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The Weekly Wrap – CoD vs Battlefield, Jaffe speaks

Saturday, 3rd September 2011 20:24 GMT By Nathan Grayson

Gamescom, PAX, and now COD XP. Yes, game convention season is in full swing, and we’ve got our hunting rifles. We stalk news, shoot it, and devour its heart to gain its powers. Here’s what it all means.

Call of Duty Elite: All the details from Los Angeles

What happened: Call of Duty XP descended upon Los Angeles and promptly exploded in slow-mo from 37 different camera angles with information. Multiplayer sounds like its been given its annual dust-off, but Elite’s the real story here. For $49.95 per year, you’re looking at 20 discounted pieces of DLC, early access to select content, oodles of video upload space, and probably, like, a unicorn pinata filled with candy and your wildest dreams.

What it means: Call me old-fashioned, but this all sounds like a needlessly proprietary idea jumble – not to mention a perfect way to ensure that, when new audiences try sinking their teeth into the game, they only get bitten back. I mean, temporary DLC exclusivity on Xbox Live was bad enough to begin with. Now Elite adds further audience stratification to that formula – on top of a big, bad boogie man level up system that was scaring players back into other shooters’ armed arms before it was cool. (Also, mostly related: what’s the point of an Elite sub on PSN or PC when Xbox players still get to bunny hop right to the front of the line a month earlier?)

Call of Duty’s always drawn such small-country-sized mass because, well, it’s generally a pretty straightforward game. Just about anyone can jump in and have – at the very least – a marginally decent time. From where I’m standing, however, Activision’s no longer putting its best foot forward, instead opting to aim right down the sights and shoot it.

Call of Duty’s hardly the only franchise to do this, though. While it may be the most egregious current example, game and publisher-specific “services” are coming out of the woodwork like particularly attention-hungry termites – each with their own incentives. So, who gets to crack open your piggy bank and feast on the delicious nectars within? That’s your call – after you’ve sifted through options as numerous as grains of sand on a beach or stupidity worms in Glenn Beck’s brain.

Put simply, it’s pretty freaking intimidating to me, and I write about this stuff for a living. From the outside looking in, it’s got to seem like some kind of sharkodactyl-surrounded sky fortress. At the end of the day, core gaming’s really not all that complex – certainly not prohibitively so. But the industry’s doing a damn good job of making it seem that way.

Battlefield 3: David Goldfarb spells out single-player

What happened: Pat went to Stockholm! Pics co-starring VG247′s very own cardboard-box-from-the-background-of-Bulletcast or it didn’t happen? Sorry, all we’ve got is this massive Battlefield 3 interview. I know, right? Lame.

What it means: Initially, Battlefield 3′s single-player took more than a little flack for bearing an eerie resemblance to a certain other 800 lb silverback gorilla/£19492039485829305 cash cow. Lead designer Dave Goldfarb, though, seems to be taking extreme care to ensure that this is a DICE game first and foremost – not some haphazard high school cover band rendition of another game. Relative believability (as opposed to MW3′s frankly silly Evil Russian Invasion Plot) and pacing that actually knows when to slow down and take a breather seem like the main focuses here. This bit, especially, sounds absolutely wonderful:

“For example, that sniper section on the roof from the Faultline stuff earlier this year? That shit took forever to get right. Just the first six minutes where you don’t fire a shot took a long time to make it be good. People were like, ‘That’s awesome. I didn’t do anything for six minutes.’”

Alright, Goldfarb, you’ve got me. I will now hit myself in the head with a hammer until I forget Bad Company 2′s miserable single-player campaign. But this is your last chance, do you hear me?

Jaffe 2.0: David Jaffe on putting gameplay first

What happened: I spoke with David Jaffe during PAX, and he went on an absolute rampage through the industry’s holy grails section, leaving metal bits (perhaps of the twisted variety) scattered in his wake. Topics discussed included the weakness of story in gaming, social games, outspoken game developers, and everything else ever.

What it means: Love him or hate him, Jaffe made some good points. While I love a good story as much as the next guy/gal, handing over too much of the spotlight has resulted in a glut of same-y linear shooters. Most interesting, though – at least, to me – was his comparison between pay-to-unlock freemium content and rank-based unlockables in games like Call of Duty. Do you spend money or time? Regardless of how you win, someone else loses – arguably in an unfair and frustrating fashion. Neither system is ideal. “Horizontal” approaches as seen in games like Twisted Metal and Tribes, then, sound like just what the anger management counselor ordered, but that seems like a balancing nightmare just waiting to happen. Fingers crossed, obviously, but uphill battles aren’t won overnight. And this hill looks more like a mountain.

