Saturday, June 20, 2015

It’s All About the Team at E3 The Super Bowl of Computer Gaming

This week, I am at E3, the Super Bowl of computer gaming! Right off the bat, I noticed that game studios have fully embraced this whole team aspect thing. It's not you vs. the bad guys. It's you and 15 or 20 of your teammates vs. 15 or 20 people on another team fighting to the death within a certain time limit in a confined area no bigger than a phone booth. Mass carnage with surreal graphics in mind-blowing locations at a frantic pace. And again, it's your team vs. the world. No team? No problem! These games are more than happy to put you on a randomly created team from a pool of available players just waiting to get a taste of the action.

As I step up and play on a random team, I instantly notice the lack of cohesiveness that results in decisive victory (the kind of victory where someone on the other team might just quit playing). And to that, I don't know 15 or 20 people that would be willing to team up with me to take on the world. Which, in hindsight, is probably for the best as discearning victory usually requires practice. PRACTICE??? Who's got time for practice? I'm lucky with my schedule that I even get to play games at this stage of my life (husband, father, suburbs, three dogs). So, I'll be sticking to random teams – for now. I just wish that the time I spent in my youth on Atari 2600 and Nintendo wasn't so largely wasted leaving me unprepared for today's gaming.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't try (even at my age – 43) to prepare and compete in these games against vastly superior and considerably younger gamers. I try. I bought a headset with a microphone. I spend countless hours at work playing a variety of these team concept video games. I even sneak away in the evenings to log in an hour or two just to increase my rankings. HECK, I'm even spending some of my entertainment money on upgrades and add-ons for these video games (just to compete). My problem is that I'm not willing or able to commit the 60 hours or so a week it would take for me to actually be GOOD at these games. I can buy all the upgrades I want, but it doesn't negate the fact that these 13-year-old kids are twitchy and fueled by Red Bull.

Soooooooooooo…. E3. Team based games? Check. Games where you can be Darth Vader, a mythical god, an elite sniper, world class soccer player, or even vicious dwarf? Check again. From what I've seen so far, the 'must have' games for 2015 are going to Star Wars Battlefront, a 40 vs. 40 mass assault where you're battling as either the Rebels or the Empireon the ground and in the air on worlds like Hoth and Endor; Smite, a seven vs. seven arena based combat where you can be an actual mythical god battling other mythical gods; Rainbow Six Siege, a five on five strategic assault where you are either a member of an elite military unit or part of a faction that is a threat to freedom; and the impressive list of games from both established and indie game studios goes on. The games all appear incredible and the action is non-stop. You attack. You die. You restart. You improve. And you do it again!!! It's like that Tom Cruise movie, 'Edge of Tomorrow' – LIVE. DIE. REPEAT.

How do these games impact Mac and Linux users? Well, they don't. That's the rub in all of this. Most of these games are PC only. However, you might still be able to play these titles on your Mac or Linux computer when they are released later this year using CrossOver. In the coming months, CodeWeavers will have support for DirectX 11; better controller support; and further improvements to overall GPU performance. While these incremental improvements for game support may seem small (at first), the cumulative improvements for game support will allow for many of these games to 'just run' when released. And when more games 'just run' in CrossOver, it won't matter if you're battling against Thor or Apollo using a PC, a Mac, or a Linux computer.

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