I Went to the Danger Zone

Surprise, surprise! Another major multiplayer game is jumping on the Battle Royale bandwagon! Valve has implemented this feature to one of their flagship titles, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Like so many other games before it, the company is taking an established game in a different genre and adding-on this game mode to compete with the countless other titles that usually only focus on BR. CS:GO has been around for a long time, and the Counter-Strike IP even longer than that (20 years in 2019); with the success of the BR genre as a whole, I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, yet it did for me. I suppose we should have expected this, given long-running series like Call of Duty (with Black Ops 4) having also thrown their hat into the Battle Royale ring. The funniest part of this is that the first game we saw introduce the Battle Royale concept was Daybreak’s H1Z1, and it is probably one of the least played games in the genre, with upstarts Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite Battle Royale having dominated the market since then. Despite not being a huge fan of the genre itself, I keep seeing games that I find interesting attempting to do things a little bit differently, and the “Danger Zone” is no exception.

While titles like Realm Royale added classes and others like Battlerite Royale gave this treatment to a MOBA style game, Valve has kept the core gameplay of CS:GO intact while also adding the BR elements to their game. It’s been a while since I last played CS:GO, and it appears that the menus and UI have been changed up a bit as well, I think it looks pretty sharp. It’s intuitive and responsive, so that’s a plus.

Unlike most Counter-Strike maps, it’s a rather large island with plenty of points of interest. This map is called “Blacksite” and encompasses some rural areas along with some industrious ones. Since it is an island you’ll be confined to its landmass, but running from one corner to the other will take several minutes. There’s plenty of places with hidden loot, including buildings, towers and caves. The varied terrain has plenty of places to hide, though the traditional gas cloud will slowly shrink in size forcing you to keep moving and find firefights to eliminate other players. At this point the map only supports 16 players, which is far less than most other Battle Royale games, but it seems to keep match times lower, which means you’ll get more games in more often.

Instead of a flying bus or dragon or whatever else the other devs have come up with, where you fly over the map and jump when you care to; instead you’re presented with a map and can select your starting location. This has its pros and cons when compared to other BR titles, as you have the advantage of seeing where others are planning to spawn, but don’t have the choice to drop out and then vastly change direction while in air. In this sense it’s most similar to H1Z1, as in that game you’ll just be randomly spawned in the air and can control your decent in a limited fashion. The map looks gorgeous and I’m glad to see that CS:GO has ultrawide support built in at this point. There is a brief warm up period where you can run around and gain your bearings while also being able to kill other players, and then the map opens up to allow your placement for the match. You’ll still drop in via parachute from a chopper, but you’ll won’t be able to move too far off of the starting point that you selected. Some major differences between this game mode and other BR games: you will start with a moderate amount of currency, find cash about the map along with more dropping from players that you kill, all of which can be spent with a buy menu. There are limited options for purchase, but these can be bought at any time and will be delivered via flying drone. This is also something you can use to track other players, as their drones will follow them around and give away their position. Also, given the “shoot from the hip” nature of CS:GO, there are no iron sights to be found though this doesn’t really change game play all that much.

So far my best match has been a #2 finish, which should have been a first place victory, but I accidentally hit Shift+Tab which brings up the Steam overlay, at precisely the moment that I spotted the only other surviving player. Of course they shot and killed me at that exact moment, but such is the way of things. It seems that a top 5 finish is much easier in this game over the other BR titles I’ve played, but it’s still a very skill based game from my experience. As you complete matches, there is a separate account level for this mode, and you’ll earn rewards as you level up. Weapon skins aren’t new to CS:GO, but you can earn them as you go with the Danger Zone.

My inventory is fairly limited because I spent the majority of my time playing CS:GO on the Playstation 3 back when it first released. I haven’t played the PC version for many hours so I don’t have access to things that more dedicated players may have earned. I constantly see myself being killed by people with various colored weapon names, of which I assume are different rarity skins. Of course these don’t make much of a difference overall, but if you put the time in I’m sure you can be one of those people who kill me with cooler weapons than I have. Nonetheless this seems to be a pretty awesome BR experience and definitely better than the shitshow that is Fortnite (apologies if you actually enjoy that hot garbage dumpster fire).

One bit of controversy that I should mention: The game has now become free to play, after what, 6 or 7 years of being a paid title? This is for obvious reasons, as the company is trying to bring in new blood to the franchise but also because BR games are generally free to play and the new hotness so they want to try and compete with the others that are out there. There has been a flood of negative reviews on Steam due to this, and though I understand that people are upset because they paid money to play CS:GO and now anyone can jump in for free, but given that it’s an old title, I don’t see how they can expect refunds and/or more free stuff after paying for it years ago. I paid for my copy (two, if you count the purchase on my PS3), and I’m not upset that this old ass game is now free. Valve could have easily given us some sort of in-game reward that would have pacified these folks, but even then I suspect that people would still bitch and moan. Whatever the case, new blood is never bad for an older title, and it doesn’t deserve the negative press. Honestly I would rather that they made a new version of Day of Defeat (even with a BR mode) because it was my preferred mod from back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, but to each their own I guess. People will always find something to complain about, and this is clearly no exception. Still, being free to play, now is as good a time as ever to check out an excellent game if you haven’t played it before. I’m happy to join up if you want to play, just drop me a friend invite on Steam (I’m Izlain there like most places).

