How Call of Duty and Battlefield Have Turned Off FPS Gamers

Over the last generation of console gaming we have seen a dramatic increase in online gaming.  The primary gain in this user-base has been in first person shooter (FPS) games like Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield.  Call of Duty 4 seemed to fill a void for gamers that weren’t fans of Halo.  They wanted a shooter that was military based with more customization and depth in the online arena.  What COD4 brought to the table was a game that still ranks among my personal favorites in the series, surpassed only by Modern Warfare 2.

The biggest issue that started the downfall of Call of Duty was the annual release to the lemmings that can’t seem to get rid of their money fast enough.  Call of Duty has become the Madden of shooter games.  The one thing you are guaranteed with the annual online experience is the large population of gamers screaming obscenities in your ears.  While that isn’t the primary downside, it is one of the more common complaints when it comes to online gaming.  (This is even with the ability to mute players… it shouldn’t have to be an issue but it is often on the edge of infuriating to have to deal with such nonsense.)

After the relative annoying of gamers you are going to start seeing where Call of Duty is really starting to fall off.  It is actually in the repetitive nature of the game and how predictable every round will unfold.  Team Deathmatch is what it has always been – a hunt for the perfect camping spot or some sort of search for a bottleneck.  Domination is still the wonderful spawn-camping disaster it has always been.  Now there are numerous clans that seem to stalk the public lobbies and destroy players that are trying to enjoy some casual gaming.  It has become a self-destructive game in how it is constantly building itself to be dominated by people that dedicate obscene amounts of time to leveling up and figuring out every nuance to making the casual gamers rage quit and sell their games on eBay or even trade it for pennies at GameStop.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t talented gamers out there in every genre.  However, it seems that FPS games are starting to try and copy many aspects of Call of Duty because of the monetary success the game has seen every year since COD4 was released.  This isn’t a good thing for gamers that would like to have something that feels and plays different from COD titles.  Battlefield was once that bastion of hope that FPS fans could look to when thinking about the shortcomings of Call of Duty.  The problem is that with maps like Operation Metro (BF3) and Operation Locker (BF4) it seems as if EA/DICE is trying to emulate Call of Duty in death-fests that are less tactical and more deathmatch-like.  While these are relatively small segments of the map population it is discouraging to feel like you can’t escape this apparent necessity of slaughterhouse maps in a game that many purchase as an escape from that.

We have been fortunate to see many gains made in graphics and even physics (at times).  However, the common devolution of
almost every game ends up turning the shooter game into some sort of Call of Duty-esque bloodbath of reflex/twitch-based shooting.  It starting to become wash, rinse, repeat with shooter games – especially online shooter games.

Where do you stand?  Are you ready to move on from FPS online gaming… or maybe from FPS gaming altogether?

Call of Duty Ghosts – Coming November 5, 2013

Remember, remember the fifth of November
It’s COD season is it not?
I can think of no reason why COD season should ever be forgot.
You can start pre-ordering Call of Duty: Ghosts soon
You can start pre-ordering Call of Duty: Ghosts soon

Are you excited by the news of a new name for the Call of Duty series or are you convinced that it is merely a first person shooter version of Madden NFL?

Are Shooter Games Starting To Lose Their Appeal?

You can only re-hash the same thing so many times before it is no longer desired.  This goes for movies (see – Saw, Rocky, Rambo, Star Wars (the new crappy ones) as much as it goes for music and video games.  In gaming we are starting to experience something that isn’t too dissimilar.  Every November we expect a new Call of Duty game.  While COD is the most common direction people look when it comes to games being the same every year, it is also a trend that is getting (or has gotten) old very fast.

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I am almost to my second prestige in Black Ops 2.  While this isn’t shocking to the many people that have already reached the 5th or 10th prestige it is something relatively new to me.  I didn’t prestige in Modern Warfare 3 and I thought I would give it a chance in Black Ops 2.  The problem with this is the fact that I am playing games and leveling up in their second and third iterations.  There have been some changes along the way, but the one thing that remains a constant is the move towards an almost exclusively multiplayer focused game that revolves around leveling, leaderboards and people trying to make it big on YouTube.