Hard Reset developer: Mainstream games are boring

What happened: Flying Wild Hog CEO Michal Szustak opened fire on modern shooters, declaring them “boring” and claiming that “players will grow tired and will crave something different.” Well gee, that sounds reasonable. Why am I even including this story if–

What it means: “I believe many players around world miss those old days and old games.” Damn it, Szustak. I mean, I understand that most of this brazen anti-Modern-Warfare chest-thumping is just meant to drum up interest in Hard Reset, but the fact that it’s working so well is what gets me. This mentality is one step forward, two steps back – plain and simple. Certainly, Flying Wild Hog’s blazing a couple interesting sort-of-new trails – eschewing multiplayer and streamlining the dev process, foremost – but gazing fondly back is a crappy way to move forward. I know; I’m highly experienced in the fine art of running into poles. There’s a ton of talent at Flying Wild Hog, too. Hopefully, for its next trick, it’ll stop pulling the same old rabbit out of its hat.

Valve concerned with getting DotA 2 right, will worry about monetization later

What happened: Valve continues to remind everyone why we all love it so much. While folks like Activision charge headlong into the monetization game without any regard for consequences its consumers will no doubt suffer, Gabe Newell says excellent things like “Our focus is really much on building something that’s cool, and then we’ll worry about monetization… Premature monetization is the root of all evil.”

What it means: DoTA 2 may be pulling some pretty divisive opinions, but Valve’s almost scientific dissection of what its community does and doesn’t want is damn impressive. Today’s gaming market is sink-or-swim, yet it’s flooded with companies that just want to tread water. Valve, though, continues to push forward – urged on by the rapid advances of ultra-competitors like Apple. Granted, the recent EA-Steam kerfuffle’s a bit of a biggie size black mark on its record, but both companies seem to be moving toward a resolution. Time will tell, anyway. Until then, though, I can’t quite sing the Church of Newell’s praises.

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38 Comments

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  1. GrimRita

    All this talk of CoD vs Bf3, is there really a contest?

    DICE should have owned this crown years ago but lost their way with the dull BC/2 and after getting a play of BF3, wont even come close to denting CoDs strange hold on the genre.

    The only thing EA have going for them is that BF3 is out before CoD, so once everyone is sick of it, the console owners can trade it in for CoD.

    Such a fall from grace, hey DICE?

    #1 3 years ago
  2. G1GAHURTZ

    Hello Mr Grayson.

    “…but Elite’s the real story here.”

    ORLY?

    You mean the unveiling of the biggest aspect of gaming’s biggest brand is less important than some new details on a service that was unveiled months ago?

    “Call me old-fashioned, but this all sounds like a needlessly proprietary idea jumble”

    Nathan, you old fashioned fuddy duddy. Is the idea of not having to pay for something, if you don’t want to, confusing you?

    “not to mention a perfect way to ensure that, when new audiences try sinking their teeth into the game, they only get bitten back.”

    What on earth does this mean??

    Elite is NOT for new audiences. Why would someone who’s new to CoD suddenly have a clan that he wants to compete with against players who would only probably just make him go 0-0-45 every single game? Why would he then require more space to upload videos? So that he can show the gaming world exactly how much of a complete n00b he is?? Why would he want ALL of the DLC from now until next year, before he’s even played the main game, when he may well only end up playing the MP for 10 hours?

    I fail to see the potential for teeth marks in your supposed new audiences, Mr Grayson.

    “I mean, temporary DLC exclusivity on Xbox Live was bad enough to begin with. Now Elite adds further audience stratification to that formula “

    Stratification!? This is a game we’re talking about here, not a social structure! When I was younger, I had to wait anything from 6 months to a year for games to be on sale in the UK after being released in Japan. How’s that for stratification? If someone is so impatient that they can’t wait a whole month(!?) for some new maps, then at least they have the option to switch consoles.

    I agree that poor little Johnny, whose parents won’t buy him a subscription, may be a bit sad because he can’t afford to play some new maps as soon as his friends do. But then again, poor little Johnny probably couldn’t afford the new maps on his own anyway. In fact, poor little Johnny probably shouldn’t be playing FPS’s in the first place.

