Humiliation is not a rare thing when you’re playing a competitive multiplayer game, especially if you’re a below average player like me. You really learn to swallow your pride in these kinds of situations, and you learn to accept that there will always be someone better than you.
This is a story of a player who really drove that home.
I’ve never been a competitive person. For me, competition feels like conflict, which I try to avoid as often as possible. That didn’t stop me from feeling the bitter sting of defeat.
I was at my friend Bubba’s house with my friends Bubba, Bobby, and Ed. We were all crowded around one TV monitor, playing Halo 4 online matches. That meant that the screen was split into four squares, one for each of us. All of our chairs were pushed forward so that we could properly see what was going on.
We were going to play Capture the Flag (8v8) on the map Ragnarok. (The Halo 4 map Ragnarok was just a remake of the Halo 3 map called Valhalla. Who comes up with these name changes?)
Ragnarok was an oval-ish map, a valley nestled within canyon walls and an oceanfront. There were two bases for each 8-person team on each side of the valley, one by the beach and one by the canyon walls. In between these two bases were caves, rocky outcroppings, a creek, and other natural obstacles. The flag was located within each base.
As the title implies, the game type of Capture the Flag was simple to understand. There is a set time limit for the match to take place, and during that time period, each team has to try and steal their opponent’s flag three times. If your team managed to capture the flag, you had to take it all the way back to your own base. Once you did, the flag would disappear and reappear back at its spot in its home base.
If a team captured the flag three times, the match would end. If the time ran out before that happened, the final score as it stood would be final.
Bobby and Bubba were the best players on our team. (I did not even have to know anything about the other four people on our 8-man team to know that.) Plus, they were childhood buddies, so they had spent years playing video games together. They could coordinate seamlessly.
Ed and I on the other hand…well, I think our greatest contribution was simply not being the worst on the team.
We were all pumped to play when the match began.
We had no idea what was in store.
It seemed as if almost immediately, the enemy team was swarming our base. We were situated in the base by the canyon wall, but those guys must have bolted to our side as soon as the game began. I think all four of us died in an instant. We were shocked, but quick to recover our senses. Bubba and Bobby always believed that the best defense was a good offense. The two of them took a Mongoose (a small, two-person vehicle) to attempt to steal the enemy’s flag. I’m not sure what Ed was doing, but I decided to stay at the base and try and protect our flag.
It was a fruitless endeavor. I was the only one there, so I was swarmed by four opponents.
Once they had our flag, it was a race to see if we could stop them before they took it back to their base. Ed dropped whatever it was he was doing, and the two of us threw ourselves at the guy who was carrying our flag. Unfortunately, he had a well-armed escort. We perished in the attempt.
Bobby and Bubba had had no success trying to steal the enemy’s flag. They had been killed, and they spawned back at our base around the same time our flag was taken to the enemy base.
The score was 1-0 in our opponents’ favor.
It was at that point that things got embarrassing. For us.
Someone on the enemy team had gotten their hands on a sniper rifle, and someone else on the enemy team decided to give that guy a ride on a Warthog. (Typically, a three-person vehicle with a driver’s seat, a passenger’s seat, and a turret in the back which a person could man.)
So this Warthog began circling our base, and the sniper in the passenger seat began to pick us off as quickly as he could spot us WHILE SITTING IN A MOVING VEHICLE.
None of us could believe it. How was he doing it? His driver was not making any attempt to drive smoothly and steadily; in order to avoid getting grenaded into oblivion, he was swerving his Warthog every which way. But that did not stop this sniper from getting head-shots on our team, practically as soon as we spawned.
It was around then that Bobby realized we were being messed with. At any point after this Warthog and sniper duo appeared, the enemy team could have stolen our flag again. But instead, they just kept our team contained, never letting any of us escape the confines of our base by more than a couple of feet while simultaneously making no attempt to capture our flag.
They were toying with us.
The game ended with them winning 1-0.
I can’t remember if Bobby, Bubba, Ed, and I decided to call it quits on playing after that match or if we pressed on to another game for a bit of a palate cleanser.
But I have never forgotten the mastery of that one sniper. Or the utter humiliation we suffered at his hands.