The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Gameplay

Battlefield 1: I Shall Not Pass- A Spring Patch Reflection

“A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Although I am well aware that the first Battlefield 1 DLC is titled They Shall Not Pass, I’ve chosen to title this post “I Shall Not Pass” because of my present decision to not purchase the DLC or Premium upgrade. While I’ve been having a fabulous time in Battlefield 1 as of late, I’m likely to remain a little more reserved until I learn more about the remaining DLC packages. From the footage I’ve seen of They Shall Not Pass, the French maps look wonderful (and a part of me purchased Battlefield 1 simply so I could light things up in Gallia France): one map features a field abloom with poppies, while another features a sleepy French village that Yoshika might find herself stopping by while visiting Lynette and Perrine. There’s also a map with a large fortress at its center whose close-quarters layout could make it the new Operation Locker. The new weapons are interesting, adding new dimensionality to the play, as well. There is a new Behemoth and French tank, along with the Trench Raider elite class. So far, the DLC looks reasonably fun, and personally, the French maps are the most appealing element of this DLC. With this being said, the next DLC is going to be titled In The Name Of The Tsar, and if the Russian maps provide snowy environments for combat, I will almost certainly purchase the Premium upgrade, if only for the fact that I will be able to experience both the Strike Witches (Gallian) and Brave Witches (Orussia) fronts in the Frostbite 3 Engine. I am surprisingly close to my stipulated goal of having two classes at rank ten, so the Premium purchase could be very real on my horizon.

While I’ve not tried the new maps, weapons or vehicles, the release of They Shall Not Pass has also brought some changes to the gameplay in Battlefield 1: grenades are now lessened in count, forcing players to finally run with fewer gas grenades. Weapons have also been modified, with the most noticeable change coming for the medic class’ self-loading rifles. Spread increase and magnitude has been reduced for these weapons, allowing them to be fired more accurately, with the optical versions acquiring an even more appreciable decrease in spread. The net effect of these changes mean that medic weapons are now more useful at range while being able to maintain a respectable rate of fire (for semi-automatic weapons): in practise, this allows me to hit distant opponents at longer ranges, and during one match, I landed a headshot on another player from around 150 meters. Although they ducked behind cover, that I can now have more confidence in engaging targets at this range is a huge boost. The medic class is my second most-used class, so having better weapons offers a much better experience; I know that I can hold my own at long ranges now while healing team-mates, although better shot placement could also make my close quarters engagements a bit more manageable.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve now got some 28 hours in Battlefield 1, and my performance has been steadily improving with respect to contributions to the team. Although I don’t top the scoreboards or have the best KD ratio, I do manage to score quite well despite having a smaller number of kills because of my emphasis on team play beyond merely camping at a capture point. Compared to most folks, I actually don’t game as often or as hard: while my interests suggest otherwise, I’m actually quite casual.

  • In a match of conquest, after spawning into a Mark V whose cannon was jammed despite the vehicle being in full health, I died and respawned, switching out to the medic class so I could try out the M1907 SL Sweeper, a medic self-loading rifle with the option for automatic fire. Because of the setting, options for a good RDS are non-existent, and so, I tend not to do so well with the iron sights. With this being said, it is immensely satisfying to land a good shot with the iron sights, especially at longer ranges.

  • I usually find myself in the thick of things owing to how I play Battlefield, although how hard I push will be determined by which class I’m running with. The medic can occupy the mid-range role quite nicely, allowing me to hang out behind attacking teammates to heal or revive. There are other occasions where I will die from carelessness, but because I’m pushing forward with my team, I will likely get revived by a friendly medic. I don’t communicate with other players with a microphone, preferring the text chat to ask for support or instructions as required.

  • The medic ribbon for getting seven kills in a round looks quite nice, and I obtain one here after lighting up another player with the M1907 Sweeper. As of now, I’ve purchased around four primary weapons for each class except for the scout, but have done nothing about sidearms or melee weapons. For folks who play more Battlefield 1 than myself, the DLC might just be worth it to gain more variety, but in my case, I’ve got a ways to go before I yearn for more diversity in my gameplay. With this being said, the new maps in They Shall Not Pass look beautiful and, while more experienced Battlefield players may digress, seem to be worth the price of admissions.

  • After being given increased horizontal recoil in the previous patch, light machine guns are a little trickier to use, but during one match of domination where my team was steam-rolled by the other, I finally acclimitised to the recoil patterns of the BAR Storm and scored seven kills to obtain the support ribbon. In the latest update, ribbons now give 500 experience points rather than 300, making them even more rewarding to obtain.

  • Post-patch, the BAR Storm remains a formidable close-quarters LMG. As of late, I’ve found less time to play Battlefield 1: things have been rather active in the real world. This past weekend was a double experience weekend, but I only got three conquest matches in. On Saturday, I visited the International Truck and Auto Show, stopping by a restaurant in the neighbourhood to have Chinese-style fried chicken marinated in oyster sauce and a grilled fish with deep-fried bones. Yesterday was my dōjō’s annual Spring Banquet (a buffet style luncheon featuring sweet and sour pork, ginger beef, fried noodles, spring rolls, fried chicken, gaozi and beef skewers, plus mango tapioca). I attend with my family every year, although I skipped last year on account of the banquet being set on the eve of my flight to Laval.

  • In a particularly brutal match of TDM where my team was losing, I managed to find a flamethrower and went on an 8-killstreak, burning to death players who tried to knife me. It was enough to raise my KD ratio and turned the entire match around, with my team winning by exactly one point by the time everything was said and done. I’ve been in several losing matches where my team would somehow mount a comeback and win by a very small margin, sometimes, these were as close as one point.

  • It’s the first day of Spring today, being the Vernal Equinox. This bitterly cold winter comes to a close, although with the weather in the Foothills, I imagine we could be hit with a handful of spring snowstorms before warmer weather sets in to stay as the days grow longer. Last week marked the beginning of Daylight Savings time, and while it did mess with some schedules out there, in addition to potentially reducing the amount of time one sleeps, it also marks the welcome return of light.

  • A sharp-eyed viewer will note that I only do major posts for the winter and summer solstices: the transition from winter to spring, though welcome, is set in the month of March, which has always been a quieter time of year for me. During my school days, it would be midterm season, and in the present, I’m pushing further into the ResearchKit and CoreData frameworks for my work. It feels a little strange, but very liberating, not to have a number of assignments, papers and exams on my plate: while work is definitely more high-paced than university, gone are the days of rote memorisation to pass exams.

  • I tended to end up KD negative or lose on Sinai Desert, making it one of my least favourite maps. However, this is a map that is quite unsuited for close-quarters weapons in most areas – I’ve had the most success either by equipping a good weapon with optics, such as the Mondragón sniper here to shoot someone from a ways away, or else simply stayed within the town area to pick off lone players with close quarters weapons. This particular match turned out quite entertaining, and I did quite well.

  • I definitely will need to go back and give all of the weapons I’ve unlocked a shot; at the minimum, I should get service stars for all of the weapons I’ve already got, and aim to try the weapons whose specs are less suited for my play-style. The concept of weapon mastery returns from Battlefield 4, with a special codec entry unlocking for folks with five hundred kills in a weapon. The counter only began with the winter patch, so it’ll be a while before I get to any weapon masteries in Battlefield 1.

  • During one match of conquest, I spawned into a light tank, having forgotten to set it to the heavy tank in the menu earlier, but I went on a 9-killstreak with the tank, rolling over the hill and blasting the enemy team with the canister shells. Playing more carefully and strategically allowed me to last much longer than I usually would: my efforts very nearly allowed my team to catch up in scoring as we captured points charlie and delta on Giant’s Shadow.

  • The light tank remains my favourite vehicle in spite of how toned-down it is in Battlefield 1 compared to its beta incarnation: as a single-seater, it means that if I am surrounded as a result of ill-fortunates or carelessness, then only I die as a result. With a heavy tank, a successful kill can lead to the deaths of up to six team members. The ribbon here is for scoring seven or more kills with a tank in a round, and now, with ribbons present, there is definitely more incentive for me to try out other play-styles.

  • With my team losing and a terrible driver operating the armoured train, I was on the verge of death here, but managed to get another kill to earn my first-ever ribbon for scoring three or more kills with a behemoth. I typically avoid spawning into the driver seat, since I lack the means to effectively communicate with teammates on where the behemoth should go. Instead, my most effective operation of the armoured train is when I’m given access to a weapon for defending the train from threats. I’ve never used the sixth seat before, but the 20mm auto-cannon wrecks both light vehicles and infantry. There was a landship bombarding us from across the map, and although the 20mm rounds did negligible damage, its firing rate meant I could put enough shells down-range to force it to retreat. Ultimately, an incompetent driver meant the train contributed minimally to the team’s attempt at a comeback, but it was fun to try the 20mm auto-cannon for the first time.

  • I don’t normally run with the scout class, but like every Battlefield before this one, I’ve always taken up the scout class last. Sniping has never really been my speciality in multiplayer shooters, but with some time, it’s a class that I can perform modestly well with. Battlefield 1 has proven especially friendly to new-time snipers: the SMLE Mk.III Marksman variant, the starting sniper rifle, also happens to be one of the best weapons. With a sweet spot spanning 40 to 70 meters, it’s ideal for closer range engagements, although as I learn here with a 158 meter headshot, it’s also effective out to longer ranges.

  • Although dealing little direct damage to vehicles, the main utility of K-bullets is to stop a vehicle from repairing at range, allowing one’s teammates to finish it off. My first ever kill with the K-bullets, however, came on a match of conquest. I was running from capture point echo to foxtrot and noticed a heavy tank nearby, so I hid in some foliage after spotting it. Some teammates began shooting at the tank, dealing some damage, and I fired a few K-bullets at it. What I did not expect was for the tank to explode after I fired my third round. Through all of this, the tank driver never noticed me sitting in the bushes.

  • My team ended up winning this round by quite a margin, and I was surprised at how much fun the scout class can be. While I cannot heal or resupply teammates as a scout, I can use my spotting flares to help friendlies determine where hostile forces are – it’s fun to fire a flare into a capture point, watch as the map lights up with hostiles, and then watch as teammates come in to clear it out.

