Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY GAMING

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
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.  

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
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.’’ 

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
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

New Mortal Kombat just added Schwarzenegger’s Terminator

Ahead of the release of Terminator: Dark Fate, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic cyborg/character, Terminator T-800, is coming to the Mortal Kombat 11 roster in a crossover we were not expecting.

A gameplay trailer shows T-800 looking like an aged Schwarzenegger wearing jeans and a leather jacket — classic badass outfit. He walks into some kind of military base, making a promise to his soon-to-be opponent: “You will be terminated.”

Hell, yeah.


What follows is gameplay that looks pretty much like the Mortal Kombat games you played as a kid with heavily upgraded (read: gorier) graphics. Case in point: a gunshot from the Terminator reveals the stomach and intestines of his opponent, who somehow lives to fight another day.

Mortal Kombat 11 Kombat Pack – Official Terminator T-800 Gameplay Trailer

www.youtube.com

The coolest part of the trailer comes when Arnold gets set on fire. He stands up as his human form burning off to reveal the iconic, chromed-out skeleton of the Terminator.

The T-800 comes as part of a downloadable character pack that also includes Shang Tsung, Nightwolf, Sindel, Joker and Spawn. It’s available for Early Access for those with the Kombat Pack or Premium edition of the game on Oct. 8 and Oct.15, 2019, for everyone else.

And if the prospect of fighting as the Terminator is making you want to buy the game, you’re in luck. It’s available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, or Google Stadia, one of which you hopefully have lying around already.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Yes, the mini-nuke launcher was a thing and yes, it was a terrible idea

In the game series Fallout, one of the weapons most coveted by players is a portable mini-nuke launcher that, as you might imagine, is capable of destroying basically anything it touches. It fits perfectly within the game’s theme of roaming across the apocalyptic wasteland, dispensing wanton destruction.

Bethesda, the developers behind Fallout, weren’t just pulling something out of thin air when they designed the digital weapon. In the late 1950s, when the threat of nuclear war with the Soviets was lurking around the corner, the U.S. actually created a functioning mini-nuke launcher of their very own.

It was called the M-29 Davy Crockett Weapon System. And the reason it never really made it out of initial testing was because it was probably the most poorly designed weapon system the U.S. military ever thought would work.


The Davy Crockett was a recoilless, smooth-bore gun, operated by a three-man crew, that fired a nuclear projectile. In theory, this weapon gave a small squad the ability to decimate enemy battalions with an equivalent yield of 20 tons of TNT — or roughly the same firepower as forty Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

The maximum effective range of the Davy Crockett was about a mile and a half. Anything within a quarter-mile radius of the explosion would receive a fatal dosage of radiation. Anything within 500 feet of the epicenter of the blast would be completely incinerated.

It was so portable that it could either be attached to the back of a Jeep or given to paratroopers for airborne insertion. The weapon technically worked, but not without a bevy of significant problems.

The first major flaw was the aiming. The launcher was flimsy when compared to the immense weight of munitions, so it was prone to toppling over at any moment. It had an unreliable height-of-burst dial, so accurate detonations were nearly impossible. It also didn’t have an abort function, which meant that as soon as it was fired, it’d have to detonate.

To make matters worse, the previously stated half-mile kill radius was only accounted to instant death by radiation. As we’ve learned, being downwind of a nuclear blast almost certainly meant death — maybe not right away, but eventually. So, the three-man crew firing the Davy Crockett, who had at most one mile of safety, could only fire and pray that the winds didn’t turn against them.

For more information on why mini-nukes were an awful idea, check out the video below:

MIGHTY GAMING

This scrapped game could’ve been the most accurate portrayal of Fallujah

Making a video game based on historical events often means navigating the fine line between creating an experience that’s consistently engaging to the player without trivializing the gravity of the real event. This is especially true of military conflicts.

Battlefield 1’s single player campaign did a terrific job of this, giving the player the warning of, “you are not expected to survive” before tossing them into the grim reality that is WWI trench warfare.


www.youtube.com

Other games, however, use the backdrop of the invasion of Normandy as yet another arena in which players can “360 No Scope” each other.

Then, you have Atomic Games’ controversial Six Days in Fallujah, which was slated to be a highly accurate representation of what the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines encountered in November, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Shortly after it was announced to the public in 2009, it was dropped by its publisher and is now nothing more than a “what if” of gaming.

