The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY GAMING

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

As consumers, we all want the best games to be available for the systems we own. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case when a game first launches. Due to prohibitive development costs and publisher agreements, we eager gamers often have to wait months or years for our most-anticipated titles to reach our controller of choice — to be “ported” to a console we own.

In some cases, it’s worth the wait, but others have gone so horribly wrong that it makes us cringe.


The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

Dragon Quest XI

(Square Enix Co., Ltd.)

The Good

For a port to be considered “good,” in my opinion, it must include everything its predecessor had, improve graphically if moving to PC, or be as playable as possible if moving from a more powerful system to something like the Nintendo Switch or mobile platforms.

Dragon Quest XI is a prime example of a great port. Localized and ported to PC from PS4, it’s truly worthy of the 10/10 scores and positive reviews it’s getting. When a game is ported to the PC, there are certain set of expectations — players want access to graphical settings and expect increased performance. SquareEnix, while being known for poor ports, really nailed it this time.

Epic Games’ Fortnite is another shining example of a port done well. For a while, the title was available only on PS4, Xbox, and PC — leaving gamers with just a Nintendo Switch or phone out to dry. Now, the battle royale juggernaut is available on nearly every current-generation platform available, with some of them even allowing cross-platform play. Honestly, I can’t think of any other title that has ambitiously moved onto as many systems in such a short span.

Honorable mentions include Dark Souls Remastered (and only the Remastered edition), Final Fantasy XII XV, and Terarria.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

Monster Hunter: World

(Capcom)

The Bad

Bad ports are the ones from which we expected much, only to receive so little. Somehow, in the process of swapping to a new platform, these titles lost content found in the originals or introduced game-breaking, crippling bugs.

Monster Hunter: World got some fantastic reviews when it initially launched on PS4, but the later PC port fell short. Supposedly, Denuvo, an included digital rights management software, is causing massive server stability issues. Then, if you manage to get past the vast array of connection problems, you might run into an almost-laughably sadistic bug that corrupts your save file at the final boss, eradicating 40 to 60 hours of progress — which is a blink in time compared to how long many gamers anticipated the PC port.

Another port that fell extremely short of expectations was Secret of Mana on the PC. It takes all of your nostalgia for the wonderful classic, shines it up with new graphics, and then grinds your hopes for a good time into dust with bugs, rampant crashes, and save file corruptions.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

Arkham Knight

(Rocksteady Studios)

The Ugly

Moving on to the disasters. These are the ports that were so egregiously bad that buyers demanded refunds.

The top of the list is easily Arkham Knight for PC. The initial release was so bad, in fact, that digital sales were suspended and angry videos swarmed the internet. You wouldn’t know it by looking at today’s reviews, but it took years for the developer to acknowledge and fix the many issues. It has a dark history much like Batman himself.

Saints Row 2 had a similar story — they made grand promises of pristine performance only to deliver a bad joke with an uninstall punchline. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition fell to its own meme and died. When gamers have to download user-created mods for a game just to get it playable… something is seriously wrong. From Software admitted it was rushed and eventually released a solid remastered version — for which players had to fork out cash.

The silver lining here is that, in general, ports are being handled better today than ever. Developers are paying more attention to the nuances of each system and are exceeding players’ expectations left and right. Some are even fixing their mistakes.

Nintendo’s Switch is opening the floodgates to bring in more older titles. PC gamers can enjoy some of the best new mobile games and mobile gamers are getting tons of classics.

MIGHTY GAMING

8 reasons why ‘Apex Legends’ is the best Battle Royale game

It’s 1 a.m. again, and I’m wearily crawling into bed hours after my partner.

This is the effect of “Apex Legends” on my life — the latest major Battle Royale game to demand the attention of tens of millions of players. Since “Apex Legends” arrived in early February 2019, it’s become the standard background game in my life.

Unlike “Fortnite” or “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” “Apex Legends” has its hooks in me deep and I don’t foresee them letting go anytime soon. Here’s why:


The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

There are ziplines in “Apex Legends” that defy the laws of physics in delightful ways.

(EA/Respawn Entertainment)

1. “Apex Legends” feels better to play, from gunplay to movement to strategy, than any other Battle Royale game available.

Everything about the act of playing “Apex Legends” feels good, and the more I dig into the game, the more I find to love.

The simple act of moving around is so thoroughly, thoughtfully detailed that it bears praising.

Here’s a very basic overview: Every character moves at the same speed, whether walking or running. While running, you can push the crouch button to slide — this offers you a minor speed boost if you’re on flat or sloping ground. Every character can jump, and if you hold jump while leaping into a wall you’ll clamber up the wall.

It’s a very simple set of rules, but the way that “Apex Legends” makes all movement feel so fluid and smooth is remarkable. It’s perhaps the most impressive aspect of “Apex Legends”: The game simply feels good to move around in. The same can’t be said for any other Battle Royale game.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

(EA/Respawn Entertainment)

2. It’s a tremendously detailed game, despite being straightforward and accessible to anyone.

Allow me an example: For the first few weeks, I rarely used hip-fire (shooting without aiming down the sights). Why would I do that if I could aim more carefully by aiming with a sight?

It turns out there’s a massive benefit to using hip-fire shooting in “Apex Legends,” and blending your shooting between aimed shots and hip-fire is a crucial component to successful play. Due to the relatively accurate spread of fire, hip-firing is critical for winning close-quarter fights with most weapons in “Apex Legends.”

That’s one tiny detail of myriad tiny details that make every little thing you do in “Apex Legends” feel so good. It’s actually my favorite component of the game: I’m still learning finer nuances of each specific weapon, of how to move through the environment more swiftly, of how to reach a place I didn’t know I could.

