While watching this horrible game (and boy was I wrong about my gut feeling that we would win) I noticed one thing: the Wells Fargo sideline banners were displaying ads for Fallout 76.
I don’t know if you’re into videogames or not, so I’ll sum up briefly what the whole fuss is about. The Fallout franchise is set in a post-apocalyptic world, after a nuclear war exploded in October 2077 between USA and China. Until November 13th, 2018, it was a single player RPG experience where the Player Character did a lot of exploring, growing as both a war-mongering solo army and as a character, while traveling barren wastelands trying to salvage the most from half-rotten miscellaneous items and bringing on board from time to time miscast people. In the end, after a long process which started from zero, the Player Character will have finally assembled the scattered puzzle pieces into a coherent ensemble and will be able to defeat his enemies (sometimes even just by smooth talking).
You might be thinking “I got this metaphor! The Player Character is the Knicks, and his quest is similar to our rebuild!”. Well, no. I mean, yes, but only a bit. If we go by the book, we’re still in the phase where we’re trying to understand why our BB-gun doesn’t take down that sturdy radioactive scorpion, and we’re buying from vendors useless overpriced guns to replace our previous useless overpriced gun.
But, again, no.
On November 14th, 2018, Fallout 76 debuted all around the world. It was the first foray from Bethesda (the publisher) in the multiplayer online role playing game genre. Keep in mind, the Fallout franchise has been hugely infuential and widely regarded as one of the best, blending immersive role-playing with dry wit and mature story-telling. It was a gem in the videogame universe, even with a lot of technical bugs infesting the later works (a lot of gamers mocked a bit Bethesda for that, but kept on playing because, well, the games were very good).
Then, Fallout 76 happened. It currently sports a 2.9 user review on Metacritic (for reference, the previous games in the franchise sport, from 1997 to 2015, what follows: 8.8; 9.1; 7.9; 8.3; 6.6). I won’t bore you with details, but in short: it is an unmitigated disaster, quite unprecedented in the videogame industry.
I found it fitting that they were displaying ads for that awful game while another horrendous game was on full display on the court. To honor that coincidence, and because I wouldn’t be able to hand out good grades to anyone tonight (save maybe for Dotson – and Kanter? Who knows), I’ll just match a few user reviews for the game from Metacritic to our utterly failing Knicks players. Keep in mind that these are the most recommended reviews for the game. In both senses, I guess.
– “Bethesda was hijacked by an Early Access developer’s studio, apparently which resulted in Epic Fail that is fallout 76; Please do not purchase under any circumstances. Score: 0” goes to Chuck Hardaway Jr. (5 pts, 1 reb, 3 ast, -16 +/-), who was really an epic fail tonight, jacking up 11 shots and hitting only on one. His last 5 games splits tell the dreaded tale of regression to the mean: 14.8 ppg on 28.9 FG% (for a Ntilikina-esque 43.4 TS%). His BPM for the season dipped into negatives and his WS/48 is hovering around .100. We’re paying this guy 17 millions a year. Fizdale found a way to play him 28 minutes even on a night where we were down by 20 in the early second quarter and the game was always gonna be out of reach. It pretty much sums up Fiz’s management in the last few games.
– “After 20 hours of playing the game i’m requesting a refund as the game is lacking in content and care from the creators. Score: 0” goes to Kevin Knox (9pts, 7 rebs, 1 ast, -17 +/-), whose sheer boxscore line might fool you a little bit, but had another awful game. I commend the fact that Fiz is hell-bent in giving him all the minutes he can muster; I just don’t understand why the same principle isn’t applied to our second year players on a consistent basis. Anyway, back to Kevin: the seven boards are nice (even if they were of the uncontested kind), but if you put a highlight reel of his offensive moves you would get a blooper montage. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a guy throw so many aimless floaters for a living. Ron Baker was the former king of fearful hail mary layups, but Kevin has stolen the crown. How many times can you go to the rim and launch an airball from 8 feet with the deer in the headlight look in your eyes? Knox’s answer is: as many as possible. Had a nice move on Amir Johnson in the fourth, though, where he stopped and spinned for a timid but on the mark baby hook. I won’t mention his defense. It’s better this way.
