The Infinite Zenith

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II – Reflections on Quad Feeds and the John Wick: Chapter 4 Loadout

“What can a first impression tell us about anyone? Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli.” –Amor Towles

For the longest time, my impressions of Call of Duty‘s multiplayer were predominantly negative – it was a space dominated by “squeakers” (people who are, strictly speaking, too young to be playing M-rated games) and players who believed that landing 360º no-scope shots were the height of excellence. Coupled with an aging game engine, what I felt to be a lengthy progression system that demanded commitment, and close-quarters maps that bred chaos, Call of Duty‘s multiplayer did not appear to appeal to me: I had cut my teeth with the modern military shooter in Battlefield and much preferred the slower, methodical gameplay that accompanied the large-scale modes like conquest. However, these impressions were based off the aging Call of Duty titles of the late 2000s and early 2010s, a time when the Call of Duty franchise were on the backfoot. With the release of 2019’s Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward had turned things around and produced a title that was engaging, immersive and modern. By Modern Warfare II, it’s quickly become clear that my thoughts on Call of Duty‘s default multiplayer modes were off by a wide margin, and in the present, I find myself playing Modern Warfare II more frequently than I do Battlefield. The primary reasoning for this is simple. Battlefield‘s large-scale experiences require a fair block of time to properly play; on average, a match of conquest lasts around half an hour. On the other hand, a round on Shipment will run for no more than ten minutes. The shorter intervals are hugely important to folks who do not have a great deal of time on their hands – ten minute rounds mean on days where time is short, I am able to hop into a match, level up some weapons, and leave with a feeling of progress before turning my attention to other tasks. If time is something I do have more of, I can join a game of invasion and sate a desire to snipe with the game’s long-range weapons. By exploring more of Modern Warfare II‘s traditional multiplayer modes, my perspective of the Call of Duty multiplayer environment have improved considerably; games are now enjoyable to play, win or lose, and one is assured of a solid experience if they turn their global voice chat off. In this way, I’ve now sunk about 98 hours of time in Modern Warfare II and have reached Prestige 4. As a result, I’ve unlocked all of the gear, most of the game’s weapons and a sizeable collection of attachments, enough for me to begin exploring the depths of Modern Warfare II‘s gunsmith system, but at the same time, when the first season of content ended, my interest in Modern Warfare II slowly began waning. Of late, however, circumstances have motivated me to return to the multiplayer.

After watching John Wick: Chapter 4 in the theatres during the first weekend of this month, I was highly impressed by the exceptional cinematography during the sequence where Wick picks up a Genesis Arms Gen-12 semi-automatic shotgun loaded with the incendiary “Dragon’s Breath” rounds. What follows is one of the most gorgeous moments in recent film history, in which the camera takes up an overhead position and pans over the carnage as Wick single-handedly destroys an entire group of foes on his own. A thought occurred to me: Modern Warfare II‘s gunsmith system is among the most sophisticated in first-person shooters out there, and I recall seeing that shotguns did, in fact, have access to the Dragon’s Breath ammunition. However, up until now, I’d never really run with shotguns before, and in order to unlock the Dragon’s Breath rounds, I needed to get the Expedite 12 shotgun up to level 28. Fortunately, Modern Warfare II‘s “Shipment 24/7” mode is still on rotation: this close-quarters map was tailor-made for shotguns, and in the space of a few weeks, I fully finished levelling the Expedite 12 and next turned my attention towards unlocking the KV Broadside, a semi-automatic shotgun that is based off the Vepr-12 shotgun (a shotgun built around the RPK receiver). With this, and Modern Warfare II‘s extensive gunsmith system, I was soon able to build my own makeshift Genesis Arms Gen-12. T fact that Modern Warfare II provides enough flexibility for me to customise a firearm to match a weapon seen from a film was immensely enjoyable, and in my case, I found that the iconic shotgun from John Wick: Chapter 4 could be produced by modifying the KV Broadside with the XTen modified choke, Velocious 40 barrel, SZ Lonewolf optic, FT TAC-Elite stock and of course, the 12-Gauge Dragon’s Breath ammunition. Taking this shotgun into combat, I found an immensely amusing (if somewhat inconsistent weapon) that proved exceptionally fun to use. The gunsmith is where Modern Warfare II really excels, and the versatility allows one to create some highly unique weapons. With the right attachments, one could turn a light machine gun into an assault rifle, or a submachine gun into a battle rifle. While these options may not always be optimal or viable, it can make some assignments easier to complete. In this way, Modern Warfare II‘s gunsmith system is something that makes the game especially standout.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • For me, Invasion quickly became my favourite mode of Modern Warfare because it offered a sandbox-like environment for larger scale combat, where human and computer foes and allies could duke it out in a space where the stakes aren’t terribly high, and where players can rejoin the fray if they’re taken out. This makes the mode a great place to pick up a sniper rifle and get comfortable with its mechanics. Warzone 2 and DMZ provide an even larger scale experience, but the modes are more unforgiving, and correspondingly, quite unfriendly for most solo players.

  • During one match of Invasion, I managed to go on a 14-streak, which is my current personal best. I still remember that particular match – I had joined to have fun and hadn’t been focusing on anything in particular. In that same match, I walked away with 41 kills and 4 deaths, for a KDR of 10.25. I jokingly thought to myself that the skill-based match-making (SBMM) system would punish me harshly for this accomplishment, but at the same time, it did show that I was able to do well enough to enjoy Modern Warfare II. Early on, I focused on levelling the marksman rifles and sniper rifles – Invasion is the perfect place to use the longer-range options, and sniping a foe from a distance is immensely satisfying.

  • Here, I managed to land a kill at 206 meters with the Victus XMR, which had been a sniper rifle that unlocked as a part of the first season’s worth of content, and even two seasons later, the weapon is still competitive. Generally speaking, I configure my sniper and marksman rifles for improved accuracy and damage at range, as well as bullet velocity where applicable: the idea of a sniper rifle being a mid-range weapon with good ADS speed and quick rechambering is quite unnecessary, as one can bring the “Overkill” perk with them and equip a good secondary for close range engagements.

  • For a while, I also focused on levelling the Signal 50 up. The Signal 50 has a slightly faster firing rate compared to the Victus XMR at the expense of damage per shot, and players will generally find that whereas the Victus XMR excels against human opponents, situations where there are a lot of AI opponents make the Signal 50 a better choice. The Signal 50 is something I find useful as a makeshift measure for quickly dealing with killstreak vehicles – an enemy helicopter can be shot down relatively quickly if one’s got the armour-piercing rounds for the Signal 50, since the high rate of fire allows one to deal damage quickly.

  • Earlier this month, Modern Warfare II put on a special event where players could unlock trophies by playing the game, and then trophies could be redeemed for various rewards. Although I had originally intended to sit things out, intrigue about the “Venom Strike” M13B and “Nightsting” TAQ-V blueprints led me to try and see if I could unlock them before the event ended. In the end, I managed to get both of the blueprints, plus some weapon charms and calling cards. Playing this mode is actually what ended up getting me back into Modern Warfare II, and inspired me to unlock enough of the weapons so that I could re-create the John Wick: Chapter 4 Dragon’s Breath shootout.

  • The first time I got a covetted “quad feed” was actually during the Modern Warfare II beta, where a lucky break meant I was able to fill the kill feed with four consecutive kills without said kills being interrupted. I’ve heard that this is “an accomplishment to be proud of”, since getting four kills in rapid succession is a difficult ask as a result of the TTK in Modern Warfare II. In the retail game, my first quad feed came in a match of invasion when I used a stealth bomber (picked up from a supply drop) to rain explosives down a path, eliminating eight players in a single stroke. The first time I achieved this, I was also trying to pick up a supply drop, but luckily, I did manage to get another one to show that yes, I’ve achieved this feat at least once. In this post, I show off a few more quad feeds, accomplished using various means like the SAE air strike and cruise missiles.

  • With the new seasons, I think a few more Invasion maps were added to the rotation, increasing the variety that Modern Warfare II provides to players. Most of the YouTubers I’ve subscribed to play DMZ exclusively, citing the excitement of fighting hordes of AI bots and human players alike to pull out contraband weapons as being the premiere draw of the mode. On the other hand, Warzone 2 has been stated to be a bit of a disappointment for most because of noticeable bugs and a lack of incentive to continue playing on top of the Battle Royale mode becoming a monotonous one. On the other hand, DMZ has become the new mode of interest because it strikes a balance between PvE and PvP, provides a consistent stream of content to engage players. Firefights keep players guessing because one could be up against skilled human foes, or an unfair number of AI, but the thrill of successfully completing an assignment or grabbing a new contraband weapon encourages players to press on despite the threat of losing one’s equipment.

  • On paper, DMZ is an innovative implementation of The Division and its successor’s Dark Zone, one which is more accessible (one can hop right in, versus needing to pick up a large pool of gear first as is necessary in The Division), but I personally stick with more traditional mode simply because the solo DMZ experience is remarkably unforgiving – the mode doesn’t scale, and players who join with a full squad of four will face the same number of foes as they would if they joined as a solo player. The end result is that a solo player would be at a severe disadvantage even if they had put in the requisite amount of time to learn how to play effectively.

  • The solution for this is actually quite straightforward, and The Division 2 provides an example of what this might look like. Raids are an eight-player mode where two teams of four must cooperatively complete objectives against exceptionally tough opponents, and the standard mode is gruelling. In exchange, completing raids gives players access to excellent gear. To provide players with a better sense of what they’re squaring off against, The Division 2‘s raids also have an “expedition” mode which lowers the enemy difficulty and allows players to explore the maps. In this mode, the rewards are not provided. The only issue is that even on expedition mode, raids cannot be soloed: foes take so much damage that this isn’t feasible.

  • If expedition mode had removed the rewards outright and simply gave players a chance to explore the map, it would still be valuable in providing them the means of familiarising themselves with things before attempting a standard raid with other players. Modern Warfare II‘s DMZ mode would benefit from a similar approach: solo players looking to just explore Al Mazrah or Ashika Island on their own should be given the choice to do so. This mode would still provide an appropriate amount of AI bots to fight, but aside from a small amount of experience points, the mode should not contribute to one’s weapon levels or provide the same unlocks as the standard mode. This way, players would still need to play DMZ normally, but if they so chose, they’d now have a way to explore the DMZ maps.

  • Back in late December, I had been looking forwards to giving DMZ and some of the co-op modes a shot. My best friend picked up an MSI Katana GF76 laptop on a sale, and back then, Intel was doing a promotion where every eligible Intel processor was subject to a Modern Warfare II giveaway. The GF76 sports an i7-12700H and a laptop version of the RTX 3070 Ti, giving it about 90 percent the performance of my desktop machine, and with this, my best friend would’ve been able to play all of the games in the past five years without any difficulty, as well as possessing enough hardware to make it capable of running new games in the upcoming few years.

  • However, owing to a communications SNAFU between Intel and BestBuy, neither company were willing to give my best friend the access code needed to redeem a copy of Modern Warfare II. Both Intel and BestBuy insisted it was the other party that gave out the codes, and refused to help my best friend out. In this way, a month passed, and the window for the offer expired, leaving him completely (and understandably) disappointed. All it would’ve taken was for one customer support representative from BestBuy to take a few moments and get in touch with Intel to secure a code, and my best friend would’ve been on his way. Instead, both parties dragged their feet, and in the present, I’ve not been able to play any co-op or DMZ with my best friend.

  • In the months after, my best friend did end up picking up The Division 2 and Ghost Recon: Wildlands, but since he’s still getting through nearly a decade’s worth of backlogged games, especially mods, I don’t anticipate we’ll be starting any time soon. In a manner of speaking, my best friend not getting Modern Warfare II might also be seen as a blessing in disguise, preventing his backlog from growing further and giving him some time to get to much older titles, and in fact, I am looking forwards to being able to co-op with him in both The Division 2 and Wildlands. Contemporary games and their battle passes actually make gaming a little less enjoyable, since there is an obligation to stick around and unlock things, so for my best friend, unlocking enough stuff in Modern Waarfare II to make things fun would represent a bit of a slog. Here, I manage to advance the season three battle pass far enough to unlock the FJX Imperium, a sniper rifle modelled after Modern Warfare 2‘s Intervention.

  • I’ve also begun to unlock the gold weapon cameos for some of my loadouts, and here on one of the new invasion maps, I score a double kill with a gold-plated M4. Having the Union Guard made it straightforwards to start getting my weapons’ levels up so I had a decent collection of attachments, and in the present, while I don’t have all of the attachments needed to make the so-called meta setups, I do have enough attachments available to me so that I can kit weapons out to make them better suited for my play style. While I don’t particularly like the battle pass and live service model gaming publishers are using in general, games still thankfully offer enough to do for players who prefer taking things at their own pace.

  • This is ultimately what makes Modern Warfare II a shade more enjoyable than Battlefield 2042 for me at the moment: the latter’s all-out warfare modes are gorgeous and immersive, but at the same time, they also require a bit of time to play through. On the other hand, Modern Warfare II provides players with options. If I’m short on time, a few rounds on Shipment 24/7 will still be enough for me to rank a weapon up once or twice. When time is more plentiful, I can sit down to back-to-back matches or join a game of invasion. Shipment 24/7 has, together with Shoot House, proven to be the perfect way of power-levelling everything that isn’t a sniper or marksman rifle, and by dropping in for a few matches every evening, I’ve brought more weapons to their maximum level than I would’ve previously imagined possible.