It’s a game that still feels remarkably fresh to me even after dozens of hours played.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

The full “Apex Legends” island.

(“Apex Legends”/Electronic Arts)

3. The way players can interact with the extremely detailed world in “Apex Legends” is a testament to its excellent world design.

On our way to the next circle, my friend pinged a location for me to see — a tiny little hole he’d discovered that could be used to sneakily get away in a desperate Skull Town fight.

It was the most recent discovery he’d made after over 100 hours spent running, sliding, and shooting through the single map in “Apex Legends.”

There are dozens of these little quirks to the map, and it’s clear that an absurd amount of attention was given to exactly how each area of the map was laid out. There are always more angles to take, or ways to flank enemies, or a carefully placed boulder that’ll have to serve as cover — the hands of the game’s development team are all over the map if you look close enough.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

“Fortnite” recently added a bus that acts a lot like the Respawn Beacons in “Apex Legends.”

(Epic Games)

4. “Apex Legends” is the evolution of Battle Royale — every other game in the genre feels old by comparison.

Watching a video recently of a popular Twitch streamer playing “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” I was struck by how stiff it was. Movement had no sense of weight to it, and the sound of the player running made it look like they were tiptoe-running across a field.

Frankly, it looked outdated and unpolished compared to “Apex Legends.”

The closest any Battle Royale game gets, in terms of movement and gunplay and feel, is “Call of Duty: Blackout.” It’s quick, and has solid gunplay, and there are some interesting gameplay twists that make it unique. But it is inherently a “Call of Duty” Battle Royale mode, with all the baggage that comes with — movement isn’t very fluid, and guns mostly sound like toys.

And that’s before we start talking about the respawn system, or ziplines, or the pinging system, or dropships, or care packages, or the jumpmaster system, or any of the other dozen innovations that “Apex Legends” brings to the Battle Royale genre. It adds so much new stuff that it feels like a full step forward past every other game in the genre.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

Level 1 Shield here!

(EA/Respawn Entertainment)

5. The ping system!

It’s hard to overstate how impressive the ping system is in “Apex Legends.” It should be the number one takeaway for any game developer working on a new multiplayer shooter.

The idea is simple: See an enemy? Tap the right bumper on your gamepad, and your character will call out those enemies and even mark their last movement for your teammates. See ammo your teammate needs? Tap the right bumper! It’s a brilliant, robust system for “spotting” various things — from items to enemies.

Smarter still, that system is contextual. If you’re looking at a level-three helmet and “spot” it, your character shouts out, “Level-three helmet here!” and marks it for your teammates. It’s this system that enables teammates to communicate a wealth of information without having to literally speak to strangers.

The spotting system cannot be overstated in its importance — it’s such a smart innovation that I outright expect it to show up in most multiplayer shooters going forward. It better!

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

Even with a sight, shooting someone from this distance with an Alternator is a tricky proposition.

(EA/Respawn Entertainment)

6. It’s the best shooter of any Battle Royale game — shooting specifically.

The team behind “Apex Legends” has a serious pedigree behind it, having created the “Call of Duty” series and the “Titanfall” series.

It’s no surprise, then, that the shooting in “Apex Legends” feels so good — it’s from developers who more or less set the standard in video-game shooting.

To this end, bullets fall appropriately over a distance. Gunshot sounds are directional. Headshots feel substantial, and submachine guns feel like high-powered BB guns.

The shooting looks, feels, and sounds as good or better than the best shooting games, from the latest “Call of Duty” to “Destiny 2.”

This may sound obvious but, in the most popular Battle Royale games, the shooting is pretty terrible. “Fortnite” has notoriously lackluster shooting mechanics. The only great Battle Royale shooter is “Call of Duty: Blackout,” and that shooting is held back by the relatively stiff movement of the game.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

(EA/Respawn Entertainment)

7. Since each Legend has their own abilities, learning how to mix those abilities with your friends is a blast.

In “Fortnite,” every character you play as has the same abilities. It’s a third-person shooter with building mechanics, and every avatar — visuals aside — is identical.

The same can be said for “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” and the Battle Royale mode in “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.”

But in “Apex Legends,” each player has unique abilities. There are various “classes” of characters — soldiers, tanks, healers, etc. — and various specialties within each class. In this way, “Apex Legends” is more similar to “Overwatch” than its direct competition.

And blending those characters into a team made up of complementary players is part of the delight of “Apex Legends.” Better yet: The game’s developer, Respawn Entertainment, has already added one new character, Octane. And more are promised for the future.

So, what are these powers? They range from the ability to conjure a healing drone that can heal multiple teammates at once, to a grappling hook for reaching high places, to the ability to deploy noxious-gas containers. Using Bangalore’s smoke grenade combined with Gibraltar’s air strike ultimate is one combination I’ve been particularly enjoying.

Since it’s still early days for “Apex Legends,” many of the best ways to use various abilities are still shaking out. And that’s thrilling! There’s a “meta” to “Apex Legends” that is deeper and smarter than games like “Fortnite.” It feels like there are many ways to win, with a variety of different team setups, rather than a “best” way to win. And that leads to the kind of experimentation that keeps the game fresh.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

Picking up wins with friends is absolutely delightful.

(EA/Respawn Entertainment)

8. Playing with friends is critical, and makes the game so much more enjoyable.

I’ve had lots of good matches of “Apex Legends” with total strangers. I’ve won many games where my teammates and I never spoke a word, using only the in-game pinging system to communicate while moving from fight to fight. It is entirely possible to play this game with strangers and have a blast.

