Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot has been released into the wild and, though the welcome return of a fully fledged campaign mode is the main attraction for some, one could argue that the fast-paced multiplayer is the biggest draw. Any multiplayer title worth its salt has a few game types to complement the standard team deathmatch and free-for-all offerings but do objective-based modes tickle our fancy as much?
Teamwork never looks quite as polished during actual gameplay.
When a copy of Modern Warfare unexpectedly dropped into my inbox over the weekend, I dove straight into the campaign and finished it over a couple of sessions. Due to obligation more than anything else, I then hopped into the competitive multiplayer suite.
Generally I avoid Call of Duty multiplayer for a couple of reasons: the somewhat mindless run-and-gun mechanics and a devoted player base that I can’t compete with. After trying and enjoying the improved Ground War mode, which is more akin to Battlefield’s iconic Conquest game type than anything else, my opinion on this particular topic was reaffirmed.
By introducing a bigger map with multiple objective points that it’s inherently harder for devotees to memorise every inch of, the playing field is immediately levelled somewhat for newcomers. Even more so with the ability to contribute by spotting enemies, capturing objectives, resupplying allies, chauffeuring them in vehicles, and even serving as a mobile spawn point for squadmates.
No longer do you need to have perfect twitch reactions and extensive knowledge of each map and their ideal loadouts in order to perform decently. This greater accessibility is what makes objective-based multiplayer far more appealing to me, along with the more diverse range of play styles it accommodates to ultimately help with long-term engagement.
The popular Ground War is better than ever.
Anyone can be "just" a trigger man (or woman) when it comes to video games. Tactics, patience, teamwork – all of these are more important in an objective match, and the rewards more satisfying.
Rainbow Six Siege for example, released to lukewarm reception, but became more successful after introducing new operators and maps which forced players to play the tactical game, using special abilities which were more nuanced than just a bigger gun (though admittedly they did add some bigger guns too...).
One of the best in class for this is still Halo 3, which provided endless fun from just a handful of objective-based modes like Capture the Flag and Rocket Race back in the day, and still holds up in The Master Chief Collection.
Contrast that to even the best example of deathmatch, arguably Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, where the experience is ultimately forgettable.
Having an objective can also elevate perception of a game. Overwatch, for me at least, probably wouldn't have caught my attention as it did if it was a straight up deathmatch. Accompanying a payload through a level in stages is particularly satisfying, and the narrative elements in the more horde-like event modes like Halloween Terror make me pay closer attention.
In the end, it really comes down to the sort of game I am actually half decent at playing, and that's objective every time.
Truly the pinnacle of online multiplayer.
Team deathmatch has always been my go-to mode in online shooters, but I also have a soft spot for objective-based matches so long as I have a few good friends in tow, such as in late 2007 to early 2008 when myself and a few Xbox Live cohorts regularly got together for a few hours of the original Modern Warfare's Search and Destroy.
We could normally gather enough people to fill all six player slots, and without having to worry about randoms ruining strategy or failing to call out enemy positions we quickly became a well-drilled unit that, more often than not, emerged from rounds victorious.
My favourite modes, however, are those that blend the carnage and pace of TDM with some lite objective-based gameplay. Prime examples would be Call of Duty's Headquarters or Battlefront's Drop Pod - two very similar modes in which you capture then hold random locations.
These modes encourage players to work together by drawing everyone to the same spot that's currently up for grabs or under siege, even if it's a team of individuals. Also, most of the time your final K/D ratio has little impact on the outcome of matches, which is perfect for fodder such as myself.
This what happens when you abandon your team.
Let us know your preferred choice of multiplayer modes below.
After trying out a host of excellent indie games at EGX Rezzed earlier this year, our appetite was well and truly whetted for more incredible titles at what is the biggest UK gaming event of the year, EGX.
The showcase had us following V in both Netrunner (i.e. stealthy stealthy) and Solo (i.e. all-out action) figurations through Night City, a broken utopia which never reached the potential of its vision. All this we previously knew, so what's different?
To call the game a mixture of Deus Ex and Fallout is an oversimplification, but as V moves around the world NPCs will interact with you naturally and you'll have multiple routes to taking on a problem. The gameplay is slick, the presentation even more so, and the use of Keanu Reeves as your digital imaginary friend isn't overplayed. It'll be interesting to see if he ends up being more than just a sci-fi Jimminy Cricket as the narrative unfolds, though.