  • Of course, having access to some custom weapon blueprints helps: unlocking the M13B and Victus XMR blueprints, for instance, allowed me to begin unlocking attachments for these weapons before I unlocked them, and so, even if I couldn’t run a custom version of these weapons yet, I still had their attachments available for other weapons. In this way, I’m now able to start creating more interesting weapons for my own enjoyment: players define meta loadouts for Warzone or DMZ that give players a clear advantage, but in the multiplayer, I’ve found that even the worst weapons can still be useful in some situations.

  • The KV Broadside is such an example: shotguns are extremely situational in Modern Warfare II and for most situations, are completely outclassed. In the narrow confines of Shipment, though, shotguns are devastatingly powerful weapons that can instantly delete foes with the press of a mouse button if all of one’s pellets land. For me, I found that irrespective of which shotgun I was running, having the barrel and muzzle attachments that increased the damage range and tightened pellet spread would improve handling across the board.

  • In practise, the Dragon’s Breath ammunition decreases direct damage but adds incendiary damage over time: from a practical standpoint, it is inferior to standard buckshot. However, the merits of using the Dragon’s Breath ammunition is purely for the reason it’s flashy and fun. Just like the shootout from John Wick: Chapter 4, using Dragon’s Breath turns a match on Shipment into a spectacular fireworks show, and like Wick, double-tapping is sometimes necessary to put an opponent down for good. The KV Broadside’s semiautomatic fire makes this possible, and so, while this gun might not be exactly the same as the Genesis Arms Gen-12 seen in John Wick: Chapter 4, I was able to bring it quite close. The journey to unlock the Dragon’s Breath rounds meant I got comfortable with using the Expedite 12 (itself modelled after the Benelli M4 Super 90, which Wick uses in John Wick: Chapter 2), and this helped me to reacquaint myself with a class of weapons I’ve not used frequently since my Battlefield 4 days.

  • It goes without saying that, while the spawns on Shipment can be terrible, and bugs with weapons not firing can be frustrating, I’ve also had great fun running around with the John Wick loadout. The same spawns that led me to die seconds after returning to the game mean that my opponents’ also experience the same, and there have been moments where I’m sure my opponents’ weapons have jammed up, letting me fire my two shots off. Overall, while perhaps not viable in modes like DMZ or Invasion, the John Wick setup still remains incredibly bombastic and fun, perfectly suited for the claustrophobic layout that is Shipment.

  • To round this post out, I score a 10-streak on Shipment, which was something I certainly didn’t think I’d do – Shipment is pure chaos, and it’s quite hard to remain alive since there are so many angles other players can come from. During this match, it did feel as though my opponents were just standing around, oblivious to my presence, and I ended up unlocking the Chopper Gunner scorestreak while running the Venom Strike M13B. I immediately hopped in and got another ten kills with it before rejoining the match. I realise this post comes out of the blue and isn’t related to my usual anime-related topics, but I figured now was a good time as any to share some of the moments I’ve had in Modern Warfare II before things get a little busier: I’ve got a talk on Uma Musume Pretty Derby: Road to the Top lined up, and then to kick June off, I plan on writing about the latest Oregairu OVA, which was released with a bundle accompanying the corresponding game for Nintendo Switch and the PS4 a few weeks earlier.

While returning to Modern Warfare II, I’ve managed to generally have a fun time of exploring the new maps, and in the process, I’ve also managed feats that I thought would be outside of my skill level – scoring kill-streaks in close quarters maps, hitting a 14-streak in Invasion or 10-streak on Shipment, and scoring the covetted “Quad-Feed” have been achievements that I once imagined to be beyond my ability. That I’ve managed these suggests that even now, I still retain a modicum of skill in first person shooters despite the dulled reflexes and diminished skill that accompany adulthood; I may no longer have the time to sit down and game quite like I did back when I was a post-secondary student, and I’m certainly nowhere nearly as skilled as the folks who make a living off their Modern Warfare and Battlefield prowess, but as far as having fun goes, I can hold my own well enough to make progress towards attachment unlocks each and every match. The new engine ensures that movement and weapon mechanics are smooth and responsive, and in fact, the only complaint I have is the fact that weapons will inexplicably jam on some occasions. This happens often enough to be noticeable, but not so often that my gameplay is diminished, and overall, I am having much more fun in the Call of Duty multiplayer environment than I had originally expected. Readers will have noticed an emerging trend, where upon revisiting something, I manage to get a more comprehensive and holistic experience than my initial impressions would have suggested. Turning off voice chat allows me to avoid the overly-vocal players in a lobby, and my reflexes remain satisfactory to help me hold my own against the 360º no-scope practitioners. If I tire of close quarters engagements, Invasion is an inviting option, but if time is short, there’s always room for a few rounds on Shipment. Modern Warfare II, being the first time I’ve played a Call of Duty multiplayer while the game was still actively supported and possessed a healthy player-base, ultimately has proven to be an enjoyable experience that is yet another reminder that sometimes, there is merit in going back and giving something its fair chance before passing judgement. The benefits of doing so are numerous, and here in Modern Warfare II, it means I was able to briefly feel like John Wick during the fourth film’s now-iconic Dragon’s Breath shootout.

Sunsetting Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Reflections A Decade After The First Otafest

“The Russians…they’re invading. Not here, they’re coming in through Alaska!” –General Braidwood

When it launched in March 2010, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 became DICE’s most acclaimed title, with critics praising the game for being a fantastic continuation of 2008’s Bad Company and improving on its predecessor in every way. In subsequent years, Battlefield fans had hoped for a sequel to Bad Company 2, in the form of Bad Company 3, and then-general manager of DICE, Karl-Magnus Troedsson, stated that Bad Company 3 was not in development because the studio hadn’t quite understood why Bad Company 2 was as successful as it was. This was ultimately unconvincing, as Bad Company 2‘s success boils down to one simple fact: both its single player campaign and multiplayer experiences were solid, essential parts of the experience that drew players in. The campaign was engaging because it offered a novel alternative to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Back then, modern military shooters possessed very grim and serious campaigns that accentuated how gritty and unglamourous warfare was, telling a dark tale of reluctant heroism before sending players into the high-paced sandbox of multiplayer. By bringing in a cast of colourful characters, Bad Company 2 stepped away from this. From the world-weary Redford, cautious Sweetwater and loud-mouthed demolitions expert Haggard, Bad Company 2 allowed the members of the 222nd Army Battalion’s B-Company squad to bounce off one another. During lulls in firefights, or while gamboling through South America, the members of B-Company crack bad jokes at one another and may wax philosophical. Even when under heavy fire, Haggard may make wisecracks about their situation. The levity amongst members of B-Company made difficult situations seem more manageable, and even when all hope seems lost, B-Company member Marlowe encourages Haggard and the others that they should keep on fighting, if only to save the Dallas Cowboys and their iconic cheerleaders, giving Haggard the motivation he needs to continue kicking ass. Coupled with the fact that Bad Company 2‘s campaign takes players to South America, a region of the world that games often ignore, Bad Company 2‘s single player campaign was remarkably entertaining and endlessly replayable. Bad Company 2 had ended with B-Company successfully destroying Aguire and his Scalar Weapon, but as it turns out, the Russians had allowed Aguire to carry out his plan as a distraction for their invasion of North America, coming in through Alaska.

The multiplayer in Bad Company 2 was an even greater hit than the campaign: with its emphasis on destruction and superb map design, players found an experience unlike any other period game. Players using buildings as cover and sniper nests needed to be cognisant of the fact that opponents could shell the buildings into the ground, and maps provided players plenty of options to move around, allowing them to play in the manner of their choosing. The progression system in Bad Company 2 is deep enough to encourage replay and earning unlocks, but at the same time, it’s not so complex that one is overwhelmed by the number of available options. The interplay between classes meant that players needed to rely on teammates to be successful, but at the same time, players who mastered the classes could adapt to fit any situation and perform for their team. On top of this, the Vietnam expansion provided all-new environments and guns for dedicated players to further their experience. The variety in gameplay, balance between scale and focus, and unpredictability of a sandbox environment meant no two games were alike; DICE would eventually push the envelope and build Battlefield titles around a 32-versus-32 experience, but Bad Company 2‘s 16-versus-16 players provided the “Only in Battlefield” moments without creating excessive chaos. Overall, Bad Company 2 became an integral part of the Battlefield franchise, and while Troedsson was probably speaking out of caution, the reality was that Bad Company 2‘s successes had come from providing players with a very tight, focused and purposeful game that was simultaneously challenging, rewarding and hilarious. A Bad Company 3 would have been successful if it was able to continue on in the footsteps of its predecessor, finding a way to continue incorporating large-scale destruction into things while offering the 64-player experience and deeper progression system that Battlefield 3 provided. In fact, one could say that, if Bad Company 3 simply consisted of Battlefield 3‘s multiplayer with a continuation to B-Company’s story, that game would’ve proven to be a smash hit.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Bad Company 2 was my first-ever Battlefield game: it was a rainy day in late August, and my best friend had invited me over to check the game out, along with the then-new web series, Marble Hornets. I found myself hooked on the gameplay, and three years later, after I built a new desktop, I finally had the computational horsepower to play the game for myself. I started shortly after my term finished, and through the month, I incrementally made my way through the game, enjoying the experience at 1080p for the first time (at my best friend’s place, I believe we were playing at 1280 and 1024, since he was running a CRT monitor). Bad Company 2 proved to be a remarkable experience, and no Battlefield campaign has since come close to being quite as engaging.

  • I subsequently wrote about my experiences as I progressed through Bad Company 2 – these posts are written in an older style with the tone of a walkthrough, and for the first time, I wrote about a game on a level-by-level basis. This was made possible by the fact that at 1080p, I was able to showcase the visuals in a game at hitherto unprecedented detail, motivating me to write about games in depth and in the process, eventually led to my writing more extensively for this blog. At around this time of year a decade earlier, I would’ve reached the Sangre del Toro mission in Bad Company 2, and I recall this mission best as having played it after returning home from my first-ever Otafest.

  • If memory serves, I decided to bite the bullet and finally attend the local anime convention, having sat out previous years on account of scheduling conflicts. It was on a cool, overcast morning that I set out, and shortly after arriving on campus grounds, I met up with a friend from the health sciences programme who was also attending. After browsing through the exhibitor hall and all of the vendors, we would catch our breath at a screening of Full Metal Alchemist before going for lunch. The afternoon was spent in an autograph session, and after one last sweep of the exhibitor hall, we parted ways. Along the way, we took in the sights and sounds of the anime convention and the cosplayers.

  • My first convention experience was a bit of a mixed bag: while I wasn’t able to find any K-On! merchandise outside of Figmas (I’d been hoping to pick up a few keychains), and I later learnt that there’d been exclusive pins that I needed to trade for, attending my first convention also was great fun, allowing me to see cosplayers and their ingenuity, as well as take in the positive energy in an environment that celebrated a shared love for Japanese popular culture. Attending Otafest in 2013 also introduced me to the Red Wagon Diner food truck and their Montreal Smoked Meat Hash. In the end, I left my first attendance at Otafest generally satisfied, and mostly exhausted.

  • Armed with this first experience, I was able to plan a bigger and better return a year later; with ten attendees in tow (myself included), my second Otafest experience saw our group visit the reservations-only maid café and sit through an autograph session with Yū Asakawa (Azumanga Daioh‘s Sakaki, Makoto Aoyama of Love Hina, and K-On!‘s Norimi Kawaguchi) and Brad Swaille (Gundam 00‘s Setsuna F. Seiei and Light Yagami of Death Note). Thanks to superior planning and exploration, I also was able to pick up an HGUC Full Armour Unicorn (Destory Mode). I left Otafest 2014 immensely satisfied, and in later years, as Otafest continued to grow, they eventually made the Telus Convention Centre as their new home.

  • My time as an attendee of Otafest have been overwhelmingly positive, although at this point, I had also felt that I’d experienced everything the local convention had to offer. Generally speaking, the main draw of any anime convention is are the special guests, usually voice actors and actresses, although in some cases, staff from studios or larger companies like Sunrise and Kyoto Animation may also make an appearance, giving fans an unparalleled chance to learn ask questions about the industry. In the anime conventions of the late 2000s, this was a big deal, since bloggers like Dark Mirage could take insider information from these panels and share it on their blogs for internet credit.

  • Besides industry guests, anime conventions also appeal to visitors because they may offer exclusive merchandise as a result of large companies being in attendance, and the largest anime conventions, like Anime Expo and Anime Asia Singapore, also would screen anime films in advance of their Japanese première (e.g. in 2016, Anime Expo pre-screened Your Name to attendees who were lucky to secure a ticket into the screening room). These bonuses are only available to the largest of conventions, which draw tens or even hundreds of thousands of visitors. Smaller conventions like Otafest have a correspondingly smaller operational budget and are unlikely to be able to bring in more notable special guests (Ayane Sakura, Ai Kayano and Nao Tōyama come to mind).

  • In days past, the exhibitor hall and screening rooms were also a major draw at anime conventions, and even smaller conventions like Otafest could draw in viewers, since they were the only time of year where fans could purchase anime merchandise and check out the latest shows. Since the advent of ubiquitous broadband internet, however, these aspects of an anime convention have become less significant: it is possible for people to buy anime merchandise easily from places like and CD Japan, and streaming services allow people to watch any show of a given season from the comfort of home, meaning that screening rooms, unless they show something that is not otherwise available (e.g. Your Name), are not as relevant as they once were.