  • This conquest match of Suez was quite one-sided: my team pushed forward and quickly captured every point except for alpha, pushing the enemy team to one side of the map. They dug in and soon, most of their players had taken up long range weapons, going prone. I managed to go on a kill-streak thanks to these stationary players, racking up a number of sniper kills on these players. On some occasion, the other team would sneak up and take capture point delta, but alert teammates would expediently recapture it.

  • Here, I end up with another scout ribbon after making my fourteenth kill in the conquest match. I ended up placing fifth overall on a team of thirty despite having only a small number of kills relative to those who placed in the top five primarily because of my PTFO styles. All of these points contribute to my scout score, so I’m not bothered as to whether or not they come from kills or team contributions. During the course of this match, I also made rank two for the sniper class, allowing me access to the Gewehr M.95 marksman variant and M1903 marksman, plus new melee weapons that can cut through barbed wire.

  • After a hectic match on Monte Grappa to test out the longer range medic weapons, I ended up on a flank that saw me cut back to capture point echo, where I shot an unsuspecting AA operator in the head. I proceeded to nearly finish capturing echo with some teammates, with the game ending before I could fully capture the point. With the ending of this post and the beginning of spring, we look ahead into the future: upcoming posts will include Sora no Woto‘s finale discussion, plus a talk on Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth to coincide with my setting out for Laval a year ago.

Looking ahead, Battlefield 1 continues to play well, although regenerating grenades has not been welcome, taking away from the traditional Battlefield feel of having a necessity to depend on a good support player. Recent news of the prospect of regenerating consumable gadgets is equally unwelcome: being able to resupply these only with a support player’s assistance contributed greatly to the team component of earlier Battlefield games, and to be able to allow these to regenerate on their own would decrease team play. Hopefully, negative reception from the community will prevent this feature from seeing the light of day. The joy of Battlefield for me is being able to resupply and heal players, so if players have no incentive to seek out a means to replenish their stores of gadgets, then it means the support class would become next to useless. Team play is an integral part of Battlefield, and while I might not be the best shooter or vehicle operator, I do my utmost to help my team out using the means available within the game. This is why a Premium purchase will likely wait until both more DLC is released and to see if DICE is intending on reducing elements that encourage players to work together towards victory — if DICE is responsive to the feedback and continues to deliver DLC that adds variety to Battlefield 1, I could see myself going down the premium route. If that happens, one might also reasonably expect to see a GochiUsa emblem if they fall to me.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands: A Compare and Contrast with The Division Beta

“There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.” —Herman Melville

It should be quite plain that Wildlands and The Division are completely different in terms of their base mechanics; The Division is an MMO-style game where loot and progression dominate gameplay, while Wildlands is intended to be a third person cooperative shooter. However, with a design far more accommodating to folks who prefer to play solo or only with a small group of friends, Wildlands initially does seem more in line with the sort of title that I might be interested in. With this in mind, however, there are some elements that are worth considering now that the Wildlands open beta has concluded: in this post, discussion will center around differences between the two games’ betas (I’ve not purchased The Division since its release). We begin with the elements that Wildlands does better than the Division, and this is the presence of random events that can make a mission unexpectedly challenging or straightforward. During the raid on a training camp, I had successfully eliminated the first of three instructors when the rebels arrived and began lighting up the place, causing Santa Blanca and UNIDAD helicopters to show up, fighting one another. In the ensuing chaos, I entered the camp’s other compound and eliminated the two remaining instructors. Previously, I had attempted an all-stealth approach but was discovered and died even after shooting down the Santa Blanca helicopters. Similarly, some of the convoy missions can become more interesting (and challenging) with the presence of traffic and UNIDAD patrols. Understanding that Wildlands is a tactical shooter, I also enjoyed the gunplay: one well-placed bullet is sufficient to down an unarmoured enemy, and even enemies with body armour do not require more than a few bullets to neutralise. Moreover, Wildlands provides an abundance of choice: after finishing the first mission, players can take on the provinces in any order of their choosing to eliminate a central member of the Santa Blanca cartel, giving a sense of freedom that stands apart compared to the more structured story missions of The Division.

While Wildlands proved to be quite entertaining, there are some aspects of The Division that are superior to those of Wildlands. The first is the user interface: The Division‘s unique, augmented-reality HUD remains one of the most innovative I’ve ever seen, projecting just enough information onto the screen to provide vital information at a glance. Seamlessly integrated into the world, it’s unobtrusive while at once being useful: two features I particularly liked were the pathfinders for highlighting a path to a destination, and the point-cloud renderings for the ECHO mechanic. The interface elements for the menus are also simple to navigate, making use of tiles to quickly show all of one’s items. Besides the amazing user interfaces, The Division also had a more intriguing premise. The fun in blowing up drug cartels notwithstanding, the idea of a bioterrorism act involving banknotes infected with smallpox cripples New York, forcing the activation of the stay-behind unit known as The Division to assist responders and investigate the cause of the disaster. It’s a terrifying thought to imagine such an event occurring, and presents a fantastic immersion into a speculative world where one has the opportunity to explore the deserted streets of New York. The Dark Zone was also an interesting component of the game, adding an additional sense of danger and uncertainty that resulted in some interesting emergent social interactions forming amongst the players. This is noticeably absent in Wildlands, which plays the much more familiar cooperative approach. Ultimately, owing to their differences, both titles do have their own merits, and so, for players like myself, the question ultimately boils down to which game is more single-player friendly.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The routine in Wildlands is a very familiar one: any point of interest is almost certainly to have a group of bad guys, patrolling, and blowing cover will make the battle substantially more difficult. This seems to be the case for stealth-driven games, where players who exercise good patience can get through areas very easily, whereas those who prefer going loud will find things a lot more tricky.

  • After arriving at the enemy encampment, a rainstorm blew in. In Wildlands, clothing can become wet when exposed to the elements and will dry out over time. In most games, dynamic wetness is usually not rendered, so players can walk through a rainstorm or wade through water, coming out as dry as before they went in. Although water-logged clothing will not slow a player’s movements down substantially as one might expect, it’s nonetheless a nice touch to the game.

  • As it turns out, one only really needs a good long-range weapon for a stealthy engagement: I managed to pick off more or less the entire camp with the M40A5 from a distance, before walking in and lighting up the mortar shell crates with my sidearm. As it turns out, my referred loadout (an assault rifle and sniper rifle) is the preferred one for stealth. There’s another that places a greater emphasis on LMGs, SMGs and shotguns, but those likely require a good team in order to be effective.

  • The mission to take out the Santa Blanca training instructors proved to be a difficult one: on my first few attempts, I set off the alarm, causing Santa Blanca helicopters to show up. On these first tries, I located a mini-gun emplacement and blasted them out of the sky, but eventually died when the UNIDAD showed up. On subsequent efforts, I decided to go with the stealth approach once more, disabling alarms, and generally being sneaky to minimise detection.

  • The later attempt proved more successful, and I managed to take out two of the three instructors before I was detected. The helicopters rolled in, as did the UNIDAD, but as these two factions began firing upon one another, I took advantage of the chaos to shoot out the last of the instructors to complete the mission. For amusement’s sake, I then found an armoured personnel carrier, sat myself in the gunner’s seat and decimated the UNIDAD helicopter before taking off for the next mission.

  • One of the more interesting gameplay mechanics that make death seem inconsequential in any Wildlands mission is that a mission will be completed whenever the goals are satisfied, independently of whether or not one makes it out alive. I remember one mission in the Itacua, I entered an encampment, took out the target and died seconds after the mission was completed, and when I respawned, the mission was complete. The implications of this are that it is possible to sneak into a heavily fortified area without dispatching anyone, take out the target or grab the intel, die and still finish the mission.

  • The mission where the goal was to search the communications outpost was an amusing one: I commandeered an APC and used it to clear most of the camp before walking in and taking the objective at a very casual pace. Close inspection of this image finds that I’m equipped with the 805 Bren A2, with a red dot sight and magnifying optics. Wildlands offers a very versatile mechanism that switches the player’s perspective from first to third person when aiming down sights; with automatic weapons, aiming over-the-shoulder is excellent, providing a greater field of vision.

  • Conversely, sniper rifles are best fired from the first person to maximise accuracy. Here, I close in on an aggregation of individuals of interest on a mission. Carelessness with the AI teammates led this mission to fail the first time I tried it, since they opened fire too early and allowed the target to escape, but I figured out that the individual of interest would try to flee in a vehicle and had prepared a pursuit vehicle.

  • I’ve never actually tried to swim across the large lake at the center of the Montuyoc province, but out of curiosity’s sake, I hopped into this smaller pool near the lake to see what would happen. The steam effects suggest that it’s a warmer pool, and some cursory searches find that there are indeed hot springs in Bolivia as a consequence of the tectonic activities that forged the Andes mountains.

  • Extracting the informant was probably one of the trickiest and most tense missions I played through: moving him a “mere” 1.4 kilometers proved to be an unexpected challenge when both the Santa Blanca and UNIDAD forces appeared with helicopters, and I had such an amount of open ground to cover. I made it by hiding behind large boulders and evading the helicopters, which eventually began attacking one another, buying me enough breathing room to reach the extraction site.

  • The last obstacle I encountered was a Santa Blanca patrol, and while some shooting with my side arm rectified that issue, my AI teammates finally caught up and provided enough covering fire, allowing me to complete this last mission. With four of five story missions completed in Montuyoc, I decided to go for some exploration and collect all of the different weapons in this region before continuing on with the final mission.

  • As heavy clouds roll over the region, I close in on the weapon case. By the end of the beta, I found all of the weapons, which include the Shorty 12G, TAR assault rifle, and two more sniper rifles, as well as the different weapons accessories. While the accessories are useful and allow one to fine-tune weapons to fit with their play-style, in general, the muzzle attachments tend to be mixed bags, reducing recoil at the expense of preventing a suppressor from being mounted.

