Opinion: Gaming with the right kind of aggro

No, I’m not talking about playing co-op with the furry little muppet from The Cartoon Connection, or some slant on an Army of Two reference, what I’m on about is playing aggressively and reaping the benefits from this style of play. Anyone can crack it and get “aggro”, shouting curses at your LCD, snapping controllers and vehemently querying the parentage of the last little snapper-head that shotgunned you in the face. It’s a little thing I’ve recently learned called “backing yourself”, and the results may just surprise you.

Though it shames me to admit, I used to be part of the camping sniper crew, not in online multiplayer matches, but in single player or co-op campaigns, giving support or covering fire, whilst my partner in crime did all the dirty work, up close and personal. My gameplay has changed drastically since then due to two major events.

A few years ago, while reviewing Call of Duty: World at War, something just clicked and I found myself, uncharacteristically, storming trenches, taking on eight enemy soldiers at a time, AND surviving. A callous spray of a heavy machine gun here, some picture perfect melee strikes there, and boo-ya, that trench had been pacified. The more I pushed it, the more ridiculous the moves I pulled off became, as I played with a healthy dose of fear and slightly more reckless abandon. I knew there was a good chance I’d die, but persevered onwards, bugger the consequences.

The second catalyst, where my “aggro” coalesced into version 2.0, was under the watchful eye of Sir Nachos Justice. During one of our many hangouts, the PC friendly Nachos was forced to endure many hours of console Battlefield Bad Company 2 multiplayer, at my behest (I know. I have a problem). Rather than bitch and moan, he instead, offered insightful advice and commentary to play, as he coined it, “The Nachos Way”, by backing yourself.

“Backing yourself” is where you pull off an outrageous bit of gaming gold by trusting in your skills, and laughing in the face of death. This doesn’t mean you bolt in line of sight, down the barrel of a tank and cross your fingers, hoping for the best. It’s a calculated risk, where most of the time your adversary can’t believe what they just saw, or that you had the balls to do it.

It’s running at a sniper, jumping out the way of (or over) his shot, and shouting “McConaugheyyyyy!!” as you stab him in the face. It’s bolting past several enemies to arm an objective, firm in the knowledge that you’ll make it (perhaps telling concerned squad mates you’re “invisible” and the defenders can’t see you, as I do), or cavalierly sauntering around an unfriendly base as you shotgun foes willy-nilly, waiting for the path to open up to the next checkpoint. It’s wiping out an entire squad with a bee’s dick worth of health left, running out of ammo, switching kits, shooting a sniper rifle from the hip, killing a medic, pilfering his kit and using it to replenish your own rapidly dwindling health… and starting up all over again. In simplest terms, it’s playing the part of an action hero, where you think it through and hear yourself saying “You know what? That’s just crazy enough to work!”

Each time I’d pull off something along those lines (several moves above were taken directly from some choice Nachos gameplay I’ve witnessed), or even thought of hesitating, I’d hear a reassuring “back yourself” delivered by Nachos, and more often than not, I’d get away with it and giggle with glee as I did. I’ve since had multiple double digit kill streaks, lead the team in points on our way to many a win, and had an absolute fucking blast every step of the way. This might seem run of the mill to many of you, but once the penny dropped, it completely changed the way I play, and I’m a significantly better gamer for it.

When you trade the safety and security of distance for something much more intense and visceral on the front lines, your fun increases exponentially, so why would you bother to hang back with the sheep, when you can lead by example, and cut your own path as a wolf?

I’ve tried it. I like it, and I seriously doubt I’ll ever play another way again.

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Dave Kozicki

Shotgun Samurai
Video game reviewer, presenter and enthusiast. Film and TV-aholic. Pop culture geek. T-shirt and sneaker addict. All around nice guy and one hell of a sexy beast. Writer for Official PlayStation Magazine AU, AusGamers and Hyper Magazine.
  • popshott

    See, this is why I love gaming, so much in one box.

  • DoGM3At

    Gotta love a good rage.. Nothing beats being killed by some camper only to come flying back through the door and unloading on his friends then finishing him off with a good face stab!

    Great piece Dave!

  • Bagmup

    Tis how i've always played (mainly cos i cant snipe for shit) Although being killed by some fag with a gustav waiting around some blind corner a few times does make me rage quit. You know who you are ;p

  • kozeeii

    For a second I thought you were talking about me, but since I've already platinumed the Gustav, I would have only killed you with the RPG-7…

  • QuesterX

    HAHA that is how I play.

    One moment recently from BC2 – placing mines in the middle of the road, recently been shot by sniper and so dodging, truck heading straight for me, throw down mine and back away, truck blows up and flips over head, squad mate in truck jumps out and starts shooting me, i shoot him in the head and then go running for the sniper up in the hills.

    Damn that is a good game.

  • Moopidoo

    The trick is to find the right balance between conservative play and doing crazy shit.

  • Nachos Justice

    The chances are good that none of us will ever have to fight and die for our respective countries in our lifetimes, which makes it all the more important to fight like a man on the digital battlefield. I may not be able to tell my grandkids that I stormed some distant beach to earn them the right to disrespect me, but I can tell them about the time that I scored a 21-kill streak while making polite conversation with D-Ko. As with everything fellow gamers, think of the children.

  • Bagmup

    ITCHY YOU BASTARD !!!!!!! ;p