Shooters: Round One – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare versus Battlefield: Hardline
A few months ago this fight card would have looked quite different. EA didn’t have a shooter lined up, and Call of Duty is, after all, Call of Duty – the juggernaut of annual releases, rivalled only by Grand Theft Auto in terms of single-release sales figures.
Now, though? Things get interesting. It’s tempting to say Call of Duty will steamroll the competition, of course, but the change of developer gives us pause. Sledgehammer is a good, solid developer but this is the first time its ever handled a Call of Duty game on its own, and the franchise has shown some slight signs of fatigue. Will Sledgehammer’s debut be enough to brighten things up again? Or is Advanced Warfare just too much like all that’s come before? Will Activision give it enough autonomy to break new ground? Will Sledgehammer even know what to do with that freedom? Or will we end up with an over-produced mess?
Advanced Warfare, then, only has the Call of Duty brand as a guaranteed positive, and that’s slim picking. Luckily, its opponent is even more lightweight. Battlefield: Hardline follows hot on the heels of Battlefield 4 – maybe a little too closely, as BF4 still isn’t in as healthy a state as many fans would like, and that’s an unfortunate legacy to be burdened with.
The change of setting, from military to police, is chancy, too. There’s lots of interest in cobs and robbers, but how do you make a cops and robbers game that doesn’t devolve into farce?
Visceral is an off choice, too. It’s a big team, with a lot of veteran talent, but it’s been heavily focused on third-person horror the last few years, and Dead Space’s increasingly shootery feel doesn’t mean the crew are ready to handle a big first-person shooter.
Verdict: It could go either way, but Call of Duty is likely to edge out on the strength of its mainstream appeal, even if it has nothing else under its belt.
Next: Driving around in circles has never been so exciting.