scoring kills against tanks, since for my part, I use tanks in an anti-infantry role, but stationary weapons leave players very exposed to sniper fire. One of the assignments involved using stationary guns to score two kills, and I found that this was best done on Narvik, where one can build Vickers guns flanked by sandbags.

  • Specialising the Panzer IV with additional armour and the Kwk 40 turns it into the Ausf. H version that Miho commands in Girls und Panzer. Despite the upgrades in firepower and defense, I still would not use the Panzer IV in a direct contest against other tanks, instead, using the Panzer IV’s superior mobility to flank around and hit enemy armour from the sides or rear, as well as to suppress and control infantry.

  • The Lewis Gun saw a major upgrade in Battlefield V: it is now remarkably effective as a run-and-gun weapon, but also has enough firepower to be moderately useful as a defensive weapon. When properly specialised, its recoil is reduced greatly, extending its range, and with a higher rate of fire, the gun is very competitive. I never did get into using the Lewis Gun of Battlefield 1, as its low rate of fire greatly restricted its use.

  • After upgrading the Panzer IV fully, I turned my attention to the Tiger I. This tank is Maho’s choice from Girls und Panzer, and is the choicest tank for anti-armour combat. Inherently more durable and capable than the Panzer IV, the Tiger I is much slower to operate, making it ill-suited for anti-infantry combat at closer ranges. Fully specialised, the Tiger I becomes even more effective in an anti-vehicle role at long ranges: Battlefield V is more punishing than World of Tanks, and anyone who attempts to pull the Nishizumi-ryu here by blindly charging onto a capture point will have their faces melted by Panzerfausts before one could say panzer vor.

  • One significant downgrade from earlier Battlefield titles is that custom emblems have not been implemented as of yet, and so, I cannot authentically run with Girls und Panzer themed emblems on my tanks. I’m not sure what the rationale for cutting them from Battlefield V is: granted, I’ve seen some questionable emblems before, but for the most part, people run with harmless emblems, so it makes no sense to restrict people from using them.

  • I got another Killtrocity on Arras using the V-1 rocket during the week where squad assignments were active. This proved to be sufficient for both unlocking the “called in a reinforcement” and “as a squad, kill 2 enemies with rocket strikes” assignments. I’ve heard of people who were unlucky in that they called in the rocket and hit one person with it, but did not get credit for it; whether it was a stroke of luck or from the Killtrocity, I ended up clearing the assignment. This allowed me to unlock an epic mask, although I prefer running stock soldiers and weapons with standard skins. For my part, I’m saving all of my company coin for specialising weapons and vehicles.

  • The Gewehr M95/30 is the next bolt-action rifle for the scout class. With a smaller capacity and more damage than the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I, it is the hardest hitting of the bolt-action rifles. However, to balance it out, it lacks the straight-pull bolt of its Battlefield 1 incarnation. Sniping in Battlefield V has been much more challenging (and rewarding for it) than Battlefield 1, but curiously enough, my scout class is the same rank as my medic class at the time of writing.

  • Here, I run the Churchill Mk VII, a British heavy tank that Darjeeling fields. Compared to the Tiger I, it is slower and hits harder, but has lower muzzle velocity. I’ve had some successes with the Churchill Mk VII and the Valentine Mk VIII, but found the Churchill Gun Carrier to be completely ineffectual: without a turret, the tank is easily flanked by infantry. So far, Battlefield V has been very limited with its selection of vehicles, and I’m hoping that Tides of War will rectify this: there’s so much stuff in World War Two that could be introduced into the game.

  • The Turner SMLE is conversion of the SMLE Mk. III that I was so fond of from Battlefield 1 that gives it semi-automatic fire. Not quite as hard-hitting as the Gewehr 43, the Turner SMLE fires slightly faster and therefore, is more useful at closer ranges. Having spent many frustrating matches on Panzerstorm, and then several okay matches, and some good ones, I can say that the map does require more vehicles to allow for players to really make use of its size. From an aesthetic perspective, Panzerstorm looks amazing and brings to mind the landscapes of Interior BC.

  • The StG 44 has been degraded from its beta and alpha performance: lacking the stability for long distance shooting compared to the Turner SMLE and M1A1 Carbine, but also sporting a lower full-automatic fire rate that result in its being outclassed by the Gewehr 1-5 and M1907, the StG 44 occupies an unusual middle ground where it excels at neither. The key to using this gun well is at those short-to-medium ranges and tap-fire the weapon, aiming for the head where possible, but on the whole, the StG 44 is simply eclipsed by other weapons.

  • By comparison, the Ribeyrolles is now the ultimate assault weapon bar none: its low rate of fire and high accuracy allows it to fulfil the role between that of the assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles. Being able to put more damage downrange than the semi-automatic rifles, while having a longer reach than the assault rifles, the Ribeyrolles is reliable, versatile and leaves me confident knowing that I am equipped to deal with enemies at most ranges the assault class is designed for.

  • The return of skill-based sniping in Battlefield V means that long-range headshots are much harder to score than in Battlefield 1; with the Gewehr 98 in Battlefield 1 and its high muzzle velocity, I scored a 383 metre headshot on Sinai desert towards the end of my time in the game. In Battlefield V, muzzle velocities are closer to their Battlefield 4 values, and so, bullet drop is more pronounced than before. Coupled with reduced cenre mass damage, all of the scratches and smudging on the long-range optics, and harder to see enemies, sniping is a challenge, so landing those shots becomes even more rewarding. Here, I scored a headshot of 257 meters on Hamada – it’s my personal best in Battlefield V so far.

  • The Ribeyrolles is so accurate that if two opponents are lined up, one can get consecutive headshots, back-to-back. Battlefield V‘s incarnations of weapons seen in Battlefield 1 have been varied: of the ones I’ve unlocked, the Lewis gun, M1907 and Ribeyrolles absolutely outclass their Battlefield 1 iterations, while the shotguns have felt more ineffective in general.

  • I had all but given up on trying to destroy a tank, but during a match of conquest on Twisted Steel, I hopped into a Tiger I with the intent of ranking it up, and managed to blast an enemy Churchill to finish the Mechanised Brawl assignment done. Because of their vulnerability, tanks of Battlefield V take an additional level of skill and patience to use: one cannot simply brawl with the Tiger I, as the tank is best suited for ranged engagements against enemy vehicles. I have reached rank for with the tank now, and intend to spec it out fully for anti-tank engagements.

  • The Selbstlader 1906 was a weapon I never touched in Battlefield 1 – as a medic self-loading rifle with only five rounds available, the weapon was very difficult to use and was quite unsuited for closer ranges that medics played at. By comparison, Battlefield V places it with the scout class, and while unremarkable from a statistics perspective, its performance in practise is reasonable.

  • The M30 Drilling is a double-barrelled shotgun, similar to the Model 1900 of Battlefield 1 (which I loved), but has one additional twist: there’s a third barrel that fires a rifle cartridge, allowing the weapon to be used in situations where buckshot is insufficient to deal with. This rifle round allows the M30 to handle like the Martini-Henry, and because it only has one shot, it is the ultimate skill weapon. I’ve used the cartridge to surprise enemies, and the buckshot is remarkably effective in the ruins of Devastation as well.

  • My experience with the Tides of War was smooth for the most part – leaving a server and then finding a new one was often enough to force an assignment to track. The exception was the Grand Operations assignments, which refused to track regardless of how many times I restarted Battlefield V. After three days, it finally began tracking, and it was a short journey towards finishing enough of the branches to unlock the prize; the A/g m42 is a semi-automatic rifle for the assault class that handles most similarly to the M1A1 Carbine, albeit with slightly more damage but a limited magazine.

  • Here, I score a triple kill while flying over the village of Arras: having spent a nontrivial amount of time in Battlefield V and having reached rank 40, I’m burning through the progression system, and it feels that Battlefield V was deliberate in having a shorter progression system, allowing players to unlock everything quickly so that they could focus on Tides of War activities once those became available. While I feel that Battlefield V‘s progression system is shorter, it is still more advanced than that of Battlefield 1‘s, and  looks extensible enough so that adding more levels and rewards should be a straightforward endeavour.

  • Cheating in Battlefield has always been a point of contention: contrary to perjurers who would have players believe cheaters are non-existent, the reality is that they exist, and in a game like Battlefield V, where there is reduced spotting and game mechanics control scoring, it becomes very apparent to spot cheaters. Here, I blasted a fellow by the name of “ironmaiden0911”, who was topping the scoreboard with over 100 kills and 2 deaths within the first three minutes of Airborne. Frustration was very much a reality: at the time, I was trying to finish a grand operation and could not simply leave. In the end, my team lost, but I did managed to kill them at least once. A glance at their stats show they’ve been banned now, having not opened the game since I played them last.

  • At the opposite end of the spectrum are the simply spectacular, emergent moments that arise in Battlefield: here on a match of Grand Operations, another bomber got into my tail and began damaging me, but I somehow managed to bank, flew over them, and in a moment of inspiration, I unloaded my bombs on them. They connected and destroyed his vehicle; I thus bombed a bomber.

  • Besides more vehicles and content, one thing I would love to see in Battlefield V would be swappable reinforcements that one could pick and choose from. At different levels, reinforcements become unlocked, and then one could choose which ones to equip. For instance, I never call in the supply drop or vehicle-killers, so having different reinforcements would be amazing. While Call of Duty: WW2 is inferior to Battlefield V in just about every department, the number of options for killstreaks was well done. Battlefield V could take things one step further, doing things that can’t be done in Call of Duty  by adding new reinforcements that one could pick from. Some of my ideas include picking up a proper flamethrower, calling in an aircraft that spots all enemies in an area for 10 seconds, artillery strikes on two locations of one’s choosing (weaker than the rocket attacks, but allows one to hit one more location), and a player-controlled strategic bomber like the B-17 or B-29 that acts as an aerial equivalent of the Sturmtiger or Churchill Crocodile.

