COD Is Dead

Call of Duty was my go-to game during the Modern Warfare Trilogy.  From the campaign to the multiplayer it was at its best between 2007 and 2011.  While I agree that there were decent titles released by Treyarch in the time between these releases, MW was my favorite experience altogether.CodMeme

By the time Activision (the publisher and owner of the Call of Duty series) decided to part ways (unceremoniously fire) the main brains behind the Modern Warfare trilogy it had become obvious that two things were happening.  Call of Duty was still growing at an incredible rate and Activision was going to milk/destroy the game for every drop of money they could get.codisdead

Now that we are firmly into the new generation of consoles (PS4 and XBox One) it is easy to see what their strategy has become.  Cosmetic changes to weapons, loot boxes, and everything else that can be made into a micro-transaction in order to milk every last dime out of your bedazzled wallet.

The days of playing some of the coolest games with your friends are long gone.  Sure, you can still party up with your buds and wreck some lobbies if you want.  However, a lot of the focus has turned to two things – replicating the success of Fortnite, PUBG, & the concept of ‘Battle Royale’ in general and pandering to the streaming crowd on YouTube and Twitch.

Black Ops 4 won’t have a typical campaign, which isn’t something COD has really focused on since MW (sorry, but Black Ops 3 was one of the most insulting campaigns from a story perspective, maybe ever… until I played Infinite Warfare, anyway).  It feels like Activision’s new motto is ‘Call of Duty, we know you’ll buy it anyway…’.

While Battlefield 5 will be including their own type of Battle Royale, I must say EA DICE has impressed me with their move to not only open accessibility by simply including playable female characters but they have also announced that they will not have a season pass or maps that you have to purchase separately.  You can still option your way to buying bedazzled gear, but it isn’t being forced on you like COD.

It seems to me that Call of Duty has decided that they don’t need a rather large group of gamers.  While I have fond memories of the old titles and the MW Trilogy in particular I must say that at this point the feeling of not wanting eachother is mutual.

COD IS DEAD

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Diablo 3 Patch 1.0.4 In The Works – Information Coming Soon

Recently (6 hours ago), Bashiok, a Community Manager on the Battle.net forums posted some promising information about a much needed patch in the works for Diablo 3.  This game has been fantastic on many fronts, but with some many strangely broken issues there are some users that are getting ready to look for their gaming elsewhere if this patch doesn’t pan out.  We have posted the forum information and will be sure to give you all the updates we find as this is good news, but it is also make or break news for the team of Diablo 3.  For a link to the post from the horses mouth click here or on the picture!

The Diablo III developers have been hard at work on some exciting new features and updates for the game. Many of you have asked for more details, and we’re busily preparing several developer blogs filled with information on what’s coming in patch 1.0.4. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the information we’re planning to share here on the Diablo III community site in the not-too-distant future.

Please keep in mind that this list isn’t set in stone, but it should provide a useful preview of what we’ll be revealing in the days ahead.System Changes, by Wyatt Cheng
Senior Technical Game Designer Wyatt Cheng is preparing a high-level summary of some of the system changes planned for 1.0.4.
Legendary Item Improvements, by Andrew Chambers
Senior Game Designer Andrew Chambers is working on a blog detailing all the ways we’re making Legendary items stand out.
Magic Find Update, by Jay Wilson
Following up on earlier discussions, Game Director Jay Wilson will be providing an update on how Magic Find is evolving in patch 1.0.4.
Class Changes, by Wyatt Cheng
Wyatt will also be providing a preview of the changes we’ll be making for each class in 1.0.4 (and the philosophy behind those changes).
Patch Notes, by Lylirra
Of course, this is all building up to the actual patch 1.0.4 release, and we’ll be releasing the full patch notes shortly before the update goes live.

We’re also planning to run some interviews and developer chats surrounding patch 1.0.4, and we’ll be sharing those on the Diablo III front page. Be on the lookout, as we’d love to get you involved in any live chats we host.

As always, your constructive feedback is very much appreciated. Stay tuned for the updates to follow!

Call of Duty Still Going Strong – Are You Surprised? Should You Wish Otherwise?

Call of Duty will never die if people keep playing it. The bottom line of any business is whether or not their product is selling or being used enough to keep them in business. In the case of the Call of Duty series, there is no doubt that the game is among the favorites of Xbox 360 gamers.

