A while back I wrote a piece showcasing some of my favorite articles MedicinalWarlock has contributed to the blog. I originally accidentally included the dm_duel article in that list before noticing that SilverWolf had written it! Just like Warlock, SilverWolf is one of our most frequent contributors, and he’s written enough articles that left a lasting impression on me that I wanted to take the time to pay them some lip service.

Like I mentioned in the comments section when this article was first released, dm_duel holds a special place in my heart as well. Back in the early days, when I played TF2 on a terrible laptop, I couldn’t run most of the official maps because they were chock-full of so many different entities. Maps like dm_duel and cp_orange_x3 were a blessing to my graphics card because they were bare-bones, which means I could play on them and still get decent frames. They also were the only maps that seemed to play crazy gamemodes like randomizer or allcrits, or at least the only maps who did so while not being terrible eyesores like mariokart. But while I’d analyzed cp_orange long enough to discuss it from an analysis standpoint, I’d never truly considered dm_duel worthy of studious attention until SilverWolf’s article discussed the map’s verticality and that it was where he’d learned how to airstrafe. He’s right, dm_duel was something of a rite of passage for a lot of us who joined TF2 with toaster hardware, and it was very nostalgic to see that old map through a fresh perspective.

While I haven’t played FF14, I can empathize with SilverWolf’s impending dread of falling in love with an MMORPG despite common sense and general self-respect warning him not to. I know I have an inherently addictive personality, which is why I avoid gaming genres that revolve around skinner boxes, but when I joined a D&D group where everybody regularly met to play World of Warcraft together, I created a worgen druid so we could keep playing together even after I moved to a new city to attend my master’s program. I had suspected that WoW healing would suck, mostly because the internet has nothing but bad things to say about it, but I actually really enjoyed the cooldown-based playstyle because Restoration druids have so many different healing spells available that I had to constantly keep track of what was charged and who needed it most. I got so excited every time I unlocked a new animal form, especially the flying and aquatic forms because of the speed boosts they granted. SilverWolf’s article puts words to that feeling of slowly growing invested in your player character through exploration of a massive online world, and he did so while teaching me a lot about a game I’d heard was amazing but never really discovered.

While I haven’t played the Battlefield games referenced in SilverWolf’s article, it was the reason I finally tried my first Battlefield game, Battlefield 1, and I found it to be one of the best multiplayer shooters ever. I’m not normally into modern military shooters, but SilverWolf lured me in with promises of fluid and advanced mobility, and it blew me away when I finally experienced it. Your avatar can climb over almost anything blocking his way, from head-high walls to hilly foliage, and there are several different forms of movement from quicksliding to going prone and bayonet charging. SilverWolf’s article spoke glowingly about the vehicles, a mechanic that usually sucks in infantry-based shooters, but Battlefield 1 has one of the best implementations I’ve ever played. The best part is that vehicles behave like map entities, in that you can simply climb on top and stand there firing at enemies while it drives around, which is something a surprising number of games make impossible. Complete with the fully-indestructible environments, the huge 32v32 playercount, the ability to steal weapons off the ground to quickly change your playstyle, and the syringe which revives corpses, and I can’t think of anything to wish for. Well, maybe more naval warfare, mostly because they’ve already covered the land and air battles so well that I’d like to see them put a World War 1 spin on the naval combat they crafted for Battlefield 4.

Granted, this amazement could all be because I’ve never played the older Battlefield games. SilverWolf explained why the older games were even better and modern Battlefield games have only taken steps backwards, so his article spurring me to leap directly into the Battlefield 1 fanbase might seem weird. But without it, I’d have never touched the Battlefield series in the first place. And if Bad Company 2 ever goes on sale, I’m totally ready to see what I’ve been missing.

This article was the first time I’d seen anyone else mention Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, mostly because it hardcore flopped among the actual Counter-Strike players by being a single-player game. But like SilverWolf, I played a bunch of CS:CZ because it came bundled for free with the original Counter-Strike on Steam and I was hopelessly incapable of holding my own against actual humans in the multiplayer Counter-Strike games. Condition Zero was a much appreciated opportunity to enjoy the Counter-Strike gameplay while still fighting only bots and getting to play at my own pace, while also enjoying far more cinematic and story-driven gameplay than you get in the proper multiplayer modes. My favorite map was the one where you just sniped some Yakuza don, and now you have to escape while his goons try to avenge their master’s death, mostly because it was the first one I could actually beat. Back then I had very little FPS experience, and those maps were hard! It was an awesome trip down memory lane to read about this old unloved game from his perspective, especially considering he knew and remembered way more about the game than I did.

One of my favorite parts about SilverWolf is his willingness to try new things. This article shows how he decided to give Demoman another shot after learning about a whole new playstyle, a playstyle I particularly love. This open-mindedness extends to his writing as well, even if you go all the way back to his early submissions. In just four articles he goes from a writer comforted by the reassuring guidelines of a TF2 Love and Hate contest prompt, to someone who completes an entire article on a game we’ve never even covered before! Recently, he’s taken the initiative to start creating and including GIFs in his articles, which I wholeheartedly applaud because GIFs are amazing for conveying information in a way people want to consume. Writers must always push themselves to try new things and improve their craft, and SilverWolf has shown time and again that he’s ready to rise to that challenge.