As much as I love the FPS genre, most games lack the raw emotional connection that Six Days in Fallujah promised to offer.

(Atomic Games)
As much as I love the FPS genre, most games lack the raw emotional connection that Six Days in Fallujah promised to offer.
(Atomic Games)

The developers at Atomic Games took their project very seriously. Every aspect of the game was created based on interviews with over 70 individuals, including the U.S. Marines who fought there, Iraqi civilians, war historians, senior military officials, and even former Iraqi insurgents.

The game was a far cry from typical first-person shooters that reward players for sprinting around the map, spraying bullets at the bad guys. Instead, it was said to have been more like a survival-horror game. Every minor decision made in the game would have lasting effects on player’s experience. Additionally, the game was built on an astounding engine that allowed for a 100% destructible environment — bullet holes left in walls from a previous skirmish would exist into perpetuity.

The game’s director, Juan Benito, told GamePro Magazine that giving players a taste of the horror, fear, and misery experienced by real-life Marines in the battle was a top priority.

“These are scary places, with scary things happening inside of them. In the game, you’re plunging into the unknown, navigating through darkened interiors, and ‘surprises’ left by the insurgency. In most modern military shooters, the tendency is to turn the volume up to 11 and keep it there. Our game turns it up to 12 at times, but we dial it back down, too, so we can establish a cadence.”

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
I mean, ‘Breach’ wasn’t terrible, but you could tell there wasn’t much heart put into the game.
(QC Games)

In Six Days in Fallujah, you would’ve followed a young Marine who was attached to the 3/1 Marines. Throughout the game, you’d encounter factual skirmishes that involved actual Marines and insurgents that were present at that given moment, based off accounts from those who were actually there. The Marines to your left and your right in those skirmishes were to be the actual Marines — which also meant that those who died in real life would die at the same moment in game. This, as you can imagine, was met with extreme controversy.

The game was being created to honor their fallen service members, but public condemnation proved too great and too universal, so it was dropped within the month by Konami — for very valid reasons.

After the publisher dropped out, the game’s director quietly left along with much of studio’s staff. The remaining assets were hobbled together to create the the sub-par Breach in attempt to recoup on the time invested in the doomed title. The president of Atomic Games promised that Six Days in Fallujah would eventually see the light of day.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
You know — if it updated its graphics to be comparable with modern games.
(Atomic Games)

Cases can be made for and against the game, but one thing is for certain: it would’ve offered something vastly different to gamers. In 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released and multiplayer lobbies were filled brim with screaming pre-teens. It was just five years since the Second Battle of Fallujah, which might’ve been too soon, but it definitely would’ve been a grim reminder of the true horrors of war in an industry too-often trivialized it.

The gaming community has matured vastly in the last decade. Games like Valiant Heart and This War of Mine have all been based on the realities of war. Games like Arma III and Rainbow Six: Siege have all taken mature, realistic approaches to how modern shooters should play out.

If or when the game does eventually find its footing and a pathway to release, it’ll likely find support withing the military-veteran community — as long as the game doesn’t, even for a second, make light of the seriousness of the Second Battle of Fallujah.

MIGHTY GAMING

How the US military is using ‘violent, chaotic, beautiful’ video games to train soldiers

Violent video games have become embedded within American culture over the past several decades and especially since 9/11. First-person shooters, in particular, have become increasingly popular.

These games – in which players are positioned behind a gun – have turned a generation of kids into digital warriors who fight terrorists and battle alien invaders. Many play first-person shooters for pure, innocent enjoyment. Some like achieving objectives and being a part of a team. And, for others, it simply feels good to eliminate an enemy – especially someone who’s trying to harm them.


For the U.S. military, the rise of first-person shooters has been a welcome development. In recent years, the military has encouraged many of its soldiers to partake in the thrill of violent video games as a way to continue combat training, even when not on active duty. (In fact, using games to teach military tactics has been a longstanding practice in the U.S. military: Before video games, troops were encouraged to play military-themed board games.)

The games allow soldiers to take their combat roles home with them and blur their on-duty responsibilities with their off-duty, noncombat routines and lives.

But what effect have these video games had on U.S. soldiers? How accurately do they depict military life? And do they actually help recruit, train and retain troops?

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

The games in the Arma series strive to simulate combat. In this sequence from Arma 2, a helicopter insertion goes wrong as troops try to take a contested airfield.