  • Similarly, the exhibitor hall can be a hit-or-miss depending on what one is looking for. Fans of more well-known series will have no trouble finding what they’re looking for, but folks who like more obscure works will be hard-pressed to find merchandise related to their favourite series. These factors, coupled with my own travels to Japan some years earlier, have diminished my interest in visiting anime conventions as an attendee: I’m no cosplayer, I don’t play the same games that most anime fans do and panels don’t offer me much in the way of learning about anime or Japan. However, as a non-profit event, Otafest donates their proceeds to a local charity, and this makes the local convention commendable.

  • Because Otafest is a volunteer-run event, one that simultaneously celebrates a love for Japanese popular culture and gives back to the community, it is worthwhile to contribute and help out as a volunteer. This is why in more recent years, I’ve looked at being a volunteer, and while my first application was unsuccessful on account of my signing up a little too late, back in 2019, I was brought on to help out. Volunteering allowed me to experience Otafest from the other side of the fence: it was fantastic to help attendees having the best possible time while at the same time, exploring the convention freely (this is one of the perks about volunteering, and in fact, volunteers are encouraged to check things out when they’ve got a moment).

  • This year, Otafest celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary, and it is quite fitting that I will be returning to volunteering, precisely a decade after I first attended – in the past ten years, a great deal has happened, and the circle is now complete. The fact that the local convention has endured for a quarter of a century speaks to the commitment and dedication of those who run the show, and having volunteered previously, it’s easy to see why this convention has the same level of energy and excitement surrounding larger conventions while at the same time, possessing the intimacy and friendliness of a small convention. Locations and staff may have changed over the years, but the convention remains an iconic part of Calgary.

  • Back in Bad Company 2, I’ve returned to the “Crack the Sky” mission, one of my favourite missions in the game for introducing the M95, a 50-calibre rifle with unparalleled damage. Although counted as being inferior to the Type 88 in the campaign, since both rifles are a one-hit kill, and the Type 88 is semi-automatic, the M95 is better suited for extreme long range combat, since its bullet drop is less pronounced than that of the Type 88. Over the past decade, I’ve beaten the game three times from the first mission; after my original play-through in 2013, I would move on to Battlefield 3 and newer iterations of Battlefield. However, in 2021, circumstances pushed me to upgrade my previous desktop to Windows 10 from Windows 8, and the process saw me lose all of my campaign progress in Bad Company 2.

  • Since moving to my current desktop, I would lose all of my save data again – Bad Company 2 doesn’t have any cloud save capabilities, and so, if the game is ever uninstalled, all of the progression disappears with it. In 2021, while the global health crisis was still going on, I spent the May Long Weekend playing through Bad Company 2 again: I was able to blaze through the game on standard difficulty over the course of a few hours as a result of knowing where everything was. While Bad Company 2‘s mechanics are dated, the game still handles remarkably well.

  • All of the screenshots in this post date back to January – I’d had my new desktop for a little more than nine months by then, but I hadn’t found the time to sit down and beat Bad Company 2 again, ahead of the ten year mark to when I’d first completed the game. Here, I operate an M1A2 Abrams Tank during a mission to reach a rural South American village and capture a person of interest, but Russian forces stand between B-Company and their target. Bad Company 2‘s story falls apart upon scrutiny (if Americans overtly authorised direct action against Russian forces, a war would certainly begin), but the game more than makes up for this through the characters.

  • Later Battlefield games, while still being enjoyable experiences, lack the same tenour and spirit that Bad Company 2 possessed, and this is why to this day, Bad Company 2 is so beloved. As memory serves, after I completed the campaign, I occasionally dabbled in the multiplayer subsequently: unlike the campaign, the multiplayer offers more weapon and customisation options, as well as maps set in different parts of the world. What had made the multiplayer so iconic was the presence of unparalleled destruction; buildings could be destroyed in the campaign, and in fact, one of my most memorable moments when starting out was taking refuge in a building while trying to get away from enemy armour.

  • The tank had done so much damage that the building collapsed, killing my character instantly. In the campaign, destruction was a gimmick, but in the multiplayer, it was a part of the strategy one could use to alter a map’s layout, forcing other players to adapt and giving one a brief advantage to press forward or retreat. While Bad Company 2 might’ve been a tough act to follow, I feel that if Bad Company 3 had released with improved visuals and mechanics from Frostbite 2, while at the same time, kept the destruction, it would’ve already been a home run. The campaign would, of course, deal with the Russian invasion, but even this could be tempered by Haggard and Sweetwater’s bickering, offering an alternate look at war in ways that more serious games, like Modern Warfare 2, do not.

  • For the most part, modern military shooters have very linear campaigns, and Bad Company 2 was no different. However, for the ninth mission, Sangre del Toro, players are tasked with driving to three relay stations to help triangulate the location of a missing freighter, which is rumoured to contain a component vital to the Scalar Weapon’s operation. Players can visit the triangulation stations in any order, and the vast desert environment gives players a more sandbox-like environment. This is one of the most unique missions in any Battlefield campaign, and while Battlefield 3 and 4 did not offer similar missions, Battlefield 1 and V would incorporate such missions into their stories.

  • Battlefield campaigns have been quite divisive, and most players hold the belief that DICE would’ve done better to skip over the implementation of a single-player campaign in favour of multiplayer, hoping that more effort directed towards the multiplayer would improve the quality of game mechanics, as well as the quantity of content. Battlefield 2042 shows that these sentiments may not necessarily hold true; the game’s launch was extremely rough even though the game did not feature a campaign, and the absence of a story diminished all of the fighting that players were participating in.

  • With this being said, if the absence of a campaign is what led to a more extensive support for single-player modes in a multiplayer setting, it’s is a tradeoff I am willing to accept: Battlefield 2042‘s single-player mode allows one to play alone (or invite up to three friends) on a server where it’s just them, and AI bots. The absence of other players means, one can use the environment to practise flying or getting used to new weapons without disrupting their team, or being disrupted by aggressive enemies. In this way, when one feels reasonably confident about their loadout, they can step into PvP modes, ready to help their team out.

  • This was a longstanding gripe I had about earlier Battlefield titles: the inability to practise flying without a half-dozen Javelins or Stinger missiles locking onto me meant I never did master the art of operating planes and helicopters, and there are some days where I wish to explore the maps and fire cool guns without other players around. Battlefield has a host of wonderful maps, and I do wish that older games would have featured the same single-player modes that Battlefield 2042 has, as this would’ve permitted exploration of these spaces in peace.

  • The lighthouse here would form the basis for Valparaiso’s central landmark. Battlefield Portal brings back several maps from Bad Company 2, all remastered for the present, and this does allow players to revisit. If Battlefield Portal could get more maps and weapons, it would be one way of keeping the older titles alive after they’ve been sunsetted. While the technology’s improved, the nature of modern games makes their preservation significantly more difficult – older games mirror the times that resulted in their development and therefore provide insight into society and technology of that time, as well as offering inspiration for current and future titles.

  • On the whole, improving technology has made it easier to preserve older games, and services like Steam, in offering older games, makes it possible for folks to share in older experiences. Looking back is an immensely valuable exercise, and playing older games offers inspiration as well as an opportunity for introspection. Here, I reach the container ship in the Atacama Desert. I’ve never understood how this phenomenon is possible – it makes sense for ships to be found in former lakebeds and the like, but this segment of desert in Sangre del Toro is hundreds of kilometers inland. When I reached this point back in 2013, I was at a loss for solutions, but the trick is to shoot the explosive barrels, which creates a blast that shifts the containers into a makeshift ramp.

  • The last segments of Bad Company 2 become increasingly high-paced as the hunt for the Scalar Weapon becomes more desperate. The game returns B-company to the jungles of South America, and here, I recall memories of the last days of the August during my first year of summer research when, on a return trip to my best friend’s place, I was invited to play what he considered to be one of the more hectic missions in Bad Company 2. Admittedly, I do miss those times – we lived within walking distance of one another, and when my summer research had wrapped up, I had nothing but spare time on my hands. Going over to his place to play Bad Company 2 and watch Marble Hornets had been a fun way of spending the remaining days of the summer.

  • By the time I reached my final undergraduate year, a chance Steam Sale allowed me to pick up Bad Company 2 for five dollars. Back then, however, my desktop would’ve just been able to handle the game – the Dell XPS 420 I had sported a Core 2 Quad Q6600, 3 GB of DDR2 RAM and an ATI HD 2600 XT. With that machine, I would’ve been able to run the game on minimum settings, but at the same time, I decided to hold back, knowing that playing Bad Company 2 would’ve distracted me from my thesis preparations. In the end, I ended up waiting until May, after I’d built a new desktop, to play Bad Company 2, and within moments of starting the game at 1080p, I knew my patience was well rewarded.

  • According to the blog archives, I spaced out walkthroughs of the missions in Bad Company 2 throughout the summer of 2013 – my research project, a distributed biological visualisation system that ran different simulations on different computers and used network calls to send information between different systems, had progressed reasonably well that summer. While this work wouldn’t influence anything I would work on in graduate school, and it didn’t result in anything publishable, it did show that game engines could, theoretically, be used to construct highly detailed models of biological systems. There had been a certain melancholy about that project; the NSERC USRA did not have any attached conditions to it, and since I was now done my undergraduate program, there was no obligation to go back and do a poster presentation on it at the Faculty of Health Sciences, either.

  • My supervisor believed in allowing students to explore the capabilities of technologies, even if they didn’t lead anywhere meaningful: in subsequent years, our lab acquired a HoloLens and Oculus Rift. My thesis project was ported into both in an experimental capacity, although neither became full-fledged enough to become publication worthy. In the end, my distributed modelling approach never quite reached maturity, and the idea was discarded entirely a little less than a year later – by April 2014, Unity had become free, and my supervisor was intrigued to know if it was capable enough to replace our in-house game engine. Within a week of learning Unity, I had put together a viable prototype of what would become the Giant Walkthrough Brain.

  • Owing to the ease of things, my supervisor decided to sunset the in-house game engine I had worked with during the whole of my undergraduate degree, and with it, all of the work I did in the summer of 2013, along with the other graduate and undergraduate student’s previous projects, were shelved as the lab began exploring Unity (and later, Unreal Engine). Technologies constantly change, and as things improve, they also leave behind incompatibility: while it is important to maintain backwards compatibility, there are also times where it is no longer economical (or technically feasible) to do so. This is why, as saddening as it is to see Bad Company 2 sunsetted, I also see it from the other perspective – the game’s had a fantastic run and remained available to players for the past thirteen years.

  • In a discussion with my best friend, he expressed confidence that some resourceful fans of Bad Company 2 will get their own servers up and running, allowing those with the game to continue playing it. As of April 28, however, Bad Company 2 was removed from digital storefronts like Steam and Origin, along with Battlefield 1943, and servers are scheduled to shut down fully in December. With this turn of events, I’m glad to have purchased the game when I did, but this also a sobering reminder that EA Games won’t always be around, and that generally speaking, support for always-online games can be arbitrarily dropped at any time, so one must consider their decision to purchase a game carefully.

  • My style has been to pick games up years after their release, and so far, I’ve been quite lucky: The Division 2 and Ghost Recon: Wildlands‘ servers are still online, so I was able to finish them in whole and get my money’s worth from them. Generally speaking, I am satisfied if a game offers me a dollar per hour. That is to say, if I spent 10 dollars on a game and get 10 hours of enjoyment, that game has been a good use of money. According to my Steam account, I’ve spent about 60 hours in-game (presumably, 40 hours in the campaign and 20 in the multiplayer): since I bought the game for five dollars, this corresponds to about eight cents per hour.

  • Here, I storm the Antonov AN-124 carrying the Scalar Weapon in Bad Company 2‘s final mission. With this, my reflection comes to a close: I remark that this reflection’s been a bit of a fun one, and with Otafest beginning tomorrow, I am looking forwards to both helping out as a volunteer, seeing if there’s anything in the exhibitor’s hall that catches my fancy (I am hoping to buy a Yuru Camp△ Nendoroid and pick up some Otafest 25 Anniversary swag, like pins) and meeting up with my best friend, who’s attending to get some pointers on Gunpla painting. Although I do not doubt it will be a fantastic day ahead tomorrow, it’s also going to be a long one, so it will be prudent for me to catch some rest ahead of things.

