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Opinion: Supply Drops are back in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and they’re awful

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The infamous Supply Drops have returned to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 after not being present in the game since its launch in October.

Treyarch introduced the new Reserve Crates system with Operation Grand Heist in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 this week, adding another way for players to unlock new types of content in the game. The Crates are only available via a purchase with Call of Duty Points and include 3 Case Items.

Each Case features only one item, and those items include a variety of new cosmetic content, alongside MK2 weapons, and items from older Operations. Purchasing a crate basically gets you 3 cases — which is similar to older Call of Duty titles giving you 3 items per supply drop.

The implementation in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is just as awful as Treyarch’s last implementation with Black Ops 3, and it seems Activision has not learned from their own mistakes and community feedback when it comes to Supply Drop systems.

The biggest issue with all of this is that Call of Duty is a $60 boxed game, with a $50 season pass, alongside a tier based operation system with the ability to purchase individual tiers, with an item shop, and now Supply Drops. Black Ops 4 literally has every type of microtransaction methods out there — that many free to play games have — in a $60 boxed game.

And worse, the Supply Drop system in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is even worse than what Free-to-Play games have with their supply drop system.

Let’s compare Black Ops 4’s new Reserve Crates with Apex Legends’ Apex Packs:

Black Ops 4’s Reserve Crates grants you three items — out a variety of cosmetic content, including new items that are locked behind the crates like Blackout characters, MK2 weapons, and more. All 3 items are not duplicate protected, so you can get duplicates throughout the whole process. Every third duplicate, however, you are able to re-roll, but the first two duplicates you get are stuck and there’s nothing you can do about it. Apex Legends, a free to play game, has Apex Packs. The difference? Apex Packs are duplicate protected, so you can never get a duplicate item in Apex Legends; Apex Packs also have a bad luck protection built in, meaning every 30 packs you are guaranteed to get 1 Legendary Item — something Call of Duty does not have.

And the Reserve Crates are the same price as before – $2 per crate, so $2 for 3 items. And, even worse, Activision has removed the ability to earn these cases in the regular tier system. Once you hit level 100 in the Operation Grand Heist tier, that’s it — there’s no more cases to earn from the tiers. Instead, you now have to earn them separately, and based upon current testing, many people are reporting it takes about 2.5 hours of gameplay to just earn 1 case — which gives you 1 item.

That’s terrible.

Image from @eColiEspresso.

Why remove the cases from the tier system after hitting 100 and put it in the separate system with earn rates so much worse? The only answer is Activision wants people to buy crates, rather than continuing to earn it.

There’s already a certain level of uncertainty of whether or not, at a certain point this year, Activision will start to add new weapons into the cases. Back in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, in December 2015, when Supply Drops became purchasable in that game, Activision claimed all items will be cosmetic only. Two months later, new weapons were added to the Supply Drops and all weapons going forward were locked behind the RNG system.

It’s true that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has a variety of ways to earn some content that Call of Duty games before have not had. But the way things are moving right now — more and more items seem to be going behind the Reserve Crates and will force users who want it to purchase those to get these items.

Loot boxes are a hot topic in the video game industry, as FTC in the US has opened an investigation into the loot boxes, and countries in Europe like Belgium has deemed loot boxes gambling and have asked developers to disable them in games like Overwatch, FIFA, and more. EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II kicked off the disastrous response to Loot Boxes and sparked government investigations after it was revealed that system was fully on RNG and gambling. EA was forced to remove and rework the entire loot box system in that game.

But the biggest point goes back to what I mentioned earlier: how many ways can Activision monetize their games? These games are already $60, and how much more can they keep asking for fans to cough up in order to get cosmetic content? This game has a Season Pass, which by many standards thus far is one of the worst yet in Call of Duty’s history as it offers less content than previous Season Passes in terms of how many MP maps are coming in the end (12 this year vs. 16 before). And the season pass model continues to be outdated and split the community up with MP maps – something many in the industry have already moved on from, but Activision is stuck on.

How far will Activision take Reserve Crates in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is yet to be seen, but don’t forget this:

In the earnings call last week, Activision made it clear Black Ops 4’s microtransactions were not selling high enough, and as such, the crates are the first step to add additional revenue from the game.

Just like Activision’s failure to not take Blackout free to play, Supply Drops is another thing that will drive some hardcore players away to play other games that offer more value than Call of Duty does.

News

5 biggest problems with the PS5 launch in UK

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The PlayStation 5 launch in the UK was anything but smooth.

The highly-anticipated Sony PlayStation 5 finally became available at retailers in the US and Japan on November 12. Lockdown kept people from visiting stores but they were able to place their orders online, or simply have the console delivered to them if they pre-ordered.

Earlier this week, Amazon EU informed customers that the console would be available for purchase in limited stock at 12pm UK/1pm CEST on November 19. Now it has finally launched in the UK and throughout Europe but not without a hitch. There are reports of many different issues being faced regarding the availability of the console and delays in delivery.

This has led to gamers throwing blame with a massive online outcry over the many different problems with the console’s European release. Let’s go over each one.