The intrigue of the story, even in this brief slice, was arresting and interesting, plus even the hacking mini-games and other such tropes felt naturally integrated. It really feels like this game is showing us exactly what it will turn out to be, rather than overpromising a "living breathing world" and not delivering. We'll find out for sure when it launches on 16 April 2020.
Best Singleplayer - Luigi's Mansion 3
With the previous game released on 3DS in 2013, it's been a while since Luigi has had a spooky adventure (if you don't count the scary levels from Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle - which you should).
Now Mario's younger, taller brother is back to do his best Ghostbusters impression - just in time for Halloween. The poltergust (his hoover-like busting equipment) returns along with a new wrinkle in the form of the puzzle-solving champion Gooigi, a goopy green clone of the plucky plumber who can handle spikes and slip through grates.
The presentation has the usual Nintendo sheen, and the visuals look particularly crisp, if a little tiny on a Switch Lite. It's a wholesome premise which has an artstyle that keeps things entertaining rather than scary, even for youngsters.
Sadly, there was no sign of Waluigi, so we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed for the full game.
Best Multiplayer - Cake Bash
A game we've seen before at EGX Rezzed, the confection-based brawler is only getting better with more time in the oven.
In your quest to become the tastiest cake, there's now a new mode which sees you avoiding a hob placed in the centre of the map, and reportedly there's even more ideas to bring more unusual twists to this Smash Bros-‘em-up.
The biggest sign that this title – brought to life by ex-Ubisoft devs High Tea Frog and published by Coatsink – has a bright future is the number of children and families who turned up to their booth at the show. (Of course, the deck chairs and cuddly toys probably helped.)
We're expecting the final game at some point in 2020, so there may be more to see at next year's Rezzed.
Best Indie - Adventure in Aellion
Have you ever been taking on a Hinox for the 18th time in Breath of the Wild and wished you had a little help? Adventure on Aellion (pronounced Ellion) aims to bring the accessibility and excitement of a solo Zelda adventure to a group of players.
It's still early days, but already the visual style and solid gameplay shows the premise's potential. Developers The Game Production Company are keen to get feedback on the project in terms of how many players there should be and what features should be included.
With an emphasis more on puzzles than combat (the latter of which they’re still expecting to explore), the experience will appeal to those who enjoy the brain-teasing seen in BotW’s Sheika shrines.
Don't miss a few words from Director Luke O'Donoghue in our video round-up.
The Longshot Award - Kung Fu Jesus
This is an interesting one. You're already intrigued by the name, right? What you are picturing can't quite prepare you for the reality of what this game is, however, and more importantly what it could be.
Based partly on hallucinogenic experiences, Kung Fu Jesus is an alternate take on history where Jesus Christ (yes, that one) returns to Earth with no memory, is trained by a kung fu master and works for a drug dealer.
The actual experience at the moment is limited. With creative choices around dialogue in particular, which reuses a handful of (possibly placeholder) foreign language lines, not giving us much to get into and the combat itself feeling quite basic.
Hopefully this is just the first few steps towards a greater end product, as all development is to an extent, let's not forget, and the final game will break through the haze to connect with players while still retaining its quirky spirit.
Most Anticipated - Pokémon Sword and Shield
Pokémon is everywhere. Our phones, our films, even our shopping centres - nowhere is safe from the pocket monsters. It's even already on the Switch, since Let's Go! Pikachu and Let's Go! Eevee were released about a year ago, but many fans might tell you they "don't count".
So, with just a few weeks to go, we got a chance to dive into the new Galar Pokémon region, loosely inspired by real-world Blighty, to fend off a few new 'mon. While it was only a brief glimpse, coupled with the extended information released from various Nintendo Directs, trailers and presentations, it gave us a good sense of how the game will play, and it's good news.
The wheel isn't being re-invented here. The technical challenge of making the jump from 3DS to Switch was more than enough to keep Gamefreak busy, but there's a few new wrinkles to the formula which could be interesting, including Dynamaxing pokémon, a process which sees them grow to football pitch size and unleash devastating attacks.
