Bleats

We Played Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 With Rapper Briggs And Agree That It's Way Better Than Fortnite

Time to hop back on the Call of Duty train because it is taking off and running all over Fortnite.

Large single player campaign + standard multiplayer + zombies (sometimes) + either a period or futuristic setting = basically every Call of Duty game in the last decade or so. Needless to say, the series has definitely leaned heavily into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” saying and it has paid off very handsomely in the form of massive sales, albeit at the expense of steadily declining reviews.

But for the new Call of Duty title, Black Ops 4, that formula has been shaken up dramatically.

While the multiplayer remains the same, the zombies mode has been given a nice touch up and everything has been given a beautiful coat of 2018 polish. But by far the biggest change is the swapping of the usual single-player campaign for a Fortnite-esque battle royale mode called “Blackout”.

The result is something absolutely fantastic and way better than what Fortnite has to offer.

Whereas Fortnite‘s take on the 100-player battle royale mode is cartoony, slightly clumsy, and has that annoying “build” mechanic, Black Ops 4‘s is gritty, polished, and easier to learn than year 3 math.

The series’ well-polished first-person shooting mechanics translate brilliantly well to a battle-royale setting, almost like Call of Duty was made for that type of game mode. Each gun battle has you on edge because you know the difference between victory or losing is your skill level (or the lack of skill level if you’re me).

There was none of that annoying “build the Great Wall of China around me so I can heal or escape” stuff from Fortnite, just players going toe-to-toe with each other and that makes victories feel sweeter (and losses more painful).

Since the shooting mechanics are so well polished, each Blackout game only lasts anywhere between 30 seconds (if you’re the first casualty) to 10 minutes (if you’re the eventual winner), meaning games fly by at a quick pace and nothing ever becomes tedious.

But we needed a second opinion on Black Ops 4, so we decided to have a chat with rapper/comedian/writer/all around awesome chap Briggs about the game.

After a few games of Blackout with our new BFF, he, like us, had nothing but good things to say about Black Ops 4. He was particularly impressed how “easy” it was for him to get up to speed on the new Blackout mode compared and the whole emphasis on team work if you’re in a group.

“It puts another dynamic in the game, you know, it puts a lot of other people on edge. If you’re not holding weight in the squad, you’ll just get thrown out as a human shield.”

But look, we’re just a couple of people (one of whom happens to be a guy who writes for Disenchantment) who think that Black Ops 4 rules and is just a better experience than Fortnite.

If you want a goofy and cartoony battle royale experience, go Fortnite. If you want gritty realism and drawn out battle royales filled with tension, go PUBG. And if you want something in between those aforementioned two games combined with super-polished first-person shooting mechanics, definitely go Black Ops 4.

And regardless of what you choose, we’re all here just to have some fun so let’s save any animosity for the game and take it out on each other in Blackout.

This Woman Is A World-Famous Cosplayer, The Head Of A Video Game Studio, A Pioneering Champion For Women And Diversity In Gaming, And She's Only 25

Who needs sleep when you can do amazing things?

When you’re in your early-to-mid 20s, you’re usually at the point in your life where nothing quite makes sense, existential crises are frequent, and the question of what you want to be when you’re finally out of uni constantly rings in your head.

Perhaps you want to do something great for all the women and underrepresented people out there. Or maybe you want try something completely out of your comfort zone by running your own gaming studio and making a video game from scratch. Hell, maybe you want to try your luck dressing up as everyone’s favourite video game characters and making a name of yourself as a cosplayer.

During PAX Australia 2018, I chatted someone who has done all those aforementioned things and more. And the crazy thing about it all is that she’s just 25.

Meet Ally Mclean, someone has done arguably more in her life already than what most of us will ever do.

World famous cosplayer and The Witcher 3

These days Ally simply goes by “Ally Mclean”, but her career in the games industry started back when she was just 13-year-old cosplayer.

“I was one of Australia’s first professional cosplayers. I started out when I was 13 just as a hobby and then it kind of blossomed into a career where I got to go around the world and get an inside look into how the games industry worked.”

What initially began as a hobby became a 10-year phase, the bulk of which Ally was best known as her cosplayer alter-ego, “Eve Beauregard”. Chances are that you’ve seen her around as well without even realising it.

You know the dark-haired leading lady all The Witcher 3 promo materials? That’s Ally.

Post-cosplay

Being the face of a major character in a critically-acclaimed big-budget game sounds great on paper, but cosplaying isn’t exactly the easiest profession to thrive in, especially as a female. So Ally did something many didn’t expect, especially given how big she was: she dropped cosplaying altogether.

“The game development passion took over as my creative outlet and I found that was the way I was enjoying expressing myself. “

It also didn’t help that Ally faced difficulties from within the cosplay community for getting as successful as she did.

“It was super difficult, particularly within the cosplay community it was really difficult. I was becoming a professional in a space that was largely seen as a hobby and there was pushback from within the community about people making money off of cosplay. And then there was all those things every cosplayer experiences, especially when you’re working as a woman on a show floor in a costume.”

Having said all that, it wasn’t all just pushback and unruly fans.

“I met some of my closest friends and mentors through cosplay so it was pretty special.”

Running a game studio and Rumu 

Working on The Witcher 3 wasn’t just beneficial on an exposure level, it also gave Ally an insight into how games development and the industry worked. By pivoting towards a more marketing and community field, she landed her first game studio job with Aussie studio Hammerfell Publishing working on Warhammer 40,000k: Regicide.

“That’s where I was trained up as a producer and I learned the trade of game development.”

Working her way up from producer to project lead in just a matter of months, the next thing Ally did was establish her own game studio and thus Robot House was born.

There, the small team pumped out two games, Hulabear and Rumu in quick succession. The latter game was particularly noteworthy as it was well-received, won awards, and was a project in which Ally served as gamerunner (essentially the head of the entire project).

