This one time I was walking past a baseball field when a foul ball bounced over the sidelines and rolled towards me. I picked it up and threw it back, and had a brief thought that the coach would notice the power and accuracy of my throw and invite me to join the team, and together we'd become champions. It didn't happen, of course: I don't have a strong arm, it was a little league team, and I was 39 at the time. Still, the fantasy of joining a team and discovering my hidden talents drifts into my head every now and then.
So, I was pretty excited when four members of SetToDestroyX agreed to let me be their fifth wheel for an evening of 5-player team matches in Daybreak's battle royale shooter H1Z1: King of the Kill. I took my hefty 6.5 hours of experience with KotK and teamed up with pro players Aw Naw, Viva La Bad, Raeldon, and Omniskillz.
I'll go ahead and spoil the end of the movie: I don't have any hidden talent for KotK, and I certainly haven't been invited to join the team on a permanent basis. I did have a lot of fun, though!
I had a few fairly simple goals for the evening:
- Get at least one kill, for crying out loud
- Don't accidentally kill one of my teammates
- Win at least one match
- Seriously, though: don't accidentally kill any of my teammates
- Get a group picture with the whole team
- For the love of god, Chris, DO NOT kill any teammates
I'm moderately pleased to say I sort of accomplished a few of those. Here are nine things that happened during the evening:
I learned I am not very good at King of the Kill
I pretty much already knew this: the best I've ever done in King of the Kill solo is 7th place or so, and that was something of an anomaly. But there's a difference between knowing you're not great at something and then seeing you're not great at something by playing alongside people who are extremely great at something.
My shortcomings really stood out in stark relief when playing on a team with four pro players with thousands of hours of experience between them. As we'll see, I got schooled in everything from shooting to looting to even landing. Landing! How hard is it to land properly? For me, I guess, it's hard.
I got a kill. One measly kill, during the entire evening
In the five or six matches we played, I came out with a total of one kill. One. Lousy. Kill. And yet, I still felt kind of proud of it, or at least relieved. You can see it below: it occurs shortly after I finish accidentally shooting the hell out of the Jeep I'm hiding behind (maybe I should have edited that part out) and actually manage to put a bullet into another player.
Yep. That's my personal highlight reel. A single bullet went where I wanted it to go.
While admiring the notification of my one kill, I got killed
You'll note how my sole kill of the night is immediately followed by my death, because I was too busy staring happily at the kill notification to be aware that there was still someone shooting at me.
I just assumed crouching behind a car would protect me while I loudly informed everyone on my team that I had, in fact, killed someone. I figured I'm behind cover, so I'm safe, which is just plain video game logic based on movie logic. It's not true, though, since someone called 'zomby_eata' was able to shoot under the car and into my legs (which were fittingly only protected by a pair of pants that say 'LOSER' all over them).
The SetToDestroyX pros gave me advice after spectating my death: if you crouch behind a car, make sure you're behind a tire, to protect your legs.
I discovered I don't even know how to loot
Typically, here's how the match would begin. I would land with the pros (sort of: more on that later) and we would all dash into different buildings to scour for gear. Roughly three seconds later everyone else on the team would emerge from their buildings with helmets, vests, automatic weapons, ammo, backpacks, and first aid.
As for me, I'd emerge from my building about four minutes later than everyone else having found, like, a new shirt. Maybe, on occasion, I'd have a smoke grenade or a pistol or I'd be wearing slightly different shoes. Point is, I am apparently not very good at the art of picking up useful things, which I didn't even know was an art.
The result was that the pros would have to stop to tell me where some actual useful gear was, followed by then physically showing me where some actual gear was by running over and standing next to it because I couldn't follow simple directions (see above, as Aw Naw is basically jumping up and down to direct me to an AK). Eventually, the team just started bringing me gear and dropping it at my feet. I think everyone decided it was just quicker that way.
I somehow got worse at landing as the night went on
Like looting, I wouldn't have thought falling from the sky required any sort of skill other than having mass, but it definitely does, and I definitely do not have that skill. My teammates—in addition to instantly ascertaining exactly where on the map they were, and immediately deciding the best place to land—would descend to earth as if on ziplines instead of parachutes, landing what felt like a good half-hour before I managed to wrangle myself to the ground.
Meanwhile, my parachute seem to be knitted from a mob of concussed moths, all trying to dizzily head in different directions. This got worse and worse as the night went on, and in our final match I landed so far away from everyone else it took me several minutes to even catch up to them.
I shot a teammate—EXCEPT I DIDN'T. Honest.
Later in the evening, feeling like I should take more of an active role, I decided to bravely ride in the front seat of the police car we'd commandeered, rather than riding in the back as I had been. (In another match, I actually drove, but we're not going to talk about that, not ever.) As we pursed another team, also in a police car, I took to firing—very carefully—through our windshield.
"You hit me," said Raeldon, who was driving and who I had been desperately careful not to hit. And yes, I did hit him, except, upon review, I didn't. As you can see in the gif below, the hit indicator briefly turns green, which is how you know you've committed an act of friendly fire. But as you can also see, when the green indicator comes up I'm not actually shooting Raeldon (I'm not even shooting the enemy car I'm aiming at).
I mean, yes, technically, I am shooting a bit close to Raeldon's exposed knuckles on the steering wheel, but not that close. I call foul, and present this as evidence that I didn't genuinely puncture a pro. I'm terrible, but not as terrible as the game says I am.
We won a match, and it felt great even though I did absolutely nothing useful
Like I said, I've never won a match in KotK, and I figured if I was ever going to be a winner, it would definitely be while I was being shepherded through the map by four pros. And, I'm happy to say we did win a match, though what you see above is pretty much how our matches went: my team swarmed over enemy players while I struggled to keep up, and they dispatched our enemies before I even got within range.
I do like that it says "You Survived" rather than "You Won", because basically the only thing I did was survive since during this match I never got close enough to an enemy to fire a shot or get shot myself.
This is mostly because:
I never even saw about 90% of the enemies my team killed
This was probably the most eye-opening aspect of playing with KotK with these pros. They spot enemies from such great distances it borders on the supernatural. It didn't matter if we were driving at top speed across a field or running at top speed through a city. If another player so much as twitched within a mile of my teammates, they'd spot them and then start racking up kills. It was pretty amazing to see (not that I saw it).
I finally had to admit at the end of one match: "I didn't even see any of the people you guys were shooting at." And it was completely true. I hadn't seen anyone the entire match except for my teammates.
Someone accidentally killed a teammate, and it wasn't me
In our last match, I still hadn't gotten the group photo I wanted, so we decided to climb a mountain together to get a nice view in the background. It didn't quite work out. I won't name names here but someone decided to drive up the mountain rather than run, and the Jeep couldn't quite make it, and then someone else got run over. All I can say is, thank god it wasn't me driving.
Below you can see the resulting group photo of me, the crushed body of Viva La Bad, Aw Naw, and just the marker for Omniskillz. Not pictured is Raeldon, who was behind me. Okay, maybe it's not the group photo I was imagining, but I'd say it's still pretty memorable and suitable for framing.
While I clearly won't be invited to join the team, I still had a great time. Thanks so much to Aw Naw, Viva La Bad, Omniskillz, and Raeldon, as well as Charlie at SetToDestroyX for their expertise, good nature, and especially their patience.