Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is still months away, but PS4 owners got the opportunity over the weekend to experience the latest installment in the first-person shooter franchise. To celebrate Black Ops 4 private beta weekend, Hip-Hop Wired got the opportunity to talk with the avid gamer and NBA All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns about the forthcoming game.
Now more than ever sports and video games are intertwined and it’s not just because of games like NBA 2K or EA Sport’s Madden franchise. With E-Sports taking off and professional gamers now getting the same recognition as athletes the lines are no longer blurred. Professional athletes when not on their respective playing fields are playing video games even more now. When they are not enduring the grind of a grueling season, they pick up the sticks and spend a lot of hours either playing each other or online.
We got a chance to catch up with Minnesota Timberwolves forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns who is a big fan of the Call of Duty franchise. In our exclusive interview with the budding NBA star he spoke on what he thinks about Black Ops 4, Activision’s decision not to have a campaign mode, LeBron leaving the Cavaliers, his response to Trump’s ridiculous tweet about LeBron and more.
Hip-Hop Wired: You’ve gotten your hands on Black Ops 4 before a lot of us. We are just now getting to play it thanks to the private beta. So tell us what do you think of the game so far?
Karl-Anthony Towns: The game’s great. I mean, I’ve had a lot of fun playing, and it’s something like I said … I was just talking about here. From the reveal to the beta, you just see the improvements that have been made. It just shows the quality and commitment to listening to the community.
HHW: So, when they first announced it, how did you feel about Black Ops 4 opting to not have a campaign mode? Did it deter you a little bit? Or were you like, I’m more of a multiplayer guy in the first place, so, whatever?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I love campaigns. I love the campaigns of Call of Duty games. So it was definitely a surprise, but when you see how much focus they are putting into the game, it’s actually something that may be beneficial for the fans. Seeing the game so far it’s been great.
HHW: Do you have a particular class you always use in the game or do you vary? Are you a multifaceted player in the game?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I try to be multifaceted. I have a lot of fun right now playing the beta, being Prophet, plus having the ability to do all these cool things and be able to stun enemies and really give myself a chance to get the job done personally is pretty awesome.
HHW: So, what was your first Call of Duty experience?
Karl-Anthony Towns: It was definitely, I played the first Call of Duty on PC. Call of Duty it was just called on PC, and it was a lot of fun. I got a chance to play that at… I had a computer class, at an afterschool program at my dad’s high school where he coached basketball and having a chance to play that was awesome.
HHW: So as far as gaming has become more recognized in the sports realm, how do you feel about that versus professional gamers coming into your space, as far as being a professional NBA basketball player?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I mean, I think it’s great. Video games, playing video games, obviously takes a certain skill and talent, especially at a professional level. And, it’s cool that you get to see these guys who really dedicate themselves to a certain game, have a chance to make a living out of it. The American dream is to make a living doing something you love. For people they love playing video games, so, the ability to make a good living playing video games is awesome.
HHW: If you didn’t make it as an NBA player would you ever see yourself being a professional gamer?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I would have definitely tried. I would have definitely tried to be a professional gamer. I love playing video games so much that I would have definitely given it a go. Especially now in a time when we have these big platforms, and big competitions going on and Call of Duty obviously being a game I love. I would definitely try to give myself a chance to go pro.
HHW: So out of the professional sports world that plays video games a lot… who are the top gamers? Who are you better than?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I feel I’m better than everyone. But I definitely say that top gamers are… yeah I’ve played with Josh Hart, Frank Kaminsky, Andrew Wiggins. Hassan Whiteside my guy, Devin Booker, D’Angelo Russell, they’re all great at video games, and all seem to have one thing in common that we love to play Call of Duty.
HHW: How many hours do you get to log in? Since it’s the off season there is plenty of free time but during the season?
Karl-Anthony Towns: A lot. Too many. Too many. Too many. Too many. Too many that I don’t want to talk about.
HHW: There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We would be remiss if we didn’t get to ask an NBA question. Now that the biggest domino fell recently which is LeBron, how do you feel about the power shift going on in the NBA, as far as the conferences are concerned?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I think everyone has always looked at the West as being superbly strong, and now you add the best player in the world. It makes a difference, and LeBron coming to the West obviously makes it even harder and makes it tougher. But the best thing about it is that I love the competition. And I just think it’s going to make all of us more hungry in the West to grind out, play our spot, and find a way to not only beat LeBron but beat all the other great teams in the West as well with the great players they have.
HHW: So you’re currently partaking in the private beta with everyone else as well.
Karl-Anthony Towns: Yes, I’m partaking with everyone. I’m here doing a stream today (August 4th) with Allegiant, Call of Duty. Bringing together to bring hopefully a very PG-rated and entertaining experience that can be a lot of fun.
HHW: So how do you feel about the new Battle Royale (Blackout) mode coming?
Karl-Anthony Towns: You know, that’s going to be really intriguing because I think Call of Duty has a great opportunity with the Battle Royale genre being so popular right now. It’s taken over the world. For them to put their footprint into that genre. It’s going to be huge, and I think that the quality of work they always bring to the game, it’s going to be great to see them put their take on Battle Royale in a Call of Duty way.
HHQ: Do you feel that the Battle Royale mode be a little bit oversaturated? Do you feel like a lot of games are kind of forcing their way into that space?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I don’t think so, and this is why, because a good video game is a good video game, and it’s just like basketball. Talent is talent, regardless of what it looks like. So, Call of Duty, bringing their best foot forward for their version of Battle Royale is gonna definitely be received the same way. It can’t be oversaturated. Call of Duty is gonna bring the best of the best to that genre, and they’re going to put in a Call of Duty version and people are gonna love it, and I know I’m gonna love it. I can’t wait to play it. So, it’s gonna be, like I said, talent’s talent and a game’s a game. If it’s good, people will play it regardless.
HHW: Perfect. So, Call of Duty, whenever it comes out, there’s always you know those commercials filled with big stars. Can we expect you to be in one of those commercials?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I don’t know, I don’t know. I’ve never been in one of those big celebrity commercial Call of Duty always does every year. Of course, being a video game junkie, I would love to be in one of those commercials. We’ll see. We’ll have to wait.
HHW: Last question before we go. You recently tweeted something, and it caught fire. You stood up for LeBron James after the President took a shot at his intelligence. What made you respond in that nature? It was very welcomed, but what made you decide to reply back to the President’s tweet?
Karl-Anthony Towns: I couldn’t, this is a brotherhood. To be part of that NBA brotherhood is a true honor and a blessing and it’s a privilege. It can be taken away at any time. But at the end of the day, there’s no man, no woman, that’s going to be able to… especially him [Donald Trump]… come in and attack one of my brothers without me defending him. And for you to call a man like LeBron mostly stupid is unacceptable.
First of all, cause he’s my brother, and second, for it to be such a blatant lie, and to disregard and degrade himself as a man, one, and try to degrade and stain all the great things he’s been able to accomplish for his community. Think about it… the man is blessing families, and their kids for generations to come, with the chance of having a proper education, and a chance at improving their lives. I’m not going to have someone like that stain or degrade what he’s been able to do for his hometown.
We all as players and human beings, strive every day to give back to our communities and raise the quality of life from where we came from and around the world, and I’m not gonna allow you to degrade my brother in any sort of way. So I was very upset that he would do that, especially with the stature of his job. But it seems nowadays it’s the normal thing to do.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases October 12 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Photo: Charley Gallay / Getty