  • The sharp-eyed reader will have noticed that my equipment was a little more diverse during the first of the Wildlands posts that I wrote, but I eventually decided to stick with one set of equipment. The options for customising one’s appearance is varied and can be used to create some interesting-looking characters, but I chose to outfit my character in a versatile manner to explore different settings without looking out of place.

  • Unlike some games out there, which suggest that less clothing confers more armour, Wildlands thankfully sticks to the realism route and ensures that players can only choose from clothing that make sense for special operations. I recall titles such as Vindictus, which I’ve only played briefly, where some of the better armour in the game does not actually involve more armour for defending against attacks, and some challenges require players to complete missions without any armour at all.

  • It’s been quite some time since I played Vindictus — if memory serves, the last time I ran it was back during 2013. Since then, my Steam library’s grown dramatically: prior to the summer of 2013, I had an older computer whose upper limits for gaming included Team Fortress 2 and Portal 2. However, after I built a new computer to replace this older system, I picked up Bad Company 2 and Crysis. From there, the number of games I could run expanded, and I’ve gone through a variety of titles over the past several years.

  • Over half of my Steam library consists of shooters (first person or third person, tactical or run-and-gun). The other games include strategy games like Sim City 4 and DEFCON, as well as some visual novels (including CLANNAD, Go! Go! Nippon! and Sakura Angel) and puzzle games. As is evidenced by this blog, I’m a huge fan of shooters: this is not unique to me, and from what I gather, the innate drive to make decisions that early humans utilised in finding food remain hardwired into our brains. These days, finding food involves sitting at an office and then earning money to hit a grocery store or restaurant, but our biological circuitry remains.

  • This evolutionary rationale would account for why first person shooters are so popular, and contrary to popular belief, they do not cause violence. Instead, I’ve found them remarkably cathartic; studies have found that populations with a proportionally large number of gamers correlated with a reduced number of violent crimes. Back in the Wildlands open beta, I’ve made it to the mine where Carl Bookhart is hiding out. There’s a sniper rifle case in this mine, the MSR, that can be picked up.

  • After reaching Bookhart, I cleared out the room with the AI teammates and shot him in the head with an assault rifle to complete the mission, unlocking the M4A1 tactical, which comes with a foregrip and optics. The illustrious weapons are fun to use, although in the beta, only assault rifles could be unlocked, and I predominantly play with the sniper rifle.

  • Here, I wrap up a side mission involving the delivery of communications parts to rebel forces, giving me a large amount of communications points. Besides communications, medical, fuel and food supplies can also be delivered. In addition, small caches are found throughout each map. Besides the skill points and levels needed to unlock skills, the skills also have a supply requirement — the side missions, although optional, contribute greatly to assisting players in unlocking new skills.

  • With all of the main missions complete, I returned to Itacua to explore and see if I could find a plane to fly, as well as locate the remaining weapon attachments and the one weapon I’d not bothered to find while I was here last while rolling through the story missions. The scenery at this rebel outpost is impressive, and I found myself staring at the water effects.

  • Here, I fire the TAR-21 assault rifle at Santa Blanca forces. A Coyote RDS is visible, and this is also one of the few images I have where I’m actively firing. The TAR-21 is the assault rifle variant of the IWI Tavor, firing 5.56 mm NATO rounds, and while it is absent in Battlefield, its smaller form, the MTAR, can be unlocked as a carbine. It’s a reasonably fun weapon to use in Battlefield, having a high rate of fire that makes it most useful for closer engagements (the recoil on the weapon is quite high).

  • I return to the UNIDAD base armed with the MSR sniper rifle, picking off sentries so that I may sneak into the facility undetected and find the weapon case, as well as the attachment. Similar to the HTI, it initially comes with a five round magazine and packs a bigger punch than the M40A5; it is effective up to 1.5 kilometers in reality.

  • The results of exploration is the unlocking of the 12G Shorty, which is the only shotgun I managed to find during the course of the Wildlands beta: this stockless shotgun is sixteen-point-five inches in length and has a capacity of two shells. Despite packing a wallop in extreme close quarters, its low capacity and short range means that the weapon was highly impractical even in close quarters, where one can run into several opponents.

  • The first time I visited the town in Itacua’s northeastern corner, I ran into a UNIDAD patrol and only just escaped. Here, I’ve commandeered a buggy armed with a minigun from the UNIDAD compound that I was exploring earlier, and if I order an assault, as I did here against Santa Blanca goons, the minigun will tear them up on short order. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any shoulder-fired anti-air or anti-tank options, although in some videos, I’ve seen folks use explosive drones to instantly destroy helicopters.

  • I’ve outfitted my assault rifles with an under-barrel grenade launcher attachment for fun: while going loud is not the smartest thing to do in most missions, with no more story missions left to complete in the beta by this point, I figured it was time to go and mess around with some of the different weapons: this grenade launcher is excellent for taking out crowds and destroying unarmoured vehicles.

  • One aspect of Wildlands that was hilarious was the fact that vehicles could automatically right themselves when flipped over, and when using the motorbike, I could hit objects at obscene speeds, and the bike would merely bounce into the air. I’ve only died once while on a vehicle, and that came from hitting another vehicle head-on in a collision because it was so tricky to steer the bike.

  • After clearing out Santa Blanca patrols, I finally come across the plane and a short landing strip. The mission: steal the plane and its supplies, then land it safely somewhere to deliver said supplies. However, immediately after takeoff, the unusable controls reared their ugly heads, and I crashed immediately, landing on the hillside. As planes require a flat surface to take off from, there was no way I would be completing this mission, so I flattened the plane with a grenade to fail the mission.

  • While I’ve not shown any instances of my usage here in this post, Wildlands does offer a night vision mode by default, excellent for those night missions where spotting enemies can be next to impossible in the darkness. I also unlocked thermal vision in the skill system, but did not play nearly enough to reach rank 14, which would allow me to unlock a special kind of suppressor that allows a weapon to deal full damage even when the suppressor is mounted.

  • After collecting a laser sight for my sidearm here, I decide to take another shot at flying. I was modestly more successful, but was shot down by anti-air missiles. Despite this, I bailed out and survived, but the plane was totalled, failing yet another mission. Side missions will become available again, so there’s no big concern for failing these, but main missions will cause the game to end if failed. Speaking of failures, I note that yesterday was the tenth anniversary to Five Centimetres per Second‘s theatrical première, but even such an occasion apparently does not merit any mention of when Your Name‘s home release will be. Toho has been remarkably secretive about things, and one wonders if it would take a Tom Clancy-style operation just to learn when the BluRay disks hit the market.

  • In the last moments in the Wildlands beta, I travelled to the southwestern corner of Montuyoc, which I’d not explored, and found a desolate, snowy mountainside that provided a beautiful view of the province. Now that both Wildlands posts are done, looking ahead into the future, I will be detailing my initial impressions of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, as well as covering the Yuyushiki and Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days OVAs. I remark that I also picked up Titanfall 2 during the EA Publisher Sale for sixty percent off, which means that I will be experiencing the campaign to this one, as well.

Ultimately, I think that, while I had a bit more fun with The Division‘s beta, Wildlands ended up being a bit more friendly for solo players, with its inclusion of AI teammates and vehicles. However, Wildlands does feel like a game whose value is most apparent when playing with a group of friends: I’m predominantly a solo gamer, and seeing as I never did end up purchasing The Division in spite of how enjoyable the beta was, it’s safe to say that I’m unlikely to purchase Wildlands in the future. Readers may have noticed that for Wildlands, I’ve got a bit more criticisms than I do for other games. This beta also had noticeably more issues than the previous games, ranging from the poor vehicle handling to one instance where I fell through the map. In general, I only purchase games that I am convinced that I will likely enjoy, so the chance that I’ll play through and complete a game I’m not enjoying is very small. With that being said, even if the vehicle controls are rectified by the time Wildlands launches, the game does not appear to be my cup of tea at full price; perhaps a good discount may lead me to change my mind, but with how Steam Sales and Ubisoft titles have worked, I imagine it will be quite some time before a good sale price may be found. In the meantime, it’s time for me to push forwards with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s Remastered edition.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands: A Reflection on the Beta

“These drug cartels represent a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.” —POTUS, Clear and Present Danger

Developed by Ubisoft Paris and announced in 2015 at the E3 event, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is the tenth title in the Ghost Recon series. Set in the near future where the drug cartel Santa Blanca becomes the most dominant narcotic supplier in Bolivia, players will take on the role of a fictional special forces operator inserted into the nation to cripple the drug cartel, whose expanding influence begins to concern the United States government. After entering Bolivia by helicopter, the operator meets up with their CIA contact, Karen Bowman, and is given an assignment once they arrive in the Itacua province: to locate Amaru, an old man who founded the resistance group Kataris 26. Once Amaru is found, players can subsequently take on the Santa Blanca cartel in any order and manner of their choosing. Intelligence is collected to determine which locations of Itacua are worth locating — as more assignments are completed, the local commanders’ locations are revealed. In an intense firefight, both are killed, leaving me to continue the hunt in the neighbouring Montuyoc province. Standing in sharp contrast with Itacua, whose landscapes were dominated by verdant greenery, Montuyoc is an arid desert with only one large lake at its centre. Here, the enemies proved to be much more challenging, requiring more creative means to take out, but in the end, after some nine hours of time in the open beta, I finally reached the abandoned silver mine and neutralised Carl Bookhart, completing all of the eleven story missions available in the Wildands open beta.