There was just time to challenge the water-type gym leader Nessa, and we were gifted a full squad of level 50 pokémon to give her a damn good thrashing. The animation was fluid and the performance sound, even as two dynamaxed monsters threw everything they had at one another. There's just a few more weeks to wait for the full experience, and our excitement is palpable.
While blockbusters like the notably weird Death Stranding might have drawn the crowds, there are always more great games at EGX than we can do justice, so here's a few quick ones at the end, hopefully just before you tune out.
No Straight Roads, our top pick from Rezzed, returned with a fresh bit of polish and a few updated UI elements here and there. Indivisible proved to be a delightful hand-animated-style 2D platformer in the usual smattering of 8-bit would-be indie darlings and Boundary, though tricky to get to grips with at first, was very entertaining and a well-executed concept. Keep an eye out for Liam's upcoming interview for more on that one.
In the more AAA camp we had Marvel's Avengers from Crystal Dynamics, with Nolan North and Troy Baker filling in for their better-known Hollywood counterparts. The gameplay was more satisfying than the initial trailer let on and we had a blast smashing up baddies with Mjolnir. Hopefully the final game, which will take a less linear approach to the prologue we played, will impress in the New Year.
Finally, while there wasn't time to try it out, Ring Fit Adventure from Nintendo proved to be a hugely entertaining spectator sport, and one which was definitely popular with the kids who put it through its paces (or...loops?) at the show.
What was your highlight? Did we miss a must-see game? Let us know in the comments and don't forget to watch our video on YouTube.
Following the recent Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament, Blizzard found themselves under fire for their treatment of the winner, Blitzchung, after he voiced support for the people of Hong Kong. His prize winnings have since been reinstated and the ban cut in half to six months but not before their reputation took a hit. Spurred on by this, we recount some of the times developers and publishers have shot themselves in the foot and how it's affected our perception of them.
Fans found Battlefront II's lack of Vader disturbing
Sam | Ubisoft
I wouldn’t say any particular controversy has ever made me do an about face and turn my back on a game company entirely. My decision in this instance hasn’t been made based on any one monumental blunder, but rather Ubisoft’s controversial decision to gradually homogenise most of their, once diverse, franchises into a big boring blob.
Series like Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, Ghost Recon, and more once comprised a diverse range of properties in the French publisher’s catalogue. Now, however, all of these games have converged to follow the same dull formula.
It’s so widespread that the thought alone of booting up a Ubisoft game to be faced with a gigantic map, all but overflowing with markers denoting busywork is enough to make me light headed. When Far Cry and Ghost Recon titles weren’t essentially the same, I enjoyed playing both, but the merging of their mechanics has since served to make them suffocatingly boring for the same reasons.
The latter is most egregious to me; Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and it’s sequel were absolutely exemplary, so to see the regressed state of the series more than a decade later is appalling. The latest entry, Breakpoint, is a genuine embarrassment, to the point I’ve audibly proclaimed that “I fucking hate this” several times while playing.
Hours of adventure, or packed with tedious busywork?
Liam | Rockstar
The only controversy that’s come close to putting me off a publisher, or a particular game, was the revelation of crunch culture at Rockstar following the release of Red Dead Redemption 2. As someone who spent a number of years in the hospitality industry, I know what it’s like to work long unsociable hours and the toll it takes on your personal life, and even your health.
One could argue it’s simply the nature of the beast; games have become these huge, sprawling creations that are built by teams of hundreds for an ever more demanding audience, and crunch is simply part and parcel of that process.
It’s something I never really gave much thought, especially when I was younger, but stories of employees sleeping under desks, afraid to be singled out or let go for not doing their part certainly made me reconsider whether I want to support such a process.
I’m not going to pretend my reasons for avoiding RDR2 were entirely noble (a lack of time and funds also played a significant role) or that it made much difference, but the controversy did at least shine a spotlight on an industry-wide issue, which will hopefully bring about lasting change.
Has our demand for bigger and better games helped fuel crunch culture?
Let us know if a controversy ever put you off a company or game below or in the forums.
We've seen alliances forged and broken since Team Talk's inception one year ago, but today we look back on that first year with fondness, as we think about all the... err... wonderful things we've learned about one another.
Liam and I are very similar in a lot of ways. We both have an aversion to horror games but can fight through the fear if it's compelling enough (or we have a little back up). It's thanks to Liam that I've finally got around to the underrated Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and his choice of starter Pokémon is second to none.
