With Call of Duty Ghosts pulling the lowest sales figures in the franchises recent history, and players the world over having complaints of ‘noob pandering’ falling on deaf ears, is Advanced Warfare going to turn around the failing fortune of the series that shaped today’s first person shooters? Probably not….
Judging from the response to Activision’s gameplay event at e3 2014 the collective cooing from the united gaming press and indie outlets everywhere have been openly gushing. Graphically spectacular and looking smoother than Claudia Schiffer’s legs after skinning dipping in Veet for a fortnight, Advanced Warfare has been nothing if not a marked improvement on its predecessor, the much-maligned Call of Duty Ghosts. But have Activision and Sledgehammer Games done enough to convince disillusioned former fans of the series who left the franchise after Modern Warfare 2? We think, perhaps not.
If you are a long time player of Call of Duty, and we don’t just mean you have been ‘no-scoping’ since Modern Warfare 3, then you may just be taking the latest trailers and gameplay reveals for the upcoming Activision blockbuster, Advanced Warfare, with a rather large pinch of salt.
The reason behind such apathy? Well, we have all heard the assurances from Call of Duty community mouthpieces before and, inevitably, they always turn out to ring hollow and full of empty promises.
Anyone recall the staged ‘whooping’ and ‘hollering’ in support of the wide-eyed Rob Bowling as he punched the air with delight before proclaiming that Infinity Ward had listened to the concerns of their fans and in doing so they had removed the despised Last Stand perk. “ Yeah, Fuck You Last Stand! “
You can rinse and repeat this kind of behaviour regarding Call of Duty ever since the fans asked for a return to the winning formula of the original Modern Warfare title following the sequel, and the developers pressed ahead with their own agenda dumbing down the franchise and making it ever more the noob-friendly ‘twitch shooter’ it currently is as they enticed more and more players into the install base with promises of instant gratification due to the fact that, quite literally, anyone could now just jump into the game and let the format do the work for them. All the ‘player’, and we use the term lightly, had to do was hide in a corner and wait for unsuspecting ‘real gamers’ to happen by in their search for enemies, and then let the loathed selection of ‘non-gamer favouring’ killstreaks complete the rest of their MOAB hunting gameplay. Great stuff, yes. Yes?
Actually, a resounding ‘no!’
It is this never-ending practice of reducing Call of Duty from its original thoughtfully paced, team based shooter into its present guise of crawl-speed, camp-fest that is to be the franchises ultimate undoing. But not for the want of trying to avoid this by the masses of genuine players of the game year in and year out as they make their annual plea’s to selectively deaf developers.
Advanced Warfare, we feel, is to be the final nail in the Call of Duty coffin if, and we are pretty confident we are right on this one, the multiplayer continues on its incessant trek toward ‘Casual Nirvana’.
Take a look at the new additions to the weaponry and attributes of the men, and women, in the ranks of the Call of Duty army and be afraid, be very afraid.
Exo-Suits, cloaking devices, hover grenades, huge hulking shields that move with the player, lasers, bionic man styled leaps and super soldier strength are all now to be found in this ‘military shooter’. Just what military the developers think all of this stuff belongs to is anyone’s guess? Perhaps, the United Federation of Planets? The Klingon Empire? Or maybe just the blatantly obvious Master Chief School of Combat.
But in these very weapons, killstreak rewards and bonus body armour buffs comes the answer to the question as to why Call of Duty has forced itself into the kind of corner from which there is no escape, unfortunately.
It is because of this past pandering to the casuals and non-gamers, the Youtube commentators and the no-scoping Halo-bouncers that Call of Duty will NEVER return to a the realistic conventional combat shooter that made it the success that it was. It is because of these very people that it will not, because it cannot.
Why? The answer is simple.
For Call of Duty to return to a realistic environment, World War II, Vietnam, The Great War, Desert Storm…Hell, even The Balkan Conflict for example, would require the developers to remove the very features, killstreak rewards and weaponry that allows this games multiplayer to be populated and dominated by casual players who lack the basic skills to do things like walk and shoot at the same time. .
Run, and Gun…? You mean together? At the same time? Why that’s just crazy talk!
And there you have it, ‘that’ is the reason.
Call of Duty has built a player base of non-players. A game of non-gamers. A hardcore following of casuals. It is the perfect example of a paradox. A contradiction in terms.
Can it be saved….? Doubtful.
As we have outlined, to remove the thing that has made it popular with the masses is to remove a huge chunk of profits. Activision are NOT doing that. Regardless of how many core gamers stay true to the franchise.
But what of the new generation? The cheering crowds at this years e3 who celebrated the Call of Duty trailer and gameplay as if it were a phoenix rising from the ashes? Well, what of it?
If you pay close attention to those very reveal showings and the gameplay demonstrated at the LA Convention Centre then you would have picked up on the major issues of the aforementioned inclusions into the games multiplayer format. The main reason why Advanced Warfare will fail as an online shooter is, again, a simple one that can be summed up in a single word;
“ Stealth “
This absolute no-brainer from Sledgehammer Games has to be the worst thing that they could have included into a franchise already frantically scrabbling for a lifebelt in a sea of tumultuous turmoil. Cloaking players so that they are now invisible, thus allowing them to hide behind their new portable shield covered by hover grenades that detect movement, and protected by drones and every other piece of noob-friendly kit that they can carry to detect and destroy encroaching players, is just one casual pandering step too far.
NO game that has included stealth devices into their multiplayer format has ever lived to tell the tale. NONE!
It didn’t matter how good they were, how pretty they looked or how smooth the frame rates ran. Hell, even Crysis couldn’t pull it off and they were a self-confessed sci-fi shooter. The same can be said for Killzone So why Sledgehammer thought that this was to be the one thing that would make their game stand out from all of the other ‘military’ shooters is anyone’s guess?
The only thing that adding ‘stealth’ to the Call of Duty melting pot guarantee’s is a veritable flood of new players across to rival Battlefield. Let’s be honest, we would rather play Battlefield Hardline than a stealth based Call of Duty, and that’s saying something.
Call of Duty should have listened to the ‘gamers’ five titles ago. It did not. And now it will pay the heaviest of prices.
Rival publisher Electronic Arts must have been rubbing their hands with delight and laughing like school girls when they watched the Call of Duty gameplay event at e3 2014. They very nearly killed off Call of Duty, all but for a total lapse of reason during the Medal of Honour Tier 1 days. And if only they had realised that they had the perfect engine, outlook and format, albeit with a few tweaks to the gameplay such as removing the arcade stylings of the Tier 1 mode and making it the basis of the entire multiplayer instead, then they would have rang the death-knell for Call of Duty some years ago.
It would seem, however, that EA didn’t have too bother working too hard at pulling on the ropes, as the Call of Duty developers and publishers have enthusiastically rung it themselves.