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Titans may fall: Can new shooters challenge Battlefield and CoD? – opinion

Tuesday, 12th November 2013 13:23 GMT By Dave Cook

Titanfall and Destiny were recently predicted to give “review-proof” shooter series Call of Duty and its competitor Battlefield a real challenge in 2014, but can their dominance truly be dislodged? VG247′s Dave Cook discusses.

”It’s no coincidence that I see countless gamers saying they just skip shooter campaigns and head straight to the online lobbies in these games. Something needs fixed.”

Last week, Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz labelled Call of Duty “review-proof,” and stressed that while Call of Duty: Ghosts reviews were notably down on previous instalments, the series will continue to sell regardless. However, he predicted that newcomers Titanfall and Destiny will pose a real challenge to Activision’s franchise and Battlefield in 2014.

It followed comments from Avalanche Studios founder Christofer Sundberg, during which he said that Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 together marked, “the end of an era”. He added, “I don’t think there is room for both unless they are drastically different and publishers find new ways to monetize the players.”

I’ve seen many gamers sharing in these views since both titles launched, and the feeling I get from some quarters is that a lot of you are bored with the current shooter pack. As you can see from my current-gen appraisals of Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, I felt they were both very ‘safe’ releases. At the risk of triggering immense wrath from fans of either franchise I’m happy to say that – to me – they both felt like trans-generational seat warmers that brought little in the way of true innovation to the table.

This isn’t to say they’re not fun of course, but I really do think we’re entering a strange phase in the gaming landscape where long-established franchises will need to work much harder to earn your £45 come launch day. With Call of Duty in particular, I found Ghosts to be a game full of changes for change’s sake and ultimately this marred a lot of the goodwill Treyarch bought with its attempts to expand the format in Black Ops 2. Love or hate that game, it’s ludicrous to discount their efforts given how entrenched the series template has become. It was a brave first step that has become largely ignored.

Essentially, Riley the Dog is that plastic Tony Hawk SHRED board or the character super-powers in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. He’s a pedestrian mechanic labelled as somehow revolutionary or game-changing, when really it’s just another new bullet point to put on the box. It doesn’t mean anything. What we need is real change that actually furthers what the franchise is capable of and not just some filler to keep us hooked for another yearly round. I absolutely believe Activision can do this, and I’ll explain why I’m hopeful further on.

In Battlefield 4, I felt multiplayer in particular suffered on current-gen (I’m yet to play it on next-gen, but I hear it’s superb). The lowered player cap is a joke, the launch week bugs were irritating, the surface destruction feels weak compared to Bad Company 2′s map-flattening chaos and the campaign was better than the third game’s but still left me wanting. In fact, both campaigns might potentially underline exactly why Titanfall’s campaign-multiplayer hybrid makes an incredible amount of sense. It’s no coincidence that I see countless gamers saying they just skip shooter campaigns and head straight to the online lobbies in these games. Something needs fixed.

”I understand precisely why Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 haven’t re-written the formula this year. It’s because 2013 has proven to be an expensive, risk-laden minefield that also happens to have acid-tipped barbed wire running through it. Said wire is also invisible.”

It’d be far too basic to suggest that simple campaign-multiplayer convergence will somehow fix everything, because these things are always cyclical. Today, some feel that the rot has started to set in among the blockbuster military shooter campaigns, but I guarantee that an only-online story model would start to grow tired over time. It’s a natural process. Things change, and we get bored. It’s only a matter of time before gamers start complaining about how familiar Titanfall 5 or Destiny 8 are. It’s just the way we are.

But will those games run roughshod over Call of Duty and Battlefield on release? Personally, I feel the prospect of always-online campaigns to be something of a seismic shift in the making. Many of us still don’t like the idea of persistent online, but I reckon it’ll hit home for all but a few drastically turned-off players. Put it this way; I’d imagine studios are going to save a shit-ton of cash by rolling their online and narrative components into one and if Titanfall’s method is proven successful I wouldn’t be surprised if other franchises follow suit.