While there are other games that are being milked as a franchise (Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear, Angry Birds and let’s not forget sports games and their wonderful annual roster updates) – it seems that shooters are still the cash-cow that get most of the development attention.  There have been some reports/rumors that Call of Duty is starting to see a slight decline in sales.  Does this really surprise you?  Madden and NCAA have also both started to see a decline in sales over the last few years.  While there have been some fluctuations to these numbers in some cases, it should tell the gaming industry from production company to developer that gamers want new games with new ideas.

If you want to look for hope in gaming, take a look at what some of the indie game developers are putting out.  Support their cause, but please… demand creativity instead of sequels.  That is so… Michael Bay.

Medal of Honor Warfighter – Review and Impressions

At first glance you might look at Medal of Honor: Warfighter with a cynical mindset.  Afterall, the original ‘rehash’ of the series was lacking to say the least.  What you will notice right off the bat is recoil in your weapons from the gameplay perspective.  This game is a more arcade-like game from the run and gun perspective on multiplayer rather than the Battlefield 3 perspective of objective based gameplay and XP development.

Warfighter’s maps seem forced and cluttered for the most part.  While the Frostbite 2 engine is a nice addition and it gives the ability to destroy cover, etc. there doesn’t seem to be a lot of longevity to a game that isn’t based on larger maps with a lot of cover to destroy.  Once again, EA is finding a way to put out a game as a stop-gap measure rather than trying to really overtake Call of Duty.

Here is a quick run-down of what you should expect if you are on the fence about buying Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

Pros –

Fast Gameplay – This game plays more like Call of Duty or even the 2010 iteration of MOH, but it is a welcome direction for people that prefer EA shooters over Call of Duty but still want faster gameplay and an overall more ‘reflex driven’ game.  The recoil of the weapons makes for a less point and shoot feel, but the small maps and close quarters along with a more assault driven attitude of game-modes makes Warfighter a faster experience overall.

Full Weapon Customization – You can pretty much build up any of your weapons to your own specifications.  New barrels, new sights, optics, etc.  The best part of being able to do these things is that they give you a feeling of ownership and creativity that actually matters.  Call of Duty has accessories for guns, sure… but for the most part they are unnecessary ‘bling’.  The only thing is that with the maps and game-types in Warfighter, is it really that vital to have all these options?  Only time will tell.

A Somewhat Intriguing Story – It isn’t often that we can say a FPS title has a story worth paying attention to.  Medal of Honor feels more like the movie ‘Act of Valor’ than some sort of half-cocked terrorist fiction.  On the other hand, maybe that is exactly what it is… *shrug*.  Warfighter grabs the gamer by the heartstrings with a story that feels very real in today’s modern terrorist obsessed culture.  However, it is also a game about terrorists being chased around the world.

I think I have played this game before.

Cons –

Feels Like A Stop-Gap COD Wanna-be – The bad part of MOH: WF is that it feels like Call of Duty without the urgency.  Call of Duty is fast paced, run and gun, twitchy and an overall ADHD experience.  Warfighter is all of those things without the twitchy control feel.  This makes for a fast paced game with sluggish handling.  I appreciate the effort to speed up the feel but this game needs to make up its mind.

Too Little, Too Late – With the likes of Halo and Call of Duty coming out in the next three weeks MOH is looking like something to buy if you have $60 to throw away.  This feels a lot like the 2010 release of Medal of Honor where it had a toe-hold for a couple weeks before Call of Duty came out and made people forget about playing a game with a lumberjack on the cover.

A Possible DLC Money Pit – One of the most annoying aspects of this current generation (and future generations) of online console gaming is downloadable content.  Sure, DLC is something that is a must for games like Medal of Honor, but in reality you are starting to see a trend of games that come out with DLC already planned to take money out of your wallet. Purchasing Warfighter brand new comes with access to a couple new maps but in reality it isn’t much of a perk if you don’t plan on being completely devoted to this game for the next year.  I don’t foresee Medal of Honor being played by many people when Battlefield 3 is already successful enough with its community and Call of Duty gamers will get their annual re-hash and pour money into DLC and ‘Elite’.