  • Another thing I would like to see is more class archetypes: the default ones are satisfactory and render the unlockable ones quite unnecessary, but I would like to see archetypes for increased movement speed, more stealth, ability to carry more ammo or more efficient spotting. Again, there’s so much that can be done that I would not be surprised if Tides of War added new archetypes later. Here, I get a double kill with the MG 34; the bug with bipod deployment aside, the medium machine guns are actually fun to use. In particular, when one is using the MG 34 with the bipod, it becomes a death machine that performs exceedingly well in a defensive role. I’ve come to enjoy the MG 34, and have specialised it to have increased accuracy and firing rate, as well as the double-drum magazine, which also allows for a faster reload. When the situation demands a run-and-gun style, I will return to the KE-7 and Lewis gun.

  • The next Tides of War chapter opens in a few days, being pushed back: I hope that this means DICE is pushing out patches to address issues previously encountered. Beyond this, I am looking forwards to seeing what is available in the next Tides of War, and ideally, we’d also gain an idea as to whether or not iconic content is being added in the future. Battlefield V remains shaped by what it could potentially become, and if the base game is mechanically solid, then the sky is the limit as to what DICE could potentially do with Battlefield V; I would be okay with DICE deciding to support Battlefield V for an extended period beyond two years, improving the game and building a long-term community to make a smooth, polished and content-rich game akin to how Rainbow Six Siege and Counter Strike: Global Offensive have done things.

While Battlefield V still has its share of bugs, being much more rocky and unpredictable than Battlefield 1, there are new patches coming out this month that will hopefully address some of the frustrations players have seen. Developers have been working on a fix for vaulting and bipod deployment, for instance, and I’m hoping that TTD is addressed so that I am sustaining damage at the same rate that I can deal damage. If anything, the TTK experiment showed that simply changing weapon damage won’t be a solution; the short TTK increases the value of tactical, smart play, and improving TTD would similarly allow players to anticipate how much time they have to get out of a bad situation. Beyond this, I’ve become somewhat acclimatised to the minimal spotting system, and while I still prefer the approaches Battlefield 3 and 4 took, I feel that should DICE properly address the sound of gunfire and footsteps, Battlefield V could keep its current spotting system and remain enjoyable. I admit that it took a bit of time to actually complete the Overture chapter of Tides of War, but the journey was a largely entertaining one. Battlefield V has shown plenty of promise, and given DICE’s track record, I am optimistic that the game will become more polished and correspondingly, more fun to play as time wears on. As far as content goes, the game is still very much missing American and Russian soldiers, maps and weapons; the iconic M4 Sherman and M1 Garand, or the Russian PPSh-41 and T-34 tanks, absolutely must be rendered in the Frostbite Engine, along with Stalingrad and Normandy. Contrary to any perception that these are stale, I would very much like to see World War Two’s most iconic battles in what is one of the most sophisticated game engines available. I think that the next chapter in Tides of War take us to the coasts of Greece, but if we are to get monthly content, I would hope that the more recognisable aspects of World War Two are added to Battlefield V: from a technical perspective, Battlefield V far outclasses Call of Duty: WWII, and I would love to see the DICE take on things that Call of Duty: WWII did not adequately capture.

Battlefield V: Twelve Hours of Multiplayer and First Impressions

“Real luxury is customisation.” –Lapo Elkann

DICE’s latest addition to the Battlefield franchise brings with it many new changes; despite a rocky marketting campaign and launch, Battlefield V handles much more smoothly than its predecessor, bringing with it a host of modifications that were intended to emphasise skill and team play even more so than previous Battlefield games, alongside major visual improvements. Now that Battlefield V is launched, and following my purchase of the title, I have a more solid understanding for what works and what requires reconsideration in Battlefield V. Like Battlefield 1, which took me some time to get used to, Battlefield V offers enough of a change to mechanics so that getting used to weapon handling, map layouts and other nuances so that it will take a bit of commitment to get used to the way things work here. The current state of Battlefield V is such that this is both a positive and a negative; on one hand, with eight maps at launch and a comparatively small selection of weapons, jumping in and getting familiar with everything won’t be a challenge, but on the other hand, this does not leave for much variety once one begins unlocking everything. The limited content is a consequence of the Tides of War system that replaces the Battlefield Premium system, providing continuous support and updates for the game during its lifespan, free of charge, to all players. Over time, Battlefield V will have more maps, more weapons and more options for players, along with bug fixes, that will almost certainly see the game improve, and given how DICE continuously improved previous Battlefield titles, it is no surprise that Battlefield V will see the same treatment. Some mechanics are fairly quick to acclimatise with, such as the attrition system, which has been balanced now to encourage team members to help one another out, without restricting players to one firefight, or weapon characteristics, which are much more consistent. Others are indicative of poor design choices: my biggest gripe about Battlefield V is enemy visibility, which has encouraged the practise of camping. Being killed by enemies concealed in foliage or masquerading as a downed player is immeasurably frustrating, detracting from the skill aspect (anyone can stay in one spot and rack up kills at the expense of helping their team out), although as with Battlefield 1, I expect that with time, acclimatisation and possible updates could mitigate this.

Battlefield V has its frustrating moments because enemies are near-impossible to see, but when things connect, there are also plenty of Only in Battlefield™ moments, as well. Successfully completing a flank and blasting unaware opponents, spawning onto a beacon on a contested capture point to surprise enemies or landing headshots from a distance are immensely satisfying, offering a hint of what can be accomplished with improving skill and knowledge. The weapons feel heftier than they did in Battlefield 1, and watching shots connect is rewarding. More rewarding is when one joins and contributes to a good squad: reviving and being revived by squad-mates is immensely fun, as is constantly throwing around ammunition and receiving ammunition from squad-mates. The scout class also gains access to a spotting scope that can pick out concealed enemies and make them stick out. Sniping is also incredibly satisfying, even more so than in Battlefield 1, since the bolt-action rifles have been made more difficult to wield. For the most part, my best games involve me playing the objectives in a much more defensive approach with teammates, steering clear of open areas and waiting for the team to make a push before advancing. Battlefield V also marks the return of a meaningful progression system, providing incentive to use every class, weapon and vehicle available. Levelling up confers different benefits, including new equipment and weapons, specialisations that impact the weapon’s performance, and access to cosmetics. More unlocks will be provided with the Tides of War updates over time, so the relative lack of content now will be rectified as the game matures. While the mechanics are largely solid, especially surrounding the gunplay and progression, Battlefield V still has quite a ways to go yet before it is as smooth and polished as Battlefield 1 – Battlefield V is still very early in its life and therefore, the game is likely to receive many changes over the course of the next two years.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After picking up Battlefield V, I skipped over the campaign and immediately dropped into a match of conquest. Fjell 652 was the first map I got, and is said to be Battlefield V‘s Argonne Forest. While an uninspired map, its focus on infantry gameplay and the occasional aircraft gives the map a cleaner feel than Argonne Forest. I scored my first kill with the Sturmgewehr 1-5 (Volkssturmgewehr) here: the base weapons available to each class are useful and effective, and we would go on to win this match.

  • I’ve never been much of a pilot, and so, it is unlikely that I will have the chance to unlock more of the specialisations for aircraft, but in the few moments where I have hopped behind the driver’s seat of an aircraft, I’ve found that planes in Battlefield V handle very well. With beginner’s luck in my corner, I flew behind a bomber and destroyed it for my first double kill of Battlefield V proper. Flying can be fun, although because of my preference for other modes of combat, I’m generally not too effective when in the air.

  • The V-1 Rocket (and its Allied counterpart, the American JB-2) are the most powerful reinforcements available to players in Battlefield V: they are accessed by carrying out squad activities and provide support to a squad. The airstrike option is most reminiscent of the kill-streaks of Call of Duty, but in Battlefield V, must be earned through team play. Reinforcements come in several forms, and for the most part, squad leaders tend to save their points up for airstrikes. A successful airstrike is immensely satisfying, and have the effect of clearing out capture points for a squad to then take.

  • Having played Sinai Desert to death during Battlefield 1‘s beta, I was never particularly fond of the other desert maps in Battlefield 1: Fao Fortress and Suez were dreary, dull-looking maps. By comparison, Battlefield V‘s Hamada is beautiful, offering ruins and foliage, gullies and ravines to fight in. Set during the day, the map is very bright, and its open spaces make longer range weapons useful. It’d be a great map save for using the conquest assault mode: other game types on this map are generally enjoyable. Back in the alpha and beta, the Gewehr 43 was one of my favourite weapons for its precision: it’s since been balanced to have more spread if fired repeatedly, but at range, it remains effective.

  • Because random bullet deviation (alternatively known as “Kantai Collection-style random chance and luck”) is gone from Battlefield V, the assault rifles can be made to reach out quite far and still remain accurate if one tap fires. One of my challenges now is to dispense with the Battlefield 1 mindset of emptying magazines at enemies, and return to making short, controlled bursts to hit enemies from a distance, a technique that was superbly effective in Battlefield 4.

  • From an aesthetic standpoint, Devastation is extremely well done, capturing the feel of a completely ruined urban environment. With burning buildings, charred brick walls and the twisted skeleton of steel structures, Devastation’s layout is similar to that of Tsaritsyn. The dark environments and clutter convey a sense of ruin, but also makes it incredibly difficult to see enemies clearly. On the plus side, there are not unskilled players spamming gas grenades every other moment; excessive use of explosives have been dramatically lessened compared to Battlefield 1.

  • The medic class in Battlefield V has seen some improvement, but a bit of a downgrade from its Battlefield 1 equivalent: medics are now more valuable because they can provide allied players with a single use health kit for restoring their health fully. Players can no longer fully regenerate their health after sustaining damage and must use health kits to do so, forcing them to either find a medical crate or ask friendlies to toss them health kits. This is the medic’s real utility, besides being able to revive allied players quickly. With their medical syringe being equipped separately, medics can also equip different gadgets, but these have been underwhelming so far.

