What’s better than 1 angry post a day? TWO angry posts a day!
I need to address a couple issues that I’ve come to have in the battle of the first person shooter franchises this fall. These issues may very well be worked out and may become non-issues by the time the games ship in Oct/Nov, but by all indications and through public announcements by the games development studios, these are all real problems for a gamer like me.
For years now, especially during the drought of Battlefield games (BF2 was released in 2005!), Call of Duty has been an acceptable replacement franchise, especially on the console. Bad Company and it’s sequel were very playable on the PC, and I enjoyed them, but they weren’t a BF2. Battlefield 1942, Desert Combat and the subsequent combination (DICE acquired mod developers and created BF2) into BF2 were high points in modern combat PC gaming. It wasn’t the TDM or 1 vs 1 mentality of the previous generation. Battlefield was strategic. Levels were huge, legendarily so. You needed a vehicle to get from one side to the other. Hell, half the maps in BF2 started you out to sea on an aircraft carrier. That sense of scale, combined with the vehicles created the sense of mini conflicts within a larger war. You would “squad up” a couple guys (on a server of 64) and go tackle an objective. Each objective wouldn’t win you the game, but was a piece of a larger objective for your team.
I have fond memories of teammates climbing into the blackhawk helicopter I was piloting, flying low across a country side to avoid being shot down, circling an objective with runs of mini gun fire, dropping my team off to capture a control point, then returning a few minutes later, landing and extracting my team. There is nothing like that in gaming currently. Nothing.
Call of Duty is the exact opposite. It’s all ground war. It’s all player vs player. I mean that in the best way. CoD has perfected the FPS mechanic and has a great rock/paper/scissors formula that keeps players coming back over and over again. I love the CoD series and play it, admittedly, a little too much.
What I’m getting at is that Battlefield and Call of Duty are both excellent game series and both have strengths, but that those strengths are completely different.
Unfortunately, even as a proud supporter of Battlefield as a whole, I’ve come to think that the recent design choices by DICE and EA have really been a step backwards for Battlefield 3. And, as contrast, the recent details from the Call of Duty camp are making Modern Warfare 3 look better and better. I’m going to try and break these down in the simplest terms, both for myself and for anyone else reading, as more of a pros and cons list which may end up influencing which game I pick up this fall. Truthfully, there’s about a 97% chance I’m going to buy both, but due to the limitations of the space time continuum, one is probably going to get played a lot more than the other. I’m also going to ignore listing things like “game play” or “mulitplayer support” and other generic terms. Clearly each franchise has these options and there’s no point in discussing that fact. If it’s mentioned, it’s because it’s either something to be excited about, or something to be weary of.
Call of Duty:
- Available on Steam on day 1
- The previously announced Elite service will be free for all the parts most players would be interested in.
- Revised perk and loadout system to award alternative play styles (more points for support, flag capture etc)
- Removal of obnoxious perks that everyone hated
- Elite members get DLC faster and more often
- New survival mode sounds like fun
- Integration with social networks and mobile phone
- Heavy clan support options
- In game server browser
- Dedicated servers
- Split-screen Co-Op modes
- Same engine for the past 6 years (looks dated)
- Elite program costs extra to get Day 1 DLC and without Elite, DLC is delayed
- No “special” edition of the game, only $100 hardened edition
- Purchase system for unlocks makes a return (boo!)
Also, I’d actually recommend watching the Call of Duty XP event videos (in perticular, part 3 and part 4). They changed my mind on the Elite service as a whole, which was my biggest complaint against the game since it’s announcement. They had made it sound like Elite would be the only way to get DLC or to have groups, clans, friends, etc. Turns out that’s not quite true. 97% of the features I would use (with the timing of the DLC being the exception) will be completely free.
- Battlelog is free, no extra charge
- More gameplay modes than just conquest
- New game engine, looks gorgeous!
- Reduced and combined classes (3???)
- Not on Steam
- Origin (EA Download Service) required to play
- NO SERVER BROWSER! – online (web page) server browser that must remain open during play
- No dedicated servers
- Reduced number and size of vehicle maps to focus on “close quarters” death match
- No split-screen for Co-Op modes on consoles
- ZERO mod tools
- 9 maps total! (2 for DM only?)
- “Years” of unlocks (they think this is a “pro”, it is not)
- “Two dozen vehicles” (again, passed off as a selling point, this is not many)
I just don’t understand what they’re doing. It’s as if DICE made a great game, turned it over to EA and said “here it is, please fuck this up!” No Steam, ruined classes (the medic is NOT an assault class), Origin required, no server browser, smaller maps and a weak “1 per side” vehicle pool. Fuck me. It’s as if every aspect except the actual running and shooting has some how been fucked up. Listen closely EA/DICE: I want LARGE maps, with dozens of vehicles per category (tanks, planes, etc), proper classes (at least 5) and most of all, a fucking server browser that I don’t have to have open in Firefox and then ALT-TAB into to find a server. That’s fucking horse shit. You didn’t even try!!?! I don’t want “years” of unlocks either. I played BF2 for 3 years, well beyond the normal 9 month life cycle, and I made it HALF WAY through your unlocks. Right now, the only thing you have going for you is that BF3 looks, visually, really really good. I mean awesome. It’s really hard for me to say I’m not going to buy BF3, but if this is the direction you’re headed, this is probably my last purchase in the series.
Listen BF3, you don’t need to be a C0D “killer”. You need to be what you are and stick to your core features. You’re a game about the entire BATTLEFIELD. Not just some death match shoot’em’up in a dark alley. I want to feel like I’m part of a war. A whole, battle field wide war. A huge conflict. I want to be able to crawl through the woods with a sniper rifle just as much as I want to take a A-10 Warthog and bomb the shit out of the enemy base from 5000ft. I want to be able to choose to run and gun, or drive an APC and hand out medical supplies. Believe it or not, that’s was a very fulfilling roll. I played support, a lot. I really enjoyed it. When you give the assault class a medic kit and say that everyone can now hand out supplies, that completely eliminates any motivation to do so. People will now just toss themselves a health pack and go back to playing Team Death Match.
I really hope I’m wrong about BF3, but judgeing from that list, which is just off the top of my head, I have my doubts. I think it might be a CoD winter. When you take 6 years off from a francise and somehow it still takes a step backwards in gameplay and innovation, that’s when you know something isn’t right.