In Activision’s blockbuster military title “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II,” guns are the name of the game. Players engage each other in intense shootouts with firearms chosen from a veritable virtual arsenal, with dozens of modifications such as barrels, scopes and cosmetics to make each gun unique. The best Call of Duty players are crack shots who rack up high body counts with their superb aim.
But amid the chorus of assault rifle fire and grenade blasts, one player has repeatedly topped the scoreboards without killing anyone. He has yet to fire a single bullet; in fact, he turned off the “fire” functionality in the game’s settings.
The player, who goes by “That Friendly Guy” online, reached the maximum level of 55 in “Modern Warfare II’s” multiplayer not just in an unconventional way — but relatively quickly too. “It took exactly 23 hours and 25 minutes of gameplay,” said That Friendly Guy, who declined to share his real name for privacy reasons, in an email to The Washington Post. “Which is actually quite crazy.”
U.K.-based That Friendly Guy achieved this self-imposed feat by crafting a loadout tailored for speed, stealth and support. He chose light weapons such as SMGs to keep his movement speed as fast as possible, equipped the Spotter Scope as his tactical item to tag enemies for his team and chose the Suppression Mine as his field upgrade to disorient enemies at high-traffic locations. As for perks, he went for the Phantom preset, which includes every perk that a nonviolent ninja would need: Battle Hardened to shake off tactical grenades, Double Time for longer sprints and Cold-Blooded paired with Ghost to essentially make him invisible on the minimap.
The result was an unconventional but surprisingly swift way to level up, especially in more objective-based gameplay modes such as Hardpoint. That Friendly Guy enjoyed a constant stream of experience points as he marked opponents and addled them with suppression mines while his teammates mowed them down.
This also led to some seriously impressive plays. In one round shown on That Friendly Guy’s YouTube video, he was the last surviving member of his team during a prisoner rescue match, facing off against five opponents. In this mode, the first team to hit 500 points in a match wins. As the attacking team, carrying one of the NPC hostages on the map to safety will net you 100 points, but it also significantly decreases your movement speed. During the round, That Friendly Guy used clever hiding spots and some slick juking to successfully outmaneuver his enemies and smuggle a hostage to safety, gaining his team a big advance toward victory.
As the challenge to reach the level cap using his pacifist playstyle went on and That Friendly Guy gained new upgrades, he turned himself into a gentle tank. Using the Riot Shield, he hunkered down on objective points and drew fire as his teammates flanked the enemy from different angles. He selected purely support-oriented killstreaks such as UAV, Counter UAV and Emergency Airdrop to gain experience without killing anyone directly.
To further distract enemies, he used the Inflatable Decoy field upgrade and threw decoy grenades. The one gun he did actually fire was the PILA rocket launcher, which he used to destroy enemy UAVs. While destroying a UAV is certainly a violent action, That Friendly Guy can still claim to be kill free, since UAVs are drones.
Adopting a pacifist playstyle in a multiplayer game has been great fun for That Friendly Guy, but in a game that’s all about killing people, it could also prove frustrating for teammates who might view a dovish player as dead weight. But he said he never got any flak for it.
“Not even once, because I’ve very often won games single-handedly for my team, objective wise,” That Friendly Guy wrote. “I genuinely mean this when I say playing this way in Call of Duty is faster leveling and progression than your average joe playing the game. I am now consistently in the top half of the scores, often top three.”
That Friendly Guy has built a streaming career around being a nonviolent person in games that are explicitly designed around combat. He originally began doing pacifist playthroughs in “Escape from Tarkov,” a brutal survival shooter. Players in “Tarkov” are rarely friendly with each other, but one day, That Friendly Guy decided to sell all of his in-game possessions and give away the proceeds to other players he encountered. He has over 710 hours in “Escape from Tarkov” with zero kills, as noted by PC Gamer.
That Friendly Guy said playing as a peacenik has also made him a better player. It helped develop his game sense and caused him to see games in a different light.
“I’ve said on ‘Tarkov’ to people asking for advice in my streams [that] everyone should have an attempt at what I do, or even just only use guns when you absolutely have to,” That Friendly Guy wrote. “And it will change your whole thought process on situations and sometimes save your life because you chose the less aggressive method.”
While That Friendly Guy is most easily recognized by his trademark boonie hat and aviator sunglasses, once every month, he’ll don a black hoodie and stream as his evil twin Steve, a very much “Unfriendly Guy” who ruthlessly kills every player he encounters. Rather than seeing his pacifist playstyle as an ethical stance, he enjoys it because it’s a quirk that not only sets himself apart from other creators, but also has a lot of comedic value.
“The whole point of doing these challenges and my stream is just to put smiles on people’s faces,” That Friendly Guy wrote. “You never know who and what bad days or lives people behind the keyboard live. A small act of kindness in a video game is sometimes all it takes to change someone’s day!”