On Thursday, January 11th, 2018 I flew from London to Los Angeles just in time to attend the very first Desertfox Airsoft Event – the Battle for Lost Angeles, at George Airforce Base in Victorville, California. Desertfox Airsoft Events are a new airsoft events company that is headed up by one of the world’s biggest airsoft YouTubers, Jet Desertfox who have developed their own app to revolutionise gameplay.

The Blue Fox Tracker app is downloadable from the App Store/Google Play Store and works on a 3/4G connection. Players download the app and create their own profile within the app, once they are at a DFE event they can scan the events QR code to get in the game! The app is essentially a mini-map that shows players their location, their alive/wounded/killed team-mates locations, the objectives and has features such as the app chat and medic function. The DFE games can be played if you don’t have the app or a data connection but it definitely adds another element to gameplay.

First off let’s chat about the AO - George Air Force Base! It is a former US Air Force base in Victorville, California. It was established by the US Army Air Corps in 1941 as an Advanced Flying School. It closed at the end of the WWII but was re-activated as a training base at the start of the Korean War in 1950 where it remained an active training base until it finally shut its doors in 1993. In the 25 years the base has been closed, with no maintenance the AO has naturally degraded meaning it looks more like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie – from fell trees and collapsed rooves, broken glass and missing walls, it was gnarley and the perfect setting for the Battle for Lost Angeles. It has a complete road system that spans the entire site and over 100 derelict buildings to fight through.

On Friday 12th January, we made the short drive to George Airforce Base to meet Jet Desertfox and the DFE team for player registration, the safety brief and the test game. We arrived at 3 pm PST ready for the day's activities, and whilst the players were signing in and grabbing their respective team armbands I got the chance to catch up with the US retailers and brands that had come down to support the event! There was a whole host of different vendors present to support the event including Action Sport Games, Airsoft Master, Enola Gaye,, Airsoft GI, Glaze Sports and PTS where players could check out and test new products and also purchase supplies for the event. Once the registration period had come to an end, players were given a comprehensive safety brief which covered all the bases, from what pyro players were allowed to deploy onsite and most importantly to be aware of their surroundings because of the nature of the AO. Once the safety brief was completed, the DFE team ran the test game which gave the players a chance to see and understand how the app works before using it in game on Saturday. Players were authorised to camp at the admin section of the site over the weekend, or they had the option to stay at the local Holiday Inn that had a discounted rate for players.

On Saturday morning the day started with registering the last players and at 10 am, it was game on! Admin staff gathered the players in the staging area for another safety/game brief and to scan the QR code to enter the players into the game. For DFE there are two distinct factions – the Southern Syndicate, which are the tan team and Eastern Royal Trading with is the green/civvie team.

Once all the players were scanned in, we were led by our Eastern Royal Trading commander Unicorn Leah, and ground Commander Chris Bast to our respawn point. Our mission was simple, dominate the waypoints and eliminate the enemy team – with the scoring system in the app, the team who has the most ‘tickets’ left by endex is the winner. Every time a player logs themselves as ‘dead’ in the app, their team loses a ‘ticket’ so it still does rely on players being honest. We started on the Western side of the AO, and our Commander gave us the order to spread out and capture the objectives closest to our position to protect our respawn and then to take the other points that controlled the central courtyard of the AO. For this game we didn’t have assigned squads which was awesome because we could link up and play with players we wouldn’t usually play with and for the start of the game I teamed up with Dayton, Airsoft Hasmeen, Undead Fred and a few others. As we moved to the objectives on the map we flooded the buildings closest to our spawn point that overlooked the objective. After we checked everything was clear we started to move further into the AO. As we were moving between windows, myself and Dayton saw a flash of tan run through the opposing building – Southern Syndicate.