    “on top of a big, bad boogie man level up system that was scaring players back into other shooters’ armed arms before it was cool.”

    Now you’ve just taken any objectivity that I may have assumed you had and thrown in right out of the window. This is a completely seperate discussion on it’s own and has no relevance to the non-issue that you’re trying to sensationalise, whatsoever.

    “(Also, mostly related: what’s the point of an Elite sub on PSN or PC when Xbox players still get to bunny hop right to the front of the line a month earlier?)”

    You see the second paragraph of this article? You know, the one where you said “…and probably, like, a unicorn pinata filled with candy…”? Well, if you’d bothered to replace that nonsense with what you actually do get with an Elite sub, you might find the answer to your own question somewhere in there.

    “From where I’m standing, however, Activision’s no longer putting its best foot forward, instead opting to aim right down the sights and shoot it.”

    From where I’m standing, nobody’s being forced to buy anything that they don’t want to or aren’t going to use, all members of CoD’s ‘new audience’ already get a whole bunch of new Elite features for free, and waiting a bit longer than someone else for a few new maps when you already have a whole load to choose from isn’t anything new.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Christopher Jack

    I hate these comparisons between Cod & BF, they’re different games, BF is a warfare game more akin to Homefront & ARMA than any other recent game while CoD is an arcade* shooter, more akin to Medal of Honour, Resistance, Killzone & most of Halo.

    Just because they’re first person shooters based in a modern day, doesn’t mean that they should be considered direct competitors when the gameplay varies so much.

    By arcade, I mean simplified, don’t take it as a personal insult, I have just as much fun-often more with arcade racers over simulators-not that BF3 is a sim, far from it, but it features more realistic warfare.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Hunam

    I dunno. Everyone saying they are different is a bit weird because most games are different to some degree, but both are modern military shooters with a big multiplayer focus. I’d say comparing them is actually the most obvious this to do.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Gekidami

    ^ He means the gameplay; One is very arcadey and the other is more sim-orientated. Point being that they should be compared each to other arcade and sim-like shooters rather than each other.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Ireland Michael

    Lawl @ GIGA’s post.

    I can practically see the red face and keyboard smashing from here.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. StolenGlory

    I’m just waiting for Nathan to come back and read GIGA’s retort. There’s enough fuel there to keep this sucker burning for ages, especially given Nathan’s proclivity for sharp tongue replies :)

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Christopher Jack

    @7, Comparisons bring out the inner fanboy, thankfully it wasn’t PS3 VS 360 or PC vs Consoles :P

    #8 3 years ago
  9. G1GAHURTZ

    He didn’t even do a comparison.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Ireland Michael

    Comparison: Call of Duty is crap. Battlefield isn’t.

    That’s all the comparison I need.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. StolenGlory

    CVG just released two videos RE: The MW3 multiplayer vid reveal.

    Six things they loved:

    http://www.computerandvideogames.com/video/1140756203001/modern-warfare-3-multiplayer-gameplay-6-things-we-love/

    Five things they hated:

    http://www.computerandvideogames.com/video/1140756212001/modern-warfare-3-multiplayer-gameplay-5-things-we-hate/?mode=hd

    :)

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Erthazus

    “Impressive Glass Shatter Effects” – after this i stopped watching the video. I don’t want to know whats next kids found impressive.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Gekidami

    Those videos refuse to play at my end.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. G1GAHURTZ

    @11:

    Not loading for me.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. StolenGlory

    @12 Ha :)

    @13 That sucks Geki. I do despise their player if i’m honest. What browser are you playing it in? For the record, i’m using Chrome.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. G1GAHURTZ

    I’m using Firefox.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. StolenGlory

    @14 Hmmm. I’m not sure what to tell you, i’ve tried it in Firefox and it seems ok :/

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Erthazus

    Use chrome. It’s the easiest way to see CVG videos with it.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. G1GAHURTZ

    Works in Safari.

    Chicken FTW! LOL!

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Gekidami

    I’m using Chrome. Guess i’ll try Firefox.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. G1GAHURTZ

    I agree about the textures and animations.

    We’ve seen loads of MP footage since this trailer was released, though.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Nathan Grayson

    @G1GA: Thank you for this, honestly. You’ve given me a chance to further consider – and therefore, better articulate – my argument.