I wouldn't say our professional relationship has evolved to the point where I'd consider moving to a different country just to be physically closer to him, but I can respect anyone's decision to do such a thing.
He's almost adorable.
Having been Team Talk’s baby daddy throughout most of its first year, before recently handing the reins over to the very capable combo of Chris and James, I’ve almost definitely spent longer pawing over past entries than anyone else.
More than anything I’d say that compiling five (or thereabouts) different opinions on one topic each week has taught me how diverse gaming is and, similarly, how diverse Team PTC are as a group. Many a time I’ve choked at the sight of someone’s unbelievable pick - or, in the case of an appalling lack of support for Sobble, everybody’s - but after resisting the urge to make liberal edits I’m generally abated by logical justifications made in 200 words or less.
As Chris pointed out we rarely all agree, which is fine - in fact, no: it’s great! At times games (especially of the AAA variety) can feel homogenised, but in reality, to each individual perspective the landscape is very different.
Most recently, however, I learned that our new host is more perceptive than I give him credit for. I am always on the money and, as predicted, Crackdown 3 is total shit. Thanks Chris!
So much potential...
Having recently moved back to Blighty, I’ve saved Chris the trouble of having to up sticks and join me in the wonderful land of Nether, however, looking back at my contributions – which includes admissions of liking EA’s maligned Battlefront reboot and finding Roof-Crouching Simulator 2012, aka, Dishonored, rather rubbish – the gaming masses would surely feel his loyalty has been misplaced.
I feel slightly less bad about starting and never finishing a game knowing that James, our leader, is a serial offender too. He also favours an aggressive, no nonsense line-up when it comes to assembling a crack team of gaming characters, something I can relate to, considering my suggestion for stopping Voldemort involved massive military strikes.
Like me, Rob grew up in the beautiful south (the location, not the 80’s pop group), but there must be something in the sea air down on the coast that’s addled his mind. This is, after all, a man who thinks of slaughtering legions of undead as a party, and, by his own admission, actually bought a Wii U. That being said, there's no-one I'd trust more when it comes to the classics.
That’s not as disturbing as Sam’s own revelations, which include never having played Ocarina of Time(!), championing an invisible frog, and using Little Sisters as cannon fodder – though he does display exceptional taste when it comes to Mario Kart and superhero games.
Despite all our differences (which, again, is a good thing) it was nice to see this here crew at PTC come together when it really mattered, namely sticking the boot into Google Stadia and loot boxes. You’re welcome, Earth.
Though we could be singing a different tune once it's out in the wild.
Getting a team together is all the rage these days, thanks to them Avengers taking the box office crown this year and also plotting a game release next year. Team Talk has shown off our range of skills quite effectively, establishing the team as our own bunch of colourful superheroes.
Sam is our Tony Stark, working tirelessly pushing the envelope with not only Team Talk itself (his Vision, if you will) but our weekly giveaways and a huge number of well thought-through, entertaining and engaging reviews. Fortunately he shuns Tony's less desirable penchant for self-destruction, but is pushing himself to bring you all more gaming stuff from his brain than ever before with new gigs, writing on other sites.
Chris is Captain America (or Captain Britain), the anchor who holds the team together by keeping the news agenda going, bringing you hot takes and breaking news from all over the place, from the announcements for new games and consoles to supporting our E3 watch parties (and the subsequent lengthy write ups, in case you missed them).
Liam is our Black Widow. Chris' co-pilot in the news stakes and often throwing in a review or two of his own. Also he's a globetrotter, jet-setting from Denmark, to the UK, to Australia and back again in the dead of night. Undoubtedly looking the part in a leather catsuit, Liam's skills keep the team flexible and, until recently at least, let us hit our international quota.
Rob is the Hulk. Not only a smarty pants, but prone to lengthy periods of absence to take on all manner of creative pursuits, including music. He's our resident Nintendo guru and will soon be bringing you his take on Ninty's latest hardware – the Switch Lite.
Everyone has something interesting to say and Team Talk is the best place to hear from all these clever people.
Which would make James our Nick Fury, because Thor is a fictional character.
Will we be all smiles and sunshine after another 12 months of working together? Find out next year.