  • In Battlefield 1, the AT Rocket Gun was a well-balanced anti-tank weapon: dealing good damage to armour while forcing players to use their bipods and compensate for a slow projectile speed, it took skill and teamwork to use these in concert to destroy armour. The Panzerfaust, on the other hand, can destroy vehicles with too much ease. Two players can quickly ruin even the Tiger I, and the Panzer IV can be destroyed by a single player: if Girls und Panzer worked the same way as Battlefield V presently, a squad of three players (two assault and one support) could solo the whole of Black Forest.

  • When the opportunity arises, I’ve largely used the Panzer IV in an anti-infantry role: having come to enjoy how machine guns for tanks operated in Battlefield 1 worked, I took a similar approach to Battlefield V and found a moderate degree of success: compared to their performance in the beta, the machine guns no longer spray out tracers and have a slower firing sound, allowing one to lead shots better without wasting excessive ammunition. The main cannons on tanks, on the other hand, are not so effective: I’ve gotten into protracted exchanges with other armoured vehicles where neither of us were able to destroy the other without at least five direct hits.

  • Besides the bolt-action rifles, scouts have access to self-loading rifles now. Once a part of the medic class in Battlefield 1, self-loading rifles hit harder than the semi-automatic rifles of the assault kit and are a solid choice for medium range combat. I typically run with the 3x magnification on these rifles, since I expect to encounter enemies closer up than I would if I were playing with a bolt-action rifle, which are most effective with the high-powered scope.

  • For my first few hours, I was unsuccessful in finding a server running the Arras map. Easily one of the most scenic maps in Battlefield V, it’s got wide open fields of canola and a town at the map’s centre. Soldiers often hide in the canola and camp the capture points, coming from unexpected angles to surprise those trying to push onto a point. The point in the town itself is the most heavily contested, and changes the most hands in a match. Here, I call in a V-1 and watched as it impacted one of the capture points to score a double kill before the match ended: the explosion itself is spectacular.

  • Twisted Steel is another map with solid visuals: the foliage and swampy terrain is superb. Fighting is most intense on the damaged bridge that crosses the map, and thanks to the numerous trees, teams that control the bridge cannot simply snipe players down below. Again, a good medium range weapon on this map is useful, since there are open spaces between the capture point. One aspect of Battlefield V that indicates good design is the fact that weapons all have various optics immediately available for use, allowing one to not be restricted to the iron sights. Battlefield 4 required players get kills with a weapon before the sights could unlock, and since Battlefield has never done an adequate job with making iron sights usable, I tend to avoid them.

  • Being heavy tanks, Battlefield V‘s Tiger I and Churchill Mk VII are incredibly slow to manoeuvre, making them easy targets for Panzerfaust-wielding assault players. While heavy tanks traditionally had heavier armour and more powerful main cannons for anti-armour combat, the damage model present now means that even heavy tanks are not too effective against enemy armour, and their slow turret traversal makes them ill-suited for dealing with infantry. This is why I’ve chose to run the Panzer IV, whose setup makes it much better for supporting allied forces.

  • Aerodrome is set in a large, dark desert area reminiscent of Fao Fortress, but with one critical exception: there’s a large aircraft hangar at the center of the map, and fighting converges here. This is an excellent map for long-distance shooting, and Battlefield V has absolutely nailed the sniping mechanics. With no sweet spot and slower bullet velocities, the skill comes back into sniping as it had for Battlefield 4, so landing headshots becomes even more rewarding than it was previously. At present, my longest headshot is 198 metres.

  • The inside of Aerodrome’s main hangar is superbly designed and looks amazing. The planes in here can be destroyed over the course of the battle, and I love the lighting. However, I typically avoid fighting here, either on foot or in a vehicle, since the chaos makes it very easy to die to stray bullets. However, there are occasions where, with enough infantry support, I’ll push onto the point to help capture it, and a tank can be useful on such a push.

  • One of the most unusual features of Battlefield V isn’t a gameplay mechanic: the text chat will automatically censor out profanity and words deemed offensive, and the biggest problem with this is that it captures non-offensive words, such as “assault”. Ironically, the player characters themselves spout profanity when they are downed. I’m not sure why game developers feel compelled to bend to the will of virtue signallers, or how a few social media posts from virtue signallers can have such an impact on entertainment in general: for now, I’m glad that at the very least, virtue signallers have not negatively impacted the core gameplay of titles like Battlefield V.

  • The AT rocket gun was a fun weapon to use in the event one needed a longer-range weapon for picking off distant foes: because players needed to use a bipod, the weapon demanded situational awareness and map familiarity. By comparison, the Panzerfaust can be fired with reasonable accuracy from the shoulder and takes next to no skill to use: players of all experiences use it to score kills to an excessive degree, and I hope that this weapon’s destructive power is reduced to be more in line with the AT rocket gun, forcing assault players to stick with their squad if they wish to destroy vehicles.

  • The customisation I miss the most from Battlefield 1 is the emblems, which allowed me to run with the Ooarai logo or anime faces. I’ve heard that this feature will return with a later update, which will allow me to really run Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match in the Frostbite Engine. There is a certain satisfaction to listening to complaints about them in the text chat, and here, I blast another player with the Panzer IV in the wheat fields of Arras. Thanks to my completing the Road to Battlefield challenge some weeks ago, I have a variety of Arras skins and two special customisation sets.

  • The starting bolt action rifle, the Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk I has a good magazine size and fire rate, but slow bullet velocity and damage. These characteristics make it a solid weapon for beginners who are learning the ropes: the magazine size and fire rate allows for follow-up shots to be made, while the low muzzle velocity really forces one to account for bullet drop. I’ve had success in lining up and landing consecutive kills with this weapon, an all-around excellent teacher for the scout mechanics.

  • The ribbons of Battlefield V are a mystery to me: their appearance may or may not correspond with a scoring bonus, and there’s no display in the menu system to indicate what ribbons there are and the number that one has unlocked. One noticeable bug with ribbons is that they appear when certain criteria are not satisfied yet, and overall, it’s a little strange as to what purpose the ribbons serve. By comparison, medals have a clear unlock pattern and per community request, are always active. The only downside is that they presently can only be unlocked once, so I’m hoping they will be unlockable as many time as one earns their criteria (save the campaign medals).

  • The light tank Axis players access is the Panzer 38(t): while effectual against other light tanks, the 38(t) was inadequate against medium and heavy tanks. Production stopped in 1942, but the chassis would be used as the basis for the Hetzer. Battlefield V‘s light tanks are best suited for anti-infantry roles: having the fastest top speed and quickest turret traversal, they can be used to engage infantry effectively, especially if the right specialisations are selected, but their mobility comes at a cost; their light armour and 37 mm cannon makes them unable to take damage and deal damage to armour.

  • While the various Witches of Strike Witches and Brave Witches tend to run with iron sights, I prefer having a good set of optics on my weapons. Depending on the availability, I run with the Nydar sights, a simple but effective equivalent to the Coyote Sight of Battlefield 4, or the holographic sight. Here, I run the MG 34, a medium machine gun (MMG) that must have its bipod deployed in order for one to aim down sights. The idea of MMGs is a fun one that extends the support class’ usefulness, allowing one to hunker down and lay down serious suppressive fire to help a team hold a position.

  • Replicating the Hanna-Justina Wallia Rosalind Sieglinde Marseille loadout with the corresponding play-style (aggressive rushes) won’t be possible in Battlefield V, since the MMGs have terrible hip-fire accuracy. WIthout Hanna’s magic, players simply won’t be able to adopt a run-and-gun the same way Witches do: the MG 42 similarly cannot be used this way, so one will not be able to play the same way Gertrude and Erica roll.

  • The Panzer IV and its Allied counterpart, the Valentine Mk VIII, are excellent all-around tanks that I’ve performed consistently well with. I’d love to operate the M4 Sherman and T-34 at some point, as well. Having tried some of the Panzerstorm gameplay for myself, the scale of the tank battles on this map are inadequate, and I hope DICE introduces a new game mode for armoured warfare involving only tanks.

  • Here, I operate a Sd. Kfz 251 Pakwagen and used it to shell enemies from afar while waiting for a losing match to end, having entered one after a squad mate abandoned it. The Allied counterpart is theT48 57 mm Gun Motor Carriage, and these are among the less expensive of the reinforcements, providing squads with impressive firepower and unlimited ammunition at the expense of durability. For the most part, these are not brought into the game often: squad leaders end up saving up their requisition points to call in the rocket strikes.

  • There was a bug I encountered where the game would drop me from a server at random. This was my biggest gripe with the game, and the latest patches appear to deal with this. Here on Devastation, I run the M1907 SL, the fastest-firing assault rifle available in Battlefield V. Unlike its Battlefield 1 counterpart, the M1907 SL is a close quarters weapon with a high damage output at the expense of accuracy at range. It’s much more fun to use than the Battlefield 1 version, and the same can be said of the Lewis Gun, which is a beast.

  • Returning to Rotterdam, I’ve found my performance here to be solid, thanks in no small part to the fact that I know where everything is and can anticipate where enemies are coming from. It’s been two months and some since I last stood in Rotterdam, and things in real life have changed considerably. With all of the documentation and formalities wrapped up, I’ve taken the past few days off to rest, before taking up a new post. On my down time, I decided to visit the new Central Library that opened last month. It’s a clean, elegant building with plenty of open spaces and abundant lighting. The ship-shaped building reminds me of those modern European structures I saw in books from the library, and I’ve long been fond of modern architecture in this style.