I first heard about Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (Wildlands for brevity in the remainder of my post) through one of my favourite YouTubers, TheRadBrad, who played through the first several missions in the Itacua province, acquired the M40A5 sniper rifle and wrapped up his mini-series of the closed beta with the mission where one must steal a sports car to acquire its GPS data from one of the local cartel lieutenants. My adventure continued on from here; I completed some side quests to gain access to support from the rebels and also managed to defeat the two bosses of the province. The beta shows that Wildlands is a beautiful game: the different provinces are fantastic places to explore, filled to the brim with details in the landscape. Dynamic weather adds variety to gameplay, prompting players to change up their tactics. While the Bolivia of Wildlands looks beautiful, the game’s narrative is not quite as captivating as that of The Division: inspired by Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger, where John Clark and Domingo Chavez infiltrate Columbia on a covert operation to destroy a drug cartel, Wildlands‘ storyline is more familiar, more grounded and more derivative. Players do not feel a particular curiosity towards seeing what’s next because it’s a simple matter of killing everyone of note in the cartel. Missions very quickly settle into a formulaic process — I arrive at the location specified in the intel, send my drone up to look around, then blow some bad guys away. If all has gone well, I clear the area out and complete my mission, otherwise, the alarm goes off and things devolve into a firefight I’ll lose, since the control mechanisms in Wildlands are not quite as smooth as they should be. Even then, moving around on foot is acceptable compared to the lack of controls the vehicles offer, and the AI-controlled companions bring to mind the sort of behaviours seen in Halo: Combat Evolved whenever I tried to enter a vehicle. While the controls are tricky to master, Wildlands delivers solid gun play — weapons feel very powerful, and I absolutely enjoyed downing enemies with a well-placed headshot from my suppressed sniper rifle, or firing a quick burst from an assault rifle to dispatch even an heavily-armoured enemy.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Immediately after touching down and sneaking up a mountainous path to locate a cartel lieutenant who has information on where Amaru is, I am greeted with a plethora of vivid colours, from the deep blue sky and the greens of the jungle, to the mahogany of the muddy ground. Colours in Wildlands stand out, and is easily one of the most impressive aspect of the game. The number of vistas in Wildlands means that I could easily make this post with thirty screenshots to showcase some of the different places I visited during my trek through the beta. It doesn’t end here: this post only covers the first half of my journey, and I will be returning in the near future to discuss the second half of my journey, as well as comparing Wildlands with The Division.

  • In combat, players can choose between a traditional first-person view while aiming down sights, or switch back to the over-the-shoulder system seen in some tactical third-person shooters. For weapons with higher magnification optics (anything 4x or higher), this is the better way to play, while for weapons with red dot or iron sights, shooting with the over-the-shoulder camera perspective allows one to retain situational awareness in close quarters engagement.

  • Here, the skies are grey as clouds roll in, but later, the clouds begin dispersing. The sharp contrast between light and dark means that the clouds grow much darker while light floods in, similar to how the play of light results in very dark skies when the sun breaks through the sky in reality. In Wildlands, much of my screenshots will feature weapons equipped with suppressors: intended to be a tactical shooter, enemies will go down in only a few bullets, and while suppressed rounds are much weaker, they allow players to take out enemies without being detected.

  • The driving in Wildlands takes some getting used to: controls are very loose and imprecise, so what one initially intends to be a small adjustment in course will result in a wide, uncontrolled turn that can send the player careening off the road. This lack of control makes driving quite unenjoyable, and is compounded by the fact that the camera swings while reversing to face the back of the vehicle. I have free control of the camera while driving, so I expect to turn the camera myself if I need extra visibility in the back, rather than have the camera do it on my behalf.

  • In a small town in the north-east corner of Itacua, I encounter the UNIDAD for the first time. These private military contractors are a rogue branch of the Bolivian army in Wildlands, are denoted as purple on the map and are much tougher than the Santa Blanca enforcers, wearing heavy armour into combat and bringing superior weapons, as well. On my first encounter, I fought them and managed to elevate my patrol status to two chevrons, only just getting away when they began pursuit. Subsequently, I learned to avoid UNIDAD patrols.

  • Players start Wildlands with the P416 assault rifle (based off the Patriot Ordinance Factory P416), which has reasonable accuracy, firing rate and damage, the Heckler and Koch MP5 and the P45T pistol. All of these weapons can be outfitted with suppressors that lessen their damage but also increases one’s stealthiness. It is generally advisable to keep one’s suppressors on at all times, since enemies do not take more than a handful of hits (if unarmoured) to go down.

  • One of the earlier missions involved activating a radio transmitted and defending it from attacking Santa Blanca forces. By this point in the beta, I’ve unlocked the M40A5 sniper rifle, and despite its lower zoom optic, the weapon proved to be an indispensable asset throughout most of the game, allowing me to silently dispatch enemies without drawing attention to myself. However, there are parts of the game where it’s necessary to go loud, and here, I use a fragmentation grenade to destroy a Santa Blanca vehicle.

  • When I first heard news of the open beta and its start date, I realised that it would conflict with some of my other commitments. In order to maximise the time I could play through the beta and complete the main missions (which is my goal for any beta involving a campaign), I planned things out ahead of time so blog posts were done, and time was blocked out accordingly. By 25 Saturday, I had largely finished the first province and was getting set to visit the second — I was set to meet up with coworkers for a pizza and poker night, so a fine balance and time management allowed me to thoroughly enjoy both.

  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve made a pizza, and so, presented with the ingredients, I added different pepperonis, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatos, jalapeño, and even shrimp to mine, on top of the default cheeses. The end result was a bit messy but turned out delicious: I dumped a generous amount of hot sauce onto my pizza and savoured it. After the pizzas were demolished, the evening turned to poker and chocolate cake: it was my first time playing Texas Hold ‘Em, and the buy-in was 20 dollars. After a few practise hands to warm up, I surprised myself with how quick it was to learn the basics, and so, we set off into the main game.

  • Some two-and-a-half hours later, the last hands were played, and I managed to break even. It’s true that poker is more about psychology than probability, and that one’s current state is by no means indicative of what the end result is: I was quite close to elimination, but two successive wins with a full house and three pairs, respectively, brought me back into the game. Back in Wildlands, I drive a truck while trying to catch up with a convoy carrying supplies. When convoys, choppers or planes are stolen and delivered, they can bring vast quantities of supplies to the rebel forces. The points one gains for doing these activities go towards unlocking skills and equipment.

  • The scenery here reminds me of the scenery I encountered when travelling in Taiwan back during 2014, and a part of me would like to return to the Eastern side of the nation to explore the Huatung Valley, a beautiful region surrounded by mountains on both sides. The majesty of this area brings to mind the sort of emotions evoked by the Titanfall 2 soundtrack, which is absolutely amazing, and at some point this year, I plan on picking up Titanfall 2 if it goes on discount, to play through the campaign.

  • Stealing El Politio’s race car was a particularly fun mission: after sneaking into the garage, I simply took the vehicle and enjoyed its performance en route to the destination.  This is the last mission that TheRadBrad played through, and so, having done both this mission and acquired the M40A5 as my second primary weapon, I’ve now gone through everything that was presented during the closed beta, which ran some three weeks ago.

  • Here, I drive into a village in a mini-bus. While the driving system in Wildlands leaves something to be desired, one feature I did enjoy is that players can command their AI squad mates to begin opening fire on enemy positions, minimising my own exposure to their fire. In this manner, I cleaned up the village on short order and began making my way to the mission objective, to free a prisoner with some intel.

  • Unlike last year, where I was working on a conference publication during The Division‘s beta, there are no academic-related tasks this year to deal with. I’ve mentioned this with some frequency, but every time I think about it, it’s always a bit of a shock to learn just how quickly time flies. It only seems like yesterday that I spent a day at the lab, working on course material before coming home to play through The Division‘s beta.

  • For much of this post, which represents the first half of my experiences within Wildlands, I ran exclusively with the P416, M40A5 and the P45T. I would on some occasions, pick up weapons taken from enemies, which allowed me to fire the M4A1, 805 Bren A2 and the 6P41 (PKP Pecheneg, for us Battlefield fans). On the whole, the other weapons proved to be fun to use, especially considering how they were equipped with the 4x optics, allowing them to be used at greater range.

  • For much of the Wildlands beta, the M40A5 suppressed was probably my favourite weapon for stealth engagements: it packs a good punch, has a good-sized magazine capacity and can be used to pick off enemies at longer ranges in a reliable manner. Here, I storm a UNIDAD facility to interrogate a commander to acquire some intelligence that sets in motion the final main mission in this province. On my first visit, I neglected to explore and did not find the weapon attachment or weapon at this site, so I returned after completing all of the missions.

  • Knowing where the province’s bosses, La Yuri and El Polito, I commandeered a helicopter and flew towards my destination as the skies began to darken. The helicopter is a good way of getting between destinations, but the controls were quite tricky to become accustomed to. However, I eventually got the hang of it and made my way to a farm house on a hill to complete the last of the missions in the Itacua province.

  • Unlike the bosses of The Division, who soak up bullets like a sponge, the bosses of Wildlands go down in a few rounds. The challenge is not gunning down the bosses, but rather, getting to them: the entire room was full of their cronies who filled the air with hot lead, and I was downed once during the fight, forcing one of the AI teammates to revive me. By the time I got back up, the AI teammates already took out one of the bosses, but I swung around and managed to get the kill myself before they could vulture my kill to end this mission and acquire two illustrious AK-47s.

  • I found a helicopter equipped with dual mini-guns and set about picking fights with the Santa Blanca helicopters in the sky, blowing one up here in a spectacular fashion. While fun to fly, aiming the primary weapons on the helicopter proved to be surprisingly tricky, and with the vehicle bobbing this way and that, it proved difficult to point the guns down towards the ground to strafe enemy positions.

  • The dynamic weather patterns in Wildlands meant that I would be able to stop and admire the sunrises and sunsets in between missions. With the major story missions of Itacua complete, I set about visiting the weapon caches to pick up new weapons. The intel to locate these spots were found by exploration, and after looking through the weapons menu, I was disappointed to learn that the Vector .45 ACP would not be available in this province to unlock.

  • While seemingly frivolous, the collectible medals offer enhancements to skills unlocked. Similar to the weapons caches, they can be unlocked by looking through intel scattered around the various settlements, and here, I find a medal near a rebel-controlled farm. More than ever, I am reminded of the mountainous regions of Eastern Taiwan, and I entertain notions of an open world game set in Taiwan during the 1940s under Japanese occupation, where players can play as the Taiwanese resistance.

