Recently there has been some hubbub over Battlefield: Hardline (henceforth referred to as Hardline), with various leaks taking place. At E3 today (this post will go up on Wednesday in theory) we saw a good bit more of it. EA had a big presentation about it, with the news that a closed beta was open now, and people could go register for it. I didn’t bother, partly because I don’t think I have the time to get properly into it, partly because I don’t feel like messing with Origin which I assume it will require, and partly because it just doesn’t look like much.
I joked in a YouTube comment that it was no wonder they closed off modding in Battlefield 3 or 4, if this was the level of content they were planning on supplying. However it does look like a mod, a sentiment shared by the folks at PC Gamer, as seen below:
It is also rather reinforced by this straight gameplay footage, also from PC Gamer:
Other than voice acting, there is one aspect that this doesn’t share with mods: creativity. Mods usually shake up an existing game, rather than simply decorating it. The game appears to be symmetrical, with military grade everything. Really, it looks like Battlefield playing dress up, along with a wooden stock shotgun, taser, and what essentially seems to be one-flag CTF, but the flag is broken into smaller pieces. So with that said, let me put on my armchair designer hat, and take you on a wondrous tour/bulleted improvised list of what I would do with this theme: Continue reading
Things the genre has but only this franchise gets criticized for.
Individual release ignorance.
Misunderstandings of marketing schedules.
Double-standards for advertising.
Okay, I guess that is enough. It isn’t that Call of Duty isn’t worthy of critique or even lampooning, it has plenty of issues, its mechanics are far from perfect, its community leaves much to be desired, and it can be samey. But what of this separates it from similar games which get treated much more considerately? Dog puns and fish AI jokes? This is akin to reviewing Full Throttle on the basis of five o’clock shadow rather than the story. Ghosts has a rather different perk system, it has a strike package system, it has contextual leaning and smoother object traversal to keep the player flowing in a fight rather than going through clunky state changes. It has been stated the PC version is receiving higher quality assets than any of the console releases. Your character classes persist as AI while you are offline, earning XP which reduces the grind of the game. The single player abandons all safely established characters from the franchise, and yet none of this ever gets brought up. Instead people point and laugh at the action game having explosions and showing the most cinematic events in the trailer. Continue reading
It can be argued that the experience of a first person shooter is actually the act of being a sentient roaming gun. Though some 2nd Amendment debates would hold this is the case in reality, it could be more reasonably articulated that it is in many ways the case in games. On a technical level, often the player is just a bounding box with a weapon visible, perhaps some hands, and in multiplayer they are displayed as a character to other bounding boxes with a weapon visible. Metaphysically speaking, now that sounds fancy, the primary input with the game world in an FPS is simply shooting (particularly in the Quake franchise which centers its logic systems around damage or proximity) so obviously the gun at hand is a primary source of expression.
This however is greatly impacted by the inventory and spawning system of the game. In the Quake and Unreal franchises you spawn with a certain supply of weapons, and you find others in the environment. The weapons are expressions of discovery, what you have found, they represent exploration and knowledge. These weapons are also usually fairly distinct, sure they can be broken down by simply hitscan or projectiles, but no one is going to argue that Quake Live’s (and thus Quake 3’s) Plasma Gun and Rocket Launcher are particularly similar weapons. The weapons are intentionally as distinct as their location in a level and are designed to occupy a large range of design space within the scope of the mechanics. Continue reading
Not to say that thinking is a myth in a shooter, but rather that it is a myth that there is a special class of shooter which requires thinking as substantially distinct separation from other shooters.
I’ve been told many times that Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Bioshock, Battlefield, or any number of other games are “the thinking man’s shooters”, whether by fans or developers through implied statements, or direct marketing campaigns.
However this implies, as does the Half-Life advertisement above, that other shooters are comparatively simple. It does this by reducing the terms allowed to describe other games without reducing the terminology available to them. It does this by observing one game with a low resolution, and another with a higher resolution. Continue reading