But nothing is better than playing with friends, using both your voice and the game’s pinging system to detail your words. Saying “Enemies right here” and pinging the location at the same time is a great way to immediately convey complex information to your teammates. Even better is the tactical planning you convey to each other afterward as you head into battle. “I’ll take left flank,” for instance, or “Getting height” — common refrains while sneaking up on an opposing squad.

Better still, you learn each other’s strengths and compliment each other’s chosen character. You laugh at each other’s faults and call out items you know friends are looking for — yes, I’m always looking for an R-301. Thank you for remembering!

It’s why I’ve been staying up way past my normal bedtime almost every day to play more “Apex Legends.” It’s the best game that’s come out this year by a longshot, and by far the best Battle Royale game available.

Apex Legends Gameplay Trailer

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

These are the video game missions troops are jealous of

Most troops kill time by playing video games. And of course, they like the games that paint their branch in the best light…but it can be a little bit of an exaggeration.


Video games always feature the exciting parts of military service. No one wants to play a game about tedium — it just wouldn’t make a good game. Think how fast people would uninstall a game if 90% of the time they’re either cleaning, performing maintenance, or attending power point presentations about how to properly do adult things.

So here’s a round-up of some truth vs. fiction when it comes to video games and the military:

Airmen think they’re Ace Combat

Who doesn’t love a good combat flight simulator?

In real life, only 0.03% of the Air Force is actually a pilot. So the other 99.97% of the Air Force is more like the little kid who gets to watch their older sibling play.

 

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports
Most of the Air Force is basically just watching their pilots on Twitch.

 

Soldiers think they’re Call of Duty

There’s also a romanticized version of history that younger generations overlook.

“The Greatest Generation” is honored by the notion that all World War II Army veterans were noble pillars of virtue who killed Nazis (though to be fair, the group as a whole took out the Nazis).

But across the board, World War II soldiers embraced the same suck as the rest of us — just in a different decade. Swing by a VFW or an American Legion, buy one of the old timers a beer, and swap war stories. You’ll learn that they drank just as heavily as us, chased as much “tail” as us, and did just as much dumb crap as us.

They just did it while killing Nazis.

 

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports
And man were our boys good at killing Nazi scum.

 

Sailors think they’re World of Warships

Just like the Air Force and their planes, a very small number of sailors actually get to stand at the helm.

This game brings naval warfare to life!

Sort of. There’s a big difference between the amount of time it takes to control video game ships versus real ships. Nothing is as instantaneous as using a controller. In the real world, you’ve got to send a message to this guy, who then tells another guy to tell a guy to do a thing…you get the point.

Marines think they’re Battlefield 3

Video game missions skip over crappy details and just put you straight into the action. Everything is the “cool sh*t” every Marines actually want to do.

Thankfully there’s a good work around the Lance Cpl. Underground figured out. By the very nature of a game, things can only get done when you reach a certain objective. Things get paused or stand still when the player doesn’t do anything.

Nothing is ever mentioned about how easy it is to slide out of bullsh*t. The real world, however, keeps on spinning, whether you skate out of sweeping the motor pool or not.

 

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports
Lance Corporals basically live Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3

Coast Guardsmen think they’re part Cold Fear part Coast Guard

The average Coastie isn’t solving murder mysteries or fighting Russian mercenaries or zombies. They wish they were, though.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports
Then again, if the Canoe Club was actually this cool, everyone would be a puddle pirate.

MIGHTY GAMING

This official USMC video evokes all that is awesome about ‘Super Smash Bros’

Every branch has their own social media team that serves as a front-facing brand to their troops, the military, and the civilian population at large. By in large, these efforts aid in recruitment and build branch pride — but keep in mind that these teams are just a handful of social media guys acting as the face of the entire branch.

Normally, the branches have fun with the users who play along. The Army and Navy’s social media accounts constantly throw shade at one another while the Go Coast Guard Facebook team pulls a few cues from Wendy’s Twitter tactics whenever someone tries to berate them.

And then there’s the Marine Corps social team who has way too much fun with their job…


The U.S. Marines Twitter is a goldmine of Marines-related humor. They proudly boosted the Recruit Mullet meme, which was centered around a recruit calling home while looking ‘Murica AF by sporting a mullet while wearing a Budweiser tank top. They’re also responsible for one of the greatest April Fool’s Day pranks — all they had to say was that “Drill Instructors” were going to be renamed “Drill Sergeants” and chaos ensued.

Their most recent addition to this collection of classics comes on the very same day that Nintendo Direct announced a host of new characters set to join the roster of Super Smash Bros Ultimate, which is slated for a December 7th release. They made a parody video that showcases Marines doing dope Marine sh*t in quick, little snippets to the tune of a Smash Bros song.

It parodies the exact style of the character-reveal trailers that the series is known for. Like this one:

Of course, because this was posted to Twitter, there were plenty of rustled jimmies in the replies. To you angry few: Relax. It’s just a joke.

No, it’s not a waste of government money when this could easily be made in an hour. No, it’s not making light of the seriousness of combat or military service. And no, it’s not directed at recruiting young kids who like Nintendo games.

But it is freaking hilarious and made even funnier by getting the Official Marine Corps stamp of approval.

Let’s do this. 1v1 me. No items, infantry only, Final Destination.

The upcoming game is slated to have 71 playable fighters duking it out across over 100 different maps. Nearly every character from every single Nintendo title is set to appear in some fashion and many characters from outside IP will appear, including Snake from Metal Gear, Ryu from Street Fighter, Cloud from Final Fantasy, and now, Simon Belmont from Castlevania.

Who’s to say that Nintendo won’t add actual Marines to the game? It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve added characters that make little sense given the game’s tone. Or, and this entirely wishful thinking from a fan, they could add Doomguy — why not? He’s a Marine that made an appearance on the Super Nintendo. That’s fair game, in my book.