  • I decided to go reach a spot to hunt down the MG121 before taking on a supply drop mission. Ideal for laying down a large amount of suppressive fire, LMGs also deal excellent damage but have a longer reload time. One of the elements in Wildlands that I initially assumed to be a bug was that picking up weapons from defeated enemies would automatically add them to my collection, and that weapons would persist after I left the game and returned.

  • Here, I fire the MG121 at enemy forces hiding behind a helicopter carrying medical supplies. Missions involving the theft of a helicopter proved to be fun and also the most straightforwards to complete, although there have been cases where one of the enemies will make a beeline for the helicopter and fly off with it: destroying the helicopter will result in the mission failing, although in the beta, the game is forgiving enough to re-issue the mission if it had been failed earlier.

  • With more or less all of the areas explored to a satisfactory extent, the time had come for me to make tracks for the Montuyoc province to continue with my journey. Having played through several time-sensitive games such as Battlefield 4 and Titanfall as a part of Origin’s GameTime programme, as well as several betas, I’ve developed a methodology to enjoy these titles as fully as possible given my limited time in playing them: for multiplayer games, I simply play as often as I can and spread my time out to experience things in the greatest breadth possible, while for games with a set of campaign, I’ll begin by completing story missions first.

  • This town here is located on a snowy cliff-side on the boarder between Itacua and Montuyoc. A far cry from the jungles and greenery of Itacua, I reached this location by means of a motorbike. Unlike World of Warcraft, the different regions smoothly transition into one another: this is stated to be the consequence of gods forging the world, and magical elements contribute to the dramatic change in terrain between the different locations: the Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes are two locations sandwiched between Dun Morogh (a snow-covered land) Elwynn Forest, a temperate, green setting.

  • After clearing out this town, I proceeded by motorcycle to the first of the checkpoints in Montuyoc. One of the fastest vehicles in the game, the motorcycle is also one of the easiest to use for the Montuyoc province, allowing players to cut across the desert plains quickly. There are large boulders strewn here and there, but those can be avoided. The main disadvantage about the motorcycle is that it only seats one. Pickup trucks and mini-buses allow players to bring their mates, but this limitation is only constrained to co-op: the AI teammates seem to be able to spawn on the player’s position after they exit the motorcycle.

  • The large lake at the center of Montuyoc reminds me of Namco Lake in Tibet; this salt lake located in the Tibetian plateau is the largest salt lake in Tibet and counted as one of the most beautiful in China, with deep blue waters beneath treeless mountains covered in snow. The weather up here is harsh and subject to frequent snowstorms, making it difficult for vegetation to take hold, and in Wildlands, one can surmise that conditions are only slightly more hospitable, as grasses can be seen in some parts of Montuyoc. I’d love to visit Namco Lake, although for the present, I’ll enjoy the fact that I got to explore a virtual version of the lake in the Wildlands beta.

  • Upon entering a new province for the first time, the first goal is to hit up locations where the intel is located, and acquire it so that the first set of story missions unlock. At these locations, there will be Santa Blanca cartel enforcers hanging around, and they must be eliminated before anything else can be done. I imagine that the same will hold true for each of the twenty-one provinces in the game.

  • All told, I’ve heard an estimate of around seven to eight hours of total time could be spent in the Wildlands beta to complete the story missions and side missions: this is more or less true, so a bit of computation suggests the final game will take roughly 73.5 to 84 hours to complete in total. Conversely, The Division clocks at at an average of 30-36 hours to complete in full. That’s a vast amount of time to be spending in one game, and to put things in perspective, I’ve got around 63 hours in Receiver, 51 hours in Skyrim, 43 in Valkyria Chronicles and 32 hours in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

  • Here, I overlook a small settlement and the lake at the center of Montuyoc province as the sun sets. Besides playing through the Wildlands beta this weekend, I also picked up Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition for a third off — I discovered the deal while waiting for my appointment at the bank, and despite the overwhelmingly negative reception for the game, I have been looking to buy both games for some time. This is so I could give Infinite Warfare a shot and see if it’s as bad as people make it out to be, and to play through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s Remastered Edition. The latter is associated with my memories of the MCAT exam nearly five years ago, and it will be quite nostalgic to go through Pripyat again with the improved graphics for old times’ sake.

Having played through the game as a solo player, Wildlands beta proved to be reasonably entertaining and also showcased the scale of what Wildlands offers. However, although spectacular in the scale and details of Bolivia, as well providing a fantastic experience with respect to how the different weapons handle and perform, from my experiences with the open beta, Wildlands does not look like a game I would pick up: travelling between the different locations turned out to be a bit of a chore, and missions unwound almost with the same sequence of events each time. The combination of (albeit a very impressive and well thought-out) open world elements with a derivative narrative means that Wildlands ultimately becomes very familiar: Far Cry 4 provides a similar experience in the first person and has different nuances that encourage exploration, while Just Cause 3‘s taste for wanton destruction far outclasses that of Wildlands (it does not seem that one can destroy buildings with missiles, sustained mini-gun fire or cannon rounds). Despite the fun I’ve had in sneaking around enemy positions and a shooting everyone in the head with a suppressed sniper rifle, as well as the joy in watching shifting weather patterns, Wildlands is a game that I do not see myself considering picking up in the foreseeable future: getting around can be a bit of a challenge, and the nature of the narrative raises one additional question: what is left to do in Wildlands once the cartel is completely defeated?

Battlefield 1: Winter Revision, Ribbons and The First Behemoth Kill

“I think there’s a part in each one of us that wants the impossible to happen, and that’s what surprises are.” —Gina Carano

The latest Battlefield 1 revision brings several new things to the game, including the much-welcomed return of ribbons for achieving different goals during the course of a match, weapon mastery codecs that also offer a twenty five thousand experience bonus for reaching five hundred kills with a certain weapon, and increasing the class rank cap from ten to fifty. Under-the-hood adjustments have also been made, altering the way the different weapons handle. The submachine guns and light machine guns now have increased horizontal recoil, while the medic’s self-loading rifles have increased reload delay and slightly reduced recoil to improve their accuracy. Aside from these modifications, multiple bug fixes have also been implemented to improve the game’s stability and performance. In addition, gas grenades have also been downgraded, giving them a reduced time of efficacy. Overall, the most noticeable change is the addition of ribbons, which brings back a portion of Battlefield I was very fond of. The news that ribbons are the first stage in the progression system is most welcome; Battlefield 1 has had a dramatically simplified progression system compared to its predecessors, and as one of the most entertaining aspects was having the things to unlock, so I’m hoping that this will mark the return of different weapon accessories and attachments for obtaining a certain number of kills with a weapon. The modifications to the weapons are minor: post-patch, I’ve been having more trouble with the LMGs, but beyond this, the guns remain very usable. The lessened duration that gas persists after being deployed is also a welcome change: I’m not fond of the extent that gas is used, as it cripples the medic class at close quarters.

One feature that would be a powerful addition in conjunction with the return of weapon accessories would be to modify how spotting presently works in Battlefield 1. While each of the weapons in Battlefield 1 presently come with a set of options that allow for some customisation, it would be nice to be able to unlock barrel modifications and under barrel grips to modify the weapon’s stats in a very minor manner to allow one the choice of fine-tuning their weapon further. The return of different barrel types, suppressors and foregrips would be fantastic; while perhaps unrealistic, it would definitely bring back the level of customisation available in earlier Battlefield titles. In particular, barrel modifications (suppressors, extended barrels, compensators) would allow for the spotting system to be altered. At present, spotting can only be done via hitting the spot button or else using spotting flares; in Battlefield 3 and 4, firing a weapon would put one on the mini-map. Because players are now able to stay hidden for longer, this encourages camping, allowing them to merely wait at a spot and blow away unsuspecting targets. The proposed change would allow players within 10-20 meters of someone who’d fire to hear them, placing them on the minimap for several seconds. This forces players to fire their weapons more tactically, and apply different weapon modifications to accommodate their play styles (e.g. folks who enjoy camping could equip a suppressor that keeps them off the mini-map at the expense of bullet damage and travel speed). For now, however, Battlefield 1 remains remarkably fun, and in this post, I recount some of the misadventures I had following the application of the Winter revision, which, among other things, saw me land the finishing blow to a behemoth for the first time.

Screenshots and Commentary

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  • Today, we’re not here to poke fun at the RNG mechanics of Kantai Collection that cause players to go ARGH: this post is purely about Battlefield 1 and the whacky adventures that I’ve been on since my last post. All of these screenshots were taken over this past weekend, so the moments of me trying out the Gewehr M.95 and the M1097 SL Sweeper have not been included. Here, I’ve returned to my medic tryhard weapon, the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman variant. The map Ballroom Blitz has a great deal of open areas in Conquest, making weapons with a suitable mid-to-long range optic an essential.

  • The ribbons caught me by surprise; when I was playing through this match of conquest, I managed to get ten kills, leading my first-ever ribbon to appear. They’re well-designed and reward consistent play-styles, offering 300 XP when acquired. This means that I’ve now reached rank five for my assault class, and rank four for the medic class. In most conquest matches, I’ll switch frequently between the assault and medic classes; depending on what my team needs, I’ll usually choose a role to revive them or else take out the vehicles impeding our progress.

  • After a traditionally weak start in Battlefield 1, my KD ratio’s leveled out and is holding steady: for the past few weeks, my performance has been sub-par as I focus on playing objectives, but having acclimatised back to the different weapon updates, I’ve stayed positive for most of the rounds. Some of my better matches, I’m finally managing to hold a ratio of two or greater, and when that happens, the text chat usually has players remarking how easily our team is holding against the other team.

  • While only yielding forty-five-point-seven percent of the points I scored last time I shot down a plane with the Mark V Landship’s main cannon, this particular shot remains an impressive one because I manage to shoot down a much more nimble fighter. Intended for anti-air dogfights, fighters are quite weak and compensate with their superior maneuverability. Thus, using the slow-firing 57mm cannon to shoot down a plane counts as a wow moment: I thought it was an attack plane about to strafe capture point alpha and fired, watching the shell arc and graze the plane. A hit marker appeared, and seconds later, the plane exploded.