The hunt was on. As we went to exit the building we were in to get a better angle on the enemy, rounds starting flying into the room we were in and ricocheting off the walls. We were trapped, luckily another squad flanked the Syndicates and put down fire on them enough for us to fight our way out of the side of the building into an adjacent structure. We made our way up the stairs onto the top floor of the building where we picked off Southern Syndicate one by one so our teammates on the ground could advance. After a lull in the fire, we made our way into the main streets where the other objectives were located, after this point the firefights were intense, in and out of buildings until the end of the game. ERT brought home the Victory.

After a short lunch break on Saturday, we started the evening game at 4 pm as the light was fading pretty quickly. For the night game, there were fewer objectives to be secured – just 3 and they were being defended by Southern Syndicate, heavily. As we moved from building to building clearing out any enemies along the way, our team made a plan to take the middle objective to break through their line of defence, but there was only one problem, it was in the middle of an open courtyard with no cover. Our team posted up in buildings surrounding the courtyard to give cover and figure out a way to take it. To our surprise, our friend Mike made a run for the spot the objective was on and lay on the ground as quickly as he could, there was a fierce firefight between the players in their opposing buildings and he captured the objective! Mike bugged out in a hail of BBs, it was seriously epic. After we took the middle objective, the light had faded and the AO became really sketchy because of all the debris on the ground so players without NVGs and light sources started dropping out one by one. By the end of the night game at 10 pm, Southern Syndicate had taken home a victory as they defended the other two objectives fiercely.

On Sunday, we started again at 10 am, and this time the game was relatively short, just 4 hours so we had to put in some major work if we wanted to take home Lost Angeles for Eastern Royal Trading. For the first couple of hours, Sunday for me was spent fighting alongside Jet Desertfox and Dayton from the House Gamers. Our objective was to take the furthest buildings from our spawn so off we went, however by the time we arrived at the structures, Southern Syndicate were already set up and waiting for us. It was a dogfight to take our waypoint but we got it. We spent hours in the buildings defending with a few of our teammates including Undead Fred making runs into the buildings they were posted up in (sometimes using some impressive parkour moves!) After my second ‘death’ in game, I linked up with the ‘Inferno Squad’ which comprised of the guys from Enola Gaye USA and Instagrammers Lazer Viper and PNW Punk fighting along the main road and in its surrounding buildings for the rest of the day.

Over the course of the weekend, Eastern Royal Trading won 2/3 of the games and took the victory. At the end of the weekend, there was a huge raffle in the admin area and the admins asked for feedback on the game.

I was actually, really pleasantly surprised how well the app functioned. The only issue with the Blue Fox Tracker app that became prevalent was that the medic function wasn’t working for all players, but the admin staff counteracted this by supplying all players with bandages - the medic rule was then matched to the app, but in a physical manner. The only downsides to the app, in my opinion, are: it requires good 3G/4G phone and mobile data to work and of course there is obviously a risk that your phone could get shot out if you are looking at the map and haven’t checked if your surroundings are secure but out of the 140ish players and staff onsite, no phones were damaged and this is because you aren’t required to have your phone out at all times.

Having access to the app completely changed the gameplay from your regular Battlesim to a fierce firefight! As there was set capture points, the gameplay was focused on these areas and because your alive AND dead teammates markers were visible on the minimap you could work out where the action was so there was no annoying walking around for ages trying to pick a fight, or you checked the app chat for enemy locations reported by in-game players. The ability to communicate with your teammates and commanders using the apps chat system instead of radios was also invaluable. The teams, especially ERT who used their chat more, were better-organised thanks to having that communication with other players.

Overall, I had an amazing time at the Battle for Lost Angeles! The AO was a really cool location for an airsoft game that offered both close and long range engagements, the game ran well thanks to the admin staff and the players, it was a constant firefight thanks to the app which made it really fun and there were some awesome loadouts amongst the teams. I am really looking forward to the next instalment of Desertfox Events! Who knows, we may even see them in the UK shortly!

Hardwick, K. (2018). Battle For Lost Angeles. Airsoft Action. 86 (April), 48-51.

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