2019 has started with me bouncing around lots of different games. I’ve been working through the backlog playing a little of Subnautica, Tacoma, Steep and Dear Esther. Slower and smaller experiences which I can take at my own pace. It’s a nice build up to some of the bigger games releasing over the next few months and a calm down after the hectic holiday period.
What I didn’t expect to play with this change of pace was the Call of Duty Blackout trial. A free week to experience the new battle royale game mode introduced in 2018s Black Ops 4 (or IIII). What I also did not expect was the sense of feeling old. I cannot think of or remember another game which has made me feel so old.
I’ve played plenty of first person shooters through the years including their various multiplayer modes (The last was Battlefield 1, about 2 years ago). During my time I’ve excelled at some and been very average at others. I first found a love for online shooters with CoD4: Modern Warfare which I played with my Brother. We were of an equal skill but for CoD4 we were very average. We’d occasionally break the top three but not every game. I’d played FPS’s before, and a lot of competitive couch games like Goldeneye, but not online against others. The improvement in skill came for me with Black Ops. I’m not sure if it was understanding the formula more, hitting my stride in hand eye coordination or understanding the lag and timing shots better. It could be all these but there was another large factor, Black Ops allowed split screen multiplayer. My housemate and I got very good at Black Ops, excellent even. We were students so didn’t have much money to buy games regularly yet had plenty of time. So Black Ops became the game we played almost every night until we eventually moved out to different houses. This is where I discovered I enjoyed online shooters much more as part of a team and I quickly transitioned from CoD to Battlefield. Again I was pretty good at Battlefield 3, hit my skill peak with 4 and dropped a little but kept a good skill level, and consistent squad to play with, in Battlefield 1.
This brings me back to CoD and Blackout. Picking up CoD again felt familiar yet slightly unnerving. I don’t know any of the weapons or equipment, had to learn the perks system (if it’s called that) and had no idea where I was going on the map. I was lucky that a friend who owns the full game and has played Blackout a reasonable amount suggested we play Duos. He took me through some basics and map orientation. Yet with a few hours playing with him under my belt I don’t feel any better at it than when I first booted it up. This is solely down to my skill.
I’m just not as fast anymore. My reactions no longer allow me to come out on top of a one on one firefight. I tried to adapt, find a sniper and be sneaky, but then I’m not as quick in tracking my target. Again i adapt and try to tank up finding shorter range powerful weapons and get close to the action. This tactic seems to give me a better chance but once that circle closes in I’m easy pickings for snipers and those with more skill at aiming than I. The biggest example I have of feeling old whilst playing is that I must have played 15 odd games and I’ve probably killed around 8 to 10 people. I spend most of my time running around the map chasing the action only to be swiftly dealt with. This isn’t Blackouts fault. the game feels good, it’s weighty and the weapons feel well balanced from what I’ve experienced. I’ve loved playing a game as part of a team again and have had fun setting up sniper towers only to have to move because of the circle closing in somewhere else creating a mad dash. I’m just starting to realise my limits. Coming up against 15 year old Jimi resplendent in his blue camo armor, brandishing a tiny uzi to be gunned down is a hard lesson to appreciate.
This isn’t the end of my life in online shooters or fps games. I’m really looking forward to Metro Exodus next month and the Division 2 following that. I just hope this feeling of being ancient in the gaming space has quietened by then.