The internet is abuzz with news of the newest Call of Battle 5.62: Specters of The Ancient East and its competitor Battle Called…something, something. The question now on everyone’s lips is, which is right for me, if either? I don’t have the answers for you, so instead I’ll lay out some reasons why you might lean one way or another.
I ain’t afraid of no Ghosts
I’m fairly sure the latest entry in “The Biggest Media Franchise in History” runs on the same basic engine it always has. That boils down to one name: Quake. While I’m hearing Infinity Ward stripped it down to its basic components and rebuilt it, we’ve been hearing things like that for years now. The freneticism of any game based in the old Quake code makes each match an adrenaline rush, for different reasons. If you enjoy a chaotic, unpredictable experience where bullshit is second only to player flame, Ghosts might be for you.
Of course, with a new console generation, we get new
gimmicks gameplay features like dynamic maps. Apparently, the ones you can find on YouTube aren’t exactly indicative of “dynamic” as Ghosts defines it. Much of what’s there is pre-scripted, and the same could certainly be said of Battlefield’s history of destruction. The major takeaway from a changing battle space in a Call of Duty game is just that: the maps change now. Every entry in the series prior has had static maps, with bulletproof bananas but paper-thin steel walls. Explosives did nothing to affect how the map played, and players were stuck with what developers gave them. No more, it seems.
Another concept of note is how the maps are designed. If you’re familiar with CoD design theory (not a terrible if you are), the idea is simple. Maps should have three lanes of traffic intersected at varying points by obstacles. The best CoD maps still use this theory but tweak it, either overlaying lanes in crisscross or breaking them up through different means. However, almost to a map, CoD uses this three lane design. Ghosts, I’m hearing, attempts to break the mold and chooses to walk new ground.
Lastly, there’s the Create-a-Soldier system. While it’s by no means the revolutionary step forward IW wants everyone to believe it is, customization is the bread and butter of any shooter junkie. I still think Blacklight Retribution does custom weapons and soldiers more justice, IW should be commended for turning the old system on its head with Ghosts.
Now, all this isn’t saying the core mechanics are gone. I imagine the gunplay is still fast and responsive, some of the perks overpowered, some of the weapons useless and other overused. Killstreaks are still killstreaks and despite their attempts to the contrary, if you look for it you can still find plenty of Quake in CoD.
Oh, and lean. There’s lean now.
An all-out Battle(field)
DICE is throwing all its chips on the table with BF4. All the mechanics from Battlefields past are back, from Commander mode to full on destruction and huge map player counts. If Frostbite 3 can deliver the experience DICE desperately proselytizes, then I’d be hard pressed to not play BF4 over Ghosts.
Ghosts is, I think, a step back graphically for a series that looked its best in MW2, four years ago. The newest entry looks too brown and grey for my tastes, and the one snow map on offer is set at night, washing out colors even further. Battlefield 3 had the whole CoD series beat in the visuals department, and if there’s no blue filter over BF4’s visuals, DICE again has IW beat.
Where Ghosts is only just introducing changing maps, Battlefield’s had them for a long time, and therefore a long time to perfect what’s come to be known as the Battlefield Moment — those happenings in a multiplayer match that feel like they should have been scripted, but weren’t. With helicopters and jets and huge play areas, both horizontally and vertically, Battlefield games have more possibilities per match of something crazy happening. If DICE gives us a higher level of destructibility than any game before, there will be almost no end to the amount of “oh shit, did that really just happen” people will be posting to YouTube and sharing with their friends.
And then there’s Battlerecorder and Spectator mode. The problem with a lot of BF Moments is they happen in something of a vacuum. Players not equipped to properly record them can only tell stories, and even if they manage to capture the moment on film, it’s only from their point of view. If we get a fully functional recording tool, with dolly cameras, filters, and the whole works, the amount of high quality footage with only increase. Of course, so will the amount of trash, but that comes with anything.
Finally there’s the play experience to consider. Will BF4 correct the mistakes of its predecessors and deliver a truly skill based shooter, where the best shot wins, explosives don’t overpower at all ranges, and where infantry combat complements vehicle play and vice versa? The series has come close to one or the other on several occasions, but it’s never fully accomplished any individually, let alone as a group. Bad Company 2 gave more leeway in the escape, BF3 more emphasis on smart movement. Battlefield 4 looks to combine the two and mix it all together with responsive netcode that rewards first shot accuracy without sacrificing the skill of the victim.
Oh, and there’s elevators now. Enjoy the music.
Which game strikes your fancy, or do you choose neither and stay just as well off. It’s up to you.