A few months earlier, EA had announced that they would be removing earlier Battlefield titles (Battlefield 1943, Bad Company and Bad Company 2) from their online storefronts on April 28, and by December 8, all online services for these games will be permanently shut down, rendering their multiplayer components unplayable. The sunsetting of these older Battlefield titles is a disappointment and serves as a warning to what can happen with always-online games: classic experiences may be shut down at any time, and this leaves players without a legitimate, safe means of playing their favourite games. This was always one of the hazards of online games, and while it is undoubtedly disappointing for many, especially in light of how modern games do not always offer consistent, tight experiences compared to their predecessors, there remains a glimmer of hope. Battlefield 2042 is the first Battlefield game to offer offline modes and the ability for players to customise their modes to a satisfactory extent. Through Battlefield Portal, one can create a private experience for themselves, allowing them to replicate classic experiences like 1000-ticket TDM on Noshahr Canals, or a custom rush match at Africa Harbour. Although Battlefield Portal‘s implementation is still dependent on DICE’s servers, the existence of these tools and the possibility for players to spin up their own servers creates the opportunity for games to have increased longevity. Call of Duty has, historically, been further ahead of Battlefield in this area, allowing players to create private offline matches against AI bots, and here, if DICE could implement a self-contained means for players to either play offline with AI bots or host their own serves, this would give their Battlefield titles increased value. For the present, I will be sad to see Bad Company 2 go: while I’ve not played on a server for almost a decade, I do vividly remember having fun with both the online matches I played on my then-new desktop, as well as going through the campaign at my best friend’s place on a rainy day prior to the start of my second year of university. There is a small consolation: Battlefield Portal does offer three classic Bad Company 2 maps, and despite the servers being offline, I still have access to Bad Company 2‘s excellent campaign, having bought the game on a sale a few weeks before my undergraduate defense exam.

Battlefield 2042: Return of Classes in the Eleventh Hour and Future Directions

“Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.” –Duke of Wellington

With Eleventh Hour and the recent class rework, Battlefield 2042 has reached a state where it finally handles as its predecessors did. The fundamental mechanics behind the game are operational and smooth, with weapons handling very well. Most of the major bugs and errors are now resolved, and the reintroduction of classes means the clear delineation of roles, resulting in increased emphasis on team play as players must focus on their class’ focus. In particular, support players become invaluable for reviving and resupplying allied players, while engineers can concentrate on vehicle-related elements, whether it be repairing friendly vehicles or destroying enemy vehicles. While recon players are typically maligned for running off to the furthest corners of the map and camping with a sniper rifle, a good recon player will have no qualms using drones to spot enemies or finding clever places to drop a spawn beacon and ensure faster return to the frontlines. Assault players are all about pushing forwards onto objectives now, using their speed or durability to initiate a capture. With each class given a specific role, players have more inclination to support their allies, and after returning to Battlefield 2042 following the class rework, the game feels distinctly like its predecessor. In particular, the support class has become especially powerful, and I find myself being revived with a much greater frequency. Looking at how Battlefield 2042 handles, it is fair to say that the current implementation of classes and specialists is what Battlefield V‘s archetype system was likely meant to be – originally, Battlefield V had provided each class with two archetypes. Depending on which archetype one had chosen, one would be given different perks to facilitate a different play-style. Although this was an innovative addition that encouraged players to fulfil a specific role, archetypes were also quite limited, and there had been different incentives to switch between them. On the other hand, Battlefield 2042‘s specialists, once a maligned and questionable change to the game, now make sense: each specialist carries a unique gadget and passive abilities that allow one to fulfil their role in a manner they are most comfortable with. The reintroduction of classes shows that specialists can be made to work with the class system, and while questions of why DICE had initially dispensed with classes remains a valid question, in its current state, adding classes back into Battlefield 2042 is a “better late than never” change – the game now feels properly like a Battlefield game.

The fourth season’s launch brings with it four new weapons, one new gadget and one new map; in keeping with the relatively paltry amount of content, Battlefield 2042‘s limited content continues to remain a point of contention, since older Battlefield titles released up to nine new weapons and four maps with every update. However, there is no denying that the new content remains entertaining, and here in the fourth season, players gain access to Flashpoint, a desert facility set in Richtersveld, South Africa. Early concept art had suggested that the Flashpoint map would be similar to Operation Metro and its successors. Had this been the case, Flashpoint would’ve been a brilliant infantry-only experience of the sort that I’d become very fond of, providing a novel experience in Battlefield 2042. However, the actual product was quite different: the map retains the Battlefield 2042 design in that it features a mixture of open areas and tight interior spaces, so that each weapon type is viable depending on where one is on the map. The balance of narrow passageways and cliffs with excellent vantage points was designed with Battlefield 2042‘s class system in mind; players are most effective when working together, wielding a variety of weapons. The map itself is also visually impressive. Although perhaps not as jaw-dropping as the new maps from previous seasons, Flashpoint is by no means boring – the fuel storage units and generator buildings create an industrial aesthetic that fits in with the themes Battlefield 2042‘s maps strive to convey. There are, however, some design problems and disappointments with flashpoint. The map has three main lanes of travel, with all of the capture points being placed along the centre lane, while the outermost lanes are quite barren. This leaves players fighting for objectives open to vehicles and snipers camping in the side lanes, and similarly, the sheer number of flanking routes mean that one can’t ever be too sure of how secure their position is, as enemy players can readily sneak in, unseen, and eliminate whole squads in seconds. The constant chaos makes it difficult to regain momentum, and on most of the matches I played, once a team gains the upper hand with vehicles, it becomes tricky for the other team to mount a comeback. Similarly, the emphasis on outdoors combat, and the relatively small tunnel area, means that like the existing Battlefield 2042 maps, Flashpoint is vehicle-centred. Introducing an infantry-only map into Battlefield 2042 would’ve increased map variety and provide players with an environment where infantry chaos reigns supreme, offering a novel experience, but leaving the map as being vehicle-friendly limits options for players. These minor gripes notwithstanding, Flashpoint remains a fun map, and the same design constraints that lead me to dying to sneaky foes can be utilised against others, resulting in some memorable gameplay moments.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Since I last wrote about Battlefield 2042, DICE added thermal optics to the game. These optics cut right through smoke and render players as clear as day, giving players an effective counter against smoke grenades. Although thermal optics have limited utility in most games owing to how bright environments are, and weapon attachments are fixed, forcing one to choose carefully, the +-system in Battlefield 2042 means it’s easy to swap between optics depending on the situation. Beyond thermal optics, the updates have also brought back marksman bonuses that provide one with a visual indicator of how distant their best headshots were.

  • These details have meant that at the time of writing, Battlefield 2042 finally feels like an almost-complete, enjoyable Battlefield experience. The only thing that’s missing from the game now is a server browser. I’ve heard that the lack of a server browser in modern multiplayer titles stems from a multitude of factors: between forcing skill-based match-making on players and attempting to appeal to a non-PC demographic (console players generally prefer matchmaking over server browsers on virtue of lacking a comfortable UX for looking through long lists of servers), most studios omit this feature nowadays: Modern Warfare II also lacks a dedicated server browser.

  • For me, the main advantage about the server browser is simply being able to play on the maps I’d wish to play on, versus being matched into a map I may not be particularly fond of. Every Battlefield game has its share of maps I’m less keen on (Fao Fortress, Fjell 652 and Aerodrome come to mind), and a server browser lets me to spend less time on the maps I don’t like. In Battlefield 2042, the lack of a server browser means I’ve not been able to try some of the newly reworked maps, but every season opens with dedicated matchmaking for the new map, allowing me to focus purely on the new experiences as they become available, and here, I manage to land a two-in-one with the DRX-1.

  • As the new map, Flashpoint is a desert map set in South Africa, and the in-game lore states that here in Richtersveld, the aim is to capture a rocket fuel processing facility and a special bit of hardware within. Flashpoint consists of fractioning towers and warehouses in a rocky environment, with a central tunnel leading into a vast silo at the heart of the map. When promotional imagery for the map first released, people had been hopeful that an Operation Metro-like experience would be the result, dealing with a vast underground mining tunnel under construction or similar.

  • Infantry-only maps in Battlefield have always been enjoyable for offering unparalleled chaos, so it was a bit of a disappointment to see that Flashpoint doesn’t have the same intentions as Operation Metro-like maps. With this being said, Flashpoint is aesthetically pleasing, which is a lot more than can be said of most desert maps. Longtime readers may be familiar with my distaste for desert maps, and this can be attributed to the overuse of desert environments in works of science fiction. George Lucas is notorious for favouring desert maps – although literary critics have helpfully explained that deserts were meant to symbolise dead-end, lifeless environments devoid of hope, so a hero’s ascension is all the more inspirational and Christ-like, it doesn’t stop deserts from being any less exciting.

  • From a filming perspective, it makes sense to pick deserts simply for ease of production, but the need for all deserts to include large, carnivorous worms and spice grows old quickly. This is why in a given Battlefield game, I tend to avoid playing on desert maps that are too Saharan or Arabian in aesthetic. On the other hand, deserts like the Kalahari are fine. I did not finding myself growing bored of Flashpoint’s environment because the number of fuel processing facilities and warehouses kept the map fresh. Despite the wide open spaces, there’s room for everything from submachine guns to sniper rifles on Flashpoint.

  • Accompanying the class update is the fact that every class now has weapon proficiencies. Assault players gain extra magazines when equipping assault rifles, while support players can swap weapons faster if they’re running a submachine gun. Engineers have improved weapon stability if crouched or prone with a light machine gun, and recon players have superior weapon stability with sniper rifles. Bonuses notwithstanding, all classes can equip all weapons, with the obvious difference being that the weapon proficiency bonuses aren’t applied if one picks weapons their class typically won’t run with. This ensures players keep the options they’ve become accustomed to, while at the same time, encouraging players to stick with their proficiencies if they want maximum efficacy in a team setting.

  • Players aren’t punished if they choose to run with weapons outside of their proficiency, and in this way, I was able to use the BSV-M in conjunction with the support class. Since the class rework, I’ve found that Falck has replaced Angel as my favourite support specialist: her passive ability is instantly healing all revived players, and her special gadget is the S21 Syrette Pistol, which fires darts that heal allied players over time and can be used to instantly bring one back to full health in a pinch. I found that, when combined with the resupply crate, Falck has limitless utility, being able to resupply and heal friendly players alike.

  • The BSV-M had seen less utility in previous seasons, but on Flashpoint, the combination of wide open spaces and close quarters confines meant that the BSV-M’s ability to adapt instantly to long and short range combat made it indispensable. Here, I gun down to players with the BSV-M’s automatic mode with back-to-back headshots, including one player calling themselves “AngelaBalzac”,  a not-so-oblique reference to the 2014 film, Expelled From Paradise. Admittedly, owing to Battlefield 2042‘s poor reception despite having made considerable strides, player counts in the game remain quite low, and during the start of this fourth season, I had some difficulty in finding populated servers to join.

  • More often than not, I ended up joining a match on a server that was awaiting players. However, once the minimum number of players were queued up and the game started, I found that the ability for Battlefield 2042 to populate the remainder of the server with AI bots meant that the individual matches felt quite active, no different than a server fully populated with human opponents and allies. This was probably one of Battlefield 2042‘s best additions – I understand why the game still requires a certain number of human players to start the match, but once this threshold is reached and players are allowed to start, the experience is solid.

  • During the previous season, I didn’t get to giving the NVK-P125 pistol or the NVK-S22 shotgun a whirl. The NVK-P125 is a excellent sidearm with improved range and accuracy compared to that of other sidearms. With its futuristic design, the NVK-P125 has a digital display for indicating the number of rounds available to players, reminiscent of Halo‘s iconic assault rifle. It’s an excellent weapon to pair with a submachine gun. On the other hand, I’ve yet to try the NVK-S22 out despite having unlocked it: shotguns don’t really seem to be effective in Battlefield 2042 as far as I can tell.

  • During the course of my time spent in Flashpoint, I ended up switching back over to the LCMG – the PKP-BP has a higher rate of fire, and the Avancys is more accurate at range, but since the LCMG occupies a sweet spot between the two, it actually ends up being a remarkably reliable and consistent weapon. Besides Falck, I began using Lis significantly more after the class update. I always found Lis to be a fun character to play owing to her ability to automatically mark vehicles and for being able to utilise the G-84 TGM, a TV-guided missile launcher. This weapon had been quite effective, but in the present, has been tuned so it is harder to fly and deals less damage against vehicles. As a result of her specialisation, Lis is unable to carry the other shoulder-fired anti-vehicle launchers in the game.

  • The introduction of a class system ultimately encouraged me to try more of the specialists out – previously, I played as Angel exclusively owing to his ability to call in loadout crates, and by creating well-defined loadouts early on, I could effortlessly change roles multiple times during a match without needing to return to the spawn screen. This made Angel the top means of running solo; although perfect in a game against AI bots, it also meant I had little incentive to use any other specialist while unlocking weapons.

  • Thanks to the addition of Zain, the assault class is also a good choice – these players favour speedy insertion and exfiltration from a capture point and possess perks that allow them to push objectives. In Zain’s case, the passive ability to regenerate health after every kill encourages a more aggressive play-style, and I found this to be useful over what the other specialists offer. Here, I’m running with the AC-42, a burst-fire rifle. Although I used it primarily against the AI bots in the solo mode for the purpose of levelling it up, I found it modestly useful against live players at longer ranges: burst fire is reliable at close ranges, but with the right attachments and while in semi-automatic mode, it actually can serve as a makeshift marksman rifle.

  • Throughout this post, I focus exclusively on conquest: the featured mode for Flashpoint conquest is 64 players, and this makes it both easier to get into a match. Further to this, the pacing in conquest makes it more suitable for exploring the map and capturing screenshots – owing to how Breakthrough works, I found that I would either join a team that was routing their opponent so hard that they blitzed through the sectors, or otherwise had reached a stalemate, leaving one stuck in one area for entire matches. This makes it difficult to really check out all of the areas of a map, whereas in conquest, since capture points come and go, there is more opportunity for exploration.