(YouTube/GamerDudester)

From battle screen to battlefield

As part of a study, we interviewed 15 current and former members of the U.S. military who were between 24 and 35 years old to understand the role violent first-person shooter games played in their recruitment and training.

The majority of interviewees told us it was important to stay in the mindset of a soldier even when not on duty. To them, first-person shooters were the perfect vehicle for doing this.

Game preferences varied among the soldiers we interviewed, but popular titles included “Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2” and “ARMA 2,” which a current member of the Army said was “one of the most hardcore assault experiences in gaming.”

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, players fight a campaign across the world and in space during a war between the U.S. and Russia.

(YouTube/Bolloxed)

Meanwhile, an Iraq War veteran described “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” as “the ultimate first-person shooter experiences ever” and “intensive and highly realistic approaches to tactical combat. The choice of attacking with stealth or unleashing an all-out frontal assault full of mayhem is yours. It’s violent, it’s chaotic, it’s beautiful.”

In this, the Iraq War veteran seems to say that video games can reflect real-life combat situations, an attitude that others share.

Altered realities

But it’s tough to make the case that games accurately simulate what a soldier’s life is really like. First, military tours of duty are not solely made up of hard-charging, chaotic battles, like those in first-person shooters. The majority of soldiers won’t participate in any full-frontal combat operations.

Second – and, most importantly – in the digital world there are no legal and ethical considerations. When things go wrong, when innocent people are killed, there are no ramifications. If anything, the games warp these real-world consequences in the minds of players; in 2012, psychologists Brock Bastian, Jolanda Jetten and Helena R.M. Radke were able to use brain scans to show that playing violent video games had the potential to desensitize players to real-life violence and the suffering of others.

In a 2010 article for the Brookings Institution, political scientist Peter Singer quoted a Special Forces soldier who was involved in the production of “America’s Army 360,” a video game developed to recruit and train enlistees.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

An American city burns in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

(YouTube/Bolloxed)

“You lose an avatar; just reboot the game,” the soldier said. “In real life, you lose your guy; you’ve lost your guy. And then you’ve got to bury him, and then you’ve got to call his wife.”

Indeed, journalist Evan Wright wrote in his book “Generation Kill” that solders were on “intimate terms with the culture of video games, reality TV shows and internet porn.”

Real-life combat, however, was something entirely different.

“What I saw was a lot of them discovered levels of innocence that they probably didn’t think they had,” Wright wrote. “When they actually shot people, especially innocent people, and were confronted with this, I saw guys break down. The violence in games hadn’t prepared them for this.”

Thus video games might suck soldiers in – offering a tantalizing taste of the glory and excitement of battle. But they do little to prepare them for the types of threats that actually exist on the battlefield.

“When I really think of the government seeing that as training, I laugh,” one of our interviewees told us. “But I also feel a bit uneasy.”

Militarizing legions of gamers

Regardless of their effectiveness as training tools, violent video games can certainly act as a valuable tool for connecting the military with potential recruits. In addition to influencing the decisions of gamers to pursue military service, they can also be used to promote the geopolitical goals of the military.

Journalist Hamza Shaban, in a 2013 article for The Atlantic, described just how deep the Army’s relationship had become with the commercial gaming industry, creating what he dubbed a “military-entertainment complex.” According to Shaban, the games that emerged from this relationship – an exciting, simplified, easy-to-play version of warfare – encouraged gamers to consider a career in the military.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

Frontlines: Fuel of War attempts to simulate what World War 3 in the near future would look like.

(YouTube/Best War Games Channel)

Meanwhile, games such as “UrbanSim,” “Tactical Iraqi” and “Frontlines: Fuel of War” teach players and potential recruits about the discourse of modern-day warfare. Missions include battling Islamic militants, winning over potentially hostile populations and establishing pro-Western, pro-democratic societies. They engage with the fundamentals of insurgency and counterinsurgency, present the dangers of improvised explosive devices and highlight the military usefulness of weaponized drones.

However, to some of the soldiers and ex-soldiers we spoke to, the value of playing first-person shooters amounted to little more than propaganda.

“The idea of us training using these games is a bit of a [disaster],” one said. “What the U.S. seeks to achieve through the use of these games is not entirely within their control. It might be a cheap way of getting us involved … but it’s hardly ‘training.'”

Another called first-person shooters “more like brainwashing than anything.”

