By The Numbers: Week 7, 2019

It’s that time again. I know that this week was a weird one, and that will be reflected in my picks — I went with some sure bets and then some where I’d be some kind of genius for picking them if somehow they were to win. Whatever the case, we should probably look at last week’s picks before getting into further commmentary.

Giants 24, Patriots 20
Panthers 21, Buccs 20 – Correct
Ravens 27, Bengals 14 – Correct
Seahawks 28, Browns 13 – Correct
Saints 30, Jags 20 – Correct
Chiefs 28, Texans 23
Dolphins 21, Redskins 9
Eagles 23, Vikings 17
Falcons 21, Cards 13
Rams 31, 49ers 27
Titans 17, Broncos 10
Cowboys 35, Jets 14
Chargers 20, Steelers 9
Packers 27, Lions 23 – Correct

This Week’s Score: 5-9
Season Score: 55-36

So yeah, obviously my worst week of the season so far. I knew I was going out on a limb that the Giants would beat the Patriots, and so that was kind of a giveaway. I also had no clue who was going to win between the winless Redskins and Dolphins so that was a coin flip away from going my way (particularly because the game was decided by a point). In other cases though, you can’t blame me for picking the way I did. Who would have thought the Cowboys would give the Jets their first win of the season? Did you see the Texans beating the Chiefs? I didn’t either. Whatever the case, what’s done is done and I can’t really be bothered by it. The same way Lions fans shouldn’t be bothered by being “robbed” on calls. We’ve already lost a game this year due to poor officiating, and let’s not get into games like the “Fail Mary” from the past. It happens to every team, get over it. With that said, I’m glad we were even able to be in that position, because honestly we let the Lions get out ahead too easily. Things settled down and the defense made some stops, but in the end a penalty caused a FG attempt to turn into a touchdown and another penalty gave us the ability to spike the ball with two seconds left to play for a chip shot field goal by Crosby to win the game. I’ll take it, but I didn’t like it as much as other victories this season. Still, the Pack are 5-1 going into a match against the Raiders, whom I don’t really see being as much of a challenge. We’ll see how that goes, but for now let’s make picks for the week.

Chiefs 27, Broncos 21
Rams 21, Falcons 13
Bills 28, Dolphins 10
Jaguars 24, Bengals 10
Vikings 21, Lions 20
Packers 27, Raiders 19
Texans 31, Colts 20
Giants 10, Cardinals 9
49ers 30, Redskins 14
Chargers 21, Titans 16
Saints 31, Bears 27
Seahawks 27, Ravens 21
Eagles 30, Cowboys 27
Patriots 35, Jets 14

We’ll check back in next week to go over another week of football. Until then.

Apex Legends Season 3 Begins

It’s been a couple of weeks since season 3 of Apex Legends kicked off, and though I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now, it’s probably better that I didn’t jump the gun. I’ve played quite a bit of the game as of late, mainly because last season I was gifted the battle pass by my lovely lady, so I was in a mad scramble to at least get her money’s worth. This season I wanted to get in on the action right from the start, so I bought the pass on day one and have been able to keep up with all of the challenges much easier. I also have plenty of play time in this season to share my experiences with the newest changes to the game. What were the big changes?

  • New Map
  • New Legend
  • New Gun
  • New Cosmetics

Initially I was curious as to what would happen with the old map that we had all gotten used to. This isn’t a traditional move by Respawn — most battle royale games keep the same map for years, only making adjustments (which the team had done on the prior map throughout the year). When I first logged in, I was anticipating having the ability to choose between the maps, but that wasn’t an option. We’re stuck with the new map for the time being, but we’ve already heard that the old map will be making appearances. In the announced Halloween event, there will be new skins and whatnot to earn, but also a “nightime version” of the old map. So perhaps at some point we might see a playlist with other maps included, but for now, we’re focused on learning the ins and outs of the new one. As you can see above, it’s roughly the same size as the last map, but everything looks a bit different.

It’s a bit prettier in my eyes, mainly because I don’t really care for the bland color scheme of desert biomes. Here we instead have pops of red and white, due to lava and snow respectively. Overall it looks greener and more alive. I also like the addition of industry, with cityscapes and even a train that moves around the world. It feels better in many ways, but then I don’t like how wide-open some areas are. I’ve been picked off by snipers one too many times, I suppose. Whatever the case, it’s a well balance map and I feel like there is less competition to land in one or two places, and instead people spread out a little more. It also feels like the weapon distribution is better, as I don’t seem to come across 5 Mozambiques in one building anymore, nor do I feel undergeared before leaving the first area where I land. I suppose part of that is luck and experience, but whatever it is, it feels more balanced.