  • The trick to Battlefield V really ends up being patience: instead of camping, one should move around in a strategic manner, from cover to cover, and ideally, with squad mates. After a rough start, it’s time to slow things down and then see about getting my KD ratio back up. My win-loss ratio has levelled out now. I still think that suppressed weapons should play a role in the game: presently, players are automatically spotted on the mini-map after a kill to alert enemy players to their presence. This is counted a bug, but I would think it is acceptable to keep this as a feature, and then add suppressors as a weapon specialisation that exchanges firepower for stealth. Players running suppressors would not show up on the map, but then, this could come with the tradeoff that the weapon is slower to draw and raise up for ADS.

  • Battlefield V‘s medal system is fabulous; I earned my first medal within twelve hours of play for capturing a hundred objectives, standing in contrast with Battlefield 1, whose medal system was difficult to work with. Despite the initial setbacks and difficulties, I think I’m slowly getting the hang of Battlefield V now. Pushing through the ranks, I am looking forwards to seeing what there is to do in Battlefield V outside of the conventional progression system: Tides of War is live now, and there’s so much to unlock and focus on. With my limited play time in the future, I’ll have to balance my time between watching anime and living the Girls und Panzer and Strike Witches in Frostbite Engine experience.

With new content to be consistently delivered over time, along with new activities and objectives, Battlefield V could stand to provide very solid entertainment. The current maps and content introduce players to more obscure aspects of World War Two; noticeably absent are iconic set-pieces and weapons. There is no Normandy Landing, Stalingrad, Iwo Jima or liberation of Hong Kong yet, nor the M1 Garand. While I appreciate the coverage of lesser-known battles and weapons, a World War Two title would not be complete without these elements. The Tides of War has the potential of including these events and weapons, and in particular, I am hoping that DICE includes the Pacific Campaign as a part of their Tides of War update. For the time being, however, my aim is to go through the progression system and unlock as much content as I can that will allow me to replicate the various Girls und Panzer and Strike Witches loadouts. Out of the gates, iconic weapons such as the Bren Machine Gun and MG 34 are quickly unlocked, allowing players to run as Perrine and Hanna (in a manner of speaking). Erica’s MP 40 is also available for use. Battlefield V‘s setup will not accommodate faithful replications of loadouts: the PIAT is a part of the assault class, so one cannot run the PIAT with the Bren, and with melee weapons being a little less diverse, no sabres are available at present. On the side of armour, I’ve taken to focusing on levelling up my Panzer IV: beginning with the Ausf. D version that Miho operates early on, one can push the Panzer IV to its Ausf. H configuration (as seen in Girls und Panzer Das Film) with the 75mm KwK 40 L/43 anti-tank cannon and Schürzen skirts. Should DICE release the appropriate customisations, I could decorate my armour in Ooarai colours: at present, a dark brown vehicle skin and custom emblems are unavailable. Battlefield V certainly did take a risk with its audience – whether or not it succeeds now will depend on how well post-launch content and updates are handled; there is definitely the possibility that Battlefield V could include enough content to make it memorable in terms of both gameplay and customisation, and this is an encouraging thought as I push through the game.

Destiny 2: A Review and Reflection on a Complimentary Bungie Experience

“I am a Ghost; more importantly, I’m your Ghost. And you are one of the Traveler’s chosen. You are a Guardian. This is your destiny.” —Ghost

Earlier in November, Activision and Bungie made their RPG-shooter, Destiny 2, free of charge for all players with a Battle.net account. Bungie’s project following Halo, Destiny and Destiny 2 is set in a future where humans began colonising the solar system and underwent nearly seven centuries of technological advancement brought on by the arrival of a mysterious entity known as the Traveller. This period became known as the Golden Age, although it was brought to a halt by the Collapse, which annihilated human colonies. Players take on the role of a Guardian, whose powers come from the Traveller’s Light duty is to save the Traveller and answer the threat of other aliens. In the original Destiny, players deal with the Vex, semi-organic androids. By the events of Destiny 2, the Cabal forces of the Red Legion, lead by Dominus Ghaul, assault the Last City and drain the Traveller of its Light. Players retrieve a shard of the Traveller to restore their Light, then travel to Titan to repel the Hive and rescue Commander Zavala, who reveals that the Cabal have a superweapon, The Almighty, that can incinerate suns. The Red Legion was sent to the Milky Way two years earleir, and Ghaul had overthrown the Cabal Emperor, planning to take control and use the Light to consolidate his rule. The player then makes their way to Nessus to find Cayde-6, who will be instrumental in taking back the Last City. Ikora Rey is on Io, and after all of the key individuals are present, the player is sent to destroy the Almighty. Returning to the Last City, players confront Ghaul and defeat him in battle. Ghaul attempts to manifest as an ethereal being, but the Traveller reawakens and kills Ghaul. This is where my time in Destiny 2 ends; after the campaign, Cabal vessels appear under exiled Emperor Calus’ command, and Destiny 2‘s endgame begins. Like The Division, Destiny 2 is ultimately about collecting awesome gear and constantly levelling up one’s power level, similarly to how one can bring their Gear Score in The Division up to its cap.

The core enjoyment I’ve gotten from playing through Destiny 2 was being able to experience a very Halo-like game on the PC: ever since Bungie decided to shift their focus, the iterations of Halo past Halo 2 never made it to PC. Thus, when it was announced that Destiny 2 wuold be complimentary on PC, my interest was piqued. The game is a hefty 80 GB to download, and I encountered some installation problems, but once Destiny 2 was set up, I was blown away by the environments. Destiny 2 is visually spectacular: during the first mission where I needed to fight off waves of Red Legion in the Last City, the scenery was stunning, and remained very expansive throughout the game’s outdoors segments. From the forests of Earth to the exotic looking environment in Nessus, Bungie has nailed the environments. There are also many dungeon-like sections, as well, during which players must fight in narrow corridors and chambers deep underground, or in the bowels of a Cabal vessel. Destiny 2 itself is very similar to Halo, with the lore, gunplay and story to match: in particular, the Cabal themselves are familiar, resembling the Brutes of Halo. While there is no Master Chief or Halo Array, there is a Guardian with uncommon powers and a sun-destroying superweapon. The scales of the environments and stakes are similarly high, in typical Bungie fashion. Destiny 2 is, in short, a spiritual successor to Halo on the PC platform, albeit one that encourages replay value through collecting powerful gear rather than attempting to unlock various medals in the multiplayer mode, and overall, it’s a rather enjoyable experience.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The download for Destiny 2 was a massive 80 GB and took over two hours to download. I was very surprised to learn that Destiny 2 was, from November 2 to 18, complimentary: Bungie was intended to promote their Forsaken expansion and as incentive for players to get into Foresaken, made the base game free for a period. Despite how busy things were, I decided that with a Triple-A title available, it would be worthwhile to at least pick the game up and give it a spin.

  • My gaming desktop is five and a half years old now, and its age is showing somewhat. However, thanks to maintenance, and the fact that I upgraded the GPU a few years ago, it’s managing to hold its own, running Destiny 2 at a very smooth 60 FPS, and I encountered no difficulty in getting through the game. The first mission was breathtaking, seeing the player fight the hordes of Red Legion Cabal in the city with massive capital ships overhead.

  • Unlike the Elites of Halo, who are honourable and build elegant, smooth structures, the Cabal are concerned with conquest and power. These massive aliens resemble the Brutes of Halo and are the main antagonists of Destiny 2, and their constructs are similarly utilitarian in nature, standing in contrast with the interiors of Covenant ships. The first mission ends with the player being stripped of their powers and near-death after Ghaul takes from the Traveller its Light. Staggering through the burning city, the player finds themselves out in the wilderness, with Ghost warning them that without the Light, death is permanent.

  • The run through the wilderness with an SMG is set to Journey, an incredible song that captures the desperation and hopelessness of the situation now that the Light has gone from the player. It is rare that a song can evoke such a strong positive feeling in players, and universally, the soundtrack is counted as being one of the best in a video game: Michael Salvatori returns from Halo as one of the composers, and the music so incredibly enhances the atmospherics of Destiny 2 that it is difficult to imagine what the game would be like without it.

  • While I was doing my hike at Grassi Lakes a week after picking up Destiny 2, the soundtrack came to my mind as I climbed up ice-covered trails along a frozen waterfall up to the lakes, and then again as I scrambled along a rocky hillside. The scope of the topics covered in this blog may imply its owner is quite inactive, but I spend a fair bit of my time with lifting, martial arts and walking around – hikes are reserved as special events primarily because of the fuel prices it takes to get out to the mountains. I believe in balance, and I exercise with the same frequency that I game.

  • There are a great many underground, dungeon-like missions in Destiny 2: the opening and closing missions of the game are Destiny 2 at its finest, and the middle missions are very repetitive. By comparison, The Division‘s missions have enough diversity in their environments so that they are a bit more varied: overall, The Division‘s campaign is more fun, but Destiny 2 has more epic environments and music when the game does come through during its beginning and ending.

  • Throughout most of Destiny 2, I ran primarily with a burst-fire rifle for my kinetic weapon: because of the way damage is dealt in Division 2, having an automatic rifle meant burning through ammunition very quickly. Ammunition drops very frequently, but I prefer the precise damage that burst-fire rifles deal against enemies: one or two bursts will drop any enemy provided one’s aim is true, and the weapon’s power level is sufficient.

  • After a day of hiking, I returned home to prepare some vegetables ahead of a raclette party, then while waiting for the party to start, pushed further in Destiny 2. The occasional public event adds a bit of spice to the game, and it’s fun to join random other players in blasting the open world bosses that show up. Because I had not the time to do a campaign mission, I ended up doing some public events and a side mission prior to raclette.

  • Despite a smaller turn out this time around, it was an excellent evening that saw the enjoyment of fondue, sausage, shrimps, raclette-style cheese-mushrooms-peppers-and-potatoes, all the while listening to hilariously bad music while waiting for the food to cook. Once we finished off most of the food, the party shifted downstairs to a card game. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a raclette, and these events are always fun. For the duration of the party, my worries evaporated, and I ate, drank and relaxed as I’d not done so for quite some time.