  • The AC9 is one of the new additions to Battlefield 2042 – it’s a submachine gun modelled after the Brügger & Thomet APC9 and fulfils a similar role to the MP9, another weapon designed for supremacy at extremely close ranges. As with all of the weapons I run with, I ended up unlocking all of the attachments playing solo Breakthrough against AI bots. Once it’s kitted out, the AC9 appears to occupy a niche between the MP9 and the PBX-45: it has a higher firing rate than the PBX-45 and is more accurate than the MP9, making it a great choice for flanking enemies. In a straight firefight, the AC9 is bested by the K30 and MP9.

  • I had moderate success with the AC9 when I wielded it against human opponents; the weapon performs best with a Warhawk Compensator and laser sight. Out of a force of habit, I tend to aim down sights even with submachine guns – in older Battlefield games, I was comfortable with firing from the hip whenever using submachine guns and made full use of the hip-fire accuracy to shred foes at close quarters. I’m not sure if submachine guns in Battlefield 2042 still have their predecessor’s hip-fire performance, but given I prefer to aim down sights, the PBX-45 has become my favourite of the submachine guns.

  • For assault rifles, I find that the M5A3 and the SFAR-M GL are my go-to weapons, capable of excelling at most ranges. Here, as I reload the SFAR-M GL, the glint of light catches the weapon. Battlefield 2042 was originally not as visually polished or detailed as its predecessors: many places had textures that looked blocky and pixellated, and maps were quite lacking in detail. However, between DICE’s tireless efforts in making the new maps and overhauling the existing maps to have more cover and clutter, Battlefield 2042 looks significantly better than it had at launch. Some visual bugs still exist, but on the whole, Battlefield 2042 is evidently in a better place in the present.

  • The tendency of a Battlefield game to improve over time is an oft-repeated story: Battlefield 2042 joins the ranks of Battlefield 4 and Battlefield V as titles that had rough launches in being a title that managed to turn things around. While the end result is a series of strong comeback stories, I’ve long felt that it would make more sense for DICE to support a game for longer periods of time and not reinvent the wheel every time a new Battlefield title is released. Recent advances in game engine technology, especially the Unreal Engine, has meant there is precedence for studios to use a stable, reliable engine. The presence of the Unreal Engine has been a game-changer: my graduate thesis was developed in Unreal 4, and Unreal 5 is so sophisticated that independent developers have been able to make jaw-dropping games. In fact, Unreal 5 is sufficiently powerful so that 343 Industries has decided to drop their plan for additional Halo Infinite campaign elements and transition over to a new Halo game done in the Unreal 5 engine.

  • As a result of using the solo mode to unlock weapon attachments, I was able to push the AC9 to the point where I even had the high-visibility laser sight unlocked. Unlike the other submachine guns, whose high-visibility lasers are green, the AC9’s high-visibility laser is blue. The new laser sights add a bit of bonus recoil control on top of improved hip-fire accuracy, and although some speculation suggested the inclusion of night maps, insofar, these additions have not been made to the game. The low volume of content is currently the largest issue on the minds of Battlefield fans, and while the game has made strides, there haven’t been enough maps or unlocks to keep dedicated players engaged.

  • I still vividly recall when support for Battlefield V ended: back in June 2020, DICE released one final update to Battlefield V that added a variety of new weapons and two new maps. I remember playing through these maps on a stormy day – I’d been doing well on the Provence map when all of a sudden, the power went out. Without any other plans for that afternoon, I decided to take a quick kip while said rainstorm raged on outside. That time had been quite melancholy: deep in the midst of the global health crisis, there was very little to do besides stay at home and play games, so hearing that DICE was planning to stop updating Battlefield V just when the game had hit its stride was disappointing.

  • There was always the risk that DICE would do the same to Battlefield 2042, since its sales and player retention hasn’t been impressive. With this being said, between the solo modes and returning to the seasonal content, I’ve already logged a total of 133 hours in Battlefield 2042. Similarly, I put in a total of some 362 hours into Battlefield V and 404 hours into Battlefield 1. From a value standpoint, I do feel that I got my money’s worth in all of the Battlefield titles I’ve picked up at launch. If DICE were to drop support for Battlefield 2042 after the fifth season, I still feel that the experience would’ve been a fairly enjoyable one.

  • Here on Flashpoint, I set my own personal best for a recorded headshot distance: while trading fire with another player, I landed a headshot from 258 metres. Although I’ve previously managed a 400 metre headshot on Hourglass, there’s no indicator that this was the case, so my current headshot here is the longest confirmed headshot I’ve scored. Sniping in Battlefield 2042 is just as engaging as it had been in previous titles, and while I wasn’t always fond of picking up a bolt-action rifle, ever since Battlefield 1, I’ve been more open to using these long-range weapons. Battlefield 2042 does have a noticeable lack of long-range weapons, but the weapons available get the job done, and of late, I’ve spent more time trying to get to know the SWS-10 better – the DXR-1 has been my preferred rifle for having less bullet drop and better damage, but the SWS-10 has better handling and a higher firing rate.

  • We’re now almost halfway through March, and it is not lost on me that I’ve only written one other post beyond this brief update on Battlefield 2042. I typically plan my posts well out in advance, and almost all of my posts for this month are scheduled to be published later this month: besides the Girls und Panzer tenth anniversary posts, I’m scheduled to write about Mō Ippon! and Itsuka Ano Umi de. The combination of delays mean that the end of the month is a bit of a busier time, and as a result of the seasonal anime’s releases, I’d prefer to use the time now and prepare some posts ahead of schedule so they coincide with milestone dates surrounding Girls und Panzer.

  • A year ago today, I began the process of moving house. This was a particularly busy day, but the process had gone very smoothly, and in the present, I’m now settled in. Yesterday evening, I went out for dinner with family to a Chinese restaurant that we’d not been to in almost seven years: this particular restaurant is known for its excellent food, but in the past, was stymied by extremely slow service. Since changing management, they’ve turned things around – the food is excellent now, but service is also swift. We ended up enjoying a combination of familiar dishes, as well as things I’ve never tried before, including pig lung soup and crispy taro-crusted duck. Everything was flavourful, but not excessively greasy, and the restaurant was packed. Immediately, I understood why all of the reviews for this place were so positive.

  • Back in Battlefield 2042, I’ve got some screenshots of the tunnel area, and here, I scored a kill on someone while defending the capture point, which is large enough so that vehicles can fit here. The sheer number of vantage points mean that defenders do have an advantage here, as they can hide in a corner and remain hidden from attackers, but on the flipside, a vehicle and good spotters will give attackers an overwhelming advantage. While I had hoped this part of the map would be hotly contested, the warehouse at Echo, and the fuel tanks at Charlie tend to be the most fought-over points on the map; more often than not, I could capture Delta on my own without any resistance.

  • Although defenders camped out here managed a few kills on me during one match, I ended up coming back in with some teammates, and we cleared them out successfully. As the days passed, it became much easier to find matches on Flashpoint, and over time, I became more familiar with how players moved around on this map. This made it a little more straightforward to complete the assignments; unlike Modern Warfare II, I’ve opted not to pick up the premium upgrade so I could unlock more rewards for moving through the Battle Pass, and I don’t believe I’m missing out on too much beyond cosmetics I’ve little interest in. This is actually why I’m presently sitting out Modern Warfare II‘s second season – there’s so much going on that buying the Battle Pass felt like a poor use of funds.

  • While cosmetics in a given game don’t generally interest me, the weapons, gadgets and vehicles do, and fortunately, they’re available to all players. Beyond a new submachine gun, light machine gun, the Super-Shorty (Super 500) and assault rifle, the fourth season also provides players with a CAV-Brawler and the SPH Explosive Launcher. Having managed to unlock the SPH Explosive Launcher, I did end up having fun with it – here, I scored a very lucky double kill on two distant foes with it. The gadget fires two sticky grenades that will adhere to any surface and explode after a short delay, making it a great way to break down walls. The weapon has two more rounds in reserve, and beyond being one extra tool for destruction, the SPH Explosive Launcher can be used in another, amusing manner.

  • Since the grenades adhere to any surface, one can use them to stick to enemy players, after which an explosion will occur, instantly killing them. While playing around with the SPH Explosive Launcher, I got several “from the grave” kills, where I would fire a round that was a direct hit. My foe would then gun me down, but the grenade would then detonate and score me a kill, as well. In this moment here, I managed to land a direct hit on an unsuspecting foe and scored a bonus for my trouble. The weapon has some utility, but it is ultimately a fun tool for messing around with others.

  • The last moment I’ll share for this series of thoughts will be me using the C5 explosives to destroy a tank being driven by “Im_Neat-_-“, a low-level player who got a pair of lucky kills against me, but otherwise didn’t know how tanks worked. Luckily for me, squadmates nearby were still alive, and after I spawned back in, I immediately planted all of my C5 on the tank, then mashed the detonate button to score a revenge kill against Im_Neat-_-. At the time of writing, I’ve almost got the RPT-31 unlocked, and my plan is to play through Eleventh Hour until I have the RM68 unlocked. I expect that the next time I write about Battlefield 2042 will be season five come June, and I am hoping that season will be accompanied by the news of DICE continuing with support and content for the game for at least two more seasons. In the meantime, with this post in the books, it’s time to turn my attention to the other posts I’ve got lined up for the month.

Now that season four is launched, and Battlefield 2042 is finally delivering an experience that is decidedly Battlefield, the game has finally reached an excellent state. Players are returning (even if the numbers aren’t especially significant), and people remark that this is how Battlefield 2042 should have launched. Battlefield 2042 is a worthy game now, and while this should be encouraging, it also does feel as though these improvements come too little, too late. Battlefield V had suffered a similar fate, starting off on a poor footing and improved to the point where the game had become superbly enjoyable. However, right when Battlefield V had mounted a comeback, DICE cut support and rerouted all of their developer efforts into Battlefield 2042, creating the expectation that the new game would be polished and enjoyable. Now that Battlefield 2042 has reached a steady state, there is always the possibility that DICE could pull the plug and release a new game to try and entice new customers. This would be a mistake: if DICE were to focus on Battlefield 2042 instead, and continue to add new content for at least another two years, longtime fans would have more reason to put their faith in DICE’s ability to deliver. On the other hand, dropping support for Battlefield 2042 would very likely result in the next Battlefield title performing poorly at launch. At this point in time, then, I am very much hoping that DICE will continue to focus on Battlefield 2042, as opposed to releasing a new title. According to Battlefield news sources, the next season is set to include a re-imagining of an iconic Battlefield map, but beyond this, not much more is known. It will therefore be with the next season that Battlefield 2042‘s fate is decided, and while things have consistently been looking up since the seasons began running, history has shown that anything can happen. Consequently, my only objective in Battlefield 2042 at present is to enjoy the game for what it does – while the future is uncertain and the possibility of the plug being pulled is ever-present, being able to play the game while the player count remains reasonable translates to getting as complete of an experience as possible.

Boundary: Killtaculars During Another SteamFest Demo and Reflections on a Year of Progress

“仰觀宇宙之大,俯察品類之盛,所以遊目騁懷,足以極視聽之娛,信可樂也。” –王羲之

A year ago, news of a highly innovative first person shooter reached my ears through SteamFest: this news was regarding Studio Surgical Scalpels’ Boundary, a tactical shooter set in the final frontier of outer space. In the demo, I found a remarkably engaging title that made full use of its environment to provide a novel experience, one in which players must be mindful of, and capitalise upon, a full six degrees of freedom in their movement to flank foes and complete objectives. Amongst the complex structures, and occasional wreckage of semi-futuristic space stations, players duke it out in an environment unbound by gravity. Ultimately, I found Boundary to be a remarkably unique experience; the game mechanics are polished, with movement handling in a fashion consistent with what one would expect from a space shooter, and moreover, the aesthetics in Boundary are on point: if the world had suddenly invested vastly into space exploration and defensive forces in space, the installations and technologies seen in Boundary appear feasible within a few decades’ worth of progress. In particular, the weapons look amazing and feel like contemporary firearms adapted for use in space. From a gameplay and art design standpoint, Boundary is very playable – in fact, the game had been quite ready for launch since last year. However, Studio Surgical Scalpel has instead taken the past year to ensure that the game is at its absolute best when it does launch, and the most noticeable changes in the game have been the redesigns to the maps. Although their fundamental layouts remain the same, some of the maps have been given overhauls and sport a very different look. The planets in the skyboxes are no longer barren-looking Neptune-class planets, but instead, they are now Earth-like worlds with well-defined surfaces. While Boundary still doesn’t have a story yet, it’s not difficult to imagine different factions struggling for control of precious resources as they strive to keep their operations going, or mercenaries fighting on behalf of corporations.