“But you have to be pretty stupid to buy into all this,” he added. Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie


This article was created by Scott Nicholas Romaniuk, University of Trento and Tobias Burgers, Freie Universität Berlin.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How just one care package can change a deployment for the better

There are inherent dangers involved with a combat deployment. Even if you don’t have first-hand knowledge, you probably have a pretty solid understanding of what troops go through on a near-daily basis in a country that few can even point to on a globe. Our troops are up against a hostile environment filled with potentially hostile actors that hide behind civilian masks. But one thing that’s never really discussed is downtime — the rest period, the time between missions.

As bizarre as it sounds, it’s often the nothingness that can be most exhausting. At a certain point during a deployment, you adapt to the pressures of war and missions, but being left with nothing to do, without any real outlet to help you escape your surroundings and calm down for a moment, is what gets to some troops most.

So, it’s not unusual for troops to pick up some sort of hobby to pass the time. Some troops take up drawing or learn to play the guitar. Others head to the MWR tent to watch the same late-90s sitcom for the 80th time. Many others pass the time by picking up a controller and playing a video game with their friends.

But the luxury of popping the latest game into an X-Box simply isn’t afforded to all troops — and that’s where care packages from a loved one — or organizations like OSD — come in.


Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

The reason OSD is so in sync with what troops want and need is because many members of the organization are veterans themselves.

(OSD)

OSD has been filling in those gaps of nothingness with a wide assortment of highly-desired goods. Once the OSD team gets a hold of a deployed unit, that unit can usually expect a massive care package filled with entertainment. OSD shipped over 450 such “Supply Drops” in 2017, containing everything from video games to game consoles and televisions to coffee, junk food, and everything else troops might miss from back home.

Troops who are in outlaying bases, like the soldiers of the 101st Aviation Regiment, will now have something to look forward to when their shifts are over.

And that’s just their flagship program. OSD also provides mentorship and resources for veterans seeking employment opportunities through their Heroic Forces program, they assist wounded veterans throughout their recovery processes through Respawn, and they sponsor nominated veterans via Thank You Deployment, a program that celebrates service by giving individuals the day of a lifetime.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

Because one care package really can change a deployment for the better.

(OSD)

This October, OSD is running their third annual Vetober, a charity donation drive that helps fuel all of the awesome programs above and more. You can donate the conventional way, but OSD is also staying true to their roots in gaming culture by introducing competition to the mix. Form or join a team, raise cash for veterans, and see if you can come out on top!

Every dollar donated goes to benefit the hundreds of thousands of troops and veterans. 0 raised means a new supply drop goes out to troops who desperately need some entertainment. 0 helps mentor veterans seeking employment. 0 sponsors events in veteran communities across the country. 00 helps OSD grow, allowing them to continue changing thousands of service members’ lives for the better.

Help us break the monotony of deployments and keep our troops happy and healthy. Whether you want to donate directly, help spread the word, organize a fundraising team, or join someone else’s team, you can help make a difference!

On a more personal level, I cannot recommend OSD highly enough. Not only do they hold a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, so you know they’re trustworthy, they also personally impacted my life.

My unit received a supply drop from OSD when we were deployed and, man, was it a welcomed sight. We opened a care package only to find, basically, everything we’ve ever wanted. For the first time in a while, we played games and relaxed. It helped give us a chance to come together as a platoon and take our minds off everything.

MIGHTY GAMING

​The best military games we played at gamescom and PAX West

In the summer, gamescom and PAX West bring out the best in gaming announcements as developers and publishers get the hype trains rolling right into the holiday season. This year was no exception. There are a lot of great games on the horizon, but this year, we’ve got our eyes glued on three shooter titles specifically.

Here are the games, in no particular order, that await your itchy trigger finger.


Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

(Deep Silver)

‘Metro: Exodus’ (PS4/XBO/PC)

I’ll admit, getting some time with Metro: Exodus at gamescom was my first hands-on experience with the lauded series, but it wasn’t my first rodeo in the virtual apocalypse. Despite this minor detail, I was able to jump right in and start exploring the newest title set in a grim future.

It was explained to me that Exodus moves the Metro series away from its traditional, predominantly underground setting into a more balanced mixture of surface and subterranean exploration. The demo environment that I explored was well designed, rich with details to remind players they’re playing a post-apocalyptic RPG. Hidden in the environment (and on corpses) are materials you can use to craft a variety of helpful consumables. One of the coolest features put on display was the ability to customize weapons to fit different situations.