In Major Nelson’s recent update about the most played games on Xbox Live you will see four Call of Duty titles on the list of the Top 20. Modern Warfare 3, Black Ops (as people prep to play Black Ops 2), Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare are among the titles listed (which also includes the likes of Battlefield 3, FIFA 12, Minecraft, Madden NFL 12 and Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. This list shouldn’t tell you that games are necessarily ‘good‘ but that they are among the most popular to be played online.

The Call of Duty series is one that is being driven into the ground by its current publisher, Activision. Activision is notorious for taking titles to the point where people are just sick of them (see Guitar Hero). It isn’t that their games are bad or even that they aren’t fun. It is the fact that people get burnt out on spending $60+ on new games and add-ons every year. Guitar Hero (GH) even had a point where the guitars weren’t even compatible with every other game under the GH label. It was really a pathetic turn for the worst from a company that is becoming more and more synonymous with being more money hungry and brash rather than being a good developer of gaming goodness.

We don’t know what would happen if Call of Duty were to take a hiatus or even get to the point where it had simply played itself out; yet, we still look forward to the day when the series isn’t on the release list for November. There are some games that could use a break and Call of Duty is one of them.

 

 

Should Sports Games Be A Biennial Release?

If you consider our past reviews and comments on NCAA and Madden Football you will often notice a bit of a jaded view on their development, creativity and AI (Artificial Intelligence) for the CPU controlled players.  This brings something to mind that has been suggested by multitudes of unhappy sports gamers – a biennial release/development cycle.

Most people can agree that sports titles coming out every single year are often no more than roster updates and beta-tests for possible future implementations (see ProTAK in Madden or Mascot Games …smh… in NCAA Football).  It isn’t really unheard of to have biennial development.  Call of Duty still manages to have a new title every year, but they are actually on a two year cycle with Treyarch and Infinity Ward getting a shot every other year.  You can say what you want about how good or bad those titles are, but fact of the matter is that they bring something new to the table strictly because each developer has their one small twist on how the game should play.

Madden and NCAA could use a break every other year.  The fact that EA has the sole license to develop these titles doesn’t really allow for this argument to go any further than a pipe-dream.  However, take a moment to imagine how much better some of these sports games would be in a two-year cycle rather than ten-month cycle.

2K Sports is a prime example of doing well with one game and AWFUL with another.  Their basketball titles are among the best ever made.  Unfortunately, their baseball titles are some of the most glitchy and straight up bad looking sports games out there.  If they were able to jump back into the football fray it would really force EA to step up their game.

This is where the biennial release of an NFL game for each company might pay off.  The downfall is that some people hate how 2K Football games play and feel.  It isn’t like being able to pick up Black Ops after Modern Warfare.  It is more like playing baseball and swinging the bat right-handed all season and then being told that you have to be left-handed next year.

The only other option that will allow the proper amount of improvement is to allow developers to have equal access to make officially licensed sports titles and then let the consumer decide.  EA bought the rights because they knew that they couldn’t compete with some of the things that 2K was doing.  It was a smart business decision, but it was a cowardly way to punk out of having any sort of competition to drive the quality of their games.

How do you feel about this?  Vote in the poll or comment below and be heard!

E3 Recap – Games To Keep An Eye On and Games To Give The Stink Eye

It was a great week for game fans of all ages last week, but that doesn’t mean that some announcements didn’t disappoint us.

There are some games that have great demos out there right now and there are also some games that shouldn’t have demos (because they are that terrible).

Keep and Eye On:

Spec Ops: The Line (Respawn Entertainment/2K) – This game plays smoothly and feels like a modern military version of Gears of War (executions and all).  In playing the demo there is something left to be desired from gameplay that seems slightly uninspired.  There isn’t a lot of holding your breath in worry that an army of baddies is coming to put you down.  However, the multiplayer gameplay looks like it could prove to be enjoyable, if not at least something different from Call of Duty’s first person syndication every year.

 

 

Madden 13 (EA Sports) – Finally, Madden has come out of the E3 gates with something to talk about other than their yearly subjective roster update.  Real-time physics, connected careers and a new XP system of progressing your players in career modes is a breath of fresh air that every football gaming fan will appreciate.  There are some tuning issues they are still working on for much of connected careers (which is to be expected); but hopefully they can use the next month or so before the game goes ‘gold’ to fix these things.  Don’t expect perfection off the bat, but you should expect some new joy in how Madden actually plays this year.