  • Here, I am on an arcology on Titan: the largest of Saturn’s moons, Titan is presented as an ocean world with large platforms in Destiny 2, a far cry from the methane-filled moon seen in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. However, most of the missions happen indoors, and amidst the platforms and machinery of Titan, the arcology proved an impressive space to move through.

  • The Hive are the enemy encountered on Titan: these insect-like beings are similar to the Flood, especially in how they alter their environment to have a very organic composition. In Destiny 2, there are no specific weapons that work more effectively against the different alien species, and the Hive, while numerous, do not fight the same way the Flood do. One of the more interesting aspects of Halo was that fighting the Flood required a very specific loadout, and so, when one encountered both Covenant and Flood, it was a matter of constantly switching weapons to remain effective.

  • In reality, Nessus is a centaur (a small rocky body with an unstable orbit between the outer planets) only some fifty-seven kilometres across. Destiny 2‘s portrayal of Nessus is a vibrant world with large, geometric constructs attributed to terraforming. It is here that players must rescue Cayde-6, and from a character perspective, the Nessus missions were among the most fun because of Failsafe, a Golden Age AI that sustained damage and as a result, has split personalities.

  • Cycling between a shamelessly cheerful and apathetic personality, Failsafe’s dialogues were very entertaining, bringing to mind GLaDOS of Portal 2. Fighting the Vex here was straightforward for the most part, although I am rather less fond of the missions that involve jumping onto electrified platforms high in the air, where any mistake will involve falling to the surface and necessitate a long ascent back up.

  • Upon returning to Earth, players must return into the dark forest and recover a second shard, which returns the Gunslinger ability. Up until now, I’d been running the Arcstrider, which gave access to an electric staff that dealt massive melee damage. As a Gunslinger, I have access to a flaming revolver that dealt up to ten times more damage per shot than any of my other weapons.

  • Io is the next destination in the campaign after one retrieves the Gunslinger ability: it is a barren world set under a majestic sky dominated by Jupiter. The real Io is a volcanic moon whose geological activity is a result of tidal forces between Jupiter and its other moons. As a result, the moon has many active volcanoes that can spew sulfur plumes 500 kilometres high. Post terraforming in Destiny 2, Io is more hospitable and is home to several mines.

  • Here, I run with an exotic pulse rifle with void properties. This burst-fire weapon proved surprisingly fun to use against the Taken, and on critical kills, could create explosions that damaged or destroyed nearby Taken, as well. Unlike The Division, exotic items in Destiny 2 can be acquired prior to hitting the level cap: I picked up exotic body armour as well as a reward for one of the campaign missions. The approach Destiny 2 takes with exotic items means that as one levels up and acquire more powerful items, the exotics picked up earlier become less viable.

  • The European Dead Zone in Destiny 2 has some of the most beautiful landscapes out of anywhere in the game, and originally, I planned to uninstall Destiny 2 once I’d finished the campaign so that I could recoup the 80 GB of disk space that Destiny 2 requires. However, landscapes such as these offer a compelling case to at least go back and finish off some of the adventures that I’d skipped out on – I only completed adventures in order to get new gear and raise my level up to the point where I could continue with the campaign missions, but it would be nice to revisit some of Destiny 2‘s more picturesque locations again.

  • Upon returning to the EDZ at level fifteen, Destiny 2‘s campaign really kicks into high gear, and it is this part of the game that truly shines. The mission opens with players being granted a Drake tank that handles similarly to Halo‘s Scorpion MBT, differing in that the Drake has an ordinance launcher as opposed to a coaxial machine gun. It was superbly satisfying to blast enemy infantry and tanks alike in this mission, and the mission distinctly feels like the opening stages of Halo 2‘s Metropolis mission.

  • After moving through the tunnels of Earth, players return back into the open, where a Cabal ship is docked. Using the Drake’s main cannons, I blast the shields and couplings, keeping the vessel grounded to end the mission. The next phase is to board the ship and fight one’s way to the bridge to eliminate the ship’s commander, before taking a smaller vessel and make for the Almighty.

  • Compared to The DivisionDestiny 2‘s menu UI was not quite as intuitive for me, especially when it came to skill and inventory management. Despite this, I managed to get by okay, scrapping old weapons and equipping items that worked with my playstyle. Here, in the bowels of the Cabal ship, I use a marksman rifle to engage distant enemies. The marksman rifles and burst-fire rifles are my preferred weapons of choice, providing enough firepower to deal with enemies at most ranges. There are weapons that use special ammunition, as well, but ammunition scarcity means that equipping these weapons would limit players to one primary weapon should they run out.

  • For my part, even if the shotguns and sniper rifles are powerful, I did not tend to equip them. One of the challenges I had in Destiny 2 early on was simply knowing where to go. I recall that in my first mission into the salt mines, I entered the wrong building and tunnels. By this point in the campaign, however, navigation was not of a particular concern: using the Ghost and the waypoints provided was sufficient to get through most places without becoming lost.

  • The heavy weapons of Destiny 2 use a special kind of ammunition and can deal massive damage against bosses. While comparatively rarer to come by, special ammunition still is fairly common, and I make extensive use of belt-fed grenade launchers to make short work of groups of Phalanxes (when there are too many of them to focus on shooting the centre of their shields). At one point, I wielded a sword that could defeat any non-boss opponent in one shot. Like the energy sword of Halo, the swords are constrained by ammunition, but they still act as standard melee weapons when depleted.

  • The fight on the Almighty was a stunner of a mission: set in the punishing atmosphere around the sun, it’s a gripping mission that sees the player fight their way across the weapon to destabilise it and set it up for destruction, in a mission mirroring Halo‘s The Maw. The vastness of the level is apparent, and when Destiny 2 is at its best, its missions are more memorable than those of The Division‘s.

  • While revolvers, known in-game as hand cannons, are incredibly powerful and can one-shot common enemies with a well-placed round to the head (or weak spot), I often find myself fighting hordes of enemies. Curiosity, however, leads me to continue wielding them, and they are quite effective, although for longer range combat, the scout rifles tend to be more effective.

  • The last time I played a game involving stopping a superweapon capable of incredible destruction would have been Halo CE: Bungie is fond of their superweapons, and the Almighty is a Cabal weapon that uses magnetic fields to destablises the forces holding a star together, causing gravity to exceed the thermal pressure of a star. The resultant explosion is powerful enough to level an entire star system, and the Cabal are said to have destroyed numerous systems in this way.

  • Notably, the Almighty is a weapon the Cabal have constructed with their own technology, standing in contrast with the Covenant, who only aim to use the Halo array. Once players destroy the cooling system on the Almighty, the weapon destablises and destroys itself. The threat of total solar annihilation is gone, and now, players turn their attention to Ghaul, the remaining loose end in Destiny 2.

  • Returning to Earth, players fight through the Last City in a bid to stop Ghaul. Once Destiny 2 picks up, its campaign does not hold back in terms of entertainment value, and more so than any other part of the game, save the opening, I was totally engrossed in this final mission, to the point of finishing it in a very short time span. The final mission uses the same song that was heard during the escape from the war beasts in Destiny 2‘s earlier sections, likely meant to signify the beginning of the end and the notion of cycles.

  • For folks looking to pick up Destiny 2, I’m not sure whether or not it will be free again; the opportunity to pick up the game on Battle.net ended on November 18. Players looking to get Destiny 2 now will also need to buy the Forsaken expansion, which raises the level cap and brings new items to the table for players to unlock. On the whole, since I got the game for free, I’ve got no complaints about it; it was quite entertaining, although at present, I’m not sure whether or not I’ll have the time to continue playing for new gear the same way I did for The Division, and so, I’ve got no plans to buy the Forsaken expansion.

  • The final fight with Ghual is titanic and fun: it’s no different than squaring off against the Zerstörers in Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, in that sure aim and liberal application of the Guardian’s powers will make short work of Ghaul who, for all of his bluster and showboating, is still mortal. With Destiny 2 in the books, the question of what I’m doing now is likely to be raised. First and foremost, I will be writing about The World in Colours now that the ninth episode is out, and then turn my focus to Battlefield V, which I decided to buy.

It has been quite some time since I’ve played a Bungie game on PC, with Halo 2 PC being the last Bungie title I’ve completely experienced the campaign of. Like The Division, having proper gear makes a significant difference in one’s performance, and players will find themselves swapping out gear constantly as they level up. Because Destiny 2 is a shooter at its core, having good weapons make all of the difference: players have access to one kinetic weapon, one energy weapon and one power weapon. This is reminiscent of Halo, where kinetic weapons dealt more damage against unshielded opponents and energy weapons were effective for stripping away shields. Power weapons are excellent for boss fights and dealing with large groups of enemies. For the most part, weapons have manageable recoil, and my go-to weapons were the burst-fire weapons, which handle in a manner not unlike that of the Battle Rifle. Short bursts of fire were more than sufficient for dealing with enemies, and interspersed with the appropriate use of one’s super ability and power weapons, Destiny 2‘s campaign was rather fun. For many players, the real fun begins here: advancing one’s power level by completing end-game activities and acquiring increasingly awesome gear. However, as much as I’ve enjoyed Destiny 2‘s campaign, I believe that my journey ends here for the present; the prospect of spending hours acquiring items is admittedly a daunting one. Having said this, I am very glad that Activision and Bungie did make Destiny 2 free: I never expected to have a chance to go through Bungie’s newest shooter, which is likely the closest I’ll come to playing a contemporary Halo-like game in the PC for the foreseeable future.