Combat was smooth and accommodates a variety of different gameplay styles. Instead of stealthily picking off my opponents, I tend to lean toward going full Rambo on every enemy in sight, but both approaches seem to get the job done. After a quick developer assist (I explored a little too much and got lost — did I mention how great the environments are?), I dispatched the demo’s boss mob by spending all of my ammo and finishing it off with a very satisfying melee strike.

Exodus seems like a perfect fit for fans of Bioshock, Dead Space, Far Cry, and other shooter RPGs.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

(The Farm 51)

‘World War 3’ (PC)

World War 3 is an upcoming Battlefield-like multiplayer shooter developed and published by The Farm 51, a small indie studio based in Poland. While WW3 is themed around a theoretical conflict, it’s based on real-world tensions in Eastern Europe.

Gameplay is straightforward enough, but fine-tuned. There’s a good balance of combat classes, weapons, consumables — everything you’ve come to expect from a modern shooter. What stands out about this game, however, is that nearly everything is customizable and the array of selections is huge. Configure your own load out using everything from dozens of different types of head accessories to a variety of mounted vehicle weapons. With a little sleuthing, I even found that one of the more creative developers snuck a nuclear warhead into the mix — just for fun.

The developers on the floor reiterated several times that everything in their game (well, maybe not the nuke) will be unlockable through playing and not microtransactions. While it seems a little unfair to compare this game to AAA giants, like Battlefield, everyone I chatted with at PAX and gamescom seemed ready to draw the comparison. Regardless of whether the title can measure up to multi-million dollar blockbusters, the best part about this game is the indie price. Early access opens up for PC gamers on Steam later this year and gamers can expect to drop between and to join in on the international conflict.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

(EA DICE)

‘Battlefield V’ (PS4/XBO/PC)

Speaking of AAA titles, World War II is back with EA’s latest title, Battlefield V. EA DICE, longtime developers of the Battlefield series, is hoping to provide a vastly new and improved experience over their original title, Battlefield 1942, which celebrated its 16th birthday this week.

This launch comes on the heels of EA trying to recover from bad publicity stemming from the overwhelmingly pay-to-win gameplay that shipped with Star Wars Battlefront II. It seems EA has learned a little bit from their last release as they’ve made it a point to announce that Battlefield V will not feature any loot boxes or other forms of game-altering monetization. This statement may help soothe the ruffled feathers of the recently upset playerbase, but it also leaves the door wide open for DLCs and other types of traditional paid content.

During my brief time with the game, there’s no question that it’s a solid tribute to previous games in the series but, at the same time, there haven’t been any groundbreaking changes made. This fact didn’t seem to matter much for the masses of gamescom attendees who happily lined up and waited for up to 5 hours just play a single match. That being said, there’s a lot left to be announced and much of the game’s content is still hidden away, including the new, not-yet-demoed “Battlefield Royale” mode and the single-player campaign.

They say you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken — and there are a lot of people out there just waiting for their next Battlefield fix, which they’ll get on November 20, 2018.

MIGHTY GAMING

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

The Far Cry video game series has always gone above and beyond in placing the player in a beautiful, open world and pitting them against a cunning and well-written antagonist. The graphics in the most recent installment are as crisp as you’d expect from the series, the gameplay is phenomenal, and plenty of critics are already singing its praise, but what sets this game apart from every other shooter is the storyline.


This time around, instead of exploring some scenic island fighting against drug-running pirates or a prehistoric valley against neanderthals, Far Cry 5 pits the player against deranged cult in a fictional county of Montana.

You play as a Sheriff’s deputy tasked with arresting Joseph Seed, a cult leader who is a mix of David Koresh, Jim Jones, and a hipster douchebag. There’s a palpable eeriness as you walk through his church’s compound and Joseph is seemingly compliant at first. He lets you handcuff him before saying, “you’ll never arrest me.” As you make your way back to the helicopter, one of his followers hurls himself into the propellers, allowing Seed to escape back to his followers, kicking off the game.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
And, yes, the hipster cult leader even has a manbun.
(Ubisoft)

The player is then saved by the first of many veterans you’ll encounter in the game, Dutch. He’s a loner Vietnam veteran who has shut himself off in a bunker while the world goes to sh*t outside. Inside his bunker, you’ll find plenty of little references to real-life military units, like an homage to the 82nd Airborne patch (the “AA” has been replaced by the number “82” in the same style) and a patch that’s the shape of the 101st, but with the XVIII Corps’ dragon.