  • Here, I make use of the anti-tank grenades in their intended role of damaging vehicles and successfully destroyed my first-ever behemoth. Only a small bit of health remained, and the train had stopped. I tossed the granade towards the final seat, thinking to contribute to the armoured train’s destruction, but instead, the train exploded completely, netting me a cool thousand points for my troubles, a new codex entry for my troubles and some remarks in the text chat from teammates thanking everyone for working together to take the behemoth out. I’ve come close previously, using the fortress gun against the Zeppelin on Monte Grappa, but was killed before I could do too much damage.

  • Shotguns have seen a bit of modification throughout Battlefield 1‘s lifespan so far; the game launched with the Model 10-A dominating all of the other shotguns, and the subsequent autumn update gave the M97 Trench Gun and 12G Automatic minor improvements so they would be more competitive, while at once reducing the upper range the Model 10-A could one-shot someone. In this patch, the 12G Automatic has been further upgraded so it has a slightly longer damage drop-off.

  • I’ve gone back to try the Model 10-A Hunter now that I’ve unlocked it, and while perhaps not quite as powerful as it was prior to the patch, the weapon line still stands among one of the most frequently used shotguns in Battlefield 1, with the M97 Trench Gun used with a slightly reduced frequency. Here, I focus on helping my team defend and recapture points to preserve our lead and make certain that my successful behemoth kill was not wasted.

  • Suez, despite the several changes made to the map earlier, still remains horrendously unbalanced in that once the Ottoman team takes a lead, they will likely retain that lead. Here, however, I play on a short TDM round and while my team is devastated, I manage to get a few interesting moments with the Sentry kit and with the Automatico M1918: I’ve not seen a squad saviour ribbon since Battlefield 4.

  • I now run with the AT Rocket Gun primarily as my long range weapon, since most of my weapons as the assault class are not particularly useful at medium to long ranges. Aside from the cool kill I get here on a sniper, I also stop to admire the clouds in the sky: they look photorealistic, far better than the clouds in any Battlefield  game I’ve seen previously, and are dynamic elements, moving through the sky and affecting lighting.

  • In a match of conquest on Giant’s Shadow, I noticed capture point foxtrot was still occupied, but with no one outside and teammates dying, it was probable that the enemy team was camped out in one of the buildings. I tossed an anti-tank grenade into the building, which took out the guy inside. Another fellow running outside to escape the grenade was met with fire from my MP-18 and by this point, I’m finding the MP-18 to be a reasonably effective SMG.

  • On a foggy conquest map at St. Quentin Scar, I drive a light tank over two players taking shots at me, splattering them. I’ve actually spent very little time in vehicles since purchasing Battlefield 1, preferring to act as a gunner for a vehicle already in operation or else going on foot. Incidentally, this morning started out quite foggy, but by the time I arrived with the family for Dim Sum (it’s the Family Day holiday today in my province), the skies had cleared up. It’s been a while since I’ve had Dim Sum, probably in excess of a year: 炸蝦角 (fried shrimp dumplings) were the first to arrive, followed by the customary 蝦餃 (shrimp dumplings) and 燒賣(pork-and-mushroom dumpling). The fare at the restaurant is as good as I remember.

  • With clearer skies, I took a stroll around the core, through Prince’s Island Park (incidentally, the place where I did the simulated date with Nagisa Furukawa) before heading home. Returning to Battlefield 1, here, I destroy an artillery truck that’s been maligning my team with the AT rocket gun. The artillery truck is capable of laying down incredible firepower and is more than capable of defending itself against infantry, being counted as an underappreciated vehicle in the game. With this in mind, I am not fond of players who spawn in an artillery truck and spend entire matches camping out on some far corner of the map going 50 and 1, so it is incredibly satisfying to destroy an artillery truck and deny them of this play-style.

  • I’ve heard that the bayonet charge challenge ends today, and I’ve only gotten two of the six bayonet charge kills required for the dog tag, so I’ll have to wait for another encore event if I’d like another stab at the dog tag. Bayonet charges are a fun element of Battlefield 1, allowing players to charge into any infantry and take them down in one shot, although the use of this feature is balanced out with a cool-down time. The screams and battle cries associated with the bayonet charge is hilarious.

  • This domination match was one of the best games of Battlefield 1 I’ve played since buying the game: the match was up to 150 points rather than the usual 100, and I maintained a 2.1 KD ratio, scoring 7502 points during the match’s run. In conjunction with the bonus, this netted me a total of 12678 points, pushing my assault class closer to unlocking the Hellriegel, and here, I get another shotgun kill to earn a shotgun ribbon.

  • All of the shotguns are equally viable to use now, each having their own advantages and disadvantages. While the M97 Trench Gun seems to have the slight edge in general, I return to the Model 10-A Hunter to tear apart the enemy team. It’s been quite some time since I’ve really had this kind of performance in Battlefield, but now that I’ve become a bit more familiar with the map layout and mechanics in Battlefield 1, I’m slowly beginning to perform more consistently.

  • It is fantastic to see Battlefield 1 reward players for helping their teammates, and here, I get a kill assist ribbon when I fire on a distant opponent, dealing a bit of damage to the target who is subsequently finished off by a teammate. “Assist counts as kill” is also a fantastic and fair way of rewarding players for having done much of the work in shooting at an opponent who is finished off by a teammate.

  • While our team was steam-rolling the other team, near the end of the match, they began playing in a much more coordinated fashion and began mounting a comeback. However, it was too little too late, and we managed to hold onto our lead. At one point, I found myself critically low on health and crawled underneath a train to await regeneration. I saw a sniper peering down at me from the other end, switched out to the AT rocket gun and fired, taking him out, then continued crawling over and killed two more people with the shotgun.

  • After a fantastic match of domination with the shotguns, I swapped over to the Automatico M1918 Trench for a round of TDM, and despite the slow start, I managed to even out my KD ratio and obtained the submachine gun ribbon. The Automatico M1918 is the king of close quarters DPS, balanced out with a small magazine size, and under the foggy cover of St. Quentin Scar, I flanked my opponents and unloaded magazine upon magazine into unaware players.

  • This was actually quite a close game: we only won by a point, and the lead continued shifting throughout the match. I ended up with a KD ratio of 1.81 and 6078 points in a victory. While Battlefield 1 has done a better job of balancing out the classes than Battlefield 1, by now, I’m finding myself gravitating towards the assault class more frequently owing to how this class seems to have the best time-to-kill out of any of the other classes.

  • With the fog lifted, I enter the streets of St. Quentin Scar and find myself impressed yet again at just how strongly it reminds me of Strike WitchesBattlefield 1 is the closest we have to Strike Witches in the Frostbite Engine, and will continue to hold this position until DICE announces their next major project. A full-fledged World War Two shooter will allow me to replicate the Witches’ loadouts more faithfully, but for the time being, one setup that I will be trying soon is the Charlotte Yeager loadout — BAR Storm, M1911, repair tool (she loves tinkering with her Striker Unit to boost its speed) and limpet charges to stand in for the 500 pound bomb she used in the Operation Victory Arrow OVA.

The increased level cap and presence of weapon masteries now means that there’s plenty of things to do in Battlefield 1 in order to unlock everything conceivable, and with the DLC “They Shall Not Pass” coming out in March, I’m curious to see what the new maps, weapons and vehicles are like. If this DLC, and the upcoming Russian one offer exciting new maps, I will likely pick up the Battlefield 1 Premium upgrade: it’s rather pricey now owing to the fact that Battlefield 1 is a relatively new game, but if the new maps are well-built and offer atmospherics unparalleled (in other words, maps that remind me of the Strike Witches and/or Brave Witches), then I will pick up the Premium upgrade during a sale either during the Easter holiday or Black Friday. Despite all of the complaints levelled at Battlefield 1 and remarks that the decreasing player-base is a sign that the game is “dying”, I’ve continued to have fun in an environment quite different than that offered by Battlefield 4, and for the present, there’s still my journey to the Hellriegel, which I’m halfway towards unlocking, and the Kolibri, which I need to put a greater amount of effort towards so that I may replicate Hikari’s kill on the Neuroi hive in Brave Witches’ finale.

Battlefield 1: Kantai Collection in the Frostbite Engine and reaching the rank three weapons for three classes

“And that’s not the worse of it. I’ve experience [sic] THREE complete runs where Hime was the only one left, star shells and spotlight trigger and… yet no [sic] one crits or cut-ins. I’m angry, and I had to walk away for a bit. I was that mad.” —On the Kantai Collection Fall 2016 Event

A sniper’s round sends me back to the spawn screen as the English-accented announcer informs me that a friendly behemoth is en route. Moments later, I am sitting behind the guns of a dreadnought modelled after the HMS Iron Duke-class, laying down heavy fire against ground targets using the BL 13.5-inch Mk V cannons. Enemy armour and positions are smashed, but their coordination remains solid, and soon, the match ends in defeat, but not before I use the behemoths manage to turn my own KD ratio around from negative to positive. In a later match at Amiens, my team finds itself outmatched. A train spawns in, and the coordination amongst the operators manage to turn the entire game around. Far more than Battlefield 4‘s Levolution mechanic, Battlefield 1‘s behemoths add a new variety to gameplay, giving members of losing teams the incentive to stick around and hold out for the behemoth: when properly utilised, these vehicles can help the losing team mount a comeback. By this point in time, I’ve sunk around twenty-one hours into Battlefield 1 and have greatly enjoyed using the behemoth, having had the opportunity to operate all three now. I’ve also reached rank three for the assault, medic and support class, allowing me access to all of their weapons (save the level ten ones) in this time — curiously enough, the support class has taken off as my most used class, followed closely by the assault class. In addition, I’ve also managed to unlock rank one for the scout class as I slowly acclimatise to the bolt action rifles: as it turns out, the SMLE MKIII Marksman is the best rifle for my style of gameplay, so the weapon I most need also happens to be the one I start out with.