Far Cry 4: A Lesson on Patience and Applicability in Contemporary Movements

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” –George Bernard Shaw

After pushing through into North Kyrat, Ajay liberates the remainder of the provinces and ultimately is made to choose to make Amita or Sabal the leader of the Golden Path. In my playthough, I ended up choosing Amita and shot Sabal. In a titanic assault on Pegan Min’s stronghold, the Golden Path are successful in toppling his regime. Finding Pagan Min, Ajay learns of his family history, and Min allows him to place his mother’s ashes inside a shrine. Min leaves on a helicopter, leaving Kyrat to Ajay. With Amita in control, Kyrat becomes a drug state. Had I opted to go with Sabal’s ending, he would have turned the nation into a theocracy. Regardless of which ending one chooses, the ramifications are less than optimal – this is the core lesson in Far Cry 4, that regime changes very nearly always have unforeseen consequences owing to the complexity of even the more disagreeable political systems. Far Cry 4 thus becomes a thought experiment to illustrate what might happen when one is given the means to destablise a regime and introduce change through force of arms, bypassing activism and protest in favour of violence. While Ajay is given enough background to make decisions and carry out his actions, the constraints result in Kyrat being oppressed by a new regime. In my case, having chosen Amita to lead the Golden Path, Kyrat’s citizens are now entangled in the production of narcotics, which will create problems for other nations, as well as internally. A leadership under Sabal would see oppression of at least a similar calibre to Pegan Min’s rule: given that we know what the outcomes are now, it might have been preferable to leave Pegan Min in control because at the very least, what to expect from his regime is known. At the end of Far Cry 4, the game succeeds in conveying the message that supporting a cause to bring about change, without full awareness of what that cause is trying to accomplish, may result in system equally or more undesirable than what was already present.

The events of Far Cry 4 provide players an opportunity to experience a war from the perspective of someone who has the capability to make a tangible impact, and the endings warn players that it is possible that, when folks supporting a cause achieve what they’d set out to accomplish, the end result may not be what they were expecting. The setting and thematic elements of Far Cry 4 give the impression that the game is another perspective of the Tibet 2008 uprisings, deliberately coinciding with the Beijing 2008 Summer Games. Ubisoft gives power to the player, acting as an external third party who is free to explore Kyrat as they will and do as they choose. By shifting power into the players’ hands, Far Cry 4 imagines a scenario where that the folks supportive of the complete and total removal of the Chinese presence in Tibet are given the means to do so. As players move through Kyrat and whittle away Pegan Min’s power, the authoritarian regime weakens and crumbles. However, the end result was rather undesirable: Kyrat’s residents end up trading one hell for another. Far Cry 4 thus suggests that, had the Tibet Uprising accomplished its goals of removing the Chinese presence, they might have encountered additional difficulties afterwards – there is no guarantee that the new leadership would bring about the change that people sought, and that a third party intervening may simply create more problems. The parallels bring to mind organisations that conducted a widespread campaign to promote an independent Tibet during the 2008, and through its narrative, Far Cry 4 implies that organisations or groups could be doing more harm than good, if they are not fully aware of the consequences of rapid change and nonetheless continue to push their agendas forward.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The Buzzsaw is a signature MG42 that has double the ammunition capacity of a standard MG42 with the extended magazine, and coupled with its pointpoint accuracy and high damage resulting from the 7.92×57mm Mauser rounds, the mere fact that I have the weapon means that for all intents and purposes, I’ve beaten Far Cry 4. The weapon will kill all enemies in less than three rounds, can rip ground vehicles and helicopters apart in seconds and even force the largest of wildlife to yield.

  • Unlocked after liberating all of the Belltowers, the Buzzsaw is so powerful that there is no game to play: Ajay can clear out entire outposts without ever reloading, and reinforcements sent to support Royal Guard soldiers become victims of the weapon. To balance the Buzzsaw out, it would have been more appropriate to give the weapon increased recoil so it cannot be fired for sustained periods of time on full automatic. This way, other LMGs could be given superior automatic fire accuracy and make them more useful.

  • Of course, things are what they are, and having the Buzzsaw made many missions trivially easy. Most of these screenshots for my second Far Cry 4 post date between late August and November of last year – I was pushing to finish Far Cry 4 towards the end of 2017 so I could begin Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and The Division.

  • I previously mentioned that vegetation can be set ablaze with any incendiary weapon or even the repair tool. I recall an evening where I spent running around Kyrat, lighting up Royal Guard soldiers with the repair tool and setting them on fire for comedy. Repair tool kills have been something I’ve not made a point of getting since the days of Battlefield 3, where it was bloody hilarious to force a reaction from other players who were killed by the repair torch. In Battlefield 1, the Kolibri is the equivalent weapon for humiliating other players.

  • Here, I run with the Kriss Vector, one of my favourite weapons in The Division: I’ve outfitted the Vector with a similar configuration here that I felt I would most likely run with in The Division (at the time, I did not have The Division), mounting the medium range optics in conjunction with a suppressor. While a fun weapon to use against groups of lightly-armoured opponents, the Vector is stymied by a lower range, and is not as versatile as an assault rifle in Far Cry 4, so I did not run with the Vector with any great frequency during the main missions.

  • By this point in Far Cry 4, I accumulated enough cash to buy all of the weapons and their signature counterparts. Having good weapons makes the mid and late game a far cry from what things were at the beginning: while the basic AKM was a weak weapon with poor accuracy, having access to the full spectrum of guns in Far Cry 4 made the game much easier to play. Stealth operations became straightforwards to perform, and in a stand-up firefight, all enemies fell before the might of the Buzzsaw.

  • I realise that this post comes a ways later than expected: I beat Far Cry 4 back in early November prior to starting my journey in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and remark that I actually began my journey in Far Cry 4 on Christmas Day in 2016. During Christmas Day of 2017, I pushed further into Wolfire’s Overgrowth, and finished the game; the campaign is a bit short but quite fun. The fighting mechanics are solid and satisfying, and having beat the Overgrowth campaign, I will aim to get a post out for the game at some point in the future.

  • After finishing all of the Longinus missions, players unlock the LK-1018, which can fire laser-guided rockets similar to the rocket launcher of Half-Life 2. More powerful and effective against air vehicles than the RPG, I ended up using this weapon only when free-roaming the world: on missions where my goal was simply to finish them, the Buzzsaw and AMR are superior anti-vehicle options.

  • I chose to write about Far Cry 4 now, rather than earlier because of the fact that we’re very nearly about to see Far Cry 5‘s release on March 27. Having taken a look at the system requirements, I’m a bit surprised that Far Cry 5 can in fact run on my current computer on acceptable settings – I’m a 1080p60 gamer, and this requires an Intel i5 clocked at 3.4 GHz, a GTX 970 and 8 GB of RAM. The requirements aren’t too steep at all, and I might just pick the title up as a summer shooter: history suggests that Far Cry 5 might just see a 20 percent discount during the summer sale.

  • For 56 CAD three months after the launch date, Far Cry 5 could be well worth the price of admissions if Far Cry 4 was anything to go by: overall, I put in 48 hours into Far Cry 4, and ended up with a 80 percent completion rate, so if I were to spend a few more hours, I could probably wholly do everything in the game. My metrics for determining whether or not a pricey Triple-A title is worth it is whether or not the game costs six dollars per hour or less, which is roughly what it costs to watch a movie.

  • The AMR (Anti-Materiel Rifle) is the ultimate single-action rifle in Far Cry 4: being the signature form of the Z93, the AMR inherits the exceptional damage and slow rate of fire of the Z93, while introducing a HEIAP (High-Explosive Incendiary/Armour Piercing) round that can make short work of anything. Vehicles explode when shot, while large game are so grievously damaged that skins cannot be recovered from them. The main downside to the AMR is that as a signature weapon, it cannot be outfitted with a suppressor, limiting its effectiveness in a long-range role.

  • I’m not particularly fond of shotguns in Far Cry 4, since they do not always guarantee a one-hit kill on enemies. However, there are some missions that require one to kill HVTs or wildlife with specific weapons, which encourages players to try new weapons and make use of novel strategies to make these weapons work. I normally pick off all of the guards in an area from afar, before attempting to finish off the HVTs using the required weapon.

  • There are a few points in Far Cry 4 where Ajay either falls under the influence or where the narrative slips into an alternative plane known as Shangri-La, a mythical land where the gameplay mechanics are completely different. They’re quite distinct and memorable for their unique designs, but overall, I did not end up playing through all of the Shangri-La missions, only doing enough of them to unlock all of the weapons.

  • In the end, the best long-range weapon is the semi-automatic SA-50, which, while having a lower damage per shot compared to the AMR, offers a much higher firing rate and can be customised. This means a suppressor can be added to the weapon, making it the perfect choice for clearing out fortresses and outposts without alerting anyone to my presence. Clearing outposts without being detected and without any alarms being set off provide experience bonuses, and while players initially must choose between defensive and offensive upgrades, completing the game will allow Ajay to unlock more or less everything.

  • With every available skill unlocked in Far Cry 4, Ajay can survive three times as much punishment, move faster, reload more efficiently, perform more powerful takedowns, carry more gear and so on. While Ajay was quite weak as Far Cry 4 begins, at the game’s conclusion, the skills, weapons and player familiarity with the perks allow Ajay to be a veritable one-man army. Even the superior Royal Guard of North Kyrat stand little chance against Ajay.

  • I’ve not been too fond of the bows for their projectile drop and low firing rates, so I never made extensive use of these weapons for stealth or hunting. By comparison, the automatic crossbow is easy to use, featuring a high projectile speed and firing rate: it is perfect for close-quarters stealth engagements with multiple targets and the ideal hunting weapon, swiftly dealing with wildlife without damaging their skins. Where stealth is necessary, the automatic crossbow is the top sidearm for the job, and I found myself switching to this from the M79.