He offers to help you out and gives you something to wear something other than your uniform, which includes (and I’m not making this up) some 5.11 gear.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
No word on if the guy has his own unapologetic military apparel line yet u2014 maybe in the DLC.
(Ubisoft)

The next veteran who helps you out is Pastor Jerome Jeffries, a Gulf War veteran turned Catholic priest. He’s holed up in his church with the few citizens who haven’t been indoctrinated by the cult. While there, you set up a resistance to buy time until the National Guard can come reinforce. You must band together with the rag-tag group of remaining people to take down Seed and his followers.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
Basically how every Chaplain assistant sees themselves after ETSing.
(Ubisoft)

Which brings you to the third main veteran in the storyline, Grace Armstrong, a U.S. Army sniper who deployed to Afghanistan. She’s one of the characters that fights alongside you throughout the game, providing fire support from a good distance.

Though his veteran status remains unknown, you’ll also come across a companion named Boomer. Boomer’s a dog who, if he gets hurt, can be healed with a nice belly rub. It’s the little things in this game that make it amazing.

Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie
He’s a very good boy.
(Ubisoft)

MIGHTY GAMING

6 infantry tasks we hope to never see in video games

Let’s be honest with ourselves, if video games were to depict the average day for a grunt, they would be boring. Even if they showed field training, there are still a lot more tedious things going on than shooting guns and blowing things up. The reality is that in the modern era, military video games like Call of Duty or Battlefield lied to everyone about military life.

If you joined because you thought it would be fun based on a video game, you might feel robbed. You probably cleaned more floors than battlefields and you probably sprayed more window cleaner than bullets. Infantry life isn’t as exciting as you thought, is it?

There’s definitely a lot you do outside of combat that you hope will never make it into any video games because it does, it will be a terrible experience for everyone involved.


Soldiers use Twitch to build camaraderie

Digging the fighting holes will make you rage-quit.

(U.S Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. David Diggs)

Digging fighting holes

Easily at the top of the list. Can you imagine paying for a bad ass looking military shooter game just to end up spending half of it digging a hole to shoot from?

In real-life, it probably takes you ten hours because three hours in you discovered the world’s biggest rock and you spent the last seven hours using a tiny shovel to cut through it like it’s California in 1850 and you found some gold in that bad boy.

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Press “F” to slightly bend your knees so you don’t pass out.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jerrod Moore)

Formation

If you think un-skippable tutorials are bad, just be glad you don’t have to stand still for two hours waiting for your company Gunnery Sergeant try and figure out how to say, “To all who shall see these presents, greetings,” as if it was written in Hebrew.

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Spades Simulator 19?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Jackson)

Standing-by

This is the life of a grunt: you spend most of your day sitting in your room waiting for someone to give you a task. Usually they end up telling you to clean something thirty minutes before you’re supposed to be cut loose for the day. And it will take you until Midnight.

Funny enough, video games are just one of many things to do while you stand-by so what would you do in a video game that had this?

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Imagine this scenario as the loading screen between missions.

(U.S Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick Osino)

Weapon maintanence

To be fair, Far Cry 2 had a mechanic and you would have to clean your weapon periodically or it would jam on you. What we mean is going through a Call of Duty campaign and then the post-credit mission is to spend 14 hours at the armory cleaning everything because you just put the entirety of the Department of Defense’s ammunition store through it in a single go.

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Before you can even go on a mission, you would have to do this for an entire week.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Stormy Mendez)

Annual training

Would you pay for a video game that forced you to spend at least 25% of your play time at the base theater listening to your chain of command lecture on different subjects that they’re vaguely qualified to speak on? Maybe that could be a downloadable content release that comes out after everyone stops playing it.

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Imagine if every update just erased your swim qual data.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert Brown)

Swim qualification

Part of the real-life tutorial is being taught survival swimming in boot camp but the military thinks after two years you’ll forget so they make you do it again. It’s like getting through that one water level you always hated (you know what we mean) just to do it again after a few missions.

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.

MIGHTY GAMING

The Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond Gallery drops players into history

With the release of EA’s Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, gamers have their first dedicated WWII virtual reality experience from a AAA studio. The game is the first release from the Medal of Honor franchise since Medal of Honor: Warfighter in 2012. Set in the European theater, Above and Beyond has players take on the role of an OSS agent fighting alongside the French Resistance against the Nazis in its single-player campaign. Played entirely in VR on either the Oculus Rift or Steam VR, Above and Beyond also includes traditional player vs. player competitive multiplayer and a survival mode. However, the game’s signature feature is its Gallery mode.