The ability to drive and man the guns of a dreadnought brings to mind something prima facie unrelated to Battlefield 1: naval vessels with large-calibre weapons bring to mind the warships of Hai-Furi and Kantai Collection. World War Two-era naval topics are of interest in Japan, and from what I know, Kantai Collection is a wildly popular Flash-based RPG-style card game where players engage in battles to gain experience points for improving their fleets. I’ve heard that its popularity is attributed to the combination of moé elements with a cast of all-star voice actors, but from what the folks who’ve played it have said, the game requires that players divert an inordinate amount of effort in order to complete some of the seasonal events: some recollections on how tough some events are serve as an indicator that this game is perhaps not my cup of tea. One might ask how this is relevant to Battlefield 1, and the answer is simple: there is quite a grind to reach rank ten even when optimising one’s PTFO strategies and participation solely in Operations or Conquest matches. A bit of extrapolation finds that, if it takes an average of twenty one hours to rank up ten times (three for each of the assault, medic and support class, plus one for the scout), it will take a total of eighty-four hours to reach rank ten for each class. When one considers I’ve only spent seventy-seven hours in the Battlefield 4 multiplayer, this means that there is a long journey ahead. So, what sets the Battlefield 1 journey apart from the seasonal rage-inducing events of Kantai Collection? Battlefield moments are the answer — the game continues to be full of surprises stretching across the amusing and epic spectrum of things, ranging from the spectacle afforded by watching a Behemoth explode, to something as simple as poking an unsuspecting an enemy mortar operator to death with the standard knife.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This post features forty screenshots, double that of an ordinary post, because I’ve experienced so much crazy stuff in the past month, and because requests for the Tawawa on Monday OVA post motivated this one to be pushed back. So, this post might be considered as a double-feature. The first time I spawned into a dreadnought was in a conquest match on Fao Fortress, I somehow wound up in the driver’s seat and could only manoeuvre the vessel slightly. It certainly wasn’t enough to turn the tide of the battle and led to the vessel being destroyed, but I did have fun firing the main batteries at land-based targets.

  • Being a novice at driving the dreadnought, the behemoth’s contributions to my team’s attempt at a comeback were minimal. World of Warships has nothing on Battlefield 1 as far as fun factor goes, and it is for this reason that I never did get into World of Tanks: I’ve found that Battlefield games are generally more approachable than any of Wargaming.net’s titles. With this in mind, AnimeSuki’s Mädchen und Panzer appears to be derelict now that Daigensui has been banned, which means that my wish to test my mettle against Girls und Panzer‘s finest will probably not be realised. I’m totally okay with this, since time is precious.

  • A ways later, on the Empire’s Edge map, I decided that, in the interest of keeping the behemoth alive longer by letting a more experienced operator helm it, I spawned in and immediately switched into the gunner’s seat, simultaneously fulfilling the roles played by Hai-Furi‘s Shima Tateishi, Hikari Ogasawara, Michiru Takeda and Junko Heki. Over the course of the behemoth’s lifespan, I managed to take out some infantry, destroyed several vehicles and cleared several objectives.

  • It is quite fitting that I reached rank three for the medic class while reviving a teammate. Reaching rank two gave me access to the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman: while I’ve also unlocked the Mondragon Sniper and purchased the M1907 SL Sweeper, as well as the Autoloading 8 .25 Extended, to fulfill roles at extremities, the Selbstlader is an excellent all-around weapon I am continuing to field to this day, although the Autoloading 8 .25 Extended proved to be quite entertaining to use.

  • The MG15 is the closest Battlefield 1 has to a proper belt-fed light machine gun. In its Storm configuration, it is an excellent weapon for closer range engagements; in one chaotic firefight, I somehow managed to remain alive despite being surrounded by five players, and it was only the MG15’s magazine size that kept it this way. The Supression version has optics and a 200-round magazine, making it more suited as a longer range weapon for defending a position.

  • This is probably my Greatest Grenade™ Of All Time: during a conquest match on Argonne Fortress, some squadmates and I were trying to capture objective Alpha, and I noticed some folks running around outside, so I threw out a grenade. Seconds later, the grenade exploded, killing not one, not two, but three enemies to score me a triple kill. The next goal: go for a killtacular.

  • Capturing an objective in conjunction with completing an attack order, while healing up teammates, managed to net me a cool two thousand points. Immediately after this capture was completed, I hopped off the bridge, grabbed the flame trooper kit and torched five enemy players before someone knifed me. By this point in the game, players have figured out how to quickly take down the elite classes, so while they are an intimidating presence on the battlefield, they certainly aren’t invincible (and therefore, not overpowered).

  • The MP18 is my most-used weapon at present: despite not having the same damage-per-second as the Automatico M1918, it is a balanced weapon that has slightly longer usefulness over range. Here, I unlock my first service star of the game with it, and note that the Model 10-A is following closely behind.

  • In another match of conquest, I managed to spawn into the anti-air seat of the armoured train and managed to shoot down some aircraft, as well as take out a few ground targets. While not sufficient to help my team mount a comeback, I did manage to get enough kills to balance out my own stats: on tougher matches where enemy players have superior coordination, I die quite frequently, but usually take one or two out with me.

  • While my team would go on to lose this particular match, here, I got one of the coolest kills with the Madsen MG that might even surpass shooting down a bomber with the tank cannon: here, I shoot a pilot out of a bomber with the LMG, which somehow caused the bomber to explode, too. One of the best features in Battlefield 1 is that small arms can deal damage to aircraft: no longer am I forced to rely on Stinger or Igla missiles to do that job, when LMG fire can harm or outright destroy air vehicles owing to their light wooden construction.

  • The support class was the second of my classes to reach rank three, and with rank three comes the unlocking of the BAR Storm. I’ve found that on some maps, I’ll have consistently good performance, while on others, I’ll be terrible in the KD department: I generally do quite poorly on Fao Fortress and Sinai Desert, but on Monte Grappa, St. Quentin Scar and Amiens, I manage to perform okay. With this being said, my score per minute, kills per minute and contributions to the team score has been much higher in Battlefield 1 than it has been in Battlefield 4, even if I do feel my performance in the latter is better than the former.

  • Sometimes, a quick response to an opportunity yields a cool moment worthy of a screenshot, and here, I use the AT Rocket Gun for its intended purpose of demolishing a boat on Fao Fortress. One had landed itself close to capture point Foxtrot, and its users were preparing to disembark when I noticed them and put one round into the boat, which exploded to land me a double kill and rank up.

  • For the first post since I actually bought Battlefield 1, I’ve run with the scout class for a full round and managed to score ten thousand points by playing the objectives. I’ve experienced difficulty in adjusting to the sniping in this game, but the starting bolt-action rifle for the scout class, the SMLE MKIII Marksman, is actually the perfect weapon for the aggressive mid-range scout: its sweet spot is between 40 and 75 meters, which is what ideal for my style of trying to be close to capture points. Here, the “enemy hit” metric shows that I’ve gotten a kill off at the sweet spot, dropping the other player from full health to zero with a single shot.

  • The marksman variants of the bolt action rifles have one additional advantage over the sniper variants for medium range combat: while their optics are bulkier and more obtrusive, they do not give off scope glint and allow a scout to be more stealthy. Maps like Fao Fortress and Ballroom Blitz are perfect places to snipe, while at once offering (mostly) enough cover for me to hide around and capture points.

  • Shortly after taking objective Alpha on Ballroom Blitz in one match, I unlocked the first rank to the scout class, which unlocks the Gewehr 95 Infantry and M1903 Experimental. While some folks may use the scout class to achieve insane long distance kills, the most widely-accepted way to use the scout is in a more aggressive role to spot enemies and actively being near capture points. To this end, it appears that the Gewehr 95, with its straight-pull bolt, is probably the best for the style of play; while lacking a sweet spot, it has the fastest firing rate of any bolt-action rifle.

  • As I can get an average of ten thousand points on most matches where I play the objectives, and the scout class only requiring thirty thousand points per rank, I might be able to punch through to level ten and unlock the Kolibri on short order before the next big Origin Black Friday sale. So, my next weapon purchase in Battlefield 1 will be the Gewehr 95 (I’m hesitant about the M1903 Experimental because it is a five-shot kill at close ranges and that using it for an extended period of time can actually cause real-world wrist damage).

  • This capture on Monte Grappa comes after a particularly nasty triple kill with the Automatico M1918: three guys from the other team had managed to sneak in around one of the side rooms, and I managed to shoot all three down using the Automatico, before rushing back in the main tunnel to rejoin teammates in capturing the point, which happened to be an attack order. As of right now, Conquest is my favourite game mode in Battlefield 1, and as I score quite well most matches, I’m actually levelling up faster than I did in Battlefield4, where I predominantly played TDM until recently.

  • Here, I use the fortress guns on Monte Grappa the way they were meant to be used: the enemy team was aggressively pushing over the hill to capture Delta objective and were coming up over the ridge. It’s actually fairly amusing that a direct hit with the fortress gun can occasionally deal 80 damage, even though they are firing naval-calibre shells, but here, I manage a double kill on some folks who’ve come too close to the weapon.

  • The enemy team must’ve realised that objective Delta was putting up a much greater defense and sent a Mark V up to try and even things out, but the driver seemed a little slow: I destroyed the tank shortly after, and brought my score up to 11-1. After that, I left the stationary emplacement to play the objectives and ended up with a fabulous match.

  • Although this post does not feature the M97 Trench Gun, I’ve actually been enjoying its use quite a bit since I unlocked it. Since the December patch, the M97 line of shotguns fire one more pellet than they did previously, and the Sweeper variant has been boosted slightly. It’s actually quite effective, having a higher firing rate than the Model 10-A, and I went for a spectacular run in a match of domination at St. Quentin’s Scar.

  • The Domination game mode combines elements of conquest with TDM, being a close-quarters frenzy where shotguns can be quite effective. However, depending on the teams, these matches can also be quite short: I’ve had a situation where the final score was 100-14 or similar because the other team was being outplayed at the objectives. Despite winning and having a positive KD ratio, I scored quite poorly since I was only defending capture points and getting kills, as opposed to capturing objectives.

  • I was curious about the War Pigeons mode, and while an interesting game type, resembling Halo‘s Oddball, it doesn’t quite have the large scale appeal that is available in Conquest or operations. Here,  I shoot out another player while trying to write a message; I’ve lost every match of War Pigeons I’ve played, but the game mode does seem quite fun to test out weapons, as other players are occupied with the pigeons.

