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Gamers around the world
know that the crowning jewel of the Call of Duty franchise is the multiplayer.
It has not only been the reason why it is the most successful entertainment franchise
in history, but it has also contributed to transforming and molding the game industry ever since
the groundbreaking Call of Duty 4 was released in 2007. While there are a majority
of people that consider the franchise to be an epidemic that's degrading the quality
of many AAA games and negatively influencing the business practices of the game
industry's big publishers (and I can't say I disagree in some respects), no one
can or should deny the progress and evolution of the spectacular multiplayer
that Call of Duty boasts. However, as a long-time fan of the multiplayer, I'll
admit that it's gotten a bit stale over the years. Although there have been
signs of significant progress (such as the excellently revamped Create-a-Class
in Black Ops 2), I've found myself truly invested in the multiplayer for only a
couple of months, whereas I used to consistently play it until the next release
from Call of Duty 4 up until Modern Warfare 2. For the growing amount of gamers
like me in this situation, what needs to be accomplished to reinvigorate an
already excellent multiplayer formula with new ideas? That's an extremely
difficult question to answer.
A little over a week
ago, I discussed a couple of things Infinity Ward can do for the campaign of Call
of Duty: Ghosts that could rejuvenate this slowly waning franchise for
everyone. To my surprise, the Xbox One conference confirmed that a significant
number of my suggestions are indeed being addressed (better character
development, diverse environments, improved graphical fidelity, etc.). Although
I found the emphasis on canine companions to be a bit odd (albeit this has
potential to spice up the gameplay in interesting ways), color me more
impressed than I thought I would be!
Concept art for Ghosts...huh, this actually looks like it could be a great multiplayer map.
I was also shocked
to see a sneak peek at the multiplayer, which has always had separate reveals
from the campaigns as far as I know. Thankfully, not much was revealed to the
point where my suggestions on it would be irrelevant now. Only two major
additions to it were announced, so I will discuss them both later on (even
though one of them was one of my original suggestions). I will also be
addressing the third mode, which will include my thoughts on improving the
established Spec Ops mode and possibilities for a new mode. Let's go ahead and
1. An Interactive Create-a-Class System with Meticulous Customization
Medal of Honor:
Warfighter's multiplayer - despite being mediocre - has a customization system
called "My Solider" that I've always wanted to see in Call of Duty (albeit lengthy, this video shows it off). Instead of
providing pictorial visuals to navigate through weapons and what not,
Warfighter does this in a first person view. The soldier interacts with the equipment
the player chooses to select and (obviously) provides a 100% identical
perspective on how it will look on the battlefield. But why not take this a
step further? Instead of having to practice with configurations after creating
them in real or private matches, why not provide a training area to test
attachments and weapons that can be accessed instantaneously? Tom Clancy's
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier does this (as demonstrated by its impressive unveiling with Kinect), and with the little time I spent with
the multiplayer, I found it convenient to experiment with my classes on the
fly. Back to Warfighter, it also shows a group of soldiers that represent a
player's classes. Although customization in terms of armor and cosmetics is not
possible in this game, it will be in Ghosts (as confirmed by the Xbox One conference).
What's better is that it could take the same visual approach as Warfighter, but
with full 3D rotating of soldiers for easy customization. In fact, this is very
similar to what Black Ops did for its Create-a-Class system. Here's hoping that
Infinity Ward's take on it will be the snazziest and deepest one yet.
The amount of detail is staggering in Ghosts. Wouldn't it be cool to personalize guns like this one down to unique straps, iron sights, and even varying ways to reload?
How about the actual system itself? What could be altered to
further perfect it? Black Ops 2 already has a fantastic system that is one of
the greatest changes to the multiplayer formula, and I would like to see it
carried over to Ghosts. The "Pick 10" concept really shakes things up for
making classes. Two sniper rifles with a load of attachments and no perks? No
weapons at all with six perks? These options and countless others make Create-a-Class
a more personal, creative, and fun way to experiment with classes. I think
Ghosts should simply expand on this with an increase in options, such as a new
perk tier, more attachments, actual modifications to weapons that change all
sorts of stats, etc. When it comes to killstreaks, the only thing I would
change is that individual classes should have their own three (or perhaps four
due to a new perk?) killstreaks to choose from. Modern Warfare 3 got this
right, but Black Ops 2 did not. I'd love to see this return for Ghosts.
