Recently I posted a piece on gibbons amongst men, the idiot players that the rest of us have reason to lambast and simply be embarrassed by. It is time to balance that out with a look at some of the best sorts of player, those that are so good you can only be ashamed of your own relative mediocraty. There are some who seem to act as little gods, annihilating all in their path. Other great players strategize, thinking how to outwit the enemy and deliver the all-important victory. Then there are the lucky ones, the lucky ones who we nevertheless credit with acts of absurd skill. It is because of these people that the impact of gaming’s Homer Simpsons are not felt, thank you for existing.
The Hercules: The most common hero. There are some people who seem to never die. Some people who manage to put out ridiculous amounts of damage. A glance at SWTOR’s PVP stats show a good benchmark. He who does more than 1 million damage is a demigod. Simple, really.
But there are situations that are less clear cut - when insane ability is not explained by being well positioned and knowing what abilities to pop at the right times. FPS games are a regular hunting ground for such people. In particular I am reminded of a recent CounterStrike match in which we were stuck. It is Dust II, that old classic, and my team is the terrorists. We start the match in high spirits, having a decent lead over the enemy. However we take our route through the tunnel to B only to be confronted with a wall of physics defying lead.
One team member drops, and I’m sure we injured a couple of them. From the map we could see that four of their team were on B – a big gamble, but one that evidently paid off. They had us pinned down by the tunnel. If we left, they would know where we were and either attack us from behind or cut us off. The risk of retreat was too great, but we couldn’t just sit there or we would lose. We had to charge at them and hope for the best.
The result seemed a foregone conclusion. We ran at them, two of us died immediately. I’d run out of ammo but luckily I was able to stab an enemy hiding at the exit of the tunnel before getting my brains splattered on the wall. We were down to the last man with 3 of them remaining. We were screwed.
I had of course, reckoned without the Rambo in the team. He picked up a gun (a Galil I think) and exited the tunnel, instantly landing a headshot on a player hiding behind the boxes. He turned to his right to shoot the bugger behind the car. Then he took some fire by the last guy behind the door. Our guy just sauntered up to the door, rounded the corner, and unloaded the magazine into the enemy. There is no mistaking his skill. Two of us got annihilated, I was slightly luckier, but he was the hero. He saved us. No number of morons could have taken that victory from him.
The Lucky One: Easily confused with the demigods, the lucky hero is one we have probably all been at one point. An example is landing three headshots in succession in CounterStrike and being told ‘you’re awesome!’ when in fact they were all pretty close together and you just sort of flailed the mouse hoping for the best, or being accredited with being great when actually the enemy team were just sort of terrible.
These are accidental heroes who the powers that be favour. Take Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. There is a combination of circumstances that will deliver many accidental heroes: a catapult and reason for the enemy to be in one place. The enemy is pushing the ram toward the castle gates and no amount of clanging steel is going to halt their advance – they are just too powerful. Fortunately, we have control of the catapult, and some lucky bastard has control. He fires the boulder at the enemy and it flies majestically right behind the battering ram, killing 8 players. The chat box lights up with messages of ‘nice shot’, ‘well done’ and ‘lucky prick!’. Of course only the last one is correct. It was impossible to know that the ram would be in just the right place, it is too far away to judge properly. You were just lucky, but you have made up for the ineptitude of that archer who thinks he is a knight – so well done.
The Strategist: Often undervalued these people are essential to team success. It is possible to think up ideas that no amount of stupidity can mess up. Sometimes the expected plan needs to be defied for the sake of easier victory. Cast your eyes onto The Pacific Job in GTA Online.
The Heist works like this: you go into the bank, grab the money and leave. When you leave you must fight your way down an alley to some bikes and then ride to a canyon where your getaway boat is waiting. Easy, right? No, of course it isn’t. You expect us to ride past armed police roadblocks, be pursued by a dozen cars all shooting at us and for that to go well? You must be joking. No no no, the bikes simply will not do. No cover. None at all, you might as well jog to the canyon.
The hero here is not someone who can mow down the cops and destroy the roadblocks. The hero is the one who realises that, actually, you are better off getting NOOSE involved. Why? Because they turn up in some lovely armoured vans that are impenetrable.
Once you’ve gone down the alley and got on your bikes you are told to go to the canyon. Great, that means we can now ditch the bikes for a van. There is probably one a couple of blocks away as part of a roadblock. Just shoot the cops, nick the van, and away you go to freedom. No risk of death from then on. The strategist has saved you, on the bikes you would have probably died, but in the van your survival is assured. You have the strategist to thank.
That concludes our little journey into the depths of player stupidity and brilliance. Fortunately, they tend to balance out. The strategist will work around incompetence; the Hercules will pick up any and all slack. And sometimes you will just get lucky. I wouldn’t count on it though. For every Rambo, there will be a Homer Simpson.