What More Do You Want From Shooter Games?

The best-selling games on consoles seem to come down to First Person Shooters every single year.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does drive me to wonder what else I really want from my FPS gaming experiences.  There seem to be three choices when it comes down to decision-making.

Arcade/Deathmatch Style – Call of Duty is the quintessential example of shooter games that revolve around picking up the controller and smacking other gamers in the face.  It is a fast-paced game with slight differences between weapons.  Not to mention a huge group of core gamers that are dedicated to the game they have come to love (or even sometimes, hate).

What More Do I Want?I have been hoping for years for the sniping in this game to be nerfed.  However, that is the ‘charm’ of Call of Duty games…  the weapons are subjectively rated and designed.  In many cases there isn’t much of a difference between using a magnum side-arm and a MK-14 as long as you ‘know how to handle them’.

I don’t want Call of Duty to change, primarily because I know that every time I turn it on I will be able to play it for an hour or two before I get so fed up with connectivity or quick-scoping spawn trappers that I turn it off and put in a different game.

Objective Based/Simulation – Battlefield 3 is designed with huge maps and team-play as the primary components.  While some of the interactions with vehicles is far from ‘simulation’ the weapons and handling of the game in-general present a much more ‘realistic’ feel to the game.  The recoil of the weapons makes for tough decisions to be made at times when you try to determine if you want more power or more control.  This is a primary difference between BF3 and COD games.

Also, objectives are the primary gametypes for Battlefield games.  This is something that tends to escape the common COD player than ventures into the land of Battlefield.  They will often try to come into a game of Rush or Conquest and try to turn it into some sort of Team Deathmatch.  While this is quite useful in Conquest, it is far from useful if you are the attacking team in Rush.

What More Do I Want? –A preventative measure to keep teams from spawn camping with vehicles like helicopters.  This is a great game, but people that are new to it will find that it is unforgiving when you play Conquest mode against seasoned teams of gamers.  It is one of the biggest downfalls in game design when you make it nearly impossible for a losing team to recover.

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy – Halo, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series all fall into this category for the most part.  They are either based in a realm that doesn’t exist or in some sort of alternate universe.  Fallout is the only potential threat to this category, but in reality it still has ‘laser’ weapons.  Much like Fallout, Skyrim has magic and other spells that make it fantasy related.  Halo is based on other planets or regions of the universe and uses weapons that either don’t exist or close to that description.

What More Do I Want?–  This category is difficult because there isn’t a lot to base anything off of in ‘real life’.  The issue I have with Halo is recoil with weapons feeling non-existent.  In general, Halo has a feel to it that makes it seem like the gamer is playing the game with a lot less ‘motion’.  There is almost a floating sensation when playing Halo.

What’s the point?

When thinking about any of these things it leaves me thinking that any of the things I wish would happen in FPS games are subjective at best and pointless at worst.  Most of the games we choose to play revolve around what we have had time to find a love for over the years.  Chances are good that you have already pre-ordered a game this fall or at least plan on asking for one of them during the holiday season.

Take that as a sign that you really don’t have a lot more you want out of a shooter game.  Otherwise you wouldn’t pre-order something before you hear about, let alone see any real changes.

Battlefield 3 Has Yet Another Texas Sized Patch

Usually when something needs ‘patched up’ it is in reference to something small that needs a little bit of a touch up where serious in-depth work isn’t needed.  Sometimes a game will require a few patches here and there to clear some things up in the coding.

EA DICE has made it a habit to duct tape their Battlefield 3 title together with patches that resemble changes that would be made for a completely new game.  While this update is primarily in regards to new DLC (which could be called a new game, I suppose) the fact remains that they keep putting out patches that take hours (at times) to download.  Hopefully this is the last ‘patch’ for awhile as Battlefield 3 has seemingly sunk into the background as Borderlands 2 and Halo 4 get closer to release.