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(EA Games)

A longstanding inclusion with Medal of Honor games, the Gallery mode provides players with insight on the real-life soldiers and their stories that inspired the game. As players progress in the single-player story, documentaries in the Gallery are unlocked. “The goal of Medal of Honor is to be grounded and emotionally authentic. To be as true as we can to the people who actually fought in it and lived in it” said Peter Hirschmann, game director of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, “The goal is to tell and show as much truth as possible and let people get the tiniest of glimpses of what it must’ve been like.”

Hirschmann is no stranger to telling stories as he wrote and produced the groundbreaking original 1999 Medal of Honor game. He brought on board Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Anthony Giacchino to produce the Gallery mode. Giacchino, who is well-known for his WWII documentaries featured on The History Channel, sought to bring a human dimension to the game. Over 16 million Americans served in WWII. In 2019, the VA estimated that less than 390,000 were still alive and nearly 300 died every day. With the greatest generation fading away, Giacchino wanted, “for people to hear their stories before it’s too late.” Developer Respawn partnered with Honor Flight to bring WWII veterans to the locations of historic events that they took part in to conduct interviews.

In the Gallery mode, and through the power of VR, players will be able to sit next to these veterans and hear them tell their stories. They will walk alongside them on the battlefields that they fought through all those years ago. “It’s an amazing tool for transporting people into the stories that we’re telling,” Giacchino said of VR. “You’ll be able to go to Peenemünde where the V2 rocket program was, or Omaha Beach, parts of the world you’d otherwise never get to see.”

Above and Beyond offers players an engaging gaming experience, but an even more powerful and emotionally impactful story-telling experience. While new technology like VR will inevitably become antiquated and games like Above and Beyond difficult to play, its Gallery mode serves as a timeless historical record and testament to the veterans of the Second World War. Giacchino has confirmed that the team is working on a way to bring the Gallery mode to a wider and more mainstream audience without the need for a VR headset and gaming PC. “The Gallery will forever be the thing that lives on, a hundred years from now.”

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(EA Games)
MIGHTY GAMING

This is the real nuclear history of Fallout 76’s West Virginia

During Bethesda’s E3 Showcase, game director Todd Howard offhandedly mentioned that West Virginia is the perfect setting for a Fallout game because it’s where actual nuclear secrets are kept. If you do a little digging into the history behind the featured locations they’ve unveiled so far, you’ll quickly see that he’s telling the truth.

Just like in the game, one of America’s most secure nuclear fallout shelters is located outside of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It’s called The Greenbrier Resort.


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This picturesque manor is even more pretty when you realize it’s also the best place to hide during a nuclear war.

First built in 1858 as a resort for Northerners and Southerners alike, it was re-purposed in WWII as a relocation center for Axis diplomats before being retooled again during the Cold War to become a nuclear fallout shelter for diplomats nearby in Washington D.C.

As part of a project code named ” Greek Island,” Greenbrier was modified to be able to support every member of congress and their families beneath two feet of reinforced concrete. The bunker was kept secret throughout the Cold War before being finally revealed in a 1992 Washington Post article.

The most interesting tidbit of West-Virginian nuclear history is that Morgantown, the third most populous city in West Virginia, was also home to part of the P-9 Project, an essential piece of the larger Manhattan Project. Although the construction of the nuclear bomb took place all over the United States in secret, it was in Morgantown that progress was made in developing “heavy water.”

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One little isotope of the most common element is all you need to create the deadliest thing known to man.
(Courtesy Photo)

Heavy water, or water that contains higher amounts of the stable hydrogen isotope deuterium, is needed to modulate nuclear reactors. It’s no coincidence that Morgantown became home to the Morgantown Ordnance Works, an ammunition manufacturing facility responsible for (among other things) producing much of the TNT used during World War II.

A second ordnance works located nearby in Point Pleasant called the West Virginia Ordnance Works also seems like it’ll be interesting to see in-game. The presence of it’s explosive secrets with the volatility of massive-scale arms production combined to form the basis of local myths that state a mutated Mothman lives nearby — which you can be damned sure will make an appearance in Fallout 76.