Respawn Entertainment has been accused of making ‘Call of Duty with mechs’ a few times on this site and I have to be brutal here and just say that’s utter bollocks. Sorry, but it just is. At base level it’s a twitch shooter like Call of Duty sure, but the parkour mechanic alone demands a huge shift in your mind-set. The Titans themselves are just a colossal added bonus, delivering tension and explosive insanity in spades. Plus, it’s a technical dream on Source. Truly exciting stuff and I haven’t been getting excited about new games easily in recent months. I just feel there’s a glut of ‘me too’ stuff out there in console land right now that’s really wearing thin.

Destiny is equally as exciting in that it delivers a universe of epic scope and invites the world to connect-up and share in that experience. While the squad counter is maxed at just three, massive live events and the grand scale of both the player-base and environments offer much to write home about. I haven’t played it yet, but I’ve seen it, and it’s certainly intriguing. Bungie might be reluctant to utter “Destiny” and “MMO” in the same breath but it’s basically Guild Wars 2. A big, shooty, visually arresting, refreshingly different game of Guild Wars 2. On Console. With guns. And explosions. Guns.

So let’s go full circle on this now. I understand precisely why Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 haven’t re-written the formula this year. It’s because 2013 has proven to be an expensive, risk-laden minefield that also happens to have acid-tipped barbed wire running through it. Said wire is also invisible. From memory, this has been one of the industry’s toughest years since I started doing the whole writing lark Now is not the time to be throwing money at untested things or trying to reinvent the wheel. It simply wasn’t viable for many outfits.

When Call of Duty: Ghosts was announced last year I expressed concern that it was going to be the ‘stop-gap’ before we see Sledehammer Games’ as-yet unannounced project revealed. The first part seems to have come true. If I were the betting type, I’d say that it’s working on the first fully-next-gen Call of Duty title exclusively for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. I genuinely feel this one in my gut, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear DICE announcing Battlefield: Bad Company 3 for those formats in two years. True innovation takes time and money, both of which are resources few teams have had this year.

You’ve seen it whenever next-gen titles like Ryse drop multiplayer features at launch, and when games like Watch Dogs and Driveclub get delayed. Teams and publishers are pressed, problems will be encountered and those incredible, intelligent people spending the majority of their days making the games you love to hate are trying to figure out answers to the industry’s biggest problems.

Stagnation and the key to survival are just two problems currently facing many annualised or bi-yearly franchises. While I feel that Destiny and Titanfall will inject some much-needed ‘new’ into the industry, and convince many of you to jump franchises, it’s only a matter of time before DICE and the Call of Duty teams unveil their true next-gen prospects. At that point, it’s anyone’s to play for. Will current-gen franchises stumble as the new juggernauts emerge? Most certainly, but to say they’ll die off is premature.

Competition is healthy, we all like choice, and if new games make the veteran franchise-holders try to up the quality of their own products then surely we all win. Keep one eye on the shooter pack in the next three or four years. It’s going to become a very exciting, interesting place indeed.

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38 Comments

  1. Panthro

    They sure can, BF and CoD are hardly perfect games IMO.

    The shooter genre should of evolved more ha just running and gunning, I wish there was a bit more innovation like FREE RUNNING CAPABLE JETPACKS.

    truthfully, the free running jetpacks sounds and looks awesome but it isn’t really that innovative, in comparison to other shooters it is but in my opinion I think the shooter genre should have branched out and took more risks than it already has with different gameplay mechanics such as this.

    Would be cool to one day look at a new AAA fps and say ‘wow I haven’t seen that before, looks fucking awesome’

    #1 9 months ago
  2. jakrabbit

    I kinda think allot of innovation takes a back seat to shiny graphics.
    I can only imagine how much more awesome titan fall could be if it had fully destructible environments. I mean imagine a Titan careening out of control and plowing into a building only to have it collapse on top of said titan, rendering it useless. I personally would accept a downgrade in graphical bling in order for this type of stuff to be implemented in games

    #2 9 months ago
  3. silkvg247

    So far I am finding Ghosts out and out depressing. It’s unplayable, shoddy, messy and suffers from favoring campers more than ever with it’s downright insane maps. it’s only saving grace is Blitz which is a very anti camper mode I actually tend to do better than most at (whilst in any other mode I come dead last as I can’t abode sitting and camping).