  • While most of Kyrat has a verdant, vibrant landscape, some parts of North Kyrat have a more distinct feel to it, with browning vegetation that evokes a sense of autumn. It is here that Kyrat’s toughest enemies are faced, and I take a few moments to look back ten years ago today, which was when an anti-China rally was set to go forwards. Some of my classmates were ardently trying to encourage fellow students to participate in rallies downtown in front of the Chinese Consulate to protest the Chinese government’s response to events in Tibet during the 2008 Summer Games. I antagonised them by declining to participate, feeling that it was unreasonable to expect that immediate change was realistic, and that all actions required consideration to avoid the sort of thing that might arise in Far Cry 4.

  • The argument devolved very rapidly; while I attempted to present the arguments outlined in this post as the basis for why I would not commit to their protest, one of the individuals backing the other party immediately resorted to ad hominem attacks. Claiming that “some of the things [that I] have written are incorrect”, and that I “should only respond if [I] want to discuss issues respectfully towards [my] opponent”, they concluded with the demand that I “owe [them] an apology for being inconsiderate to [them]”. The unique situation in Tibet means that what they sought (an immediate and complete removal of the Chinese presence) may have potentially created new social problems that would have not benefited the people in the area: my mere suggestion that change should be gradual if it is to persist was offensive to them.

  • I stress that I am not opposed to the idea of human rights, nor do I hold that China is blameless, but rather, I oppose actions and organisations who are so focused on one goal that they neglect the bigger picture, and the fact that change must be gradual. In the decade that has passed, I remark that the Dalai Lama has stated that his goal to be what is called the Middle Way: rather than full independence, he calls for cooperation and coexistence, understanding that an extreme course of action will similarly have extreme recourse on the people. Consequently, I owe this individual no apology – that change has indeed taken a more gradual, methodical approach shows that I was right, and there is no need to apologise for presenting facts where they used emotion.

  • The individual above asserted that opposing them constituted as harassment, and so, can be seen as being the precursor to the modern-day virtue signallers, folks who play the victim or take offense on the behalf of other groups for the sake of improving their own image. This is an issue that has become more prevalent, and as of late, such groups have protested everything from video game journalism to the so-called Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong. The former sparked a massive internet war that ended being of little consequence to those seeking to change the industry, and the latter, while ostensibly promoting democracy, created major disturbances in Hong Kong, blocking traffic and damaging property that undermined the movement’s credibility.

  • As a consequence, I believe that Marco Rubio’s nomination of Joshua Wong and the Umbrella Revolution’s participants for a Nobel Peace Prize to be, for the lack of a better word, a complete and utter mockery of what the Nobel Peace Prize to be about. In their actions, the people who participated in the Umbrella Revolution give the demeanour of little more than entitled youth who do not understand what hard work entails. In the knowledge of the unreasonable real estate market in Hong Kong, which makes it difficult for Millennials to buy a house, it is understandable that there is dissent. However, I hold that there are more appropriate ways of expressing this dissatisfaction, as opposed to causing a public disturbance.

  • Positive change in society is built on the shoulders of the hard-working, not the vocal – activism and protesting has its limits compared to sustained hard work and a clear game plan, so I’ll leave the topic aside and return to Far Cry 4. Here is another segment of Far Cry 4 set in Shangri-La: as an ancient warrior, players only have access to an enchanted bow, but also gain a powerful tiger companion. Enemies take the form of mysterious spirits, and these missions allow players to learn more about the mythical aspects of Kyrat. I prefer these missions to the psychedelic, drug-fuelled chaos of the Yogi & Reggie missions, which gave me a headache in trying to complete them. Humourous characters they were, their impact on gameplay was much less enjoyable, and I only did enough of their missions to advance the story.

  • The Shangri-La missions are quite linear in nature, and end with players reaching large bell that they must cut free and allow to toll. The real-world location is a city of 130 000 people in Yunnan Province of China, but when the name is mentioned, James Hilton’s description of a paradise in his novel, Lost Horizon is what comes to mind. In his novel, Shangri-La is a Himalayan paradise far secluded from the world, where the residents were immortal and eternally happy.

  • A glance at some of the beautiful scenery up in the Tibetan Plateau, Sichuan and Yunnan will speak volumes as to why Hilton set his fictional paradise up here. From colourful pools of Huang Long, to the vast salt lakes in the most remote corners of Tibet, the landscape up here is beautiful beyond measure, and one of my dreams is to visit this part of the world for myself. Kyrat features none of these landscapes: its design is more similar to the terrain found in Bhutan, a small nation that reports a very high social development index and happiness despite its status as a least developed country.

  • I ended up choosing Amita’s path for fun: at the end of the day, one’s choice is not particularly relevant, and one of the things I’m wondering about Far Cry 5 is whether or not it will create a more impactful ending based on the decisions that players make. With this being said, the strengths in Far Cry seem to be the exploration component, so even if Far Cry 5 does not have a true user-chosen ending, I’m sure the game itself will be solid from a technical perspective.

  • We come to it at last: the final assault on Pegan Min’s fortress. There’s hardly a need for stealth here: equipping the loudest and most powerful weapons in the game, I accompanied the Golden Path on a full-scale siege of his fortress. With the Buzzsaw, AMR and LK-1018 in my inventory, I struck the facility with guns ablaze and very quickly cleared out all resistance without any difficulty. Golden Path forces will assist Ajay in his siege, but my superior firepower meant that this was quite unnecessary.

  • Far Cry 4‘s co-operative component and guns for hire: the latter can be called in to assist with operations to take on liberation of outposts and fortresses, but during my run of the game, I relied on neither to help out. While they could add a bit of amusement to the game, I prefer running missions without computer-controlled NPCs so I can fully control my approach towards completing an objective – there’s always a chance that they might break stealth and set off an alarm prematurely.

  • Officially, my journey in Far Cry 4 ended eleven months after I began the first steps to the campaign back on Christmas Day of 2016. Throughout the summer of 2017, I continued to play through the game with a non-trivial frequency and wondered why I did not play it sooner. For the most part, Far Cry 4 is superbly enjoyable – there are only a few repetitive elements. Besides the animal hunting missions, I was not a particular fan of the arena mode; I needed to reach rank ten to unlock the Bushman, the best assault rifle in the game, and after I finished this, I continued on my way with the campaign.

  • Destroying Pegan Min’s solid gold statue will bring the main campaign to an end. I chose to spare Pegan Min and sat down to dinner with him, listening to his final speech before he leaves Kyrat to Ajay. I’m well aware of the secret ending and will give it a go in the near future. With this post in the books, I’m going to look at doing posts for Wolfire’s Overgrowth and Sansha Sanyou for my Terrible Anime Challenge series before we reach the end of this month, which will see the Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start finales. My schedule over the next few weeks will be a bit chaotic, so posts will be written and published on a best efforts basis: I anticipate that things will settle out in April

From a gameplay perspective, Far Cry 4 proved to be remarkably entertaining, and a sobering theme aside, the game itself is actually quite light-hearted and humourous in nature. There is no shortage of activities to participate in within Far Cry 4, and the world of Kyrat is fun to explore, even if most of the map is repetitive in design. One of the most notable elements in Far Cry 4 is the fact that Pegan Min’s Royal Guard speak Cantonese; it was hilarious to hear enemies insult my family and demanding that I drop dead. The weapons in Far Cry 4 are also immensely satisfying to use – there is an impressive array of weapons Ajay can equip and use. While the gameplay is reasonably straightforwards, Far Cry 4 offers an incredible array of modifiers: from weapon customisation and skills, to syringes that impart benefits, Far Cry 4 allows players to approach any situation in any manner of their choosing. The world-building in Kyrat is also top-tier: from Shangri-La missions to random journal entries and design elements in the environment, Kyrat is highly immersive. All of these gameplay aspects, in conjunction with a narrative relevant to current events, makes Far Cry 4 both entertaining and thought-provoking. The game is very much worth the price of admissions, and also sets the stage for the upcoming Far Cry 5, which is set in Montana – although the core mechanics of Far Cry 5 look similar to those of Far Cry 4, I’m curious to see what a virtual Montana looks like, and the prospect of fighting off a fundamentalist doomsday cult is also enticing. Releasing later this month, I will be keeping an eye on Far Cry 5; if I can run the title, there is a chance that I may pick up Far Cry 5 as a title to experience during those days where the weather is not conducive towards being outside.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus- Episode Zero Reflection

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. –Jimmy Johnson

After Blazkowicz finishes off beating up Nazis and sends General Engel to Davy Jones’ Locker, there are three other Resistance fighters, each on their own adventure to undermine and destabilise the Nazi regime with their own unique talents. The expansion content to The New Colossus introduces former quarterback Joseph Stallion, the OSS Agent Jessica Valiant and Captain Gerald Wilkins as playable characters. In Episode Zero, players briefly play as each character – Stallion breaks out of a Chicago Nazi facility and steals a Panzerhund, Valiant infiltrates Nazi bunkers in California to find information on Operation San Andreas, and Captain Wilkins moves through an Alaskan base on the first steps of stopping Operation Black Sun. It’s a taste of what’s to come in each of the upcoming DLC packages: as a result of having picked up The New Colossus on launch day after curiosity took me, I received Episode Zero free of charge, as well. Each of the newly introduced characters have one of Blazkowicz’s contraption abilities, allowing them to be played in a certain manner, and their stories each serve to extend the depth of what’s happening in the world of Wolfenstein following General Engel’s death, furthering the world-building that Wolfenstein has excelled in since The New Order released.