MIGHTY GAMING

How Blizzard is putting the ‘war’ back in Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft is still going strong after nearly 14 years of being at the top of the video game world. One of the ways that Blizzard has maintained such success is by releasing a constant stream of new content for subscribers to enjoy. This trend continues with next week’s release of the game’s seventh expansion, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.

This time around, instead of focusing on fighting some giant, world-ending bad guy, the developers are taking a different approach and are returning to what made the game so beloved: the faction-based conflict between the Alliance of humans, dwarves, and night elves and the Horde of orcs, trolls, and undead.


The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

Players had little idea that a simple choice between left side or right side would mean so much fourteen years down the road.

(Blizzard Entertainment)

The game has always drawn players in by carefully scaling a character’s level of badassery with the amount of time spent playing. Couple this enrapturing, eventual rise to power with the ever-looming threat of attack by the opposing faction and you’ve got a recipe for player investment. When players are invested in the game, they start to care about the world — and its well-being.

The last expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion, saw players putting an end to the series’ primary antagonist, Sargeras. The fight against such a massive threat required that the Horde and Alliance mend bad blood and work together (mostly) to fend off a universal danger.

With the major threats quelled, players are rejoicing as opposing factions can finally go back to killing each other — and things have started off with a bang. As a lead-up to the expansion’s release, the Horde burnt down the capital city of the night elves, Darnassus. In return, the Alliance laid siege to the undead capital, The Undercity.

Right now, players are taking part in said attacks, storming the battlefield as either the defenders or the attackers, depending on which faction you chose when making your character — an event that, for some, happened nearly 14 years ago.

The Alliance-versus-Horde aspect of the game has long been a fan favorite. A huge section of player base has always taken their faction identity to heart. In the older days of World of Warcraft, if you made an Alliance character on a server, that was it. If you wanted to try life on the Horde, you had to pick a new server and start all over.

Back in 2004, it wasn’t uncommon for a group of friends to be split over something as simple as deciding to play as a dwarf or a troll because it meant they couldn’t play together. These restrictions have since been loosened and many players have characters on both factions — but they’ll remain fiercely loyal to their first, arbitrary choice.

This is actually the heart of what makes the advertisements for the new expansion so funny. Moments like the one in the video below really do happen between World of Warcraft players.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

​My excuse is going to be “massive diarrhea to the point that I’d rather not risk seeing a doc.”

(Blizzard Entertainment)

It kind of goes without saying that the next expansion is heavily based on player-versus-player interactions. Players are highly encouraged to fight with their faction against their enemy and are given some pretty sweet in-game rewards for doing so. Ambush unsuspecting foes while they’re out exploring or take part in skirmishes in designated battlegrounds in the pursuit of honor — ‘honor’ here means both for the love of your faction and for literal ‘honor points.’

New to the expansion is the introduction of Warfronts, massive battlefields for which players fight to control. Victory means capturing a city that their faction retains until the next battle. There are also plenty of new zones filled brim with quests tailored specifically for your faction to help you reach the new max level, getting you ready to join the fight.

So, get ready to fight for your faction’s pride on Tuesday. Or, if you don’t play, get ready for some of your nerdy friends to sick call for a “totally valid” reason early next week.

MIGHTY GAMING

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports
Capt. Ryan York.

When Ryan York, a captain in the Washington Army National Guard, was approached about starting a Twitch gaming channel, he was skeptical. 

“Initially I thought this was going to be more work on my desk, more stuff to coordinate,’’ he said. 

Consider York a convert, thanks largely to the relentless enthusiasm for video-game streaming shown by Sgt. Peter Chang and Sgt. Brett Seifried.  

York, 40, is now the gaming program director for the Washington Guard. Chang, 39, is the gaming marketing director, while Seifried, 34, is a triple threat: a gaming liaison, a gamer and a streamer. 

“When I was on active duty in the 82nd, I played almost every day,’’ Seifried said. “It was just a way for us to decompress, relax, take the load off. You’re not just people I work with. You’re people I live with. You’re people I work with, game with, eat with, all of that.’’ 

Since the Washington Army National Guard’s Twitch channel debuted in early November, its number of followers is increasing. Soldiers comprise four competitive teams that play Call of Duty, Rocket League, Overwatch and Rainbow Six.  

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports
Sgt. Peter Chang.

While gaming provides a competitive outlet and is good for relieving stress, it also boosts morale, Chang said. 

The Washington Guard wanted to devise a way to get “people excited about another aspect of the Guard, not just training, training, training,’’ Chang said. “At the same time, there’s these other extracurricular events that the Guard does on its off time to create [a community] with other soldiers.’’ 

At least in the beginning, an unintended byproduct of the Washington Guard’s channels on Twitch and Discord, another digital platform, was recruiting new members. Soldiers compete in a high school esports league, creating ties to a potential pipeline for new applicants. While York said his office has not been inundated with young gamers through streaming, one recently inquired about joining the Guard. 

“Everything we’re doing on those platforms is providing the entertainment value, the interactive value of friends making friends and things like that,’’ York said. “But he decided, ‘This was cool stuff. I might want to see what it’s about.’ I’m no recruiter, but that sounds like an awesome recipe to me, right?’’’ 

The Washington Army National Guard is far from the only military unit streaming video games, but no record is kept of how many. It’s a popular pastime, particularly among the younger demographic. The Army National Guard launched a Twitch channel in January 2020, spokeswoman Cheryle Rivas said. Fourteen soldiers from across the nation stream, usually on Monday through Thursday nights. 

“The Army National Guard esports program emphasizes our soldiers’ passion for gaming while showing the rest of the gaming world how they can find ways to serve their country and community,’’ Rivas said in an email.  