Beyond the cosmetic adjustments to the maps, Boundary‘s other changes include significant improvements to the UI and UX. Menus are now easier to navigate than they had been previously, being intuitively laid out. Players have easier access to their progression, and this makes one’s next unlocks far clearer than things had been in older builds. The in-game HUD has also been improved: player velocity and status are now denoted as a part of the compass, reducing visual clutter without reducing the amount of information available. Moreover, a radar is now present, giving players a rough sense of where nearby foes are. Certain actions, like engaging one’s thrusters or firing one’s weapons, will increase one’s presence, and one can automatically spot enemies by firing in their vicinity or using special ordnance, putting them on the radar. The addition of a radar provides players with improved spatial awareness, and further encourages tactical play – it is not always feasible to leave one’s thrusters and jet across the map, and similarly, certain classes may employ gadgets to decrease their visibility on the radar, or even remain impossible to spot altogether. The inclusion of a radar alters gameplay, forcing players to make split-second decisions: during a match, one might ask themselves of whether or not risking being spotted while rushing across the open to reach a capture point is better than equipping a class that can sneak around at the expense of survivability, and act accordingly. Threat indicators have also been improved, no longer taking up a large portion of the screen. While Boundary has seen considerable changes that bolster quality of life and makes gameplay smoother, there remain a handful of issues. Boundary is generally smooth, but there have been a few moments where the game stutters, and connectivity has occasionally been spotty – I’ve been forcibly dropped from a match on a handful of occasions, and the earliest symptom of this is seen when friendly and opposing players both suddenly freeze in place. Beyond this, Boundary is in an excellent state – if the game launches with enough content (namely, weapon, map and mode variety), it could end up quite successful. So far, we’ve seen a fair selection of weapons, reasonably varied maps and only a handful of game modes; if Boundary could improve on map settings (asteroid bases hold a lot of promise, for instance) and add a few high-stakes modes (like bomb defusal, survival or extraction), there could be enough to keep players entertained.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I played Boundary, it was last year’s SteamFest, and I vividly recall it being an especially busy time because I’d been in the process of moving house. Workdays were actually the more relaxing times of week for me because those days were relatively structured, and in evenings, I was always guaranteed time to unwind. On the other hand, weekends were very busy: I would spend afternoons driving over personal effects, books and the like to the new place, as well as doing some preliminary cleaning. While it had been quite hectic, it was also a good experience overall; moving was something I ended up looking forward to.

  • At around this time last year, I was in the process of getting my internet services set up, as well. We’re a year into the term now, and I’ve been very satisfied with the service, which has been, admittedly, a little more powerful than I actually need. A gigabit fibre connection is spectacularly fast, and my ISP has excellent upload speeds, as well: the theoretical maximum data transfer rate is 120 MB/s. In practise, however, I’ve found that most services only reach 30 MB/s with any consistency, and while I’ve seen EA’s servers push 90 MB/s, for the most part, I actually don’t need a connection that powerful.

  • In about eleven months, I’ll need to decide whether or not it’s a good idea to step down to the 300 Mbps plan. I’m not sure if Boundary will be fully released by then; the game was originally scheduled for a 2022 release, but a year following my trial of it in SteamFest, the game remained in “coming soon”. This isn’t to say the developers shouldn’t take their time with it – Boundary has received some incredible updates in the past year. The UI/UX is especially improved, and I have noticed that the quality of life has also gone up.

  • From a gameplay perspective, reduced muzzle flash and improved reticules make it far easier to keep track of a target. On-screen, the status of a player’s space suit is now denoted to the left, and velocity and state is given on the right. Players also gain access to a radar that gives a rough indication of where foes are, as well as how easy it is to spot them. An actively moving or firing player will emit a signal, while stationary players have a reduced presence. Firing at a player with a high presence will 3D spot them for a brief period of time.

  • This aspect of Boundary addresses a problem the game’s 2022 build had; because Boundary chooses to render sound realistically, players can only hear their own weapon fire, any impacts to their suit and their own thrusters. Players of first person shooters typically use sound to help them track a foe, and whether it be the report of gunfire or footsteps, sound is an integral part of spatial awareness. By eliminating sound to fit the environment, players have one fewer tool they can use. Although the players’ space suit will emit a sonar-like pulse for detecting nearby enemies, this feature does not give any information on where one’s foes are precisely.

  • Thus, the inclusion of a radar means that players now have one additional tool to help with locating foes. This is especially useful in close quarters environments, especially when one is capturing a point. In the domination game mode, capture points are located inside a space station, and the narrow confines of a space station’s interiors mean that depending on one’s loadout, one must be careful in how they approach things. Boundary‘s latest demo gives players access to three classes: assault, sniper and close-quarters.

  • Armed with the GSW-PSR or GSW-DMR, longer-range weapons, for instance, I would not feel comfortable rushing into a control point and capturing it, at least, not without knowing if anyone were present. On the other hand, a long-range rifle is ideally suited for picking off foes from across the map. A well-placed headshot is a one-hit kill, and here in Boundary‘s latest build, the emergency inflatable capsules that deploy when a player is downed have been removed from most modes. Players reported that these capsules looked a little strange. While from a world-building perspective, they make sense (a suit that suffers enough damage will deploy these until a friendly player can repair the suit, equivalent to reviving a teammate), modes that don’t have revive mechanics don’t technically need this visual element.

  • During this year’s Boundary trial period, I’ve been scoring multi-kills with a nontrivial frequency. A year ago, I managed the occasional double kill, and owing to how medals are displayed in Boundary, I only showcased one of these moments in my post. In this post, I’ve got numerous double kills, and a handful of triple kills, as well. While difficulty in capturing screenshots resulted in a similar situation, I was doing well enough in matches so that there were more moments to try and capture screenshots from. Here, I managed to score my second triple kill (the first of this post) using the GSW-SG, a shotgun that excels at close quarters combat.

  • Overall, I believe that my experience in Boundary now is a consequence of my returning to PvP after almost two and a half years of stepping away. Since Battlefield V‘s final update, I drifted away from playing PvP games and, during the lockdowns accompanying the global health crisis, I focused primarily on single player experiences. The reason for this was primarily because after that update, I migrated over to playing The Division 2 and began The Warlords of New York. By the time I’d finished the Faye Lau hunt, I picked up DOOM Eternal and also had spun up my own private World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Litch King server. By the time Battlefield 2042 released, I’d been quite removed from the multiplayer scene, and had little incentive to return simply because by then, it had become clear that I wasn’t going to get playable frame rates in a PvP environment from my previous desktop.

  • Even The Division 2 was giving my old machine some trouble; I found myself frequently crashing because I was running out of RAM. My machine was simply not able to keep up. However, in the month before my move, I decided that, especially in response to rising tensions in Eastern Europe and an increase in NAND memory prices after a manufacturing mishap, it was probably a better idea to build a new PC there and then, versus waiting for better hardware. I believe my decision was a fair one: between inflation and other factors, building a computer in the present is costlier than it’d been a year ago, even though there have been improvements in the hardware, and moreover, building a new computer last year meant that I’ve already gotten a year’s worth of mileage out of my current build, versus struggling with decade-old parts for another year

  • The differences are night and day – my gaming experiences have been much improved and I’m not dropping frames. This had been the biggest problem I previously faced: low frame rates makes it significantly to track what’s happening in game and respond accordingly. In Battlefield 2042, choppy movement meant I was seemingly dying to nothing, and firing on what my client thought was an enemy player gave the impression I was doing no damage whereas in reality, I was shooting air. Having said this, when I played Boundary a year ago, I was running the GTX 1060, and the game was reasonably smooth, but the additional frames the RTX 3060 Ti was noticeable, enough for me to score multi-kills with a much greater frequency.

  • Between better framerates and a renewed mindset for playing PvP, I found myself performing much better than I did during the last SteamFest. Although I’m fond of saying how a skillful operator will beat out someone with superior hardware, I admit that having better hardware makes a considerable difference. With this in mind, there were a few moments in Boundary where I landed in matches that had me on the ass end of an ass-kicking, and I found myself wondering if those players had a hardware advantage over me: 1080p is still a decent resolution in the present, but I’m running monitors with a refresh rate of 60 Hz, meaning that the maximum frame rate I effectively have is 60 FPS.

  • Monitors with a higher refresh rate can give an advantage by displaying things more precisely, and similarly, 1440p and 4K monitors provide a shade more detail than their 1080p counterparts. Folks with sufficiently powerful hardware see noticeable gains with more expensive monitors – higher resolutions and refresh rates provide more detail, and in a game like Boundary, this could be helpful because the astronauts blend into the wreckage. A 1080p monitor may render a distant astronaut as a couple of blurry pixels, indistinguishable from the scaffolding of a space station, but at 1440p, that same distant astronaut may stand out just enough for one to determine it’s time to aim down sights and fire a few rounds off.

  • Before going any further, I’ll explain the page quote: it’s a poem from the Chinese calligrapher and writer, Wang Xizhi, and in English, it reads “Looking up, I see the immensity of the cosmos; bowing my head, I look at the multitude of the world. The gaze flies, the heart expands, the joy of the senses can reach its peak, and indeed, this is true happiness”. For most matches I played, Boundary did inspire happiness: I had fun more often than I experienced frustration. Overall, Boundary is in an excellent state, and it does feel like the only things that really need to be addressed is server connectivity and the occasional bit of stuttering. Beyond this, the core of Boundary‘s mechanics are solid, and this allows the developers to focus on adding new content and modes.

  • During SteamFest, Boundary offers players with a sizeable collection of maps, featuring different space stations over different planets. There is a decent amount of map variety even though all of the existing maps have been set around the concept of a single space station, but there is a lot of potential for exciting new maps. Following in the footsteps of Shattered Horizon, there could be maps set on a single, large hollowed-out asteroid that’s home to a mining facility and complex tunnel systems, or a cluster of smaller asteroids with communication outposts. Orbital elevators could provide opportunity for vertical gameplay, forcing players to think in new ways as engagements occur on the unorthodox z-axis. Ships parked in a large orbital dockyard, whether it be a space terminal or construction site, can be used for symmetrical game modes, and some maps could even be set in the cavernous interiors of large ships under construction.

  • The possibilities are actually quite varied, and with the right creativity, Boundary‘s maps could be revolutionary. Similarly, one other thing I’d love to see are more creative environments. A binary or multiple star system could create a scene with interesting lighting effects, and fighting for dominance in orbit over a gas giant, or in orbit surrounding a planet with a ring system creates atmospherics that are quite unlike what we are familiar with. In conjunction with a greater variety of maps, there’s no real limit on what’s possible; a good art team could easily bring these environments to life, and good map selection alone would make Boundary enticing as a long-term experience.

  • On weapon variety, Boundary‘s demo has proven quite promising. So far, there’s two clear families of weapons: firearms inspired by Soviet Bloc designs that have been adapted for use in space, and the more futuristic-looking GSW line. Both the Soviet Bloc and GSW weapons are fun to use and reliable. Here, I’ve unlocked the GSW-PDW for Spike, a speedy class intended for close quarter combat. The shotgun was a fun weapon to use, but overall, I prefer having an automatic weapon for medium range engagements.

  • Although I’ve gotten a triple kill with the shotgun (its stopping power at close ranges is undeniable), and the sniper rifles are similarly viable, during my play-through of the demo, I found that the GSW-AR, an alternate assault rifle for the assault class, proved to be an incredibly versatile weapon: even with just the iron sights, I was able to consistently hit distant targets with confidence, and the GSW-AR’s hipfire was quite reliable. During one match, I spawned in with the aim of testing this out, and quickly found myself stomping the server. While hovering around the central module, I scored a triple kill. However, moments later, I achieved I’d thought to be impossible for a player as unskilled as myself.

  • This is the coveted “Quadra Kill” medal, awarded for the equivalent of a quad kill, or in classic Halo terms, a killtacular. After the demo last year, the only instance I’ve seen of anyone getting a killtacular was in a demo video of someone who’d been using a weapon resembling the AMHR, which I’ve never unlocked. To put things in perspective, even YouTube players like LevelCap and JackFrags were not shown getting anything higher than a triple kill in their videos. Granted, it is much tougher to get a multi-kill in the other modes, and TDM’s inclusion in Boundary means a larger number of players are in closer proximity on some maps.

  • An interesting element in Boundary‘s 2023 demo was the fact that players now have a maximum of twenty available slots in their loadout, and different items occupy a certain number of slots. In this way, one can equip a range of equipment and weapons to fit their play-styles, but otherwise, cannot just fill all of their slots with the best weapons available. This forces players to be mindful of what they pick. For instance, if I chose to equip two primary weapons, this prevents me from carrying a second piece of equipment. On the other hand, if I equip a sidearm, I can run with both a smoke launcher and EMP charges.

  • The choice of what to bring into a match thus matters: depending on the game mode and map, certain setups might be more viable than others. In the domination and invasion modes, equipping the explosive launcher or EMP would be a good idea, since it allows one to soften up capture points before closing in and capturing it. Conversely, in elimination and TDM, smoke or a decent primary weapon in one’s second slot would be a better choice. The slow weapon switch times mean that this act is actually one that requires a bit of caution, but on the flipside, being able to carry a marksman rifle alongside an assault rifle can prove handy.

  • The space M53 Mosin-Nagant was one of the most iconic weapons of Boundary during its demo last year, and it was quickly unlocked for players to use. This bolt-action rifle is modelled after its real life counterpart, which was originally developed in 1882 and entered service in 1891. Becoming one of the most widely-produced rifles in history, the Mosin-Nagant is still in use today despite being superseded the AK and SKS rifles. Boundary‘s M53 doesn’t hit quite as hard as the GSW-SR and its muzzle velocity is slower, but it has better handling and a higher rate of fire, making it a suitable choice for maps where there are more close range engagements.