Game delivery delays

Customers placed their pre-orders for the PlayStation 5 at the UK retailer, Game. Now, those dedicated players are facing disappointment as Game has announced delays in delivery of the consoles. They have attributed this to unexpectedly large demand along with the large size of the console. Game sent out the following email to customers:

It can be seen from the message that Game is placing the blame for this delay squarely on the courier firm Yodel. The latter has denied responsibility by stating “Yodel does not work directly with Game. Our client is GFS, a fulfillment business that works in partnership with Game.”

Yodel further clarified by saying “We have been consistently clear on the order volumes we are able to carry for them and it is deeply disappointing that Yodel’s name has been incorrectly used in an email to customers on the status of orders.”

Regardless of who’s to blame, there are rising tensions and Game is now trying to ease customers by letting them know that the “vast majority” of deliveries will be completed successfully and the remaining ones will arrive by tomorrow.

Their site has gone back up for PS5 re-orders since then.

Curry’s launch misfire

Currys PC World’s website had extremely large virtual queues that grew to 150,000 long. The original plan that the company excitedly announced was to start selling at 9 a.m today. However, this became complicated as some people were able to work around this system.

It turns out a large number of early customers were able to place orders much earlier than the announced release time. These customers stated that they were able to get their consoles as early as 5.30 a.m. This has left many of the customers who went by the set schedule without a PlayStation 5.

Curry has now canceled these orders and announced that they will not have any more consoles available for purchase today. Many of the affected are being refunded right away while others have to wait.

One now deleted tweet from Currys’ customer service account stated the following:

“Unfortunately due to an error on our site we were allowing customers to check out the PS5 before they went live at 9 a.m. Due to this, we have had to cancel orders and the funds will be released back to you. Please accept my apologies.”

Many customers will have to wait for their refund before they will be able to search for another place to purchase the PS5 from.

Amazon debacle

The delivery challenges are not just limited to Game and Currys PC World. Many other retail sites are facing technical issues that are keeping people from being able to order the PS5 through them. Sites like Amazon, Tesco, and John Lewis’s have reportedly not been functioning properly.

Customers have tried logging on to the sites to get their consoles only to find that the pages were failing to load. Some of the sites have been straight-up broken throughout the day when customers tried visiting them. This is unfortunate, as many of these people had placed their pre-orders as far back as September.

Currently the PS5 is out of stock at many of these retailers and it is not yet known when it will become available again.

Twitter complaints

The biggest outcry from all these issues is obviously coming from the people that have been most closely affected by all these problems. The paying customers who had made their pre-orders months ago have taken to Twitter to express their discontent with the way this day has gone.

Some have immediately focused their frustration at Yodel for the delays. They are also upset because quite a few of them received the message “We’re sorry but your parcel has been reported to us as missing. Please contact your sender for your next steps.”

Customers aren’t happy with the idea that Yodel may have been holding on to their console for a couple of hours only for it to have been possibly stolen by someone else.

It is entirely possible that the consoles may not have been stolen and instead, this is just an error in the reports of available stock. However, at the moment we can’t say anything for sure.

Some of those who had pre-ordered from Game asked why they had paid an extra fee to have a Royal Mail delivery that has now been given to another courier firm. Other tweets complained about the delays from Amazon and others.

Some even took issue with the way Walmart handled the launch. There were reports that they had the console in their cart but were still unable to finish the purchase. Eventually, the retail store ended up canceling today’s PS5 orders due to supposed quantity limits.

Ampere gaming analyst Piers Harding-Rolls has stated:

“Clearly it is disappointing for consumers that have pre-ordered not to receive their console on launch day. The situation is exacerbated as there is no opportunity to buy on launch day at physical retail as in the past.”

“Whether you are impacted or not appears to come down to the retailer you pre-ordered with which indicates that this is a company-specific issue rather than a broader industry problem. The UK is not alone in this respect – some US retailers also had their challenges last week during the launches.”

Queued for download” bug

Those who were lucky enough to receive their PlayStation 5 in today’s chaos may end up confronting an entirely different problem. There is a bug that is preventing players from downloading digital games due to it getting permanently stuck at “queued for download.”

Many players have reported that when they download a PS5 version of a game, it will show up in the game library but not in any download queue. As a result, any attempts to download the games are proving unsuccessful once this bug has been encountered.

Sony has yet to address this strange problem and the only known way around it is to factory reset the entire console. You will lose any games you already own and then have to go through the process of downloading them again. This will be particularly frustrating when the games are heavy.

Although this is a problem that players in Europe will face today, it is not exclusive to the UK launch of the console. In fact, players have been reporting this since the PS5 first launched in North America and other regions on November 12.

In light of all this, the PlayStation 5 launch in UK and wider Europe has been very troublesome. Many players are left without consoles and wondering where to look next.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Opinion: Cold War’s new Scorestreak system needs adjusting

Black Ops Cold War’s new Scorestreak system has some teething problems, so here’s how Treyarch could address the issues.

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Black Ops Cold War introduced a new Scorestreak system but it isn’t without teething problems.

