With the release of Modern Warfare 3 just days away, I wanted to engage in a topic that has been bothering me about the current state of FPS games – specifically the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises.
For some reason, there seems to be a need to “draw a line in the sand,” in terms of which faction you support and why. There is this conjured necessity to pledge and allegiance to one side while condemning the other as being an inferior product.
However, I don’t see this as something that should be happening, especially with two of the most prominent – and fun – games available on the market. After all, we’re supposed to be gamers! We bow to no specific series or game – we enjoy them as they are meant to be or we don’t enjoy them because of their shortcomings, not because it is the “enemy.”
I mean really, how stupid is the notion that Call of Duty is better than Battlefield and vice versa? The truth of the matter is they are such entirely different games that comparing them side by side is pointless. You know what you get by doing that? You see that they are both FPS games, both have campaigns, both have multiplayer and both feature a military-based premise. That’s it.
After that, you have to very different experiences – both graphically and in terms of gameplay – that set them definitively apart.
To be clear, when talking about these two games, the majority of comparison and basis for loyalty comes on the merits of each game’s multiplayer component, which garners most (if not all) of the attention gamers give each title.
That said, on the one hand, you have the recently-released Battlefield 3, which is the direct sequel to the PC-exclusive Battlefield 2 that so many have been clamoring for over the past several years. While it is a military shooter like Call of Duty, the feel is much more gritty and real – a success by EA and Dice to make it feel like a tactical experience infused with squad-based play and specific roles that you might find on the actual battlefield (medic, engineer, support, recon).
The game modes lend themselves to the idea of tactical gameplay, with the favorite modes being Conquest and Rush – objective modes focused on specific objectives that need to be captured and held to obtain victory. Even in this instance, the realism comes into play as such game modes could correlate to real life as war games played by troops as a means of training. There is the traditional team deathmatch, but that isn’t where Battlefield made its name. If you partake in the Conquest or Rush modes, you’ll be forced to work as a team to achieve the goal, which is what the entire Battlefield experience is about: Putting the team before yourself and obtaining the kill as a means of achieving the objective.
Conversely and on the other hand, you have the upcoming Modern Warfare 3, which is the latest (and final?) installment of the popular series that began with the genre-defining Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Unlike its counterpart, Modern Warfare 3 is a largely exaggerated military shooter, utilizing the storytelling the series has thrived on to set the stage for battles that literally span the globe. In Modern Warfare, the lone wolf is the king – even in objective modes such as Domination or Search and Destroy. While team cohesion is encouraged, it is not required to win, which many players really enjoy. After all, there’s nothing quite like being the rouge sniper who makes his way around the map destroying the dreams of the enemy team.
More traditionally, Call of Duty is a predominately “run and gun”-style shooter that provides maps that encourage a fast-paced approach of moving between buildings and through enemy territory as fast as you can, all the while taking out enemy players by any means necessary (riot shield, anyone?). The maps themselves are a lot more closed than those in Battlefield and offer less detail as well, but that is because they are meant to be more arena-like than simulations of a real-world location.
One thing that may set the games apart this release cycle is the Spec. Ops (Special Operations) mode in Modern Warfare 3, which is a wave-based co-op experience with its own rewards and leveling system. While Battlefield 3 has its own co-op mode, this is more an extension of the campaign, offering missions to complete instead of enduring wave after wave of enemies (again, lending itself to the idea that Battlefield is tactical to Call of Duty’s run and gun).
Now, with all the aforementioned ideas understood, I have a hard time seeing how just one of these games should be considered over the other. Sure, you could make a case for such a thing if you’re a strictly tactical player or a strictly run and gun player, but to confine ourselves to one experience is to cheat ourselves out of the fun found in being a gamer in the first place.
The truth of the matter is, there should be no allegiance. Instead, there should be gamers enjoying the different aspects of both games and joining together while doing so. This whole idea that one game is superior (whether it is done via marketing tactics or stated plainly in an interview) shows me one thing: Desperation. But needless desperation.
Unfortunately, that desperation reaches players in a way that creates a rift within the gaming community and suggests they should or should not buy a specific title, which only hurts us – the gamers – in the end.
I’m not trying to stump for one game or the other (in fact, I’ve already preordered and paid for both); I’m simply encouraging those of you who feel like you’re on the fence about this issue to get off and be your own person. Buy the game you want to play, not the game you’re being led to believe is superior. After all, if you enjoy playing both – for whatever reason – then they are both superior games for their own unique reasons.