“The stream squad entertains, interacts and helps others see Guard soldiers in a different light and as people who share their interests.’’ 

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports
Sgt. Brett Seifried.

Just like Seifried. 

Before he had a family, Seifried used to play a lot more. Now the priorities have shifted for the father of two young children, but once a gamer, always a gamer. 

Once they are asleep (soundly, hopefully) for the night, Seifried tries to sneak in an hour of gaming or so most nights. 

“You hear people talk about games and, ‘What did you play this weekend?’ or, ‘Did you see this game?’’’ Seifried said. “Instead of that being only on drill weekends, now we can do it three times a week on Twitch. I was excited to see it.’’ 

So was Chang. 

While the Washington Army National Guard’s Twitch channel is not quite as popular as achieving a good score, it’s developing a loyal following. 

“It’s a little internal thing we say: ‘Train hard. Game hard,’’’ Chang said. “When you have those positive programs within your state, that’s one thing that Guard members fall back on after a hard day of training or a hard day at work.’’ 

This article originally appeared on Reserve + National Guard Magazine. Follow @ReserveGuardMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

We’re giving Front Towards Gamer a new home

Today, we’re happy to announce that We Are The Mighty will be the new home of Front Towards Gamer (FTG), a community founded to support military veteran nonprofit Operation Supply Drop (OSD). Through a partnership with OSD, we’re going to carry the FTG torch, continuing to provide guides, reviews, videos, and articles to our growing gaming community.


“This partnership with We Are The Mighty gives our passionate content creators the opportunity to leverage WATM’s large and engaged audience and represent the ever-growing community of veteran gamers,” said Glenn Banton, CEO of OSD.

If you’re a former member of the FTG community, then we’re more than glad to have you. If you’re a gaming enthusiast, we’re sure you’ll love what you see. If you’re not a fan of gaming, then you might be asking yourself, “why should I care?”

Well, let’s take a look at the numbers:

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

According to a joint WATM-Maru/Matchbox survey from 2017 of over 1,700 active and retired military servicemen and women, gaming is an essential part of military culture. 73% own a gaming console, well above the 54% of the non-military population. 30% plan to purchase a new gaming console in the next year, nearly double the 17% of non-military.

One thing is clear: Both active service members and veterans care about games — and we do, too.

So, we’re pledging to bring you more of the content you’ve grown to love from FTG while contributing our own original and curated content as well. Additionally, we’re thrilled to continue to champion many of the events and programs hosted by OSD and their partners, including 8-Bit Salute (their annual gaming marathon fundraiser on Twitch and Mixer) and Games to Grunts (the online platform providing no-cost games to military service members and veterans).

Stay tuned for more great gaming content!

Editor’s note: If you’re a member of the military community with passions for gaming and writing and you’re looking to contribute your voice to our community, send us an email. We’re always looking for great contributors.

MIGHTY GAMING

Here’s how you can play in the new Call of Duty esports league

Everyone’s favorite gaming franchise, Call of Duty, launched its esports league Jan. 24 to the excitement of fans across the globe. Owned by Activision Blizzard, the Call of Duty franchise continues to be their most popular brand and the company is hoping to capitalize on that success with this new league.


That’s right: thousands of people are gathering in stadiums to watch other people play video games. Just like toddlers like to watch toy unboxing videos, middle-aged women like to watch other people buying houses, gamers came out in droves to watch some of the best in the world go head to head playing Call of Duty.

The league makes sense: one of the Call of Duty titles has been the best-selling game in the U.S. for nine of the past 11 years, according to market analysis firm the NPD Group.

According to ESPN’s Jacob Wolf, Call of Duty League franchise owners paid million or more to secure their place in the Call of Duty League, which boasts 12 professional teams, representing 11 markets across North America and Europe. The teams are:

The good, the bad, and the ugly of PC game ports

Call of Duty Esports League Teams

Here is the rundown of the Official Call of Duty League Rules:

  • Pro teams compete in 5-vs-5 Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare multiplayer matches, on PlayStation®4.
  • Call of Duty League matches will be played around the globe in the home market of each team in the league.
  • The league features the best Call of Duty esports players from around the globe.
  • Players are paid; starting salaries range around k.
  • At the end of the regular season, the top 8 ranked teams, including four wild card spots will advance to the playoffs.
  • During the Call of Duty League Championship Weekend, the final six Playoffs teams will face off in double-elimination competition until the final two pro teams go head to head in the Call of Duty League Championship.
  • Teams will be battling to take home the glory of being the best in the world and reportedly over million in prizes. Yes, we said million.

Want to get in on this? There are plenty of ways for fans to get involved, according to the Call of Duty League website:

Launching later this season (2020), fans may sign up as duos to compete in Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare “Gunfight” matches for a chance to win prizing and to compete at a Call of Duty League event. More details about the City Circuit will be announced in the coming months.

Additionally, throughout the season the Call of Duty League will unlock new opportunities for spectators and amateur players to participate online and at league events to be announced in the future.

Here are the results from opening weekend.

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Call of Duty League Standings


Fans can vote for their favorite players on the website as well as see league standings. Get ready to buy all the merch.

MIGHTY GAMING

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Does playing video games and desktop simulators, such as Microsoft Flight Sim, prepare you to become a fighter pilot?

As a fighter pilot, much of our training takes place in a simulator, which is the ultimate video game. Stepping into these rooms, you’re dwarfed by a giant sphere that projects a 360-degree view of your surroundings. After climbing into an exact replica of the cockpit, a motor then pushes you into the middle of the sphere and it’s fights on—You’re anywhere in the world with any weapons you want and adversaries that can be dialed-up in difficulty as needed. And it’s not just you in there, other pilots are in their own pods fighting alongside you on the same virtual battlefield.