In the new Scorestreak system, Scorestreaks no longer reset on death. This means however many points you accumulate towards earning the next Scorestreak carries into the next life. To make earning high-end Scorestreaks more rewarding, points earned accumulate through killstreaks. The higher the streak, the more points you earn for each kill.

As this is a brand new system for Cold War, issues with the system have been making multiplayer lobbies a frustrating experience.

Here are the most prominent problems with the Scorestreak system, and how they could be addressed by Treyarch.

Earn Rate

Treyarch adjusted the earn rate of Scorestreaks between the beta and the full launch. Treyarch felt it was too easy to earn certain Scorestreaks and too difficult to earn others.

After these updates, most players earn their Scorestreaks at roughly the same time throughout a match.

There will be a point where the announcer calls ‘multiple enemy Spy Planes above’ as players all unlock the Spy Plane. Then there will be a portion of the game where Artillery and Cruise Missiles are spammed, and finally, in the end-game, several Attack Helicopters are called in.

Scorestreak earn rates need to be adjusted further. To keep games varied and Scorestreaks rewarding, they need to be more difficult to earn. Not being able to leave spawn due to a continuous barrage of Scorestreaks or earning an Attack Helicopter but having to wait in a queue of three to use it aren’t satisfying experiences.

There could also be a larger gap between points needed to earn Scorestreaks. For example, there are only 100 points between earning Artillery and the Cruise Missile. If you earn one, you’re likely to earn the other in the same kill. This leads to more Scorestreak spam.

Objective Score

The current Scorestreak system rewards getting kills much more than it rewards objective play. The points earned for kills drastically outweigh those for capturing flags or holding a hardpoint. Offensive or defensive kills do not increase your score enough to be worthwhile.

Low points earned for objective play is due to the score multipliers applied to killstreaks. As you rack up a high killstreak, the amount of points earned continues to increase. There is currently no such system for objective play.

To make objectives more rewarding, Treyarch could add score multipliers to objectives. The longer you hold a hardpoint for in a single life, the more score you should earn. The same goes for capturing and defending flags. Getting offensive and defensive kills should also add to score multipliers.

This way, earning Scorestreaks is a fair experience across all playstyles.

We know that Treyarch is aware of inconsistencies in the new Scorestreak system because of adjustments made between beta and launch. It’s possible that another overhaul is coming with Season 1 in December.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

How Private Matches could change Warzone

Private matches are rumoured to be coming to Warzone; here’s how they’ll change the game.

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Private matches are a long-requested feature in Call of Duty: Warzone and have been rumored since the launch of the game.

With several users having spotted the option in their menu, it’s all but confirmed that private Warzone lobbies will be arriving in the future.

Modern Warfare’s custom matches allow players to change almost every aspect of the game, creating their own game modes and rulesets. So far there is no information on the extent of customization options for Warzone private matches.

Here are the additions to Warzone private matches will bring.

A more casual experience

Private matches have existed in Call of Duty since CoD 4: Modern Warfare, and have led to some of the most memorable game modes in Call of Duty such as quick-scoping on Rust in MW2 and playing ‘Mike Myers’ lobbies. They are a casual and creative way to play with friends.

As players get better at Warzone and get moved up to higher tiers of skill-based matchmaking, the game becomes more difficult. With the massive success of The Haunting of Verdansk event which included Zombie Royale, it’s clear the Call of Duty fanbase is open to a more casual Warzone experience.

Smaller, private matches will allow players to play Warzone with whoever they like, in any way that they like.

A testing ground

YouTubers such as TheXclusiveAce, Drift0r, and DefendTheHouse spend a lot of time testing weapons and mechanics in Call of Duty. Much of this is done through private matches. With Warzone, there is nowhere that they can test Warzone specifically. Currently, they must try and load into a match of Plunder or Warzone at the same time so that they are in opposite teams.

With the community having free reign of a testing ground, it’s likely that issues can be addressed before they have the time to widely affect gameplay. On the other hand, Warzone players could also take advantage of exploits found through testing.

A competitive scene

It’s likely that Warzone’s competitive scene will evolve with the addition of private matches.

Currently, competitive Warzone mostly consists of ‘kill races.’ Popularised in Fortnite, players attempt to get more eliminations than their competitors over one or two public games of Warzone. These are extremely popular on Twitch and YouTube, with some competitors reaching 100k viewers. The tournaments take place in public matches so there is no safeguard against ‘stream snipers’ and cheaters.

The Call of Duty League matched professional players against each other in Verdansk. As part of the home series weekends, private matches consisted of around 60 CDL pros, coaches, and others playing competitive matches of Warzone. The rulesets changed as the weeks went on, such as adding placement points and points per elimination.

Streamers and professional players will have the option to host their own private tournaments which are likely to pave the way for a competitive Warzone scene. As seen by the CDL’s Warzone Weekends, gameplay in these competitive matches will be severely slowed down. With every player being a skilled professional and money on the line, players are much more careful and deliberate.

While there’s no final confirmation on when we’ll see Private Lobbies in Warzone, it’s could lead to new changes and experiences for all fans, including casual and competitive experiences.

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