2. Desirable Challenges That Enhance Replay Value With Enticing Rewards
Call of Duty 4 and
Black Ops stick out in my mind when I think of multiplayer challenges. The
former has challenges for achieving a certain amount of headshots to acquire a
colorful variety of camos, which I remember feverishly striving for to earn.
The latter had daily challenges that rewarded players with "CoD Points" for
completing them in a specific timeframe. Both of these features should return for
Ghosts in their basic forms because were motivating goals that I enjoyed
pursuing. However, I've still ignored most of the challenges because they offer
nothing of importance to me. Each Call of Duty has had sections full of them to
complete for XP...that's simply not enough. If I'm going to extirpate, oh, say,
50 enemies by using a specific environmental hazard, I'm not doing that just
for an emblem/callsign and XP. How about a unique accessory for a specific
weapon/attachment or a new item to decorate my solider with (maybe even "limited
edition" items that can only be earned in a certain timeframe)? Let's imagine
something entirely different. What if there was a currency system specifically
designed for challenges that unlocked a plethora of items ranging in price and,
therefore, desirability? Earning all sorts of unlockables that convey worth and
certain statuses give something for players to aim for after going through all
the weapons and leveling up; it's a list of objectives that could be fun to
earn and talk about with friends.
As people say on the internet...TL;DR. Shouldn't these challenges have better payoffs?
3. A Few Creative, New Modes That Focus On Teamwork and Strategy
naturally connotes the concept that a person is to fend for themselves against
other opponents with the same objective. Unfortunately, this leaks on over to
team-based modes in plenty of games, and Call of Duty is a prime example. It's
not like I have always been trying to encourage this either. The multiplayer
can be easily played alone in almost every mode, so what can remove this roadblock
to cooperation? To be honest, I don't believe it can be done due to the
intrinsic 'lone-wolfness' of Call of Duty...but it can be improved to some
Not only is this
'lone-wolfness' natural to fall into, but encouraged as well. I'd rather play
solo than associate with the overwhelmingly immature, vulgar perverts that play
the multiplayer (with their incessant swearing, obscene profanities, and what
have you). However, there's the smaller amount of close-knit friends that want
to have a good time, work together, and make fun memories, and they're the kind
of people (such as me and my friends) that this point is aimed at. As for what
I have in mind, I'll firstly suggest something similar to Counterstrike's
"Hostage Rescue" mode, which charges one team with retrieving a group of
civilians held captive by the opposing team. What would make this unique in Ghosts is that the opposing
team keeps the hostages in a large building/area that they cannot leave.
Therefore, the rescuers must find a way to distract the other team from the
outside (where they spawn), infiltrate the building/area, and escort the
hostages back to base. However, every player only has one life, so playing
wisely is key. This could be viewed as a hybrid of Capture the Flag (strategy)
and Search and Destroy (nerve-wracking pressure). Another mode I'm interested
in is a "Capture the Leader" mode, which is well known from Gears of War. For
Call of Duty, I think the mode could be altered to be like this: both teams are
individually tasked with protecting one of their players (leaders) that has
slightly better armor, weapon damage, speed, and overall stats than his/her
teammates. However, if one of these leaders dies, it's game over (I can see
this lasting for four rounds in one game). This could result in some tense
moments, especially if respawns are timed (probably ranging from 5-10 seconds).
This would push players to stick together with their leader, but would also
force them to be strategic in how they attack their enemies.
More concept art from Ghosts. Come to think of it, stealthily swimming under water to surprise enemies would be a lot of fun in the multiplayer.
You can see the kind of
pattern I've established with modes I would enjoy seeing in the next Call of
Duty. Do you think the ones I've specifically addressed are appealing? Please
add to my thoughts with your own ideas in the comments!
