Its main thrust was this: Black Ops is boring, the videos containing it are boring, it’s too easy and… boring. Redundancy completely required. I put up my own 500 character thoughts, but I want to go into more detail here, for people who actually listen and who aren’t thirteen (at least, I hope you’re not. If you are, go back to school!)
Complaining is easy… and boring
The first point I want to make is this: it’s easy to complain on YouTube. It is a free community that allows for anyone to say anything in their voice to anyone willing to listen. Add someone like Sandy Ravage, a beast of a player with 250,000 subscribers, many of whom want to pander endlessly to him, and you have a recipe for massive opinion shifts. To Mr. Ravage’s credit, he did say Call of Duty, not just Black Ops, is easy and boring. His viewpoint isn’t unique, either. Many people see flaws throughout Black Ops, and in Call of Duty in general.
To that end, the fact that YouTube offers such freedom to the opinions shared, and the fact that many find idols or role-models in people they will never meet, is something of a determining factor in the success of games of any stripe. It won’t affect the bottom line too much, since only a relatively small portion of those who play CoD watch YouTube, but the community is vocal and can, sometimes, create change or cause a drop or rise in sales…
The second thing, relating to the first, is that because people are so quick to complain and the videos themselves are so self-contained, viewpoints frequently shift and sometimes logic flips on its head. For example, in Modern Warfare 2, there was a huge complaint about almost every aspect of the game. Nuke caused boosting. Stacking kill streaks made it easy(er) for one person to completely dominate the other team. Laser beam guns with no recoil killed from any distance in less than half a second. Hackers arrived in droves, due in large part to the huge community MW2 garnered. Commando became a problem, and some of the laser guns were inherently far superior to the others, leading to their overuse. There was One Man Army, Danger Close, noob tubes, etc. You get the idea.
Now Black Ops is the Call of Duty du jour, and the only things people really complain about are Ghost, Second Chance, and the slow pace of the game. Considering the lack of balance issues, and the fact that Treyarch is trying with all its might to make Black Ops as fun, long-lasting and overall well-supported as possible, and I think you have yourselves a really well-rounded game.
But this isn’t really about balance. Boring is the topic. What, then, makes a game boring? Typically, camping and large maps.
Black Ops has both in spades. The main issue I see with Black Ops is not that it’s boring, or that Ghost is really so big a deal, or that Second Chance ruins anything, but that the maps are too big are troop movement is not constrained enough. From what I’ve seen, Infinity Ward maps pack players into tight spaces more times than they allow them to roam. There are few long lines of sight, though there are some, and those that exist aren’t strategically too important. This concentrates the fighting in medium range to close quarter quarter combat. By its nature, such fighting is almost always fast paced and exiting.
Treyarch, with its release maps at least, allowed for a lot of long sight lines, larger maps with fewer buildings of note and more wide spaces where movement was not going to happen because who wants to run through gunfire in the open? Is troop movement constrained in certain places? Yes. The maps Summit, Grid to some extent, Nuketown (if you’re into that sort of thing), WMD sometimes, Havana, and Firing Range are either filled with buildings that tighten combat to shorter ranges or are smaller maps. But Black Ops shipped with twelve maps; I’ve named six. That leaves six fields of play where things can slow down considerably.
Alas, I knew that camper, Horatio.
Let’s delve into camping in detail. Newer players, unfamiliar with the controls, the flow of the game, the maps, the guns, are inclined to camp because it gives them time to acclimate. It is the rare player who does not camp at least a little while they adjust to a new game experience. Rushers do not learn the maps by only rushing. They learn effective routes doing so, but not the whole map and its troop movement and all the other nuances. When playing a new game, you camp. You watch. You listen. You learn. Then you put away your assault rifle and grab your SMG and run around like a madman.
The problem occurs when camping becomes a means to an end rather than as a learning tool. With any FPS, if you know one spot will give you kills over and over again, the less skilled player will likely gravitate there more often than not, never deviating from that style of play. The smaller maps cater to this sort of thing, but the larger ones do, too. Is camping a good thing? For the short term or when tactics advise, but never as an entire strategy. Of course, some players don’t (or won’t) see it that way, leading to camping, game slowdown, and eventually, boredom.
My next post will be on Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam, if you guys want that. The PC servers have dropped off quite a bit, but if you guys want it, I’ll deliver.