Here is your lovely list of updates to BF3

Weapons Balancing
Reload timer adjustments
A number of weapons have had their reload timers adjusted to better fit their animations and gameplay balance. For most of these weapons the gameplay timers were slightly out of sync with the actual reload animation, meaning the player could either fire before the animation was done, or had to wait longer than the animation played. Primarily this is a cosmetic change (around 0.1sec); however for a few weapons (M416, F2000, FAMAS, KH2002, MK3A1, JNG90, MG36 QBU-88, SVD, Pecheneg, SCAR-H, AN-94) this should also improve the performance of the weapon. Full details below:
• Short and Long reload reduced: SCAR-L, AEK-971, F2000, AN-94, AK-74, PP2000, G3A3, SKS, MG36, JNG-90, MK3A1, SCAR-H, SVD, QBZ-95B
• Long reload reduced: AUG A3, 44 Magnum, KH2002, Pecheneg, L85A2, QBB-95, M1911, MP7
• Short reload reduced: M417, FAMAS, M39 EBR, M416, PP-19, QBU-88
• Short and long reload increased: ASVal
• Long reload reduced, shot reload increased: M4A1
• Long reload increased: P90

Damage output/range adjustments
• UMP: Increased the close range damage of the UMP but reduced its damage over range. The UMP now has a sweet spot in CQB but suffers compared to the PP2000 at longer ranges.
• PP2000: Increased the long range damage of the PP2000 to highlight its role as a mid-range, low recoil PDW.
• M1911: Increased the minimum damage of the M1911 to make it fit better between the Magnums and the M9/MP443
• M93: Reduced the M93R’s damage and range, as it was an obvious go to pistol compared to the M9/MP443. Its recoil has been reduced for a smoother burst action to counter the reduced damage.
• 12G Frag rounds: These rounds have been adjusted to do their damage in a smaller area but to be more consistently apply the maximum possible damage.
• AA: Slightly increased the damage of the AA against infantry, the AA was simply over nerfed in a previous update. The AA guns now also properly do damage to MBTs again.
• 12 Gauge buckshot close range damage has been slightly increased.
• Slightly reduced the range penalty for the suppressor on the SCAR-H.
• Increased bullet velocity for the coaxial HMG, making it easier to hit targets over longer ranges.
• Increased the minimum range of the 40mm Flechette and tightened the cone of fire for more consistent damage levels.
• Slightly reduced the range bonus added by the heavy barrel on the 5.56mm, 5.45mm, 6.5mm Assault Rifles.
• Slightly reduced the range penalty for the suppressor on 5.56mm, 5.45mm, and 6.5mm weapons: AR, Carbine, and LMG.
• Slightly reduced the range penalty for the suppressor on the SCAR-H.
• Slightly reduced the range penalty for the suppressor on 5.56mm, 5.45mm, and 6.5mm weapons: AR, Carbine, and LMG.
• Slightly reduced the range bonus added by the heavy barrel on the 5.56mm, 5.45mm, 6.5mm Assault Rifles.
• Increased the damage of the M5K.

A select set of weapons have had their recoil adjusted based on joint community feedback and statistical analysis to provide greater balance in the weapon choices players make. Specifically, the M16A3 and M4A1 have increased recoil to make them less attractive in all situations. Competing weapons like the SG553, G36C and M416 have been improved to also increase viable player choice in primary weapons.
• SG553: Horizontal recoil reduced to help make this weapon more controllable.
• MG36: Vertical recoil reduced to make this weapon more controllable.
• M416: Vertical, Horizontal, and First Shot recoil have all been reduced to make this weapon clearly different from the M16A3.
• M16A3: Recoil amounts slightly increased.
• M4A1: Recoil amounts slightly increased.
• G36C: Vertical and First Shot recoil amounts reduced.
• M16A4 and M4: These weapons have been adjusted for the increased recoil they now have. The burst versions of these weapons give the player a reduction in horizontal recoil for greater control.