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Vault 76 is located near the not-very-nuclear Ravenswood, which was once owned by President George Washington. It all plays perfectly into the game’s Americana theme.
(Bethesda Game Studios)

But these tidbits of nuclear history just scratch the surface. Parts of Operation Plowshare, in which the U.S. government was testing the use of nuclear weapons in mining operations, was also conducted in the West Virginian counties of Logan and Boone.This, and all of the other nuclear blasts that would have occurred in-game, may also help reshape the map (since the obviously Point Pleasant is closer to the smaller but real-world Mason, WV.) Even the above map hints at where rivers may have once been.

The mountains in West Virginia are also home to the seventh largest uranium deposit, which you’ll likely be able to explore on your post-apocalyptic romp. Pretty much everything you need to create a nuclear bomb is right there in West Virginia — and it’ll be up to you to explore it all.

Humor

5 reasons why the AT-AT from Star Wars would be terrible in the real world

The Star Wars franchise is all about placing fantastical elements within in a sci-fi setting. In order to truly enjoy the films, you have to suspend your disbelief a little bit — otherwise it’ll look a lot like cosmic samurai fighting a faceless evil empire across a galaxy filled with people who magically speak the same language and function just fine without a space suit wherever they end up.


Putting a bit more thought into it, the Imperial Stormtroopers seem to get the short end of the stick nearly every single time. With the soon-to-be-released Solo: A Star Wars Story on the horizon, it’s fun to remember why they probably wouldn’t make the most intimidating enemy — especially not with highly-overused AT-AT walkers.

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But they probably sold a lot of toys, so anyu00a0argument against them is void.
(Photo by Tim Moreillon)

To all seven of you out there who haven’t seen Star Wars, the AT-AT is a gigantic, robotic troop transport used by the antagonists that’s sort-of a futuristic callback to Hannibal’s elephants. They’re fairly intimidating in the films until you realize just how dumb of a design they really are.

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At least they acknowledged that painting its weak spot bright orange was an objectively bad idea.

(Lucasfilm)

Its weaknesses are extremely obvious

The most glaring mistake of the AT-AT is that they’re so easy to destroy. In The Empire Strikes Back, our heroes turn the tide during a battle on the icy planet of Hoth when they decide to trip the lumbering armor. Really? Why did it take some rural moisture farmer to make that mental breakthrough?

Not only that, but Luke Skywalker also destroyed one by throwing a single grenade, which, somehow, blows up the head. They’re even more easily destroyed in Rogue One, when a single rocket to the walker’s “neck” is enough to take it down.

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This is about the field of fire of an AT-AT. Avoid this and you’re fine.

(LucasArts)

Its only weapons are front-facing

If you’re facing the front of an AT-AT, you’re probably screwed. If you’re literally anywhere outside of its 30-degree field of facing, you’re completely safe.

Without any kind of air support, like what happened to them in The Empire Strikes Back, the opportunity to flank them is wide open. If you’re thinking that it could just turn around, that brings us to our next point.

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This is it TRYING to turn.

(LucasArts Ltd.)

It can barely turn

To be fair, the AT-AT can turn a little bit in Episode V and some of the obscure novels (which are no longer canon) say that they have an additional joint under the plating to help it turn. But, even if we’re generous, they can turn maybe fifteen degrees with each slow, lumbering step.

This is happens in a time when, according to the logic that has been established by the franchise, intergalactic travel and troop transport is done with spaceships. But, instead of carrying troops via something that fly, they chose something that can barely change course.

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It can’t really leave this small clearing so, for any reason other than creating drama, this makes no sense.

(Lucasfilm Ltd.)

It wouldn’t be able to maneuver anywhere

Let’s bring things back to the real world for a moment and discuss why tank treads work in almost every environment while horses don’t: Legs get caught in things. They get tangled in snares and sink into sand, snow, and mud. Tank treads, conversely, just roll through it all.

Now magnify that four-legged beast to the size of an AT-AT. All of those same problems still exist, but now you can cross cities and forests off that list, too.

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Poor little AT-AT… At least you tried.

(Lucasfilm Ltd.)

It’s a terrible design for a troop transport

Let’s bring it back to the fact that they rely on what are essentially robot camels when they have countless other options at their disposal. A spaceship can warp in and push out every Stormtrooper in a blink of an eye. The AT-AT, on the other hand, needs to bend down, load troops into the vehicle, carry them all somewhere, bend back down, and, finally, unload them.

All of that just to get some troops forward in an easily destructible, undefended deathtrap that can barely get around. Sure, they’re intimidating, but don’t you have Death Stars and Star Destroyers for that?

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