    So, things! First, this wouldn’t be so bad if Call of Duty were the only game doing it. But it already isn’t (see proprietary services from EA and Blizzard, among others), and more will only continue to spring up. Call of Duty’s huge. If it succeeds, others follow. Thus, a situation arises in which gamers are being bugged about paying tiny fees all over the place. Each one taken on its own isn’t such a bad thing – but if everybody’s doing it, it becomes an issue. And this, of course, comes in addition to the full $60 fee spent yearly on new installments of each series. It’s worrying to think that – in theory – publishers have found a way to squeeze nearly double the money out of their customers when, based on previous industry standards, what customers are getting definitely isn’t worth that much.

    As for the bit about stratification, your experience waiting months for a presumably non-online game out of Japan is irrelevant. These are competitive experiences we’re now talking about. Without a level playing field, they tend to fall apart. And that’s why I referenced COD’s rank up system. It already skews balance heavily in favor of longtime players and – in the process – alienates new ones. Again, if it were only Call of Duty, I wouldn’t particularly care. But every multiplayer shooter and its grandmother’s dog’s kitchen sink are obsessed with adding their own variation on the theme.

    So, to summarize, I see a confusing situation arising in the emergence of tons of proprietary services – some a lot like COD Elite, others more like Origin and its ilk – that wall off players from other players and create uneven playing fields within their own spheres. Newcomers, especially, factor into this in that “core” gaming’s in a tough transition phase. This is a particularly bad time to be alienating people, yet here we stand.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. G1GAHURTZ

    I just realised that I have Chrome installed as well.

    I never use it, which is probably why I forgot that I did.

    Anyway, obviously, it did work in safari for me.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. Gekidami

    Hum, only works when Ad Block Plus is turned off. So CGV’s videos count as ads. Awesome.

    Meh, both of their ‘likes & dislikes’ are a bit weak.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. Ireland Michael

    Those CVG videos are basically one giant troll, but for the first time ever I actually agree with them.

    When “impressive glass shattering effects” is one of the five most impressive things about the game, you know you’re onto a winner!

    #25 3 years ago
  26. G1GAHURTZ

    @ Nathan G.

    Thanks for the response Naythan! I do appreciate it.

    Regarding the potential for similar Elite like services for other games, I agree that the potential situation of FPS fans (or any other genre with an online component, actually) having to fork out twice just to get some basic features out of an MP is quite worrying. However, when I think about how this sort of situation has worked out with MMO’s I’m not sure that it will be as bad as it may seem at first.

    After WoW, people don’t feel the need to subscribe to every MMO that’s released. Rather, they’re more careful about the ones that they do buy. There were a whole host of pubs/devs thinking that they could just release a basic MMO, sit back and watch the cash roll in a few years ago, but the vast majority of them failed. Mostly because gamers are not all as naive as to throw money away without getting some percieved value back.

    I’ve got a feeling that this is the same thing that will happen with other genres. Even if CoD Elite turns out to be a big money maker for Activision, all it will mean is that it’ll actually be more difficult for the competition to do something similar.

    We can but wait and see, though.

    As I said before, the point about the rank up system is a massive issue on it’s own. Sure, at face value, a new gamer comes to any FPS and says ‘I’m only getting killed all the time because they have guns/perks that I dont!’, but in reality it’s just about playing time experience. For example, you have to consider: Familiarity with the controls, knowledge of the maps, knowledge of probable spawn locations, positional awareness that only comes through lots of play time, etc, etc. Any pro player in the world could probably take a pistol (just look at ONLYUSEmeBLADE on YouTube for a better example) into any FPS and still win game after game after learning all the top priority stuff like I mentioned above.

    So while I disagree about the rank up system in itself, I do agree that getting more time on the game can cause a disparity between the ‘haves and the have nots’.

    Having said that, you can probably also take the essential skills needed to do well in any FPS and they usually apply to any map.

    In addition, there’s always the grind that gets you up to speed with everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with getting your metaphorical butt kicked, from time to time, while you get better at a game. It makes it even sweeter when you’re finally the one who’s doing the kicking.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. DSB

    I gotta agree that you dropped the ball on this one Nathan.

    Firstly, there’s absolutely no sign of Call of Duty scaring people off, and with the levelling system they use, it would be hard to see how they could. I can’t speak for Blops, but in MW2, within 2 hours (or however fast you can reach level 8 ) you essentially have a basic version of every other weapon in the game in terms of mechanics and damage. The M4 is an early version of the ACR, the FAMAS is an early version of the M16, and the SCAR is a slightly more civilized version of the Tavor.