    It’s a shame because Blops2 reinvigorated my FPS interests for a while.

    I will be buying titan fall for sure. I just hope they don’t fuck up the PC version.

    Was considering the CE but the fact they’re charging about 40% more is staggeringly unfair.

    http://store.titanfall.com/

    £249 vs $249 and yes I know tax plays a part but it’s still a huge difference and it’s a disgrace.

    #3 9 months ago
  4. gomersoul

    It could challenge if it wasn’t exclusive. Maybe destiny might dent them but I dont see cod and bf going anywhere

    #4 9 months ago
  5. Panthro

    @4

    If the game turns out good enough it could challenge the shooters on the xbox; exclusive or not, it wouldn’t exactly cripple the other shooters but it could leave a fine dent in them forcing them into innovation mode to try and get the fans back. (which would incidentally mean the PS4 version of said games will also improve)

    Cheap clones of games do nothing for me; but when a game comes along that takes some of the strengths from another and actually is looking to improve on what has already been done and is challenging the core fps shooters it tickles my ballsack with excitement.

    Its only good news for the consumers; they make a good game forcing others to either beat them or get there own game up to par with it.

    I never saw the whole BF vs Cod thing, They are such different games I found it hard to compare them to begin with.

    #5 9 months ago
  6. DSB

    @1 Respawn isn’t about innovation, they’re about design. I think it’s pretty brilliant personally, and not because something as “dumb” as the jetpacks or the wallrunning.

    The titans are going to be the ultimate setpiece. It won’t be like Battlefield where someone jumps into a vehicle and plays God while no one supports him, and he supports nobody. The titans are “it”.

    The friendly team will want to support them, the hostile team will want to take them down.

    Right there I think you have the makings of some quality action and a serious competitive shooter that seems a lot smarter than what’s out there right now.

    And then when you add clever little details like the losing team having to extract, and the spice like the movement, I think you’re looking at a game that may not be the “next generation” anything, but at least on paper looks like a vastly smarter design compared to what’s already there.

    But then again I also said the same thing about Brink, and Splash Damage decided to drop that like an ugly baby.

    @3 This. Activision are pulling another Guitar Hero, taking a big franchise and handing it off to a set of sub-par studios that don’t know what they’re doing. It’s gonna really hurt the brand. I haven’t met anyone who enjoys Ghosts yet, and I sure don’t.

    For the sake of Treyarch, they should really take the Infinity Ward version out of the loop. If 50% of a product is crap, people will want the remaining 50% less, even if it’s good.

    #6 9 months ago
  7. Panthro

    @6

    Like I said:
    ‘the free running jetpacks sounds and looks awesome but it isn’t really that innovative’

    But in comparison the other shooters that it will be ‘competing’ with they haven’t done something this ‘out of the box’ in a long time.

    Add all the things you have mentioned and I would call that an innovative AND a smartly designed game, there are some game play mechanics at work there which you see hardly anywhere else.

    Brink… Don’t remind me.

    #7 9 months ago
  8. DrDamn

    It’s interesting. Titanfall and Destiny will be shakers but not taking the top spot. They will influence the entrenched franchises a great deal though. As @4 indicated the more limited release scope of Titanfall is going to hold it back somewhat. It won’t stop it being a huge influence though.

    CoD is possibly in a very good position *if* they make the changes as they have the most to gain from a full switch to NextGen and still a lot of following fans. BF is already at home on next gen as this is where it’s already designed to be. Current gen versions of BF are not the same experience for a lot of reasons unrelated to better graphical niceties. So in terms of extending and expanding I can see a bold CoD going a lot of places. It depends on how brave Activision are with the franchise though. It needs a reboot.

    #8 9 months ago
  9. silkvg247

    I think Destiny is digging a massive grave for itself by excluding PC. If and when they realise their mistake, Titanfall will already have a foothold that they will never shake.

    The PC is the platform of choice for FPS, always has been and always will be (hence why consoles are trying to evolve into PCs and not vice versa).

    #9 9 months ago
  10. Lv01

    @9, not vice versa… really? steambox……..?