Miscellaneous weapons changes
• FIM92 and IGLA now lock on to air vehicles at both lower altitudes and longer distances.
• Added Burst Fire to the M5K as an available fire mode.
• Increased the bonuses provided by a number of bipods: F2000, G3A3, M27, M416, Pecheneg, Type88, FAMAS, MG36
• Belt Fed Machine guns are now more accurate when standing and firing while aiming. This affects the M240, M249, Type88, Pecheneg, and LSAT.
• 44 Magnum: Rate of fire reduced slightly to highlight this side arm’s role as a slow firing heavy hitter and differentiate it from the MP412 REX.
• Increased the fire rate and reload time of the MP412 REX to better highlight the improved CQB performance over the 44 Magnum.
• Removed burst fire from the L85 and added Single Shot to the L86 as is authentic for these weapons.
• Slightly increased the radius for maximum damage of the 40mm LVG. While the overall damage level remains the same, the LVG will be lethal over a larger area.
• Reduced the aimed accuracy bonus of the M417 with a suppressor to balance it with the other weapons in the game.
• Increased the aimed accuracy bonus of the ACW-R, L86 LSW, LSAT, MP5K and MTAR with a suppressor to balance with the other weapons in the game.

Weapons fixes
• Underslung weapons on the AUG and SCAR-L now properly benefit from the hip accuracy bonus of an attached laser sight.
• The SOFLAM will no longer lock onto your own vehicle if deployed and not immediately activated by the player.
• SCAR-L: Fixed the heavy barrel not increasing recoil when zoomed and standing.
• Corrected some incorrect descriptions of clip sizes and bullet types for weapons added in Close Quarters: M5K, LSAT, and ACW-R
• The PKS-07 is now available on QBB-95
• The M417’s foregrip was incorrectly reducing horizontal recoil by too large an amount. It has been adjusted to be balanced with other foregrips.
• The ACR Foregrip, MG36, QBB-95 and RPK Extended magazines as well as the RPK and SKS Heavy Barrel are now able to be unlocked and equipped in the accessory screen.
• Fixed an issue with incorrect damage for the M320 buck when used with certain attachments.
• MK3A1 now uses flechette rounds instead of Frag rounds in Gun Master mode (in Close Quarters).

Vehicle Related Tweaks and Fixes
• Removed flares from gunner position in helicopters. With the right combination of unlocks, an attack helicopter could be effectively invulnerable to lock on missiles. Removing the flares from the gunner balances the attack helicopter against ground fire.
• Air Radar now shows friendly vehicles as well.
• Helicopter weapons can now destroy equipment with splash damage.
• The Laser Designator unlock on the Scout Helicopters has been changed from a Pilot Upgrade to a new stance in the Copilot seat (position 4). Like the CITV turret on the Main Battle Tanks, the Scout Helicopter’s Laser Designator is permanently available to players who have received the unlock.
• Repair tool damage against enemy vehicles lowered by 10%.
• Changed reload behavior on Tank / Tank Destroyer cannon weapons to prevent being able to fire 2 shots from different weapons quickly one right after another.
• Firing mode can now be seen from the vehicle passenger seats where you are allowed to fire your own weapons.
• Fixed the hit indicator showing when entering a vehicle after previously shooting a soldier.
• Increased the damage helicopter and jet rockets do to helicopters, jets and infantry.
• Increased the damage helicopter gunners and IFVs do to helicopters and jets.
• Fixed Jets not getting top attack damage bonuses on Laser Designated targets.

Persistence Related Tweaks and Fixes
• Changed how MCOM station defend/attack kill score is calculated. Victim no longer needs to arm/disarm the crate but rather be in a 5 meter radius of the crate. Also increased kills needed for the Crate Defend Ribbon from 2 to 4. Overall, these changes should make it somewhat easier to get the ribbon, while increasing the opportunity for strategic play around MCOM stations.
• Premium Engineer assignments are now counting all shotgun kills independent from the class using it.
• Fixed so you can get score from awards in coop.
• Accuracy dogtags now show the correct stats.
• Coop Stars and dogtag are now properly unlockable and equip able.
• Gun Master and Domination Winner ribbons and medals added.
• Fix for assignment with multiple dependencies showing as unlocked in frontend. (Jack of All Trades & Only for the Dedicated)