[Writer’s note: full disclosure, I reviewed Rumu for GameSpot. It got a 7. Don’t hurt me.]

Going from professional cosplay to gamerunner on a video game is a leap big enough to make the Grand Canyon seem small and it was something that Ally wrestled with initially.

“The biggest challenge for me was the shift in perception. It was very hard to take myself seriously as a game developer and there was a lot of Imposter Symdrome and crises of confidence, but I was lucky to be surrounded by supportive people who had faith in my, like my design lead, who constantly reminded me that I deserve a seat at the table.”

But despite riding the wave of momentum generated by the positive reception to Rumu, something that was dear to her, Ally did something that few expected: she left Robot House for another role in another company.

“After we released Rumu, I felt like I had fulfilled my role at the studio. It was my passion project, it was my baby, and we took him out into the world and people loved him and it was wonderful. But it was just time to think about my next challenge.”

And it’s quite the challenge she’s taken on.

As product director at 3rd Sense, Ally and her team are attempting to make games with purposes beyond entertainment that she describes as the “next frontier of gaming”, such as education, health, and medical rehabilitation.

Sadly, she didn’t tell me anything about what they’re working on but I can only imagine it’s something special. Or UFOs. Actually, I hope it’s UFOs.

Working Lunch

When she isn’t doing mysterious 3rd Sense stuff, Ally has a number of other side projects under her belt. While others do woodwork or build models, she decided to launch the Working Lunch, an award-winning mentor program aimed at helping women entering in the gaming industry.

“I was seeing that a lot of people were not coming through the doors I was coming through so what can we do to formalise that experience and give structure to it and make sure we can prop those doors open for underrepresented people to make their way into the industry, and the Working Lunch was born out of that feeling.”

Thanks to support from IGEA (Interactive Games & Entertainment Association), the program proved to be a big success with the first class of mentees graduated from the program during PAX Australia.

While the program was based in Sydney for its first year, 2019 is shaping up to be a big jump with plans to expand into Adelaide, Wellington, and potentially Brisbane and Melbourne.

They’re gonna need a much bigger lunchroom.

NEXT Exhibit

As we arrive at the present, we’re sitting in front of a massive banner that says “NEXT Exhibit“, the newest project put together by Ally and Liam Esler aimed at showcasing games made by underrepresented developers from around the world, such as those from Indonesia and Brazil.

“I love all the diversity initiatives at PAX Aus, but they are hidden away a little bit and you do have to go out and find them. PAX Aus brings the largest crowd of gaming consumer fans into one space, so what can we do to tap into that and broaden their minds about what games can be and who can make games.”

Despite being put together in a very short amount of time, the NEXT Exhibit was met with an incredible response with nearly 100 independent developers expressing interest in the program (which was narrowed down to six for PAX Australia using what I presume to be a highly-stressed jury).

And it certainly appears that Ally and Liam are onto something with the NEXT Exhibit because the six games being shown are truly something remarkable and tackle some wide-ranging topics such as living with dementia, Indonesian folktales, being a transexual teenager, and living with autism.

With all that she’s accomplished at just 25, Ally’s on track to be empress of this (greenish) Earth or something at her current trajectory. But as we wrapped up our chat, I had one nagging question about her already-prolific career: does she sleep at all with everything she does?

“[Laughs] I do! A good night’s sleep is very important to do the things we have to do. I don’t drink though so maybe that’s a part of it.”

So I guess that’s the big lesson from this: sleep more, drink less, and you’ll be able to accomplish amazing things like Ally Mclean.

You'll Soon Have The Chance To Brutally Kill Sean Bean In A Video Game And We Know Y'all Are Frothing At The Opportunity

The Grim Reaper is about to see his best friend a LOT more often.

If one were to utter the name “Sean Bean”, chances are you’ll get a response along the lines of “Isn’t he the guy who died in [insert movie/TV show/Game of Thrones]?”

We’re going to have to change that response to “Isn’t he the guy who died in [insert movie/TV show/Game of Thrones/video game]” soon because the guy is going to be in the upcoming Hitman 2.

And you will get the chance to kill him in whatever way you want or can think of.

Last week Bean was announced as Hitman 2‘s very first “Elusive Target”,  an in-game event in which players have a limited amount of time to hunt down special targets who are usually portrayed by famous people.

Given how Bean is basically the Grim Reaper’s best friend at this point, it kind of makes sense that he’s penciled in to be brutally killed in many ways as Hitman 2‘s first Elusive Target.

Having had a go of Hitman 2 at PAX Australia (it was pretty damn good), I caught up with the game’s associate director Eskil Mohl and asked him about what it was like working with Bean on the game. Unsurprisingly, he sounded delightful:

“He’s been a good sport and I think he’s very much aware of the whole meme thing about how he constantly dies in all his movies.”

Beyond being aware of his status as meme god these days, Bean also brought more to his Hitman 2 character, Mark Faba, than expected:

“He’s a super nice guy and he was laughing a lot and also suggested [to the writers] certain things he could say in this way and that way.”

As for what players can expect in their quest to take down Bean (again) in Hitman 2, Mohl kept his cards close to his chest but teased that Hitman 2‘s Elusive Target level is “really meaty”, and fans will more than enjoy killing Bean’s character in a variety of creative ways because Mohl says he feels the level design this time around has improved dramatically compared to the first Hitman.

We know that y’all are frothing for this chance to shoot Bean in the face or strangle him with his shoelaces and you’ll be pleased to know that Hitman 2 is scheduled for release on November 13 while the first Elusive Target event will kick off on November 20.

Not long to wait until Sean Bean meets his maker – repeatedly – at the hands of gamers everywhere. The poor guy just can’t catch a break, can he?

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