4. Exciting Cutscenes to Begin Matches, End Matches, etc.
This is more of a
personal thing I'd like to have in the multiplayer. It's inconsequential in the
grand scheme of things, but rappelling down a rope from a helicopter; emerging
from a jungle, or even parachuting down from a mountainside would be neat
scenes to behold that play out while players wait for a match to start. And the
same goes for ending a match, which could go out with boarding a jeep while
fist bumping squad mates, riding away on motorcycles as a team blows the map up
with C4, etc. I understand this is a silly point to include, but it's
nevertheless something I've always wanted to happen before and after matches in
Call of Duty.
5. Interactive and Destructible Environments
I was originally
going to only talk about destructible environments, but the Xbox One conference
confirmed that multiplayer maps are going to have elements that allow players
to exploit their surroundings in creative ways. In the gameplay trailer, a hefty bundle of tree trunks on the side of a hill (assuming to be triggered by a player) came crashing down on anyone unfortunate enough to be below. What if a
player could set a wrecking ball loose on an abandoned construction site? Or
how about irritating a nest of killer wasps (by shooting or damaging it in some
way) as an enemy unsuspectingly walks by? Options like these make environments
more pivotal to the player; a map is no longer just a place to be on, but
partly becomes a weapon that can be used to someone's advantage. This, in turn,
could make the multiplayer of Ghosts a bit more immersive.
If this were to be a multiplayer map, I bet a lot of cataclysmic chaos would ensue.
environments could increase this immersion a tad more as well. Battlefield 3
proudly shows off that its engine is capable of this, so why should Ghosts be
an exception as a next-gen title? Wooden doors and concrete walls should
eventually give way to prolonged fire, which would force players to stay on
their toes at all times. Airstrikes and small explosives should weaken small
buildings or structures that alter the flow of a battle and mix things up in
unexpectedly new ways. Since Call of Duty's multiplayer maps are relatively
small, more chaos in this regard is exciting in prospect.
I know it may appear
morbid that I want gore in Ghosts, but let's contemplate on why I do before we
jump to the conclusion that I have a sadistic side. First: a question. What
happens when a grenade blows up under someone's feet, a 50-caliber bullet
penetrates through a skull, or a shotgun is fired at an arm at close range?
Well, the only logical conclusion is that the appendage or vital body part
being assaulted will either - so to speak - disintegrate into nothing or fly
right off. Strangely enough, World at War is the only Call of Duty to
incorporate gore like this. Sure, it's not necessary, but when an AC-130 rains
down missiles and bullets that can tear or obliterate a man into pieces in real
life, observing characters' bodies fall down completely intact (no matter how
they die) in every other Call of Duty is ridiculously incongruous to what
should be happening. I'm not advocating that the more gruesome violence there
is, the better the game is. What I'm saying is that it should be realistically
portrayed (but not to the point of being immaturely excessive) in a video game that's attempting to be realistic
in many ways. This is one area that's absolutely possible for Ghosts to add, and it's not like the developers haven't wanted to do it (Treyarch has specifically said that they've been limited by disk space). And
for those who are turned off by strong violence, then there should be an option to turn it off if possible. However, once again, this is an issue that doesn't really impact the multiplayer experience. It's simply
something I would like to see return for Ghosts.
That's all I got for the
multiplayer. I could certainly point out a couple more things, but what I've
covered already is what I've primarily been thinking about. This leads on to my
final thing to cover: the third mode. Ever since World at War, every subsequent
Call of Duty has had "Zombies" or "Spec Ops." The former is a massively
successful mode that became a surprise hit with Treyarch's games, and I haven't
gotten tired of it. The latter, while fun to play with friends in Modern
Warfare 2, lost its luster (specifically for me) in Modern Warfare 3. Although
this was dampened by the addition of the "Survival" mode, it wasn't enough to
keep me coming back. It felt like more of the same thing from the second game,
and I (including my friend) became disinterested in Spec Ops after the first
few missions. I'm hoping that Ghosts will not send players on more random
missions and uninspired survival quests this time around.