UI Related Tweaks and Fixes
• Added letters to the capture point icons displayed directly over the mini-map.
• Fixed the grenade counter acting strangely when entering a vehicle with a grenade in hand.
• Fixed the damage indicator which showed the wrong direction if the damage dealer was dead.
• Fixed the hit indicator showing when spawning or closing the in game menu.
• PC specific: Fixed laser designator related icons disappearing from the screen when you enable the chat.
• Fixed a bug where the clan tag sometimes shows as the player ID.
• Added clan tags in nametags and kill card.
• PC specific: Fixed the vehicle hit indicator being shown each time you re-enter the first person camera of a ground vehicle.
• Fixed so commorose VO works when sitting in an AA vehicle.
• Fixed so you get the critical health fullscreen color tint while in the post revive state.
• Removed the join button in the server list for non-Premium users on Premium exclusive servers.
• Fixed so the spawn menu always disappears when you are revived.
• Bugfix the colorblind objectives showing the wrong icons and blinking with a black background.
• Fixed M-Com distance not updating if user moves towards it with EOD Bot.
• Mortar strike explosions are now shown on the HUD for the shooter.

Miscellaneous Tweaks and Fixes
• Fixed so the MAV gadget will not remain floating in midair if the user exits it while still flying.
• Fixed bug where it was possible to shoot while transitioning from sprint into prone.
• Fixed so you can’t revive a player who switched team since he died.
• Fixed two exploits on Donya Fortress that allowed players to get on top of the level.
• Fixed bug where you could get an incorrectly calculated longest headshot with the EOD bot.
• PS3/Xbox 360 specific: Added map rotation settings to preset list in detailed server info. Players can now see all relevant settings that are being run on the server.
• Xbox 360 specific: Introduced a clickable promotional spot on the main menu.

The Death of Battlefield 3 or ‘How EA Will Screw Over Their Most Loyal Gamers’

NoobTubeTV has come to the side of Battlefield 3 on many occasions over the past gaming year.  It had its own issues with matchmaking and other strange glitches that eventually get fixed with 1.2GB patches(!) but it was still an excellent game that demanded your attention for in depth gameplay and multiple ways to level up as any of four classes with tremendous detail to weapon differential, etc.

The Expected Route of ‘Premium’ Content

Then EA decided to push Battlefield Premium after nearly 9 months of being released.  Premium isn’t much different from Call of Duty Elite in price or content.  It is $50 and you get guaranteed early access to DLC and Add-Ons for Battlefield 3.  That isn’t the issue at this point – it was an expected route for them to take because it essentially ‘saves’ their dedicated fanbase the same $10 that Elite ‘saves’ COD gamers.

The Unexpected Ultimate Middle Finger To Their Previously Dedicated Fans

In case you didn’t come across the latest substantiated rumor hitting many outlets, Battlefield 3 looks like it is set to release a new retail game of ‘Battlefield 3: Premium Edition‘ for $70.  In case you don’t want to do the quick math…

The more dedicated fanbase of Battlefield 3 purchased the game for $60(plus tax) in October, 2011.  Then they bought Premium for $50.  This adds up to approximately $110 of hard-earned money poured into a game that will now (almost one year later) will come with all of that same content for $70.

Is EA trying to tell us something?  Is it really possible that their message is – “Don’t buy our games on release day because eventually you will be able to get all the DLC in some sort of ‘Ultimate Edition’ a year later?

It certainly seems that way.

The Death of Battlefield 3?

It might not kill the game completely, but the notion that EA would do something like this is a bad way to treat the gamers that have been playing their game constantly over the last year.  Sure, it might be worth the extra money to most of the gamers out there, but the bottom line is that this is in bad taste as they already released word of a Battlefield 4 Beta that will be included (for later access) with Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

EA has never really been in the business of treating consumers well.  So, really – are you surprised?