Let me know what you think about the game in the comments if you do try it out. As always, happy gaming!

State of the Game: Monster Summer Sale

sotg

I should go on record and say that this round up, despite originally being planned as a weekly update to my gaming life, isn’t necessarily going to come out each week. I’m relegating it to the same status as my State of the Tweet series, where I only put it out when it’s necessary, i.e. when I have good stuff to share to warrant a round up post. Since weeks past were taken up by the NBI and building my new computer, I didn’t have as much to write about (though that didn’t stop me from more normal posting, just didn’t feel a round up was necessary on top of those posts). This week I pre-planned what I would throw into this post, so here were are. As I said, don’t expect this each week, but it will still be fairly regular.

It’s that time of year again, yeah it’s summer. That means it’s hot outside, the sun is too damn bright, and a myriad of sales are hitting digital storefronts. GOG’s summer sale is winding down, Humble Bundle has always got something great, and of course, the Steam Monster Summer Sale is going on right now.

It never fails, when the summer sale comes along I don’t have the hundreds of dollars I would like to spend, picking up all of the games on my wishlist on the cheap. However, this is probably good for my backlog, which I can’t seem to keep from expanding. I probably finish one game for every 2-3 I pick up. Some of the games I’ve earned through bundles or found for free aren’t all that great though, so I really only count the games I actually want to complete. The deals are still pretty much the same, and the flash deals tend to be a deeper discount than the daily deals, but you never know what’s going to pop up there, and a couple of times I was pleasantly surprised. But I digress.

The promotion this year is a little different, in that there’s an actual game to play, rather than just making votes on what games go on sale. I much prefer this to last year’s event. It’s not much of a game, but it’s a fun little diversion, and you earn cards for participating. So far I’ve reached level 280 at my max, but I have seen people in the 1,500 range, so that’s not as impressive. Either way, I’ve earned the badge that comes with the event, though I haven’t bothered with trying to make the badge with the cards. I just sold those off for more funds to put towards games, as I typically do.

summersale

Again, it’s not the most amazing gaming experience, but I still feel it’s an improvement over last year’s sale. I picked up a few titles, some of which you’ll probably recognize:

I picked up Valkyria Chronicles for $4.99, down from it’s original $20 asking price. It’s actually an old PS3 game that came out quite some time ago, and I had already seen it in action as my brother-in-law had picked it up a few years back. It was only ported to the PC at the tail end of last year, and though I had toyed with picking it up before, I couldn’t pass up the $5 price, especially since I already had that on my account. I have only played through the first few missions, but I like what I have seen so far. I talked about that in more detail on the last episode of Couch Podtatoes though, so I won’t go into it further.

My Dad was in the giving spirit as well, and had told me that he was going to gift me a copy of a game that we both had on our wishlists, but when he purchased the game and tried to play it, it wouldn’t run. So he’s utilizing the new Steam refund service, and gave me the option to pick out a game that was a similar price. I decided to get two less expensive games, and ended up with Ironcast and CS:GO. I’m sure you all know what Counter-Strike is. I actually already own a copy on my PS3, but I wanted it on the PC, where updates are more likely to happen more often. Plus, me and eSports go hand in hand these days, so I figured I’d get plenty of hours into this version. I played a bit earlier and it looks better on the PC as well, in my opinion.

Ironcast is a title you might not recognize, I just happened to catch it when it released and added it to my wishlist. It’s tagged as “Puzzle Quest meets FTL” and has a victorian steampunk feel to it. If you’ve played Puzzle Quest, it will instantly look familiar to you. I loved PQ2, so this was a no-brainer. I don’t have any match-3 type games on my Steam account outside of PQ2, so I figured it was time I got for when I’m in the mood for that type of gameplay. I have yet to try it, so more on that later.

Lastly, I picked up the How To Survive Storm Warning bundle. It’s the base game + expansions. I also noticed that in a couple of weeks there’s a 3rd person mod version coming out that also might be interesting, but I didn’t buy that. I want to make sure I actually like the game before worrying about it. I pulled the trigger simply because I typically like action RPGs, survival games, and zombies. Plus, the whole package was only $.99, so how could I refuse?

Outside of the sale, I have been playing League of Legends and H1Z1 pretty regularly. I’ve been doing a bunch of streaming, recording and video editing recently (outside of the blog posts and podcasting as well) so there isn’t going to be much else for me to talk about, though I have been enjoying all of it very much. My last post contained my H1Z1 gameplay video that I slapped together, and I just finished up making this one for LoL:

I picked up Ekko about a week after his release with IP I had been saving. I also had some RP lying around and picked up a few skins, one of which you’ll see in the video when I’m playing Nautilus (and it’s an awesome skin!). There’s some normals and some ARAMs in the video, and it’s mostly just highlights of big plays, but nothing too amazing. I’m really just putting it out there for feedback on things I can do to improve my video edits. So please, leave some commentary here or on my YouTube channel. Thanks!

That’s all I have for this week. Til next time.

#stateofthegame #steamsummersale #gaming