  • Over the course of the demo, I also ended up unlocking the SVD, a space-ready variant of the Russian Dragunov rifle. As a marksman rifle, the SVD is an excellent medium range weapon, and shortly after unlocking it, I scored a double kill with it. While I made fair progress with the classes in Boundary during this demo period, I was unable to unlock the GSW-AMR, a powerful anti-materiel rifle that was featured in the previous demo. Also absent was a light machine gun that the support class had access to. These weapons were quite entertaining to use, but at the same time, they’re also more situational; the available weapons in this demo period were more versatile.

  • It should be clear that in a year, Boundary has seen some impressive updates, and I would imagine that the developers have also accrued a year’s worth of experience, allowing them to improve the game further. In software development terms, a year is a considerable amount of time for making progress – over the past year, I learnt how to do voice recognition and synthesis using AVFoundation, and it was in the past month that I got over my apprehension about using Core Data, Apple’s persistence framework. Although I’d previously used it, Core Data has always given me the willies because the NSFetchedResultsController can be a bit temperamental – if one tries to update a table view without synchronising the table view to the managed object context, the app will crash.

  • Learning to write a table view that correctly uses the NSFetchedResultsController without damaging an existing app’s function was a nontrivial task, and with this done, things have lightened up a little for me, enough for me to capitalise on the warmer, sunny weather to go grab a Flamethrower Grill Burger from the local DQ. DQ’s burgers have a distinct char-broiled taste about them, and the Flamethrower’s sauce gives the burger a pleasant kick. I’ve not had one of these burgers in quite some time, and eating one of these was a trip down memory lane: the flavours remind me of that hot summer day nearly a decade back, when I stepped out for a burger on Canada Day after spending the morning working my summer project for the lab to take my mind off the Great Flood. I recall playing Vindictus during that afternoon; I’d finished my work, but I still found myself wishing I could go out to the mountains despite the knowledge that the bridges had been washed out.

  • This time around, things were decidedly more relaxed, and I found contentment in enjoying lunch under perfectly blue skies. On the topic of the Great Flood of 2013, it is not lost on me that we are approaching the ten-year mark to the day that things in Calgary, and there are some thoughts I’ll be looking to share as we approach June. Back in Boundary, the double kills I got on this map here are one of the most cinematic: I absolutely love the play of light on the golden solar panels and the sun illuminating the planet below. The scene has a distinctly Gravity-like vibe to it. In the double kill above, I equipped a holographic sight on the GSW-AR, while here, I decided to have another go at using the SVD.

  • The SVD handles similarly to the GSW-DMR – these weapons have a longer range than the assault rifles, but don’t have the same muzzle velocity or damage as the sniper rifles. They’re excellent options for the assault class, although as a sniper, I find that equipping a sniper rifle and becoming comfortable with the sidearm is the best option. During the course of my time in the Boundary demo, I came across a number of interestingly-named opponents, and while rolling with the SVD, I encountered one player that had an uncanny ability to continually reach my team’s spawn points despite only mere seconds having elapsed since I took them out.

  • I will yield that Boundary‘s demo for this year’s SteamFest does offer several mobility-enhancing aids, including a grappling hook and afterburner, allowing players to accelerate across the maps on very short order. I didn’t make extensive use of these abilities, but players with greater familiarity for these tools could capitalise on them to move swiftly around the maps. I respect the highly mobile play-style, since it represents a willingness to play for the team’s sake, but admittedly, there is also some merit to the practise of camping in a tactical first person shooter: if one is already holding a capture point, it makes more sense to stick around and defend it. In Boundary, camping on an objective can be countered with the explosive or EMP grenades.

  • Towards the end of my time in this year’s SteamFest Boundary demo, I ended up playing one final game of TDM. By this point in time, I had a decent set of sights for the GSW-AR, and this match, I completely shredded, going 28-18 and ending the round as the MVP. Throughout this match, I continuously slaughtered a player by the name of “Octavia Melody”, which helped with my performance. During the course of my time in the Boundary demo, I didn’t run into anyone that was a streamer, unlike last time. It does feel as though interest in Boundary during this SteamFest was diminished, resulting in a quieter experience all around.

  • I’ll conclude this revisit of Boundary with my second killtacular, which I scored after shooting Octavia Melody in the helmet and reflect on the suddenness of this year’s SteamFest. Like last year, the window to give Boundary a whirl came up unexpectedly: I had originally planned to publish a post today on Lycoris Recoil, which I’d just finished. My thoughts on this series, a contender for best anime of 2022 (but a claim I disagree with), will be published at a later date. My original plans to write about Kokoro Connect remain unchanged, and I aim to complete this post just in time for Valentine’s Day. In the meantime, I do believe that now, when one does a search for Boundary and what the elusive Quadra Kill medal looks like, one shan’t be disappointed.

The biggest question on my mind at present is whether or not Boundary is something that enters my library. On one hand, the game has proven very enjoyable and shows great promise: it represents a step into an environment I’ve always wanted to try ever since seeing 2009’s Shattered Horizon, and moreover, represents an instance of zero-G combat done well. While there are minor inaccuracies with movement to ensure the game is enjoyable, the aesthetic and general attention to detail means that Boundary feels immersive. The gameplay itself is consistent and compelling, and every match is filled with the thrill of uncertainty. On paper, Boundary should be an easy decision, and the developers absolutely deserve the support. However, there is one main factor that precludes my immediate decision to pick things up: as with all of the games I look at, how things handle post-launch is usually what impacts my choices. If a game has a solid launch, with a good balance between quality of gameplay and variety in its content, then it is worth picking up. In the case of Boundary, the demo is known to have consistent and engaging mechanics, so all that’s left is to iron out the minor performance issues. The other factor is variety in content: the demo has already shown that there’s a fairly extensive progression system, and while we’ve only seen space station maps, the space environment offers plenty of potential. If the full game brings out asteroid bases, orbital elevators and shipyards, there’d be enough content to keep experiences novel and exciting. After launch, I’ll have a chance to see how Boundary‘s handles, and provided the game both handles well and has a good selection of content, I see myself picking up Boundary. With this being said, thought SteamFest, I’ve been fortunate to be able to try Boundary out not once, but on two separate occasions: Boundary‘s gameplay is engaging and innovative, providing an alternate experience to the more conventional first person shooters I current play. I will require a bit more information about this game before I can make my decision, but this time around, armed with a combination of renewed familiarity with PvP and better hardware, I was able to focus on improving my game, as well. I like to think I’ve fared a little better this year – in a title where the setup pits five players against one another, and as someone who’s still rusty with PvP, earning a pair of killtaculars (quad kills, or here in Boundary, Quadra Kill) isn’t bad by any stretch.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- The Road to the Vault Edition, Killtacular and Killing Frenzy in Invasion

“Memo: regarding Activision roadmap. Lie, keep players waiting, sweat them out for maximum money.”

Although Call of Duty has accrued a somewhat undeserved reputation for being the game of choice for players who prefer to spout expletive-laden rants into the voice chat over the years or scoring the so-called “360 no-scope”, 2019’s Modern Warfare had turned things around by building a new title around the IW engine, and since then, the Call of Duty franchise has also drawn in more ordinary players. Following Modern Warfare II‘s open beta, curiosity led me to venture into a realm of the franchise I’ve previously expressed no interest in playing through: the high-paced gameplay in earlier Call of Duty games, coupled with a wildly inconsistent game engine, and a community whose reputation precedes it, meant that players like myself would not likely find things enjoyable. However, Modern Warfare II has turned things around: in offering Invasion and Ground War on top of more traditional offerings, the extraction-royale mode DMZ, and Warzone II, it does feel as though Activision has, through Modern Warfare II, provided players with a plethora of experiences such that everyone can enjoy the game in the manner of their own choosing. Die-hard Call of Duty players will gravitate towards close-quarters modes like TDM and Domination, while Warzone fans have begun their journey into Warzone II and DMZ. On the other hand, I’ve found a considerable amount of enjoyment in the Invasion mode; Invasion is basically a large-scale TDM mode where players and AI bots fight it out in an open environment. While the presence of AI bots and the propensity of the typical match to devolve into a sniper-versus-sniper engagement, Invasion remains one of Modern Warfare II‘s most effective ways of dropping into a map and capitalising on the chaotic environment to level up one’s weapons. While the long sightlines enemy snipers have, coupled with the poor spawn system makes deaths especially aggravating, there is also a surprising amount of fun to have in the Invasion mode; the larger maps mean that one can practise their counter-sniping skills, and focus on improving weapons that excel in the medium to long ranges.

The simplicity of the Invasion mode has made it an especially appealing mode for a beginner such as myself: the only object is to score kills. A mixture of AI bots and human players populate the map. Only kills scored against human foes contribute to one’s score streaks, but every kill helps level one’s weapons, and with the AI bots being quite limited, it is possible to wade through an entire group of bots and come out with a new attachment or option for one’s active weapon. This is especially helpful, since all new guns start with their attachment slots locked, and every weapon must be levelled up in order for these slots to become available. While most weapons are quite usable in their base state, the lack of sights can be quite a challenge, especially for medium range combat, so being able to swiftly level one’s weapons up and get their preferred sights onto a gun can quickly turn a difficult-to-use weapon into something that is more manageable. Modern Warfare II has one additional change that makes the game significantly easier for newer players: weapons of a certain category often share attachments, and unlocking an attachment for one weapon makes it available to use for another. Together, this means that, if players were to unlock a new weapon and reach the requisite level to equip sights, they can immediately pick from a pool of sights they’re most comfortable with, rather than being limited to a sight one may not prefer using. The sum of these two mechanics means that acclimatising to new weapons has been quite straightforward, and in this way, I’m slowly making progress with the weapons available to me. The new gunsmith system in Modern Warfare II, despite an outwardly complex design, has streamlined weapons progression and set the bar for how first person shooters should approach weapon progression and unlocks. Within the space of thirty five hours, I’ve reached level fifty-five and built up a varied arsenal of weapons, where some of which are suited for Invasion, and others are better suited for close-quarters of more traditional modes.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After completing the campaign, all players gain access to the “Union Guard” M4 blueprint. This M4 is tuned to be more accurate at the expense of reduced damage at range, but in practise, it proved to be the perfect weapon for starting out. Modern Warfare II provides new players with four different loadout options, but after players reach level four, they can begin creating and customising their own loadouts. The M4 is the best weapon to focus on in the beginning, since it’s a balanced weapon that has fair accuracy, damage and handling traits.

  • Because of long sight lines and open spaces, the best way to play Invasion is to equip the Overkill perk for the ability to carry a second primary weapon, and then bring a sniper rifle to the game. In the beginning, players will only have access to the MCPR-300. Despite being a somewhat unwieldy rifle with a slow aiming down sight speed, this rifle and its .300 ammunition makes it a fine choice for getting used to the sniping mechanics in Modern Warfare II. The base rifle is competitive enough to go up against snipers with better gear, but over time, the weapon can be customised to accentuate its strengths.

  • For the first little while, the MCPR-300 and M4 were my go-to weapons for invasion, and even with just the basic weapons, I was able to hold my own against more experienced players who were running loadouts that were better suited for their style. I’ve been referring to this as the “stock weapons paradigm” for about a decade: a game is fair to players if the starting weapons available are effective and balanced, and then any new weapons and attachments alter a weapon’s performance to fit a specific style. For instance, some players may prefer to give up ranged performance for close quarters effectiveness.

  • In my case, I would have likely benefitted from an assault rifle that was better suited for close quarters in the beginning, since I was already carrying a long-range weapon in the MCPR-300. With this in mind, the Union Guard is still effective enough to get me out of a bind, and this allowed me to start off strong. Over time, I got the M4 to the maximum level possible, and this unlocked weapon tuning, as well as several assignments for the mastery skins. At the time of writing, I’ve not bothered with doing any of the mastery challenges yet, since my focus is on unlocking all of the weapons.

  • The use of killstreaks/scorestreaks in Invasion is a double-edged sword. It is frustrating to be at the receiving end of one, since one can seemingly die without any apparent reason, but on the flipside, using a killstreak/scorestreak allows one to rack up points on short order. Here, I managed to take out two players using the SAE airstrike option. Early in the game, the killstreaks I had available to me were limited: by default, players start with the UAV, Cruise Missile and SAE airstrike, and while the other killstreaks are definitely exciting to use, the humble UAV has the most utility.

  • Early on, I only had access to the default loadouts, but farming the AI bots in Invasion gave me a considerable boost in levelling my weapons. While each kill against an AI bot only yields one point that count towards team score, it still gives full experience points that count towards weapon usage. Early in a match, the AI bots don’t have any armour, and some of them go down in a single shot from any weapon: if one can reach a helicopter as they’re fast-roping down, it is possible to clear them out entirely. Repeating the process several times will yield a considerable amount of experience points that help one to level their weapons.

  • Of course, the biggest challenge about Invasion is the fact that human players sometimes blend into the AI bot, and if one isn’t careful, one can be felled by a sneaky player concealed amongst the AI bots. Human players are difficult to distinguish from the AI bots at first glance: the AI bots might have simplistic pathfinding and decision-making behaviours, but players running basic operators can appear similar enough so that one can’t reasonably prioritise them over the AI. This aspect of Invasion was admittedly the most frustrating: the poor spawn positions mean that if one is killed at an inopportune moment, there’s going to be a considerable amount of sprinting needed to get back into things.

  • On the other hand, when things line up, one can also score consecutive kills against human foes. The larger maps in Invasion allow me to get a kill or two, retreat, and then find another position to engage from. In this way, I was able to go on a few killstreaks of my own. I’ve long avoided Call of Duty‘s multiplayer because of the game’s reputation for a player base that plays the game to an unhealthy extent, and any novice player, like myself, would find themselves instantly melted if they made even a single misstep.

