The Call of Duty Conundrum

COD’s not dead

Ah, Call of Duty, that totally non-divisive franchise that everyone loves and agrees on how it should progress as the games go on. Activision’s smash hit series, which is one of the biggest selling franchises of all time has had troubled times as of late. Or, at least troubled times for one of the biggest game series of all time. With Activision having to ship Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered with latest game Infinite Warfare to even persuade players to buy the game, its clear that there are problems that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Here are some of the problems I think the series has and how I think they can be fixed.

The first problem with Call of Duty has been temporarily solved at least, and that’s the setting. While not seeming that big of a deal to an outsider looking in, the recent time period settings for the past few games have been a serious issue for the community. Most fans seem to think that the future setting has been a step away from what made the game great in the first place and I’m inclined to agree (although my issues go a little deeper).

Solution: Well, with the next one being set in WW2, this isn’t as big a problem as it was. However, modern or previous combat settings for the foreseeable future please.

Classic maps will forever be remembered by long time fans. Whether it is Crash, Terminal, Nuketown, Firing Range or even Dome, there’s a reason these maps get remastered every few years. And if I’m honest, none of the maps on the last few games have been anywhere near as memorable as these ones. Activision is pushing that the next game goes back to the roots of what made COD great, so having maps that are both classic in feel and function is vital for the series going forward.

Solution: Look at what made those maps fundamentally great and place that in your chosen setting. Also, the COD community has to simmer its expectations, every COD has awful maps (Stonehaven we’re looking at you). You could just cheat and re-skin the classic maps, the community would complain but at least the maps would be good.

Gunplay is vital to the success any Call of Duty. If the guns don’t feel satisfying to use and have some impact, then payers tend to be less interested in the game. Then there’s the issue of weapon balance, and it usually goes one of two ways. They either patch or hotfix too often, or not at all. Every COD game has a weapon that’s overused to death, and when that’s patched another one comes along.

Solution: Developers need to find a middle ground to keep the game interesting, and preferably make other guns better instead of making the better guns worse, as the game doesn’t lose any of its fun factor.

Micro-transactions are a funny one, because they’re awful, anti-consumerist nonsense that we as a community seem to be letting Activision get away with. But, on the other hand, they make Activision incredible amounts of money, so they’d be stupid not to continually put them in each release. After all, games might be a medium of entertainment for us, but it’s also a business for Activision.

Solution: EA are approaching DLC in AAA shooter, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, in the way I feel is going to be the best compromise for both players and publishers. While the game will contain micro-transactions, all extra Maps, guns, vehicles etc. will be free. Also, the paid map pack method splits and fractures the player base. So, I think as a goodwill gesture to customers more than anything, Activision should copy EA’s method. In an ideal world, both games wouldn’t have micro-transactions but they are unfortunately here to stay.

YouTube is a wonderful thing. It has united communities in a way nobody thought to be possible. The COD community is no exception, even having its own Sub-communities. However, the feeling of finding that new gun and telling your mates about was part of the fun back in the day. Admittedly, this is an entirely personal gripe, but a gripe nonetheless. So, guys, cool it with the best class setups in the game videos please? (I am aware I can avoid these videos and this problem is solved, but I’m privileged and have an obligation to complain about stuff that is entirely avoidable).

Solution: Stop watching these videos.

Play styles are a big thing in COD, and while I can’t tell you how to play. If you get your kicks out of finding a dark corner and not moving, power to you. But, I will call you obscene names you probably aren’t in the heat of the moment and discuss imaginary encounters with your mother.

Solution: Camping will always be in COD, it always has, it’s about making the game in the favour of more mobile players. Campers already have an advantage and at its core, Call of Duty is an arcade shooter, so start moving you fools!

Considering everything, Call of Duty isn’t in a terrible state, but things could be a lot better and if changes aren’t made soon, the series could follow Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater to the Activision graveyard.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Microsoft’s E3 Showcase

4K digital blocks

It’s a fairly safe bet to say that Microsoft are losing the ‘console war’ with Sony. With the PS4 outselling  the Xbox One considerably (and as an Xbox fanboy, that’s hard for me to say), Microsoft had to come out at this years E3 swinging for the fences to entice audiences back toward the Xbox One.

The first, and perhaps most important part of the conference was the reveal of ‘Project Scorpio’ Microsoft’s answer to the PS4 pro. Xbox One X is reportedly the most powerful console yet and has true 4K gaming. It was revealed that Scorpio is actually named ‘Xbox One X’ and will retail at $499, £449 CA$599 and AU$649. They also went over the specs again but you can view those all over the web. It’s also the smallest Xbox ever. Xbox One X is launching worldwide on November 7th.

My Thoughts: The price is a concern, I feel that it won’t connect with the casual consumer but for the power of the console I’m not surprised by the price at all. I suspect the price will drop around six months or so after the initial launch so I might pick one up in a year or so.

After that we got the beginning of what was to be 42 game announcements. We started off with Forza 7, which looks like all the other Forza games with better graphics and new cars. Forza 7 will launch on October 3rd.

My Thoughts: It has an audience that are loyal so it will sell well regardless of the fact it’s basically Forza 5.

Then we had a gameplay trailer for Metro Exodus, the latest in 4A games Metro franchise.Executive Producer John Bloch gave more details after the showcase while talking to twitch, which included that it would be an open world game, set directly after Metro Last Light. Protagonist Artyom returns as he journeys across post-apocalyptic Russia and eventually board the Aurora, a steam train that’s been heavily customised, to look for a new place to live in the East.  The game is set be released sometime in 2018.