THE THIRD MODE:
1. Spec Ops Missions That Delve Into Campaign's Characters' Past
Missions With No Recycled Maps (For The Most Part)
If I'm going to play
an entirely separate mode from the campaign, I shouldn't expect a majority of
recycled places from it. It would be much more enjoyable to explore new areas
of locations I've already been to or entirely new environments. Unless the
reasoning behind a recycled area makes sense (such as playing as soldiers that
cleared out a building for the player in the campaign), there should be
different locations to traverse in Spec Ops. Some cutscenes that don't pull
away from the gameplay would be a nice addition to the quality of the missions
as well. And for good measure, why not tie some of them into the campaign's
story? Let's say a character recalls a battle he participated in with some sort
of emotional reaction in the campaign...wouldn't it be cool to play through it
later on in Spec Ops? Further delving into the past of the cast of Ghosts would
be far more interesting than playing as random soldiers pursuing an objective
for the sake of, well, explosions and stuff. And since the game takes place
after devastating events leave the USA in shambles, why not have some missions
that explain the story and explore the environments that precede the campaign?
There could be so much more meaning behind the game's content here than from
previous installments by Infinity Ward.
2. Four-Player Survival Mode With Large, Unique Maps, Equipment, and
Canonical/"What if?" Stories
In Part 1 of this
blog, I mentioned how the campaign has the potential to allow up to four
players to play together, which opens up the enticing opportunity for campaign
DLC. Imagine being able to go through this with a group of friends that not
only provides new locations and weapons, but even a story that could add to the
anticipation of waiting to see what happens next. If this were not to happen
(or, better yet, if it's additionally possible), I would also like a true
expansion on the survival mode introduced in Modern Warfare 3. Not two players,
but four. Not recycled maps from multiplayer, but unique ones designed
exclusively for this mode. Not random survival, but survival with a basic purpose,
or, in other words, a little backstory behind it. A "What If?" story that shows
an alternate timeline branching out from the campaign would be interesting
(revealed through dialogue and thorough analyzing of maps, like in Treyarch's
Zombies mode). Perhaps the story could be canonical...focusing on a completely
different squad of soldiers to show another side of the world that Infinity
Ward is creating for Ghosts.
In the post-apocalyptic setting for Ghosts, a survival mode would make a lot of sense.
3. A Mode Based on a Different Game Genre
Treyarch cleverly added
a shockingly good mode called "Dead Ops Arcade" to Black Ops, which is a
top-down shooter with waves of zombies to defeat. Once a certain amount of them
has been killed, the player(s) can progress to other areas and continue to
unlock special abilities, earn currency, and use special weapons along the way.
What if Ghosts had something eccentric like this? How about a 16-bit
side-scrolling shooter or a third person shooter? I'd easily welcome Call of
Duty in new forms like these as small modes. They'd sure be interesting
distractions from the main content of the game!
4. No Third Mode at All
This may seem like a
ridiculous or shallow point, but I honestly think this wouldn't be a bad idea.
After all, Call of Duty 4 only has two main modes (campaign and multiplayer),
and it still stands as one of the best games in the franchise. The reason why
is that - to use a cliché - quality trumps quantity. So, instead of the common
7-10 hour campaign for Ghosts, Infinity Ward could dump the third mode and
create a 15-18 hour-long campaign instead (thereby resolving one of the biggest
complaints about Call of Duty: the campaigns are way too short). More maps
could be made for the multiplayer and (hypothetically speaking) an effort could
be made to pump out substantial campaign DLC on a monthly basis. In
perspective, this point isn't as crazy as it might seem. This sacrifice could
make the other parts of Ghosts even better and hopefully worth the trade-off.
I hope you have
enjoyed my thoughts on the multiplayer and third mode for Call of Duty: Ghosts.
But enough from me; the multiplayer is a social experience, so what do my
fellow Gameinformer members want to see in it? Any particular modes, weapons,
mechanics, or changes you think would suit the game best? What about the third
mode? Would you like to see the return of Spec Ops, something completely
different, or maybe even nothing (in exchange for more depth in the campaign
and multiplayer)? Post a comment below with your ideas, and thank you for
reading the second and final part of this blog!