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The inside of the cockpit of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Full Mission Simulator accurately replicates all sensors and weapons to provide a realistic mission rehearsal and training environment for pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Flying a modern fighter is difficult—these machines are designed to merge man and machine into a lethal combination that can have a strategic level of impact on the battlefield. The stick and throttle alone have dozens of buttons on them. Most of these buttons can give 5 or more commands—forward, back, left, right, and down—as well as short pushes and long pushes and multiple master-modes that completely change the function of each button: It’s a PlayStation or X-box controller on steroids.

Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, my generation was one of the first to have widespread access to video games. Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation, N64—I played them all growing up. Using a controller was second nature by the time I got to pilot training. Now trainers like the T-6 and T-38 don’t have a lot of buttons on the stick and throttle—they’re designed to teach students how to fly. However, the F-16 was a huge jump where we learned not just to fly the aircraft, but to employ it as a weapons system.

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The F-16 comes with a few more buttons than your average X-Box controller. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

There we learned what, at the time, seemed like complex sequences to track targets, launch missiles, and drop bombs. What I noticed was that my time playing video games allowed me to synthesize information while quickly and accurately passing decisions I made off to the jet. Many of my classmates also played video games growing up and collectively, the feedback we received was that we were a lot more advanced than our instructors were when they were in our position.

Now, a decade later, I can say the next generation, who grew up with smartphones and iPads, have an even greater capacity to process the multiple streams of information coming at them than older pilots like myself. The avionics in jets like the F-35—which are essentially 2 large iPads glued together—are second nature to them. So, to answer the question, do video games help prepare you to become a pilot? The answer is yes, to an extent.

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How else are you supposed to master the wing-mounted laser blasters that come on the F-15? (Ace Combat 7)

For future fighter pilots out there, I would say a couple of hours a week can help with processing information, making quick decisions, and accurately passing it off to the controls. Anything more is likely a detriment in that it is taking time away from other things you could be working on. As for the type of video game, it doesn’t matter. Realistic fighter simulators like DCS aren’t any better than Mario Kart: The procedures and tactics in civilian sims are off by enough that it won’t give you an advantage by the time you’re flying the real thing. If it helps stoke the passion, great, that’s the most important trait for success, but not playing them won’t put you at a disadvantage.

MIGHTY GAMING

6 video game features coming to real combat

Video games way oversold the military. Shooter after shooter and strategy game after strategy game promised a career filled with Firebats and thermonuclear grenades, but the actual military turned out to be a lot of hard work using basic tools. Where are the cybernetics and robots and zombie plants?

Turns out, “they’re” working on it. Here are 6 features of video games coming to real combat. Given, you know, the programs are successful


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Can’t wait until my future robot partner takes a human hostage and then gives me a creepy wink during the standoff.

Robot partners

What it is: In futuristic games like Titanfall, infantrymen go in with squads of robot soldiers that can carry their own weapons, drawing fire away from their human counterparts and slaying enemy forces like steel grim reapers.

Who’s making it real: DARPA (yeah, they’re going to come up a lot in this article) has the “Agile Teams” program which is tasked with creating mathematical models for assessing human-machine teams and looking for the best balance. Since programs to allow humans and machines work together on the battlefield already exist, DARPA is basically trying to build the measuring stick to assess those teams and improve them before they’re deployed.

In important note: Agile Teams isn’t only, or even mostly, about performance in ground combat. They’re also looking at how to pair robots and humans in analyzing intelligence, fighting a cyber battle, or conducting electronic warfare.

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A soldier practices firing with an AimLock system.

(U.S. Army Angie Depuydt)

Aim assist

What it is: Most shooters, even ones that don’t advertise it, have some kind of “aim assist” built into gameplay. Through these systems, the computer makes the shooter just a little more accurate either by moving the targeting reticle slightly towards the enemy when the trigger is pulled or by curving bullets slightly towards targets, counting near-misses as hits.

Who’s making it real: Two groups are actually working on this. The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is working on AimLock, which basically takes the two major parts of the weapon (the upper and lower receivers), and separates the upper receiver from the rifleman’s direct control. The shooter pulls the trigger when they’re aimed at their target, the software and motors point the upper receiver at the target, and the round is fired.

Another program in development with the Army Research Lab re-purposes technology originally designed for stroke victims to reduce tremors. In the Mobile Arm Exoskeleton for Firearm Aim Stabilization program, new shooters are attached to a machine that stabilizes their arm while firing, dampening all the little tremors that make a big difference at hundreds of yards. Best of all, the program is shows results — even after the equipment is removed. Firers are becoming 15 percent more accurate after using and then removing MAXFAS.

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Autonomous drones

What it is: In games like Warframe and Borderlands 2, players can work side by side with a murderous drone that kills enemy combatants, seeking out its own targets and watching the life slowly seep out of their human eyes.

Who’s making it real: To be fair, autonomous drones are already real, but they’re mostly good for vain athletes who want their drone to automatically take selfies. This NATO article summarizes a number of programs, mostly U.S. ones, for everything from autonomous wingmen for human pilots to drone swarms for the Air Force, Navy, and Army (yeah, it’s like KitKats — everyone wants a piece).

One fact that the military is generally quick to point out, though, is that all autonomous systems both in development and currently operational, have a “human-in-the-loop” system, meaning that the AI can only recommend targets, it cannot approve lethal action on its own. A human has to give the kill order.

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Autonomous supply and medevac drops

What it is: In video games, you rarely have to wait more than a few minutes for a requested resupply to come in. Turn on a lunar beacon in Borderlands 2? Your gear will slam into the ground within seconds. Just Cause 3 lets you select a customized supply loadout, from guns to helicopters, and have it delivered within seconds.