    @topic, i for one hope that destiny does shake things up a bit, as that vision of the entire universe as your playground, being written specifically for years and years… theyre wanting to build something truly huge. and i hope that it is always filled with enough players to make the whole play space as interesting as possible. that would be spectacular.
    + im also a lil bored by CoD…

    #10 9 months ago
  11. DrDamn

    @9
    “The PC is the platform of choice for FPS, always has been and always will be (hence why consoles are trying to evolve into PCs and not vice versa).”

    PCs being the platform of choice for FPS (not even sure how you are defining that) has nothing to do with the design of consoles becoming more PC like architecture wise.

    #11 9 months ago
  12. TheBlackHole

    No shooter franchise dominates for more than a subset of a generation.

    CoD and Battlefield will be no different.

    #12 9 months ago
  13. junguler

    in my eyes destiny looks like halo and titanfall is like cod with robots, so their not something i haven’t seen before, give me something new and worth playing and stop copying yourself over and over again.

    as for cod and bf, i simply don’t care for them.

    going next gen i will ignore 90% of fps games like i did current-gen, there might be something good here and there (the last one being dishonored and that’s not even a shooter)

    #13 9 months ago
  14. G1GAHURTZ

    I think CoD is finished as top shooter everywhere except PS3/4.

    I think people are ready for change.

    It’s like ’97, just before Blair got voted in….

    Everyone’s just waiting for the new kid on the block.

    #14 9 months ago
  15. Playmaker

    @3 Blops2 > Ghosts. Dude your opinion is def in the minority. Blops 2 was a complete mess of a game that catered to quickscopers only. Ghosts is far more balanced with all guns killing at a fast rate. The killstreaks are underpowered so even a camper cant save up for the all mighty killsteak to end them all.

    I’m getting titanfall on XBO day one.

    #15 9 months ago
  16. polygem

    i love shooters but i am tired of cod, bf even halo 4 didn´t give me my shooter kicks. i believe i´m not alone. it´s time for a fresh take on the genre. i can see the potentioal titanfall has but man i cannot wait for destiny. being the huge halo fan that i am, i always wanted the ONE game that expands all the time, the shooter universe i can play in for years to come. to me destiny looks like the game i was waiting for. that it´s made by bungie, one of my favourite devs, makes this deal sound perfect.

    @silk: i agree, they should include pc and i bet they will at some point but a game like halo proves: you can also earn shitloads of money with console exclusive games…but again, i truly believe that it will come to pc. acti will make sure that it´ll happen and i believe bungie is keen on releasing on pc as well. they know about the potential pc has – i hope.

    #16 9 months ago
  17. G1GAHURTZ

    @15:

    I don’t think the dudette’s opinion is that far off, as far as BO2 vs CoDG goes…

    Agree about the guns being balanced, but other things, like the unbalanced perks, mess up the formula.

    #17 9 months ago
  18. DSB

    @15 Hah. I like to talk a lot during matches, and I haven’t met a single player with your point of view.

    Actually I’ve seen loads who are saying they miss BLOPS 2.

    Usually in a CoD game, when someone complains about a map, he or she would be called a bitch, because it’s a bad excuse. Not this time. Everybody really just agrees. It’s a shit game, with shit maps. You’re the first person I’ve seen, online or ingame who has actually defended it.

    I also don’t see how toning a CoD game down helps it at all. It’s not like Ghosts is ever going to be close to Counter-Strike or any similar barebones shooter. It’s an over the top spectacle, and killstreaks used to be the orgasmic fireworks. Now they barely qualify as a fucking post coitus cigarette.

    #18 9 months ago
  19. Ireland Michael

    I’m bored of shooters full stop. Twitch accuracy is the most tedious, unengaging activity in gaming bar cow clicking.

    Titanfall and Destiny are just the same rehashed formulas we’ve been playing over and over for most of this generation, dressed up under new brand names to try and make them look fresh again.

    #19 9 months ago
  20. bradk825

    I think Dave is spot on with his analysis. Cross-gen games with minimal changes can be expected this time around, and personally I’d even wager we’re in for a cross-gen COD next year too, they’d be cutting off a lot of revenue if they don’t do it.