 

 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Konami) – Finally, something playable was present at E3 and did it ever live up to the hopes and dreams of Metal Gear fans!  Raiden was a character that upset many of the Metal Gear ‘purists’ (elitists…myself included) but when Kojima decided to make Raiden into an awesome Cyborg Ninja from Hell in Metal Gear Solid 4?… I was convinced that Raiden was cool enough to be a desireable character.  At this point, MGSRR is looking more and more like Ninja Gaiden put into the shoes of Metal Gear and it looks amazing.

 

 

Hitman: Absolution (Square Enix) – One of the favorites to make people gush over the wonders of Agent 47’s ability to silently make enemies hunker down in fear.  This is proving to be a game that you should be very excited about.  The gameplay is solid and the story of Agent 47 is usually an intriguing one.  Let’s face it, Hitman is a game that really has its set of fanatics and then the rest of the gamers that want to get their fill of digital violence.  The beauty of Absolution is that it seems to have a better feel and look than Blood Money.  There is a fine line for the Hitman series to walk right now but it is avoiding our list of stink eye games… for now.

Give the Stink Eye To:

NCAA Football 13 (EA Sports) – Talk about giving a game a fresh coat of paint and sending it out for the user to beta test.  NCAA Football 12 was decent, but with major flaws on release day that weren’t patched for over a month and a half (player tendencies after re-naming rosters, etc.).  NCAA Football 13 changed throwing trajectories but didn’t implement real-time physics like Madden 13.  They have the same button schemes this year, but after that similarity NCAA falls to the field with a thud.  The menu interface hasn’t changed and the game doesn’t seem to look different at all.  The demo is out there for you to give it a try – but it could be a 1GB file you regret downloading in the first place.

 

 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Treyarch/Activision) – This series has been played out.  The fact that they are going to the year 2025 isn’t as impressive as some people want to make it out to be.  Not to mention the fact that they are ‘bringing back’ zombie mode.  What is going to be different from Black Ops or even Modern Warfare 3?  Nothing really.

You already know what to expect if you are a COD fan and that can be a good thing if you love COD games.  Black Ops 2 is like the third Transformers movie at this point –

All of the explosions, the hot girl that replaces another hot girl (albeit, with an accent) and our typical schlubs ‘heroes’ to save the world from bad foreigners (Insert xenophobia here) and you have yourself a “Brand New” Call of Duty Game.

Halo 4 (343/Microsoft) – Did you know that another Halo game was coming out?  Of course you did.   What better way to milk this cash cow of a franchise than to continue the saga of Master Chief from a ‘whole new perspective’?

Much like Call of Duty and even Gears of War, Halo 4 is a game that has many people excited because they worship the Halo universe and think Master Chief is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Say what you want about the books and everything else… if you love Halo you will buy this game.  After that what is there?  One of the ‘features’ listed for this game on Amazon is telling –

The Master Chief returns to battle an ancient evil bent on vengeance and annihilation. Humanity and the universe will never be the same again.”

If you pay attention to the last sentence of their description, it is one of the most hilarious marketing ploys ever.  Consider what has happened over the course of Halo, Halo 2 and then Halo 3.  Then consider what happened with Halo 3: ODST and then the prequel Halo: Reach.  It is something of a guess, but after 5 games that gave us a great trilogy a prequel and even the perspective of a different soldier (ODST) there isn’t much more to care about is there?

It is always a funny argument to hear when a Halo fanboy and a Call of Duty fanboy come into a game store or game department… or God forbid – forums.  Both sides love to present their game as being superior in some way shape or form.  However, in the end they are both arguing over something that they both share in… being duped into buying the same game every year or two.

Gears of War: Judgement (Epic/Microsoft) – Say what you want about the story of Gears of War, it was original and the voice acting was impressive all the way through.  However, the latest announcement is bringing up the same old argument we just made about Halo and Call of Duty.  The most insulting thing you can do to a gamer is try and squeeze out more money for a prequel.  George Lucas was able to fool some people into thinking the new Star Wars prequel trilogy would be worth the excitement.  However, in the end… people still prefer to go back and watch the movies that are now nearing 40 years in age.

This announcement of a new Gears of War game is exciting for people that enjoy the Gears story and gameplay.  Unfortunately, outside of that group of people there are many other gamers that would prefer to see something original come out and blow our minds.  Maybe this is the last Epic game that will grace the 360 before they move on and develop a new series for the XBox 720.  We can only hope that this game is a final conclusion… or pre-clusion?