Who’s making it real: DARPA, but getting helicopters airdropped is still beyond the plan. The Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System would result in remotely driven aircraft that could fly to and from battlefields with different pods useful for different purposes. The Marine Corps actually has an experimental supply drone helicopter built on a Bell UH-1H.

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Graphic summarizing the Active Plant Technologies program.

(DARPA)

Bio-defense plants

What it is: From Final Fantasy‘s cactaurs to Plants vs. Zombies entire arsenal, video games have lots of examples of awesome plants. Plant 42 from Resident Evil can even eat humans and, potentially, turn them into zombies.

Who’s making it real: While DARPA is shamefully refusing to investigate the strengths of the T-virus in plant life, they are working with industry to propel the Advanced Plant Technologies program, where plants are modified to act as sensors, changing physical traits when in the presence of certain chemicals, pathogens, radiations, or electromagnetic signals. So, if you want to know whether the Wizard of Oz is still making nukes, just check the poppy fields.

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Tactical Augmented Reality System screenshot

(U.S. Army)

Heads-up displays

What it is: Nearly every first person shooter has a heads up display, a bit of information on the screen with everything from a minimap to an ammo count. See: Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, etc.

Who’s making it real: Lots of groups are working on different aspects of it, but the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center and the Army Research Lab have debuted a pretty impressive prototype called Tactical Augmented Reality that can display the locations of allies and known adversaries as well as comms info and navigation.

MIGHTY GAMING

Watch this YouTuber take on the DoD Cyber Awareness Challenge

All members of the Department of Defense, including troops, must undertake an annual training to test their knowledge of cyber awareness. A few years back, they changed the test up just slightly to make it far less of a bore and more like a crappy 90s text-based video game.

Everyone freaking hates this training and, if it weren’t mandated at the Pentagon level, no one would willingly subject themselves to it. That is, of course, with the exception of YouTube’s biggest star, PewDiePie.


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He had only the trophies and Jeff to keep him company.

(PewDiePie)

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known by most as “PewDiePie,” grew in popularity through his video-game related content — particularly his “Let’s Play” format, through which fans could watch him play games as he delivered hilarious commentary.

His videos have actually created success for many smaller, indie games, particularly in the horror genre. He’d showcase otherwise-ignored games, give them a glowing review or overreact to intense moments, and his rabid fans would immediately buy said game, propelling it into the spotlight. He has since become the biggest YouTuber, currently sitting at 65 million subscribers.

Recently, he finally took on the dreaded Cyber Awareness Challenge — with commentary provided throughout, of course. Being the avid gamer that he is, the ‘Challenge’ proved trivial, but he actually took it far more seriously than anyone in the military does.

Unlike the god-awful test of old, the modern training awards “trophies” for getting everything correct, so PewDiePie gave it his all.

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That’s literally the exact same answer that everyone gives for that question. The dude stole a phone in the Pentagon… You better go grab that phone!

(PewDiePie)

As he slogged through, he coincidentally ripped the exact same moments of the training that troops mock relentlessly. The training wastes no time in offering pieces of painfully obvious guidelines. For example, the very first tip the government puts out there in promotingcyber awareness is “don’t look at pornography at work.”

He also ran into many of the overly stupid characters that populate the training, like Tina, the coworker that constantly tries to get you to download stuff, and Jeff, the IT manager that tells you just how proud of our work he is in the most monotone fashion possible — but for some odd reason only has a box of tissues on his desk?

Pewds, who never served in the U.S. military, was ill-prepared for many of the minute details — like taking your CAC/PIV out of the computer whenever you walk away — but actually did very well. He did, however, fallfor some of the traps that seem to violate common sense.At one point in the training, your phone is stolen and you’re given the opportunity to chase down the thief, and so he did. But the correct answer is to”alert the security POC.”

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BZ, PewDiePie. You managed to sit through the same crap all troops do without clawing out your eyes. BZ.

(PewDiePie)

PewDiePie passed the DoD Cyber Awareness Challenge with flying colors and was given the Certificate of Completion that every member of the Department of Defense needs to turn in.

He says he’ll print it, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Instead of turning it in to his S-6 to reinstate his government computer permissions, I’m sure he’ll hang it on his wall or something.

To watch the same training that sucks the soul out of the military (complete with hilarious commentary), check out the video below.

MIGHTY GAMING

How ‘Vampyr’ is perfectly placed in World War I London

Video games are as much an artistic medium as any other form of entertainment. Some games have stories that are so well-crafted that they draw gamers into a believable, fictional world while they play. Add enticing gameplay on top of that mesmerizing story and you’ve got yourself one hell of a game.

Dontnod Entertainment’s Vampyr offers exactly that.

The game casts you as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a doctor-turned-vampire in 1918 London. This leaves the player to navigate impossible moral choices, forced to decide between abiding to the Hippocratic Oath — to first do no harm — and succumbing to the bloodlust that comes with being a creature of the damned.


Players can decide to drain the blood out of every single character they meet — turning London into a giant vampire breeding ground — or they could join the side of the light, resisting the draw to feed at the cost of becoming weaker. All of the abilities and weaknesses in the game are true to established vampire lore.

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(Dontnod Entertainment)

The heavy focus on narrative storytelling falls directly in line with the developer’s other game, Life is Strange, which earned plenty of critical acclaim. But what’s going to make this game stand out from other vampiric offerings is that it has real history carefully woven into every fiber.

Related: Why ‘Far Cry 5’ is the most veteran AF game ever

Originally, the game was supposed to be set in the 1950’s America, juxtaposing a demonic hunger with the happiness of a newfound suburban lifestyle. Instead, the developers decided to take the game to a place few others have gone: London during the summer of 1918 — just before the armistice was signed.