– “I’m 16 hours in and I don’t understand what this “game” is trying to be. Score: 0″ goes to Frank Ntilikina (0 pts, 2 ast, literally nothing else, -11 +/-), who’s suffering the most from Fizdale’s nonsensical job with rotations. I mean, it’s of course on Frank the fact that he can’t shoot worth a lick, but how will he build confidence if he clearly doesn’t know what his role is? I guess the point guard experiment is over, and that might be ok. But what is he supposed to do on offense? Stand around doing nothing until maybe the ball gets to him and he’s forced to do some sort of gyrating bizarre routine to get a shot off? It’s obvious that it’s eating at his self-confidence, and that’s squarely on the coaching staff. I’m starting to believe those “Knicks have given up on Frank” because of pure logic, but it doesn’t make any sense all the same. He’s a cost controlled asset and nothing good will come from giving up on him now. On the other hand, his rebounding numbers are completely on him. It’s inexcusable that a 6’5″-6’6″ guy can’t find the way to collect a single board in two games. Oh, and he was terrible on defense in the first half against JJ Redick. Awful stretch for Frank.
– “Extremely disappointing “thing”, sorry i cant call it a “game” as it is not even remotely fun, and when you can actually play it you run into countless bugs and issues and crashes and you simply have enough and say ok, time to refund. Score: 0″ goes to Emmanuel Mudiay (3 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast) who went crashing back to earth after looking like he found a new gear during the distant-looking Knicks winning streak. Frank is quite assuredly not a PG, but is Mudiay one? His AST% for the season is 16.7. Frank Ntilikina’s one is 16.2. If Mudiay is not a PG, than what do we play him for? It’s on night like this that you understand that playing Mudiay is pointless. If he plays well, we won’t benefit from it. If he plays badly, like tonight, the tank is on but he still subtracts minutes from Trier and Frank.
– “The combination of motion blur, bokeh, and depth of field all on maximum, results in the inability to see anything at a distance and slightly off from the center of the screen. I mean this as literally as possible: anything in the peripheral of the screen is a huge blur. Score: 0” goes to Enes Kanter (17 pts, 6 rebs, 1 ast, -17 +/-), who’s obviously the Knicks best player but brings absolutely nothing to the team apart from his padded numbers. Maybe he could teach Mitch a bit of his “pretend I’m not here” defense so as to make Robinson a little less prone to fouls under the rim.
– “For the Lord’s sake… They made it for the new generation of kids! Not for the core adults. Bright colors, balloons, party hats, friend play, setting off nuclear bombs, shooting stuff, building stuff, silly microtransactions. IT’S A GAME FOR KIDS! Score: 1” goes to Allonzo Trier (8 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, -25 +/-), who tonight just didn’t have it, as higlighted by his game-low plus-minus, even if his game is made for the new generation. He bricked a few Burke-like midrange pull-ups and wasn’t effective attacking the rim. It happens. Let’s hope his imminent first real NBA contract is not a silly microtransaction.
– “I dont know where to begin. Its like game from 2009 .Horrible engine, outdated graphics, clunky animations, no human NPCs, boring, full of bugs. Only good thing is music/sound. Complete garbage! Score: 1”. Wait, this is even better suited to Enes Kanter.
– “Rather uninspiring game play, frequent freezes, lag and now the “DISCONNECTED FROM SERVER” error on clicking PLAY. I am really considering getting a refund on this one. It is a stinker so far. Score: 1″ goes to Mario Hezonja (17 pts, 5 rebs, 1 ast, -7 +/-) who, while being a lot more active tonight, even notching 4 steals, looks really like a guy who’s disconnected from server and whose season is pretty much a stinker so far.
– Mitchell Robinson is going through a brutal stretch, where every single scoring big man is abusing of his propensity to get too close to the man 1-on-1 and jump for the block. In 80% of the cases, it’s a foul or a simple give and go for the opponent. It’s nice to see him block again 4 shots and dunk the ball, but his defense is veering a little too much uncomfortably into Whiteside’s territory.
– Hey, guess who scored in double figures again? Yeah, it’s your forgotten friend, Fiz, it’s Dotson! If there’s anything you need to know that someone is well in over his head in thinking about rotation, it’s Dotson’s minutes allocation. We have a Mikal Bridges (more or less) of our own and we refused to play him for no reason whatsoever for 4 games, while giving burn to Hezonja. Perry’s looking like a shady politician about this one.
– I wish I had something to say about Vonleh. Tonight he was bad. It happens.
– Trey Burke on the last 4 games: 8.8 ppg, 18.9 FG% (not a typo), not a single bucket inside of 1o feet. It’s important to sell high on strangely high-performing assets.
Well, guys, that’s all. See you on Saturday and hope for the best… Sometimes hope’s all that’s left.