Is Black Ops 2 The End of COD As We Know It?

There always comes a point when you simply can’t make something better than you have before.  You can reinvent the wheel from stone to wood to rubber and maybe along the way you will make slight changes to the design.  However, when it comes to games…especially First Person Shooters… there are only so many iterations of a game you can make before it becomes either stale or simply a mockery of its former self.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
We have seen this game before… EIGHT TIMES.

Black Ops 2 seems destined to be the bitter end for Call of Duty games at this point.  With massive sales still coming for COD games, there seems to be something about Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 that is missing.  That something is a feeling of freshness that can only be brought by a hiatus.  If you consider the fact that Modern Warfare 3 essentially finished a trilogy, you would think that means it is going to be time for a change.  Furthermore, if you consider the fact that Black Ops 2 is set in the future with drones and x-ray rifles, there isn’t much more ‘Modern’ Warfare can cover that hasn’t been covered or won’t be covered by BO2.

Does this still excite you?

We mentioned in the title that it might spell the end of COD as we know it.  That doesn’t mean that it will be discontinued (face it, that isn’t Activision’s M.O.) but it could mean something big is on the horizon for the series after BO2 is released.

If we cover what has been done in COD we can see that World War 2, Vietnam, Modern and now ‘near-Future’ will be covered by the end of 2012.  With all of those ‘interesting’ wars covered, it might  do them some good to get away from the same old ‘jump on a turret and shoot down waves of enemies’ formula that has been in every shoot’em up FPS game from Activision.

What needs to happen is development of a game series over multiple years.  The real problem facing Call of Duty games is the fact that Activision wants a new one every year to drive profits.  The problem is that this will end up leading to the same brutal end that Guitar Hero met only a couple years ago.

You can only reinvent the wheel so many times before people stop looking at it as ‘just a wheel’.  Call of Duty needs a break in the worst way, and after Black Ops 2 comes out in November it would be a perfect time for them to announce that the next Call of Duty game will be coming out on launch day with the next generation of consoles rather than yet another version of the same game in 12 months.

E3 is supposed to ‘Unveil Innovation’, but right now it looks like it is simply ‘unveiling’ the same stuff we have seen over the last few years.  First Person Shooters are becoming as common and overplayed as re-runs of Two and a Half Men and Call of Duty is turning into the Ashton Kutcher version.  If they are about #winning, Activision will push their next major FPS onto the next generation of consoles, where they can impress people with some actual innovation.

Madden 13, Black Ops 2 and the Amazing Hype Machine

Did you hear about Madden 13?!

Every pixel and every mode have been touched!  Sounds like some sort of (bad) Michael Jackson joke.

Did you hear about Black Ops 2?!

It is based in the future and it will be released just in time for you to add it to your Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa List!

Don’t get stuck asking, “Why oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?”
The hype machine is a dangerous drug that will drag you into the depths of gaming hell.

While we try to be fair and keep our jaded perspective out of everything we write there is always room for sarcasm when it comes to Madden, NCAA Football, Call of Duty and any other annual release in gaming.  In all honesty, why shouldn’t there be?  When you consider the numerous glitches that occur or even the issues that require the same attention every year that never get fixed. (IE – Broken OLine and DLine interaction or being able to clip out of maps or even mod controllers because you aren’t disciplined enough to play the game legitimately.) It is no wonder that when you get to mid-September you will see message boards light up with such vitriol and anger that you wonder if someone kicked their dog.

No, they are like the many others that get mad about spending $60+ on a game that is in its late Beta stages.  When it comes to gaming you need to make sure you have your feet and your gaming thumbs planted firmly on the ground or controller.  Don’t expect the big changes to make everything better and don’t expect to be pleased with the first, second or third patches – this is a new era in gaming that takes the games to new lows when they are released.

Madden 13 has my full attention this year as far as making true moves in the right direction.

Black Ops 2 is at the bottom of my list right now because Treyarch has been utterly disappointing over the years and Activision’s ‘new’ business model of bending the consumer over for $15-50 DLC at every turn is starting to become the accepted norm.

Take this as a warning that you should curb your enthusiasm when you start hearing the new things about any annual release making changes or fixes to their flagship titles.  Calm down, breath and enjoy the games you have before they become ‘old’ in August and November.