  • In practise, while there are several mechanics in Call of Duty that I wasn’t accustomed to, playing with a more tactical, methodical mindset, and making use of all the tools available to me, was enough to help me keep up with things. Initially, I utilised the deployable cover to create makeshift sniper positions, and this helped me to get the MCPR-300 levelled up: Invasion is a mode fraught with snipers, and the very same conditions that make the mode a nightmare for close quarters players make it favourable for doing some counter-sniping.

  • Over time, as I became more comfortable with Modern Warfare II‘s mechanics, specifically the reload times and sprint-to-fire delay, I became more consistent in my gameplay, and found myself levelling up with regularity, to the point where I actually reached rank fifty-five and unlocked the last of the options in the game. It hit me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up the Vault Edition upgrade to further my experience a little, and over the course of the break, I wound up making the purchase. The Vault Edition adds a few more operators to Modern Warfare II, gives access to the Cinder weapon vault, and provides instant access to the Battle Pass, as well.

  • While I’m not terribly interested in cosmetics per se, the weapon blueprints that accompany the Battle Pass allow me to immediately equip weapons I’ve otherwise not unlocked yet, and allows me to get a feel for a weapon. Being able to use the Lachmann Sub before I’ve gotten the Lachmann platform levelled has given me a glimpse of what some weapons are like, and similarly, since some sidearm blueprints are provided, I’ve been able to use a fully-kitted sidearm to complete certain weapon challenges more easily.

  • Admittedly, running around in Invasion’s been remarkably enjoyable, and this game mode ended up changing my mind about Modern Warfare II during the open beta. Now that I’ve had some experience in Invasion, I decided to give the “Shipment” playlist a whirl. Unlike Invasion, which favours long range weapons, Modern Warfare II‘s close quarters map are ideally suited for submachine guns and shotguns. After unlocking the Fennec 45, I gave this weapon a go and found it a suitable choice. I also began levelling the Expedite 12 shotgun to unlock a thermal optic.

  • Having thermal optics in Invasion is helpful in some cases: the enemy helicopters will drop smoke before deploying their AI forces, and having thermal optics allows one to discern them through the smoke. Similarly, enemy operators will emit a thermal signature unless they’ve got the Cold Blooded perk equipped, and this makes the thermal optics a suitable choice for quickly spotting where foes are, especially if they’re concealed in the buildings of a map. However, I found that even with standard optics on a sniper rifle, I was able to perform well enough.

  • In this way, I went on a few streaks of my own throughout the course of the time I’d spent in Invasion – owing to how maps are designed, they’re a sniper’s dream, and the practise of picking off some foes and moving on allowed me to stay alive long enough for these streaks. Slowly improving over time in a game is a part of the fun. I’d taken a bit of a break from PvP since support Battlefield V ended, and since then, I’ve focused more on PvE experiences. Getting back into things, it looks like I still retain enough of my old skill to remain somewhat competitive against players with more time to spend on PvP.

  • While gaming as a hobby isn’t quite as productive as something like cooking, lifting weights or hiking at first glance, it does help one to unwind if they’re in the right mindset. Gaming competitively can be extremely stressful and taxing, and one can place undue strain on themselves if their aim is to maintain a high KDR or win-loss ratio. On the other hand, since my hiatus on PvP gaming, I’ve come to play with a much more relaxed mentality. Winning and losing is irrelevant, as is scoring more kills than dying. Instead, my only focus is exploring a map and levelling the weapons I have available to me.

  • Matches are short enough for me to play a few before turning my attention to other things, and in this way, Modern Warfare II has become a solid way of taking it easy. It’s certainly a great deal more entertaining than spending my time at AnimeSuki – as a part of my New Year’s resolutions, I have determined that my time at this particular forum has drawn to a close. While AnimeSuki has seen me converse with some insightful individuals over the years, most of the community members I’ve had the best conversations with have since become inactive. The AnimeSuki users that remain care more about politics than anime, and most of these discussions have been remarkably biased, uneducated and based on emotion rather than fact.

  • Watching the same people waffle on about pan-Asian politics day in, day out, grows tiresome fast, and the anime-related talk there hasn’t been any better. The last straw came with the thread on the Yuru Camp△ Movie, where one member believed that the fact that Rin and the others were still single was unrealistic, enough to be a “flaw” worth criticising. When I presented hard evidence indicating that relationship percentages in Japan were similar to what was seen in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, making said criticisms invalid, my counterarguments were dismissed as “pointless” and “silly”. Ignoring evidence because it doesn’t suit one’s worldview speaks very poorly to the state of things at AnimeSuki, and such attitudes shows that the people there care little about having a proper conversation.

  • Not all of my time at AnimeSuki was negative – during Girls und Panzer‘s run, I had some excellent discussions with Wild Goose, and during Brave Witches and High School Fleet‘s run, I befriended Flower, a moderator who would share many conversations with me off-site later down the line. Because these members have gone their separate ways, and because nowadays, I’m able to have more significantly more productive conversations with folks here, as well as with the Jon Spencer Community, I am able to continue enjoying enlightening discussions with people. Considering that the standards for conversation at AnimeSuki have dropped over the years (I’ve had disciplinary action taken against my account, because to relentlessflame, refuting the opinions of a popular member is equivalent to a personal attack), there isn’t value for me to stick around.

  • On the off chance that someone finds this post and calls for me to be banned, I’m not going to lose any sleep over this. I’ve never really spent too much time posting at AnimeSuki, and while the site had once been popular for hosting torrents, the only active component of AnimeSuki now are the forums, and the readership there is quite light: I’ve seen many questionable opinions there over the years, but knowing most of those opinions won’t be given any additional exposure or support (in today’s terms, “signal boosting”) means there’s no need for me to get caught up in things again. With the small bit of time I do gain back, I can spend it on unwinding, or otherwise levelling up my gear in Modern Warfare II.

  • The other mode in Modern Warfare II, besides Invasion, is Ground War, the Call of Duty equivalent of conquest. I’ve never given it a go for myself, but now that I’ve got a more varied arsenal available to me, I do have more confidence in knowing that I can hit the ground running with the tools that I’m familiar with. One of the thing people have suggested doing in Ground War is to hop into a vehicle and capture points. The resulting experience points then help one to level their weapons rapidly.

  • Although I don’t have any screenshots of the new weapons from the Battle Pass in this post, I have been giving some of them a go: the addition of new Blueprints earned from the Battle Pass has allowed me to equip weapons I otherwise don’t have unlocked, and in turn, begin levelling them up so I can unlock new attachments. The gunsmith in Modern Warfare II is a straight upgrade over the system in Modern Warfare, and one thing I really like is how the unlocks are shared. This made it significantly easier to begin using new weapons once they became available: when I picked up the Kastov 762, after the initial hurdle of unlocking the weapon sight category, I had immediate access to the sights from the M4.

  • During one match, I ended up scoring a quad kill while using the SAE killstreak that I looted off a care package that dropped mid-game. Multi-kills in Modern Warfare II will depend on the mode and map – in Invasion, it’s a little more difficult to take out players simply because they’re scattered about, but close-quarters maps will be chaotic, and a combination of skill and luck will be enough for one to consistently score multi-kills. For these feats, the best weapon attachments include magazine upgrades that improve ammunition capacity at the expense of reload time and handling.

  • On the other hand, long killstreaks are more difficult in close-quarters matches, whereas in modes like Invasion, it’s possible to pick foes off and then relocate. During one match, I managed a ten-streak, and according to my stats, my best streak is eleven, which I am confident that I would’ve achieved during Invasion. At a fifteen-streak, players gain access to the Juggernaut bonus, which gives access to a heavy suit of armour and a man-portable M134 Minigun. While this killstreak bonus is nice, the other streaks are a ways more practical.

  • As I began unlocking more weapons, I gained access to both the SP-R 208 and the SA-B 50. These are the marksman rifles, which offer better handling and a little less stopping power compared to the sniper rifles (they require two body shots per kill, whereas the sniper rifles only need one). In the beginning, I struggled to get the SP-R 208 to work since it comes with only the iron sights, but once I was able to put some optics on it, the weapon immediately became more usable, and it was actually with the SP-R 208 that I got my eleven-streak. In a high-paced game like Modern Warfare II, the marksman rifles are best suited for players with sure aim: they can still one-shot players with a headshot.

  • My interest in the SA-B 50 came purely from the fact that it offers an IRNV optic: from a performance standpoint, the SP-R 208 is unmatched, with excellent handling characteristics. Of course, there is one other advantage to levelling the SA-B 50: progressing this marksman rifle far enough will earn the SP-X 80. Similarly, I will be looking at getting the SP-R 208 levelled up, as well, since pushing this weapon to level sixteen will yield the LA-B 330, which strikes a balance between handling and damage. In the meantime, I’ve gotten a better measure of how the marksman rifles handle, and along the way, also became more comfortable with landing headshots out to a range of ninety metres with naught more than the iron sights.

  • The Steam Winter Sale ends tomorrow, and looking back at the Vault Edition purchase, it does look like it was worthwhile to do so. This is actually where the page quote comes from – it’s a variant of a line from The Raccoons. In the episode “Black Belt Bentley”, Cyril learns that another soda distributor, Delicious Drinks, plans to employ the same strategy as he did, by lowering his prices to rock bottom and forcing the sale of other companies to Sneer Enterprises. Once he had a stranglehold on the market, Cyril planned to raise prices. Because the pigs end up writing some software to help Cyril run things, one of his own subsidiaries, Delicious Drinks, ends up preventing a takeover.

  • This ends up giving Cyril some degree of trouble, and when he heads over to Delicious Drinks, he finds a memo on the president’s desk, promising to “sweat him out for maximum money“. The phrase “maximum money” sounds hilarious, and with all the cosmetics and DLC out there, it definitely feels as though video game publishers intend to sweat players out for maximum money. In some cases, it’s not necessary to spend any money, but if one is having a good time with a game, as I did for Modern Warfare II, a few extra dollars to further one’s experience couldn’t hurt.

  • In my case, the fact that the Steam Winter Sale was running simply made the decision easier – buying anything during a sale accelerates the acquisition of cards, and every sale, I make it a point of levelling the seasonal card at least once. Although this exercise is purely cosmetic, I do find it quite fun. Back here, in a later game of Invasion, I’ve switched over to the FTAC Recon, a battle rifle variant of the M4. With excellent all-around performance, this weapon handles quite well at medium ranges. During one match, I ended up going on a short killstreak and picked up a bonus cruise missile to supplement my other cruise missile.

  • At present, I’ve just reached level fifty five, and that means I’ve got all of the level-related unlocks available to me. Together with a fair spread of weapons, I’m well equipped to play a variety of modes now, and this means trying Ground War out. I’d been hoping that custom loadouts would be available in modes like DMZ or Spec Ops, but I’ve heard that those modes give players separate loadouts to utilise. Once my best friend gets up to speed with things, it would be nice to play Spec Ops and DMZ as a squad.

  • I’ll round this post off with a triple kill I scored using the SAE, and with my first gaming-related post of the year in the books, it’s time to look at what this month will entail. I have plans to write about Bocchi The Rock! in the near future, as well as plans to revisit 2013’s Vividred Operation a decade after its airing. The two seasonal anime I’m actively following are Bofuri‘s second season and Mō Ippon!. Both are airing later next week, and I’ll write about them once three episodes for both are out. I will be writing about Uzaki-chan Wants To Hang Out! ω; this series proved quite enjoyable, a cut above its predecessor, and that makes it worth looking at. Finally, I will aim to start Lycoris Recoil and get a talk on that for February, which looks like a quiet month for blogging.

The spread of human players and AI bots means that in most matches, it is less likely that one is feeling like they’re being singled out by an opponent, and the chaos in the typical Invasion match results in a slightly more easy-going experience: although aggressive skill-based match-making (SBMM) is present, even in a game where I’m completely unable to do anything, there is still a chance to get one of my weapons ranked up and become closer to unlocking an attachment of interest. The impersonal nature of Invasion makes it the perfect mode for simple fun, and although the larger maps favour longer-range weapons, it represents a fantastic avenue of levelling a weapon far enough where it can be useful in the other game modes, as well as becoming comfortable with using equipment, perks and scorestreaks in Modern Warfare II‘s other modes. While there can be frustrating moments in Invasion (SBMM is very unforgiving, and if I score more than a 1.5 KDR in a given match, I will be placed into lobbies with the sort of players who play for more than eight hours a day), the fact that Modern Warfare II has provided a mode which incentivises me to return and have a good time speaks volumes to how far Infinity Ward has come. As a result of my experiences, I’ve reached rank fifty-five and have all of the unlocks acquired. This is something I’ve never thought possible of a Call of Duty game, and now that I’ve got a good measure of how the game’s mechanics handle, it is not lost on me that, since my best friend ended up with a complementary copy of Modern Warfare II, it is possible for us to explore the DMZ mode or complete Spec Ops assignments together where time allows. Of course, to help with the process, and because Modern Warfare II has exceeded expectations despite technical issues and an aggressive SBMM system, I’ve elected to pick up the Vault Edition upgrade, which looks to help me with expanding out my arsenal and experience in Modern Warfare II.