    I didn’t expect and radical change in Ghosts but I am a little disappointed that they went a little backwards from BO2. I am not sure how I feel about the not-so-great killstreaks, especially when stringing togother a lot of kills is pretty tough with the way the maps have been designed and the lack of forgiveness for showing someone your back. Overall though, I like it. Despite all the criticism, I like the maps, I like the guns, I like the new modes. I don’t see what all the rage is about. Those who rage every year should really stop buying COD, you know, for their health.

    But yes, Titanfall and Destiny will introduce a healthy dose of “new” with a possible side of “Holy Shit!” I look forward to seeing what BF and COD do to counter this. I think there’s room in the market though. Especially since they are so different from what COD and BF offer. The fantasy elements of Destiny are a real draw for me, but others will continue to prefer the military style of the current top shooters.

    The question is, what happens when 3arc decides to fully embrace what they started with BO2 and go all the way to “branching?” What happens when Call of Duty looks more like Mass Effect than Modern Warfare? What then? Hmm? It could happen.

    #20 9 months ago
  21. SplatteredHouse

    “but I really do think we’re entering a strange phase in the gaming landscape where long-established franchises will need to work much harder to earn your £45 come launch day.”

    You say strange, but that situation you drew up shouldn’t be that. That I think should be a time of hope and enthusiasm. Who on next? :)

    I hope Activision and EA start over with their respective franchises. I simply won’t accept graphically enhanced versions of CoD/BF as they exist today. I’ll just ignore those games until we do see the kind of attempts to satisfy, along the lines of Dave’s quote.

    I’m not sure that Titanfall will essentially act to drain the sink for this genre, but at least I am interested enough to see what comes of it when it is released.

    #21 9 months ago
  22. Templar_Dante

    Titanfall = The Emperors New Clothes. COD with mechs that look like a Bioshock 2 Big Daddy when in control doesnt impress me. Neither does 720P on a dated engine.

    #22 9 months ago
  23. TheWulf

    @1

    Unreal Tournament III is basically that and it didn’t sell well. If you look at that, where every gun is vastly different, and there are loads of fun mechanics that just don’t exist in modern military shooters (especially if you include mods) then it’s there.

    The thing is? Only a niche wants it.

    Personally, I liked the ‘game’ feel of those games. I love respawners. I don’t feel like a mass murderer if someone’s going to just pop back out of a respawner. That actually makes me feel way more comfortable. Saints Row IV was the same way, honestly. I like games.

    But that’s not what the majority want. The majority want the feel of killing a person with a boring gun, and knowing that person won’t ever come back. They also want the glory of war, all of the pats on the back, with none of the negativity. Spec Ops: The Line, in all of its luminescent, transcendent brilliance proved that.

    They want basic hitscan weapons that all shoot the same.

    They want homogeneous men in uniforms to die and not come back.

    They want their beach heads and their wars because war is cool to them.

    They want their spectacle, because Michael Bay explosions.

    They don’t want Unreal Tournament.

    They don’t want Quake.

    They don’t want what you or I want.

    I try not to think about this too much, it’s frankly depressing.

    #23 9 months ago
  24. bradk825

    @22 those who have actually played Titanfall disagree. And I see no reason to think that it’s just COD with mechs.

    That being said, even if it was just COD with mechs, that would be fucking awesome.

    #24 9 months ago
  25. Erthazus

    Don’t compare Call Of Duty to Battlefield. Because Battlefield has nothing to do with CoD.

    It will stay the way it is. The best FPS with vehicles multiplayer.

    #25 9 months ago
  26. polygem

    “The best FPS with vehicles multiplayer”

    b…b..b..ut thats halo ;)

    #26 9 months ago
  27. DSB

    More like BF… TWO. Boom! Trololol. Trololol.

    #27 9 months ago
  28. Erthazus

    @26, In your fanboyish dream magical physics with crappy vehicles “win” something.

    If I’m going to choose a Sci-fi based FPS with magical physics that would be Unreal Tournament 2004 or III that has amazing vehicles gameplay.