Stéphane Beauverger, the game’s narrative director, told Polygon,

“This war at the beginning at the 20th century is the root of so many things. It’s the beginning of communism. It’s the beginning of feminism. It’s the end of the old empires. Darwin has killed God. God is dead, now we know where we come from — it’s all genetic. It’s a brand-new era.”

This historical flare is evident from the very beginning of the game when you awaken from a mass grave. The corpses within the grave aren’t the result of warfare, but rather the Spanish Flu. The main character, Dr. Reid, is a combat medic who just returned from the front lines of the First World War. He is attacked by vampires who are using the widespread death caused by the pandemic to mask their lethal hunger.

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The only real restriction in the game is that you’ve got to end them. You still get to chose how.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

In real life, this virus took its toll on humanity — far worse than the Black Death and The Great War itself. The Black Death took 75 million lives over a decade. The war took 18 million in four years. The Spanish Flu took somewhere between 50 and 100 million in just one year. Historians haven’t nailed down when or where this virus began, but the first known case was in Fort Riley, Kansas and it was quickly spread when American GIs rapidly deployed across the world.

The close quarters, the filthy living conditions, the idiotic decision to quarter live animals alongside men, and the generally terrible hygiene of troops in the trenches meant that a single cough could kill entire platoons. The poor handling of remains meant that the virus would quickly spread. Troops who contracted the flu were shipped to every other corner of the globe and, with them, the virus spread.

Most viruses are dangerous to infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Because the Spanish Flu attacked lungs and bloodstream, it was lethal even to young, healthy adults. So, how did they treat this horrific ailment in real life? Blood transfusions — which brings us right back to the video game about vampires. Dr. Reid was, according to the game, one of the world’s most renown blood doctors before becoming a vampire.

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Being a vampire gives you a different perspective on how blood transfusions work.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

The game also plays with the disillusionment of the common folk. Each and every character that roams the streets of London has their own thoughts, goals, and lifestyle. It’s up to you, as both a healer and a feeder, to discover their stories — either by befriending them or consuming their very essence.

In 1918, the world was ripe with social and political revolutions. In game, some citizens show communist sympathies while others are proponents of the first-wave feminism, which was born after women took more direct agency of their lives in the absence of nearly all the country’s men.

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All are equal prey if that’s how you want to play the game.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

Vampyr is an expertly crafted game that is definitely worth picking up for both fans of the occult or history in general.

Articles

7 features that would make military games more realistic

Look, video games are awesome and military video games are doubly so. But video game companies are not even trying to capture real deployed life. As they continue bragging about their realistic sound effects and HD graphics, here are 9 features that would actually help gamers get a real combat experience.


1. Make players rehearse a mission four times and then send them on a different one.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Joseph Guenther

The player is briefed on a mission to capture or kill a high-value target. They have to watch a rehearsal on a sand table, then practice in an open field, and finally they assault some fake buildings with their squad to be sure everyone is on the same page.

They climb onto the birds but halfway to the target are diverted to capture an undefended dam before terrorists can blow it up. The player’s squad defends it for three days against nothing before returning to base. A friendly engineer squad then blows up the dam.

2. All calls for fire take at least 10 minutes and miss the first three times.

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Rockets aim at objective B, hit objective B on the first try. I’m calling B-S. Photo: Youtube

Artillery units rarely hit their target on the first try in the real world and even airstrikes have trouble getting it right a lot of times. Yet video games which allow a player to call in an airstrike always show rounds cascading down on the exact spot the player asks for.

Instead, the player should have to adjust fire over three or four iterations before actually killing anything. They should also have to wait at least 10 minutes from the first call until the fire mission is fired and rounds begin falling on the target.

3. Random mistakes by other members of your team.

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Characters should fall over stuff like this guy did. But because they tripped, not because they died like this guy. Photo: Youtube

Every once in a while, a squad mate should get their gear stuck on a door handle, trip on their own rucksack strap, or slip on a wet spot in the ground and fall. The player has to decide whether to help their buddy or continue firing at the enemy while attempting to stifle their laughter.

4. Include a 40-lb haptic bodysuit that punches you when you’re shot.

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Photo: US Army Maj. Penny Zamora

When the player is going into battle, they’re usually wearing a hoodie, some boxers, and a fine layer of chip crumbs. But soldiers wear 40 pounds of armor plus whatever other gear they’re carrying at that moment. So, players should be given a vest that weighs as much as the armor.

As an added bonus, motors and weights could be used to punch the player where their character was just shot. And they could carry an 8-pound controller.

5. Your inventory always includes at least 3 items you’ll never use.

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Photo: YouTube

The player should have a limited inventory space, some of which is taken up with “just-in-case” items that never get used. It could be gas masks, backup batteries, whatever. If the player tries to throw them away, the items show up on later patrols as booby traps.

6. Weapon misfires

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Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus Floyd

Anytime the player crawls through mud or sand, it should increase the chance that their weapon misfires. Every 100 rounds without a cleaning should increase the chance of a misfire as well.

7. Can only level up after passing a PT test and reciting random facts from memory

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After the player completes a few missions while exhausted from the countless rehearsals in the heavy bodysuit, overcomes misfires at critical moments, and has proven their ability to carry around useless equipment, they should be given the opportunity to level up.

To get selected for the higher level, they just have to score in at least the 80th percentile on a physical training test and recite the muzzle velocities of at least three weapons. Otherwise, the player is sent back to the tent to study. It doesn’t matter what their kill-to-death ratio is. Side note: KTD ratios are not a thing either.

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