    If you want a cumbersome levelling system, then they really don’t get more laborious than the Battlefield one. The best gun in the game, the AN-94 is unlocked at 28000 points, which takes considerably longer to achieve, and those are all hours you’re gonna spend being killed by said gun, or similar ones that perform far better than the junk you start out with. On top of that, once you do unlock everything in the game, there’s no reason to keep playing, which I blame for Bad Company 2 losing a lot of its players after release, even if it is clawing its way back today.

    Secondly, there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that CoD is losing Steam. Right now we should be in the greatest slump of the year, the time shortly preceding the next release, where people have had plenty of time to get bored with the old ones. Instead you’ve just had Black Ops jump by 5000 concurrent users on the PC due to a recent sale, finally allowing it to match MW2 on the player count, which was roughly 60,000 before Black Ops was released, and has since split with it for 60/40 of that audience.

    Considering that there are still 60,000 concurrent users playing CoD on the PC any given second, and given that that has been the case for years now, what you’re suggesting is just verifiably wrong. Surprisingly, Bad Company 2 has grown as well – But those users aren’t coming out of CoD’s statistics.

    #27 3 years ago
  28. OrbitMonkey

    Crickey people still think COD’s levelling is unfair? I’d understand if all the good guns were at a late level, but their not, mainly because it’d make the prestiging even more laborious.

    Simple truth is, if your getting killed. lots, play more & learn from mistakes. I mean gamers always moan that games are too easy today & heap praise on Demon Souls for being as challanging as they used to be, but a few tough games of COD online & off they go crying unfair!!

    Wimps ;)

    #28 3 years ago
  29. Christopher Jack

    @28, It can be harsh to a new comer, I remember picking up Modern Warfare for the first time & instantly being shoved into games with guys 30+ levels in front of me & I found that most my deaths were in straight fights were they simply had the better weapon, only way to fix that was to camp but that’s not my style.

    #29 3 years ago
  30. DSB

    @29 I don’t know about that. It’s been a while since I’ve played Modern Warfare, but looking at the raw weapon damage (the graphs aren’t correct) it seems to me like most of the assault rifles have either 20-30 or 30-40 damage.

    Of course there’s also recoil to account for, and personally I had problems with a few of the CoD4 maps. They weren’t very well balanced, but generally, a good idea for a rookie is to avoid chokepoints and try to flank around them.

    There’s no way a one-time rookie would know that, and it’s hard to do in CoD4, but as far as I can tell with the weapons, they have mostly the same damage, even if the unlocks aren’t as clever as they would be in MW2.

    http://callofduty.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Weapons_in_Call_of_Duty_4:_Modern_Warfare

    #30 3 years ago
  31. M. K.

    `I found that most my deaths were in straight fights were they simply had the better weapon, only way to fix that was to camp but that’s not my style.`

    *Not sure if trolling*

    #31 3 years ago
  32. G1GAHURTZ

    @ CJ:

    That’s interesting, because most people probably considered the M16 to be the best AR, the MP5 to be the best SMG and the M40A3 to be the best sniper rifle in CoD4.

    All of these are pretty much available right from the start.

    I can’t tell you the amount of times I got messages from people calling me an “M16 WHORE!” if I decided to use it for a few games.

    #32 3 years ago
  33. stretch215

    It’s definitely all about the skills. As said above some of the best guns are available quite early, you just have to know how to use them properly. Proper tactics and PATIENCE usually win the day.

    #33 3 years ago
  34. freedoms_stain

    @DSB, when was the last time you played BC2 man? The AN94 was nerfed a long time ago. Having now got platinum on every assault rifle in the game (except the AEK, currently gold star 7), the assault rifles are pretty well balanced. The AUG, the M416 and the XM8P are probably the most seen assault rifles for me in 600 hours play.

    #34 3 years ago
  35. DSB

    @34 Well, like I said, once I had every unlock, there was no point in playing.

    It felt a lot like it did with the G36C back in BF2.

    #35 3 years ago
  36. Kabby

    Call of Duty walling itself off from the rest of the gaming community is a great idea.

    #36 3 years ago
  37. StolenGlory

    “Call of Duty walling itself off from the rest of the gaming community is a great idea.”

    ZING!

    #37 3 years ago
  38. DSB

    Because we all know that the people who play Call of Duty aren’t the people who play everything else. Right?! Right?

    #38 3 years ago