My Thoughts: The gameplay trailer looked great and the details that have come out after make the game seem really interesting.

Next we had Ubisoft come out and show us the brand new Assassin’s Creed game, Assassin’s Creed Origins. The reveal confirmed the leaked ancient Egypt setting and the name of the Protagonist, Bayek. They also showed some gameplay elements that have been added to the franchise, including RPG elements and an enemy level system. It also looks like combat has been changed to add a bit more of a challenge to the game.

My Thoughts: Looks like the year off for the franchise has done it some good, despite Assassin’s Creed Syndicate being a great game, I think this one has the potential to be one of the best in the series.

PC hit Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (or PUBG) was confirmed as coming to Xbox exclusively later this year. Followed by trailers for Deep Rock Galactic, a co-op FPS game by Ghost Ship Games and State of Decay 2. State of Decay 2 will launch in the Spring of 2018.

My thoughts: PUBG looked fantastic and the PC crowd seem to love it so I’ll definitely be getting that. Deep Rock Galactic looked very interesting so I’ll be keeping an eye out for more details about that. As for State of Decay 2, zombie survival games have never really been my cup of tea but it looked good.

Next up was a look at The Darwin Project, a survival game coming out exclusively to Xbox One and Windows PC. Set in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, it showed players with different powers battling each other in a Hunger Games style battle royal.

My Thoughts: Very Interesting looking game, will be definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

Following that was Mojang announcing that Minecraft was going to be completely cross-play across devices such as PC, Mobile, VR, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Minecraft is also getting a 4K update later this fall.

My Thoughts: The cross-play thing is really cool and I hope it succeeds but I the 4K visuals are pointless.

After that we were shown more trailers which included Dragonball Fighterz, a fighting game set in the Dragonball universe; Black Desert Online, a fantasy MMO; The Last Night, a cyberpunk adventure game; The Artful Escape, a Rock and Roll adventure game and Code Vein, which looked like anime dark souls. Black Desert Online was the only one to get a release timeframe of early 2018.

My Thoughts: The Last Night and Black Desert are the pick of the bunch for me. Both games look really interesting. Dragonball Fighterz isn’t for me, but will do very well nonetheless. I’m not a fan of souls style games, so Code Vein doesn’t interest me and The Artful Escape looks a little strange but it is certainly intriguing.

Rare’s newest game, Sea of Thieves was given an extended showing at the conference, no new mechanics or gameplay features. Sea of Thieves is an open world co-op game where you and other players become a pirate crew and explore the world. Early 2018 is the set release window for the game.

My thoughts: This looked incredible, it was my personal game of the conference.

Three long awaited games were given release dates next. Fullbright’s adventure game Tacoma will release August 2nd, StudioMDHR Entertainment’s  run and gun adenture game Cuphead will release September 29th and Sumo Digital’s Crackdown 3 was given a November 7th release date in line with the Xbox One X.

My Thoughts: For those that want these games, they’ve been waiting a long time, so its good that they finally have release dates. I’ll certainly be trying Crackdown 3 and Cuphead.

The ID@Xbox followed those announcements by revealing 21 indie titles coming to the Xbox One in the future. Those titles were:

  • Osiris: New Dawn
  • Raiders of the Broken Planet
  • Unruly Heroes
  • Path of Exile
  • Battlerite
  • Surviving Mars
  • Fable Fortune
  • Observer
  • Robocraft: infinite
  • Dunk Lords
  • Minion Masters
  • Brawlout
  • Ooblets,
  • Dark and Light
  • Strange Brigade
  • Riverbond
  • Hello Neighbor
  • Shift
  • Conan Exiles

My Thoughts: All of them only really had a few seconds to showcase what they were about, so not much to say, but the buzz online around Ooblets means the game has my interest.

We also had trailers for Ashen, an open world survival game; Life is Strange Before the Storm, a prequel to the massive hit Life is Strange and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the follow-up to Ori and the Bind Forest.

My Thoughts: All the games looked good, and two of them are follow ups to great games, so all of them are worth checking out.

Monolith Productions also showed some Middle Earth: Shadow of War gameplay, including the new nemesis system which allows you to recruit Orcs to your cause as you fight Sauron and his Nazgul army. Shadow of War will release on October 10th this year.

My thoughts: I like the additions to the nemesis system a lot, and if the game is mechanically the same as the first game, I’m sure it will be fantastic.

Phil Spencer then announced backwards compatibility is getting better. Original Xbox titles will be playable on Xbox One in the fall of this year. Classics such as Crimson Skies, Splinter Cell and even Halo 2 may be playable on Xbox One very soon.

My Thoughts: A logical step for Microsoft, this will generate some sales from the nostalgia market and why not use a library of games that are sitting dormant?

The final part of the show was the full reveal of Bioware and EA’s new IP, Anthem. Anthem is a Co-op open world game that gives off the vibes similar to Mass Effect: Andromeda. Anthem involves using different types of mech suit with specialist abilities and upgrading them with weapons. Anthem is set for release in the Fall of 2018.

My Thoughts: It looks like what Andromeda should have been, hopefully it lives up to already high expectations, despite how little we know about it.

Overall, Microsoft’s E3 showcase was a solid show. However, the price of the new Xbox One X is a concern which may affect them going forward.