The biggest draw about The New Colossus DLC are the play-style choices that are imposed on players. Because each character has a slightly more limited version of the contraption upgrades Blazkowicz has, each new character force players to adopt a particular playstyle that they might have not otherwise made extensive use of in The New Colossus‘ main campaign. Stallion’s extensive football background allows him to tackle opponents, withstand explosions and throw things further, but he’s not capable of stealth to the same extent as Blazkowicz or Valiant. Valiant can sneak through ventilation shafts as Blazkowicz could with the constrictor harness and excels at reaching spots that others cannot access, but she’s also vulnerable whenever situations devolve into a direct firefight. Captain Wilkins’ Kampfwanderer gives him the ability to access high ground, similarly to the battle walker upgrade. Each of the characters do not have any of the perks that Blazkowicz has, and weapon upgrades are gone, forcing players to play more carefully in each of the segments. It’s a fun approach to The New Colossus that showcases a different adventure to Blazkowicz’s, and Episode Zero does a succinct job of setting the stage for what players stand to experience should they choose to buy the DLC.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The full DLC, titled The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, for Joseph Stallione’s story was released back in December 14 of 2017. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I actually had Episode Zero available in my account: this DLC is only available for players who pre-ordered the game or bought the season pass (both of which are risky manoeuvres), but it seems that buying the game on launch date seems to have been sufficient to make me eligible for Episode Zero.

  • Episode Zero released on November 7, a week after I began playing through The New Colossus, and I did not beat The New Colossus until eighteen days later. After clearing through the Übercommander missions, I finally set my sights on Episode Zero, which begins with Stallion. It felt a bit strange to have lost all of the perks that I unlocked through the main campaign, and my weapons were sent back to their starting incarnations. Fortunately, exploring the mission will find weapon upgrade kits for Stallion’s weapons.

  • Unlike The New Colossus‘ campaign, however, the upgrade system in the DLCs seem more similar to those of The New Order, where upgrades players find will be specific attachments for a weapon. I acquired a drum magazine and the nailgun upgrade for the submachine gun, which was my preferred weapon for this mission on account of ammunition availability: rifle-calibre rounds were more uncommon. The close quarters hallways seen in the first section of Episode Zero means that dual-wielded weapons on full-automatic are the most effective.

  • Stallion’s football experience confers him abilities equivalent to Blazkowicz’s ram shackles prior to upgrading them, and are on the whole, slightly less powerful: I don’t think it’s possible to tackle a commander and have them explode into chunks of meat and a shower of blood as Blazkowicz can do, but for the most part, Stallion can sprint through metal grates and take out soldiers without too much difficulty.

  • Going purely from Episode Zero‘s preview of all the DLCs, I feel that Stallion’s is probably the most unremarkable of the three: it’s set in a bunker that appears largely recycled from assets seen in The New Colossus‘s main campaign. While I’ve heard that Stallione gets to fight on Venus, the setting had already been explored in The New Colossus: I’ve seen some footage of The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, and the fact that it looks fun notwithstanding, I think that I will wait for the other DLCs to be released before I make a concrete decision as to whether or not I’m grabbing the season pass come the next Steam Sale.

  • Stealing the Panzerhund results in some gameplay reminiscent of when Blazkowicz was rampaging through the ruined streets of New Orleans: the flamethrower is absolutely vicious in the narrow hallways here, and will make short work of any opponent. Its armour can be replenished from pieces dropped by enemies.

  • Panzerhunds were the bane of my existence when I was forced to fight against them during The New Order: when one broke into the Kreisau Circle’s headquarters, I expended more than half of my ammunition stores trying to stop it. By The New Colossus, however, heavy weapons and contraptions make the fights a bit more straightforward, even if the Panzerhunds seen in The New Colossus are supposed to be more powerful than their counterparts in The New Order.

  • After seizing the Panzerhund and escaping, the story shifts over to that of Agent Valiant in The Diaries of Agent Silent Death. Her stealth-driven gameplay is rather more exciting, forcing players to choose their battles carefully; Valiant seems less durable than Stallion and Captain Wilkins, making it imperative to make use of the shadows to get around without being caught. She starts Episode Zero with a knife and a suppressed pistol: in spite of its weak damage compared to other weapons, it can be used to silently dispatch foes with a single, well-placed shot to the head.

  • There’s an entire roast suckling pig with potatoes and vegetables that can boost Valiant’s health up by a hundred points, overcharging it. However, with the ability to keep overcharged health as with The New Colossus‘ campaign with the right perk, Valiant’s health will slowly deplete back to 100 points over time. While I lamented the lack of burgers in Super Spesh’s All American Diner during the Roswell Übercommander mission, food items are scattered through the game, and one of my preferred techniques for situations where I had been low on health was to collect health items after I’d reached a particular increment.

  • Since health recharges up to a maximum of twenty points to the nearest multiple of twenty, finding three donuts could allow players to go from 20 points of health back to 80. This system is a fine balance between the recharging health of Halo and the non-regenerating health of games like Half-Life 2, allowing players improved survivability while maintaining their attention on keeping their health in a good state.

  • The Diaries of Agent Silent Death is set to release later this month, and I’m actually curious to see what it will entail. If Episode Zero is a reliable indicator, Valiant’s maps are a bit more exciting than those of Stallion’s, being styled in an ostentatious manner with golden monuments, Nazi artwork and the like. Here, players will find themselves in large rooms that seem to be made of nothing but locked doors, but fortunately, there are small openings that Valiant can make use of to sneak through and access new areas.

  • Valiant does not last very long in straight up firefights with only a mere pistol, but once more powerful weapons and some armour is found, the tables are turned. This recording studio feels quite similar to the courtroom seen in the mid-game of The New Colossus, but there are differences enough to make the mission feel unique. Being a spy of sorts, her missions look quite exciting, and I’m a bit curious to see what Operation San Andreas will entail.

  • During my playthrough, I managed to remain stealthy right up until near the end, where I ran into a Supersoldaten and set an alarm off. Fortunately, I managed to sneak into one of the ventilation ducts and continued on deeper into the facility, out of range of the alarm. I did not manage to find any of the upgrades for Valiant’s weapons save the suppressor for the pistol, and admittedly, it does make me feel a bit under-prepared to enter new areas without the marksman optic mounted to the assault rifle.

  • Valiant’s mission ends when she reaches the documents archive where the file she’s seeking is held. The file’s sitting out in the open and once she finds it, her part in Episode Zero comes to an end. In the end, I barely made it to the final part of the mission, with only twenty health remaining, and stopped to look around the details in this area before wrapping the mission up.

  • Evergreen trees can be seen out the windows of Captain Wilkin’s mission in Episode Zero; his mission deals with the experiences he has in Alaska while trying to stop Operation Black Sun. I don’t think I’ve seen any shooters set in Alaska, and the last time I was in Alaska was many years ago, on a cruise to the Inside Passage. It’s absolutely beautiful here, being a place where snow-capped mountains merge with the ocean to create a unique landscape.

  • The Amazing Deeds of Captain Wilkins is supposed to deal with the “Sun Gun”, a planned Nazi weapon that would have been placed 8200 kilometers above the surface of Earth and have a surface area of nine square kilometers. The weapon would have worked by focusing the sun’s rays onto a narrow point on the surface that would have hypothetically burned through cities and even boil away bodies of water. The Sun Gun was well ahead of its time, and Nazi scientists predicted that it would take at least fifty years before such a weapon could be built.

  • Captain Wilkins is equipped with the Kampfwanderer, which performs similarly to the Battle Walker, allowing him to take the high ground over his opponents, and here, I deal with Nazi soldiers standing between him and the objective: Episode Zero has him fighting through a facility set along the western coasts of America (as evidenced by the evergreen trees), with the aim of softening up a Nazi facility and destroying a heavy weapon at the facility: here, I finish off the remaining Nazi soldiers firing at me, leaving naught but a pile of bodies in my wake.

  • In English, the phrase “bury the hatchet” stems from American tradition, where hatchets or tomahawks were buried in a peace ceremony to signify disarmament. Its origins tie in with the idea of making peace with a past conflict, but in Wolfenstein, “burying the hatchet” takes on a whole new meaning. English idioms are rather interesting, and despite my background in English, there are many phrases that I remain unfamiliar with. The Chinese similarly have what are called chengyu (成語, jyutping “sing4 jyu5”); some of them are pretty intuitive and make perfect sense, while others are quite obscure.

  • Of all the DLCs, I’m most looking forwards to seeing The Amazing Deeds of Captain Wilkins, especially if flying to the Sun Gun space station and engaging in space combat is a part of the missions. Here, I reach the control room and clear it of remaining hostiles so I can make use of the control panel. Level designs notwithstanding, one thing that I found consistently enjoyable through each of the characters was their extensive exposition and the fact that they give monologues similar to Blazkowicz’s, offering further insight on their personalities.

  • By the brilliant  morning light of the West coast, I prepare one of the defensive cannons and aim it towards the much larger weapon to destroy it, bringing an end to Episode Zero, this discussion and the end of my Wolfenstein II writings for the present. I still find myself impressed that buying The New Colossus on launch date gave me access to Episode Zero; in the end, while it was a bit costlier to do so, I ended up saving quite a bit of time, so I find that I did get good value for my decision. Looking ahead into January, I’ve got my Yuru Camp△ post inbound in not more than a few days, and I’ll be wrapping up Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! soon.

For the present, while I’m convinced that each of the three DLC packages, one each for Stallion, Valiant and Captain Wilkins, are likely to be quite fun in their own right and add newfound well-written stories into the Wolfenstein universe, the sample of the gameplay through Episode Zero suggests that there’s no new weapons, enemies or abilities. Furthermore, The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, already released, seems to be quite short – if this instalment’s length is an indicator, then the DLCs together will likely add around five to seven hours of additional content in total (compared to the nine advertised). When one looks at the price tag of 30 CAD for the season pass, it’s probably not worthwhile to pick the DLC up in the absence of a good sale. For the present, then, I have no plans in continuing my adventures with Stallion, Valiant or Captain Wilkins – for one, I still need to go back through and beat The New Colossus on the Fergus timeline, which gives me access to the Laserkraftwerk. Of course, once I gain a bit more insight as to what the DLC offers once all of the instalments are released, and if a good sale should appear, I could change my mind and pick things up to continue what folks have concisely described as more Nazi Slaughtering Goodness.