The new character, Crypto (pictured in the logo above) is a “surveillance expert,” and is another tactical legend, finally. We’ve only had Bloodhound for so long I was beginning to think they gave up on the archetype. He’s actually better at surveying than Bloodhound, but does so in a different way. He has a little drone that he can take control of, but when doing so he is vulnerable. He gives sight to teammates when his drones see enemies, and can also shoot off an EMP blast from the drone itself, which destroys some equipment and drains shields. Otherwise, he’s pretty much just another dude with a gun. I was able to unlock all of the legends prior to his release, but don’t have the currency saved for him just yet, so more on that once I try him out.

I also haven’t really used the Charge Rifle, which is the new gun added with this patch. I have however been decimated by it. It’s an energy sniper rifle that charges up shots and when they hit, they hurt! Again, I haven’t used one much (though I’ve had some stellar games with the Triple Take, the “other” energy sniper rifle) but I think it seems a little overpowered at present. I’m sure some adjustments will be made.

As far as cosmetics go, buying the battle pass unlocked a couple skins for legends right off the bat, and early on we unlock a “gun trinket” which is that little ornamental ball thing on my R-301 above. It’s not terrible, and some of them are okay to look at, but it seems like a wonky thing to give a shit about. I guess more customization is fine, but Apex is starting to go the way of Fortnite, and clown pants comes to mind. Some of the skins and things are pretty awesome but at some point we’re all rainbow brite running around like an idiot.

One last thing before I go. I thought I’d drop my Season 2 stats here to make comparisons when the next season starts.

By The Numbers: Week 6, 2019

The Packers ended up having a hell of a game last Sunday, facing off against the also 3-1 Cowboys (who were considered one of the NFC favorites to go to the SuperBowl). The defense was on point for much of the game, holding the ‘boys to 3 points up until the third quarter. We did blow a bit of a lead but it was mostly during garbage time and still ended up with a ten point lead, good enough to take the win. It was a pretty decisive road win though, and that builds morale. If we can keep giving it to our own division, we only need a few road wins to get back into the playoffs. We match up favorably against the Lions who we face this upcoming week, so I think we should be able to start talking about 5-1 pretty soon. Let’s see how I did with my picks last week:

Seahawks 27, Rams 21 – Correct
Jags 21, Panthers 14
Cardinals 25, Bengals 24 – Correct
Texans 23, Falcons 20 – Correct
Saints 30, Buccs 24 – Correct
Vikings 31, Giants 30 – Correct
Bears 24, Raiders 13
Eagles 35, Jets 7 – Correct
Ravens 20, Steelers 10 – Correct
Bills 27, Titans 14 – Correct
Patriots 40, Redskins 17 – Correct
Chargers 21, Broncos 6
Packers 28, Cowboys 23 – Correct
Chiefs 35, Colts 21
49ers 26, Browns 19
– Correct

This week’s score: 11-4
Season score: 50-27

Still having a pretty good year. Some surprises there, didn’t see the Chiefs losing to the Colts, nor did I see the Bears tanking against the Raiders, but stranger things have happened, I suppose. Whatever the case, at just over the quarter mark, I have almost double correct picks over incorrect ones, so I’d say that’s pretty good. I’m not sure if I’ll do better than last year when it’s all said and done, but we’ll find out in a couple of months. Let’s make some picks for Week 6:

Giants 24, Patriots 20
Panthers 21, Buccs 20
Ravens 27, Bengals 14
Seahawks 28, Browns 13
Saints 30, Jags 20
Chiefs 28, Texans 23
Dolphins 21, Redskins 9
Eagles 23, Vikings 17
Falcons 21, Cards 13
Rams 31, 49ers 27
Titans 17, Broncos 10
Cowboys 35, Jets 14
Chargers 20, Steelers 9
Packers 27, Lions 23

We’ll check in again next week to see how I scored. I’m going out on a limb here that the Giants can once again pull out some heroics and eliminate the Patriots’ win streak. It’s also a reach as to who is going to finally get a win when it comes to the winless teams, namely Washington and Miami. I’m thinking Miami finally gets a win but I doubt it matters.

Thoughts on Beyond: Two Souls

I spoke very highly of two of Quantic Dream’s games already, and had mentioned that I would also be diving into a third game that came out in between Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human. That game, is 2013’s Beyond: Two Souls. This is going to be a relatively short post on the subject, because unlike the previously written about games, this one didn’t sink its hooks into me like the others did. I’ll now attempt to explain why.

Graphically, the game leans more towards the Detroit side of the scale rather that the first game, mainly due to the fact that the latter two games came out on PS4 while the former came out on PS3, so that explains the difference in fidelity. That isn’t to say Heavy Rain looked bad, it was just a sign of the times. It still had a better story line than this game, as did the third chapter. You begin play as a little girl, and there are various current time frame and flash back scenes that lay the ground work for the story. It seems that as a little girl, your character has an “imaginary friend” that ends up actually being some sort of entity that has a link with her. It’s not so much that she has control of it, but more so that she can ask it to do things. In gameplay terms, yes,  you do control this entity at certain points, and are able to choose to listen to commands or not. There’s still branching dialogue choices and things you can do that affect the story, but the story itself was less grounded in reality and I think suffered because of it. I realize that robots becoming humans is also currently far-fetched but still something I anticipate could happen whereas this spirit/entity is complete bullshit and made it harder for me to suspend my disbelief.