  • This was a fun airburst mortar kill against a sentry camping out in one of the towers: the airburst mortar is an excellent indirect firing solution for lobbing explosives into enemy positions, and I’ve made use of it to clear capture points when the minimap is swarming with red indicators indicating the presence of other players. Like the mortars of Battlefield 3 and 4, the mortar in Battlefield 1 leaves players exposed to sniper fire, or as a fellow will find later in this post, melee attacks.

  • While fighting a losing match on Giant’s Shadow, I spawned into a Mark V tank and assisted with the capture of a point to reach rank three for the assault class, giving me access to the Model 10-A Hunter and Automatico M1918 Storm, as well as the 12G extended. Save the scout class, by this point, I’ve unlocked virtually all of the weapons for purchase, so it’s on to the elite rank ten weapons. I’ve heard that the Hellriegel and Martini-Henry are the weapons worth the progression for: the medic and support rank ten primary weapons are outclassed by the others.

  • I look forwards to the day when I unlock the Kolibri and can humiliate camping snipers the same way Hikari humiliates the Gregori Hive in Brave Witches‘ finale. Here, I get a kill with the M1911 under a panorama that captures the main attraction of Giant’s Shadow: while most of the map is plains and open ground, there are villages close to the deployments for either team. Sniping here is a viable option, although a longer range rifle, like the Gewehr 98, is more suited than the SMLE MKIII.

  • I was curious to give the 57 mm cannon a try when the behemoth spawned in, and while powerful, by this point in the game, players were cautious about trying to attack the train using the tanks. I managed to damage a few tanks, but they retreated before I could get any kills on them. The match ended when the driver moved the train to capture point Alpha, and I left the train seconds before it exploded from sustained enemy fire.

  • I’ve been reading about how the upcoming DLC for Battlefield 1 will add the French faction and offer four new French maps, which is enticing: my favourite maps in Battlefield 1 are those set on the Western Front. There might also be a Russian-themed DLC later in the future, so for now, my plan is to wait for more DLC to release before I decide whether or not I’m interested in going Premium for Battlefield 1: my criterion are the same as that of Battlefield 3, where I decided to make the jump after learning that I did enjoy the game quite a bit, enough to want the extra features.

  • The main reason why I never ended up with premium for Battlefield 4 was because the Road to Battlefield event gave away all five DLC packages for Battlefield 4 to owners of the game for free. Having complimentary access to all of the maps, weapons and assignments was a pleasant surprise, and while I cannot build emblems to feature Miporin or Chino’s faces to make salty my opponents (I run with the simplified Ooarai or Pure Pwnage emblem), the free DLC gives me virtually unlimited options to enjoy Battlefield 4.

  • As seen in the previous posts, this past weekend was the Chinese New Year. On Friday, I went out with the company for wings and ginger ale: we’ve been working hard on our apps and have pushed most of them into TestFlight status for pre-release testing over the past month, so this outing wa sa chance to relax. Besides sweet, hot and fried wings, potato skins and fried calamari was also on the menu. This event coincided with Chinese New Year’s Eve, although I had the presence of mind to not eat too much: owing to busy schedules, we had a simpler dinner on Friday to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve.

  • The player here learns the hard way about tunnel vision whilst operating the airburst mortar: I found a guy using the mortar and poked him with the knife. There was no take down animation, so I attempted again. It took three strikes to neutralise him, and curiously enough, he never flinched once, taking all three hits until he was sent back to the deployment screen. The moral of this is, if one starts taking damage while using a mortar, it’d be smart to leave the mortar and figure out what’s going on, rather than remain oblivious and allowing oneself to be poked to death. Normally, I leave my mortar immediately when I take any damage to seek cover and figure out where the fire is coming from.

  • With the highest rate of fire of any of the shotguns, the 12G Automatic is actually quite fun to use at extreme close quarters. While the adjustments to the shotguns’ performance since the patch have lessened their efficacy at long range, I run these weapons for close quarters encounters, where spread and damage drop-off are a lesser concern: the weapon becomes very inconsistent past ten meters and I’ve died because what might’ve been a one shot kill didn’t land fully, leaving the opponent with enough time to melt my face before I could get another shot off.

  • The BAR Storm is worthy of its praise: with a high rate of fire and manageable recoil balanced out by low magazine capacity and longer reload, the weapon handles like an assault rifle and is excellent for aggressive support play-styles. In the short time I’ve unlocked it, I’ve gotten forty kills with it: on a kills-per-minute used basis, the BAR Storm is more effective than the Madsen MG Storm. I run with anti-air sights on all of my LMGs since they offer a better sight picture than the standard iron sights.

  • In a match where we were winning, an enemy behemoth was deployed, and since I had access to a fortress gun, I was finally able to see for myself just how effective these weapons were against behemoths. While they are severely limited by their elevation angle, the fortress gun deals massive damage against the behemoth. In this screenshot, all of the damage done was from the fortress gun alone, and I manage to destroy a gondola. The shells have substantial drop, but if one adjusts their aim accordingly and aim for the L30 Zeppelin’s main body, large chunks of health can be taken out. I was hoping to destroy my first behemoth, but someone on the other team ended that wish with a grenade.

  • Here, I watch the flaming wreckage of the behemoth crash near capture point Alpha. By this point in the game, my team has very nearly won, so I was content to stop for a moment and watch the spectacle. On Saturday was Chinese New Year proper: I celebrated with the family, and went out for a prime rib buffet at the Elbow River Casino. Besides the prime rib au jus and snow crab leg, I also had sweet and sour pork, breaded shrimps, spring rolls, roast potatoes, spiced sausage, Salisbury steak and halibut. Thanks to having lifted earlier in the day, I was able to try everything out, closing the evening off with mixed fruits and a slice of chocolate cheesecake.

  • Back in Battlefield 1, I light up some bad guys on capture point Foxtrot with the BAR Storm. While this was a match we would lose, I had played earlier in the day a round of conquest on Suez where I joined the losing team, but somehow, application of the armoured train and a huge push from my team, plus some cheeky kills from Yours Truly here and there meant we staged a remarkable comeback.

  • While being rewarded with big points for landing an objective is always satisfying, a part of me misses the old ribbon and medal system of earlier Battlefield games. Simple in concept and allowing players to be rewarded for playing their preferred way, Battlefield 3 and 4‘s ribbon systems enabled players to work on all ribbons, all the time. In Battlefield 1, particular actions only count when a medal is active, and because of how infrequently I play (i.e. only on weekends), I never get around to finishing all of the assigned tasks to unlock the medal.

  • Losing a game in Battlefield 1 isn’t so bad: if I personally was playing the objective and accumulated a good number of points, I know those points will go towards my journey of unlocking the Kolibri and Hellriegel. Winning a match offers bouns points to sweeten things further: it’s a far cry from what I’ve heard about Kantai Collection, which can be quite unforgiving. I understand people’s desire to unlock a kan-musume of their liking (it’s like working towards a gun in Battlefield), as well as their frustrations about the game’s random number system causing them to lose what might have otherwise been a winnable game.

  • Here, I rank up yet again from playing objectives to earn more money for purchasing more weapons. The whole problem surrounding battlepacks in Battlefield 1 is directly reminiscent of the random number generators in Kantai Collection, and it is for this reason I express a general disinterest in battlepacks. While I will open any I unlock, I treat it as simple fun that is quite unrelated to the actual game itself. With this in mind, I can imagine that it is frustrating to get duplicate weapon skins for those who drop real-world currency into battlepacks, but I’m ignorant as to why people would get so worked up over what amounts to a free-to-play Flash game.

  • Here is another game where I joined in to a losing team, but managed to contribute to a win by helping out with the objectives. Skill-based games tend to be a lot more fun that those dependent on a random number — even supposing that Kantai Collection became an accessible game that has a standalone installer, run locally as an application rather than through Flash in a browser, and was given full English support for menu items, UI and subtitles, I am unlikely to pick it up unless there is a much larger skill component (i.e. “I should be able to unlock the things I want through my own improvement in the game, rather than through luck alone”).

  • My team is on the edge of a victory as I somehow kill a flame trooper with the BAR Storm. While there have been some irritating moments in Battlefield 1, on the whole, I’m having fun, much more fun than the individual quoted above. To take a leaf from Matimi0’s book, it’s not healthy to play a video game and leave in such a state — I generally avoid games of this type, since my objective is merely is play things for fun, although the individual I’m quoting might not be so willing to consider suggestions (least of all from me, thanks to our history). That’s perfectly fine; all I care for is having a ball of a time en route to the Hellriegel and Kolibri 🙂

Owing to the relative difficulty of its setup (I’m not jumping through a million hurdles to hook up a VPN, grab an API endpoint and play the lottery system with the hopes of getting an account, compared with Battlefield 1‘s “buy and launch”), I do not foresee myself playing Kantai Collection anywhere in the future. However, if Kantai Collection were to be adapted into the Frostbite Engine as a skill-based game, complete with kan-musume and their associated effects, I might double back and reconsider: the dreadnought in Battlefield 1 alone was very fun to man, making full use of the engine to bring the world of Kantai Collection (or Hai-Furi) to life would be quite interesting to behold. With that being said, I imagine it will be very unlikely that such an endeavour would occur, so for the present, I’ll focus on Battlefield 1. Having reached rank three for each of the classes, I’ll probably put a bit more focus towards the scout class with the goal of unlocking the Martini-Henry and Kolibri someday in the future. In addition, the Hellriegel submachine gun is also a potent rank ten weapon for the assault class, and I’m itching to try it. There’s no random number generator determining whether or not I’ll unlock these weapons, and thus far, no match in Battlefield 1 has made me feel quite the same way that Kantai Collection can make some of its players feel. With a ways to go yet, it’s going to be an interesting journey, although one whose outcome will be attributed to my own skill and time commitment, rather than anything to deal with whether or not whatever Kantai Collection‘s equivalent of System.Random.Next() method is working as it should.