    #28 9 months ago
  29. DSB

    I swear, Erthazus is so much of a cartoon/sitcom character, this is what plays in my head whenever I read one of his posts.

    Dat Erthazus, what will he say next?!

    #29 9 months ago
  30. nollie4545

    I sincerely hope Titanfall sorts both shooters out. It deserves to, through originality alone, but I fear it won’t hit the spot for the generation of players who just can’t wait to get back into their next installment of run and gun Iraqi/Russian/Chinese rampage smash them up.

    Vehicles historically have been poorly done. I think the main reason is that maps and games just aren’t large enough. Throw in 100 player teams and then vehicles begin to make sense.

    #30 9 months ago
  31. Super Girevik

    Can new shooters challenge Battlefield and Call of Duty? Of course they can, anything is possible.

    The hype surrounding Titanfall and Destiny show that people are definitely interested. However, the recent sales figures of Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 also demonstrate that people are not tired of these franchises.

    So how will this all pan out?

    My sources tell me that Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Titanfall and Destiny will all be successful throughout the next-generation of gaming. They are so different, that they really do not compete directly with each other. Titanfall and Call of Duty are probably the most similar.

    #31 9 months ago
  32. UuBuU

    “It’s no coincidence that I see countless gamers saying they just skip shooter campaigns and head straight to the online lobbies in these games. Something needs fixed.”

    Online shooters should be exclusively online. Single-player shooters should be exclusively single-player. Problem solved. No more whining about multiplayer games having a shallow, tacked on campaign mode, and no more whining about single-player games having a flawed / token online multiplayer mode.

    #32 9 months ago
  33. debug

    Idk, I didnt see a next gen announced yet that could compete against BF (big maps, destructible env, vehicules).

    CoD will have for competitors Killzone on PS4, and TitanFall on X1, and then on both consoles its sequel or whatever next game Respawn will make, and surely it has big chances to dethrone CoD.

    I think history will repeat itself. Zampella and his team first made Medal of Honor, then made Call of Duty which ended up better than MoH, and they are about to do the same with TitanFall. That’s my impression and hope.

    #33 9 months ago
  34. antraxsuicide

    @30
    But too many people in the match, and you’ve got vehicles getting grenade-spammed to death as soon as they’re boarded. I think Titanfall’s got the right balance: Titans don’t seem to be very strong, but they’ve got that shield effect going since you don’t die when it blows up (if you eject). That’s going to hopefully encourage their use, but not discourage players who don’t have them yet.

    #34 9 months ago
  35. DSB

    @34 Poppycock and horse manure.

    Play Planetside, sir.

    It has more players than any other game on the planet, and the level of strategy that some people apply is truly amazing.

    I’ve never seen another war game where infantry is actively supporting armor, or air support is actually providing support to people on the ground. People actually organize full scale airborne assaults.

    Seriously, I have more amazing war stories from playing Planetside than from any other game.

    It’s all in the design, man.

    Another interesting thing is a game like Red Orchestra 2 where one bullet will almost assuredly kill you. It means that squads tend to stick together, move together, and attack together.

    It’s a pretty great concept, because it means you have to take a bit of tactical and strategic responsibility. Otherwise you’re just the lonely sheep that keeps getting fucked by the wolf.

    #35 9 months ago
  36. UuBuU

    @33 Zampellas masterpiece came in 2002. Downward spiral since, with the exception of COD4 being slightly better than CoDs 1-3.

    The best you can hope for Titanfall is that it’s better than MW2.

    #36 9 months ago
  37. manamana

    The next big thing from DICE will be the new Battlefront. Titanfall has grown on me, the game design seems to pretty much nail it.

    I think that Destiny is kind of interesting but not to so much to CoD or Battlefield players. Want to have that fast paced military run&gun? Destiny wont have it. But Titanfall will.

    #37 9 months ago
  38. sebastien rivas

    Anything can top COD and BF franchises all combined.
    The problem is to know what and how.
    Titanfall truly has a shot just at that if only for its ravishing gameplay mechanics but will it deliver in terms of keeping gamers hooked?

    #38 9 months ago

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