I do however, think it’s cool when games get fully motion captured actors and portray them as themselves in games. Willem Dafoe ends up being the girl’s “handler” so to speak, and it appears as time goes on, she becomes more than just a girl with a pet, and more of her own CIA spy bad ass. That’s cool and all, but it’s less cohesive with all of the jumping around the game did. Heavy Rain ended doing some flashback stuff but it made sense when they did so. Detroit: Become Human ended up making more of a beeline to the end of the story but you played multiple characters so you could tell it was all happening simultaneously. Beyond: Two Souls ends up making a stack of layers that when unshuffled makes sense, but otherwise seems like a mess. This is probably why they included an option to play the game in chronological order, but I wanted the “authentic” experience.

What frustrated me the most was controlling the entity. Early on you have to fly through walls to “cheat” and see what card a person is looking at so that you can match it to a card on the desk in front of you. Then Willem Dafoe asks you if you can do anything else (at this point they seem to think she is psychic/telekinetic) and you can throw shit around the room. Like the other games though, this is controlled via QTE/weird button combinations and it just didn’t do it for me. There’s some forced stealth with an invisible spirit and that’s where I drew the line. It just simply didn’t hold my attention like the others. As it stands now, I can’t recommend this one, but if you are a fan of their other games, you might be able to power through it. That’s all I have to say about it, so I’ll see you all next time!

By The Numbers: Week 5, 2019

Apologies for my absence as of late. I have been in a strange place as of late, but that’s a story for another post. I can assure you, that I have drafts in the works, I’ve just been more focused on real life and less focused on blogging for the past month. Whatever the case, I’ve at minimum committed to this particular column for the season, so let’s keep it going (in before I miss another Thursday pick!). The Packers (along with several other teams) fell off of the undefeated list. Now sitting at 3-1, we’ve still managed to hold onto the NFC North Division lead for another week. The Bears tied our record on Sunday, but because we hold the head-to-head victory we stay on top. The Lions and the Vikings both lost, so they fell to the bottom of the rankings. This is good news, though the game against the Eagles was both an awesome show and a huge disappointment. It was nice to see the offense get going early, but then stay hot up until the 4th quarter. It was terrible to see two fruitless trips to the red zone in the final minutes of the game, culminating in a game-losing interception by Rodgers. Two things to consider though, about that last play — the ball was tipped and then ended up in a defender’s hand, so it’s not as if it was a horrible throw that falls on Rodgers’ shoulders. Also, the defender was already tackling the receiver before the ball even got there, and well that should have been a penalty that erased the INT. What’s done is done though, so let’s grade my picks for last week:

Packers 27, Eagles 20
Giants 24, Redskins 13 – Correct
Chargers 21, Dolphins 9 – Correct
Colts 20, Raiders 10
Texans 30, Panthers 17
Chiefs 31, Lions 20 – Correct
Ravens 23, Browns 20
Falcons 24, Titans 20
Rams 28, Buccs 22
Seahawks 30, Cards 14 – Correct
Jags 26, Broncos 21 – Correct
Vikings 30, Bears 13
Cowboys 35, Saints 27
Bengals 14, Steelers 10

Week Score: 5-9
Season Score: 39-23

Yuck. What a bunch of stinkers those picks were, but I’d argue most people would have seen it the way I did. I didn’t think the Eagles would play as well as they did. I thought the Browns were still overhyped and that the Ravens would win that game. Who knows what’s going on in the South? I can’t pick these games for shit. The Texans and Panthers and Buccs are so up and down I can’t make sense of it. Rams losing to the Buccs? Saints beating the Cowboys without Drew Brees? You can’t make this shit up. Also, the Steelers finally got a win. Let’s see what’s up with week 5:

Seahawks 27, Rams 21
Jags 21, Panthers 14
Cardinals 25, Bengals 24
Texans 23, Falcons 20
Saints 30, Buccs 24
Vikings 31, Giants 30
Bears 24, Raiders 13
Eagles 35, Jets 7
Ravens 20, Steelers 10
Bills 27, Titans 14
Patriots 40, Redskins 17
Chargers 21, Broncos 6
Packers 28, Cowboys 23
Chiefs 35, Colts 21
49ers 26, Browns 19

There’s still some hard-to-tell picks I had to make here, but I’ll stand by them regardless. The season is at a point where some teams are separating themselves from the pack while the middling teams are harder to tell if they’re on an up or downswing. We’ll check back in next week to see how I did.