Gamers always love a good war between developers and publishers. Who could forget such moments as the battle between Sega and Nintendo in the early 90’s, culminating in the infamous slogan ‘Sega does what Nintendon’t’. Jumping forward to 2011, a similar war of words is underway between EA and Activision, with the companies dueling over the launches of the latest entries in their hugely popular online FPS franchises.
EA have been nothing but explicitly outward in their attack of Infinity Ward’s blockbuster franchise. Earlier in the year, EA boss John Riccitiello accused the series of jumping the shark as well as actually saying he wanted the series to “Rot from the core”. Along with mocking the new subscription Elite service, it was embarrassingly discovered recently that the domain name Modernwafare3.com was directing to EA’s own Battlefield site.
Activision on the other hand have been a lot more laid back, probably down to the fact that words won’t change the fact that their game will break records once again. Despite some minor digs at Battlefield’s 30fps engine compared to their 60fps, Activision hasn’t been particularly scared about any possible contender to the throne.
Infinity Ward’s Robert Bowling has even said he’ll be buying Battlefield 3 on launch day, arguing that real gamers should just buy both of the two very different games. After everything that’s been said, this simple statement holds the most truth.
EA must be aware that they are fighting something of a losing battle. The pre-orders for Call of Duty are significantly ahead, continuing to be an unstoppable force in the gaming industry. Accusations of MW3’s lack of reinvention won’t stop the game selling millions of copies. Therefore a stance of offering something different instead of something better would probably do more favors for EA than directly waging war on its rival.
It’s a definite fact that both games will offer extremely different gameplay and their own reasons to gain the attention of gamers. It’s not so much a question of which game will be the best, but more what kind of experience players are looking for when the two major titles launch later this year.
For anyone in doubt, here’s a quick guide to the multiplayer component of each game, as well as the main things you need to know.
Launch date: 28th October
One of Battlefield’s unique selling points is its amazingly detailed destruction engine, Frostbite. Now in its second incarnation, the engine allows players to destroy buildings, crumble walls and realistically alter the environment. Dice have promised to take this to a whole new level in Battlefield 3, with the first multiplayer trailer highlighting the way the environment can alter the game.
This emphasis on destruction is no mere gimmick but something which can truly alter how players defeat the opposing team. Is a sniper spending the entire game camping in the upper floor of a house? Simply take out the entire side of the building with a rocket or grenade to turn him into a sitting duck.
Huge and Varied Maps
While Call of Duty’s maps are small and contained, Battlefield is all about huge and expansive environments to give the player a more realistic experience. This results in the series being much more immersive than other online shooters. Also, due to the sheer scale of the maps, they are endlessly repayable. Each match will allow players to discover new areas and strategic points, altering the way they play the game. Battlefield 3 will continue this trend, with maps set within Paris, New York and Tehran. The first previewed map ‘Operation Metro’ showcases a variety of outdoor, indoor and underground locations.
Absent from Call of Duty, Battlefield’s huge maps require players to use vehicles to get around them by land, sea or air. In Battlefield 3, not only will the usual vehicles such as tanks, buggies and helicopters be available to players but Dice have implemented Fighter Jets. No one is quite sure how these will affect gameplay, but as usual, players can expect a steep learning curve to ensure overpowered vehicles cannot dominate the game. Dice have also revealed that vehicles now regenerate a small amount of health.
Team-play is Crucial
Much like previous entries in the series, those going into Battlefield 3 looking for something fast paced and easily accessible will likely be disappointed. Whilst experienced players can just about hold their own, the best results come from working as a team or squad of friends. Not only is it key to staying alive for any sustained amount of time, but working as a team in Battlefield is an intensely satisfying and unrivaled experience.
Players can work together to take down an enemy tank, heal wounded team mates or provide ammo. All of these actions are considered as important as kills, meaning even players who perform poorly in combat can make the difference between victory and defeat. In Battlefield 3, squad types have been revamped and redefined, such as the ability for Assault soldiers to heal other players.
Strong Downloadable Content from Launch Day
While Activision are frequently hounded over their expensive and minimal map packs, previous Battlefield games have offered not only free add-ons packs, but also paid DLC which represents great value. Take last years Vietnam add-on for Bad Company 2. Not simply an additional set of maps but a whole new era in which to play. It included five areas with new vehicles, weapons and an excellent 49 song soundtrack. This whole new experience was delivered to players at the same price as a single Call of Duty map pack.
Battlefield 3 looks to be continuing this trend, launching with a free add-on pack titled Back to Karkland for those who pre-order the game. This bonus pack has been compared to Vietnam, offering its own contained experience outside of the other multiplayer modes. The pack features revamped versions of classic Battlefield 2 maps including Wake Island and Gulf of Oman as well as specific weapons and vehicles.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Launch date: 8th November
Relentlessly Fast Paced and Exciting Action
Lacking the destruction of Battlefield, Call of Duty instead offers a more fast-paced and quick multiplayer experience. Activision are unphased by EA’s frostbite engine, standing proudly behind their smooth 60fps visuals. This makes the multiplayer a faster and more fluid experience compared to the slower and tactical gameplay of Battlefield. Call of Duty is all about immediately jumping into action and fighting for the highest score.
While many have criticized the decision for Modern Warfare 3 to reuse the same engine from the previous games, you could quite easily argue if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Call of Duty continues to be the most successful gaming franchise of all time. The visuals might be dated, but it offers an addictive and proven formula which continues to be popular.
Whereas Battlefield makes players pick from a selection of classes and then customize their weapons, Call of Duty prides itself on the ability to customize your soldier from scratch. Weapons can be modded and given multiple attachments, and saved for the player to build their own set of unique and varied classes.
Players can also select kill streaks, which have been completely revamped to offer a much more balanced experience this time around. Little has been revealed about what kill streaks players can expect to find, but the controversial nuke from Modern Warfare 2 has been removed. Time will tell if Infinity Ward will refine the features introduced in Black Ops, such as highly customizable emblems and gun decals.
Multiple Game-modes and Maps
Call of Duty always features a vast array of maps and game types ranging from simple team Deathmatch, to the popular Demolition and Headquarters . Modern Warfare 3 will continue to give multiplayer gamers this range of modes, including some new ones yet to be revealed.
The multiplayer also appears to feature a more varied selection of maps this time around. Activision has yet to showcase any of the multiplayer gameplay in action, but has confirmed that the game will feature maps set in a variety of countries including England, France and Germany.
Survival Mode and Call Of Duty Elite
Two brand new additions to the series have been added to Modern Warfare 3. The first is Survival mode in which players will be able to co-operate to eliminate waves of AI controlled enemies. Available on all multiplayer maps for two players, it appears to be Infinity Wards attempt to emulate Treyarch’s hugely popular Zombies mode originated in Call of Duty: World at War.
Secondly there’s Call of Duty Elite. The new feature is the controversial idea to bring a paid subscription service to the series. It will offer extended stats and social networking to fans, allowing them to see a complete breakdown of their performance. Competitions and multiplayer leagues will also be available to players, as well as an exclusive web series. It’ll be interesting to see if this feature takes off, especially with Battlefield receiving a similar set of tools completely free of charge.
As a long time fan since the first game of the series, I’m most looking forward to Battlefield 3. I prefer the tactical gameplay and detailed engine over the fast paced corridor shooting style of Call of Duty. I still believe both franchises will offer something very different, and I look forward to playing both games later this year.
Which game are you most looking forward to ?
Do you feel gamers should be excited about both titles instead of siding with one or the other?
Battlefield 3 is released October 28th on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Call of Duty 3 is released November 8th on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.