Battlefield versus Modern Warfare, four words that sum up what has possibly been the biggest gaming story of the year so far. You can’t go onto a gaming website, blog or forum, open a magazine or even log into your chosen consoles online network without seeing a story about either Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3, and the mention of either one leads to a comments section ablaze with fans arguing which game is best, or with those of us wealthy enough to claim that the comparison doesn’t matter because you can just buy both.
So, in one corner you have the most successful first person shooter of all time, loved by millions and accused of being nothing more than a cut and paste job by the rest, it’s opponent this year? Battlefield 3, long awaited sequel to Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, the exiled king of the modern first person shooter.
Now I was a big Call of Duty fan, I played 1, 2 and 3 and I loved all of them but with Modern Warfare I felt somewhat betrayed, for me Call of Duty wasn’t done, it needed to show us the pacific side (like it did in World at War) and spread into the Cold War (as it did in Black Ops) before it stepped into the modern realm. Besides when Battlefield: Bad Company was released, for me, there was no point in making a first person shooter set in the present time, it just couldn’t hope to compete, this was only emphasised with the release of Bad Company 2. Even though Treyarch did what I wanted them to it wasn’t enough, they were too late and spent too much time copying Modern Warfare’s ideas and nothing could compete with the enjoyable nature of Bad Company’s single player or the online intensity of its multiplayer modes.
So now here we are, days away from the beginning of the competition between the two giants of modern warfare, both hell bent on defeating the other, but do they need to compete? Have they ever needed to compete? Isn’t Battlefield about large scale, vehicle based online warfare with a single player built on multiple approaches to situations whilst Modern Warfare is a series whose single player is dominated by intense set pieces and it’s multiplayer is ruled by fast paced action with a steady stream of rewards in the shape of new weapons, perks and kill streaks?
As a Battlefield fan I am worried, Bad Company’s single player was such a hit for me because of the openness of its missions and the destructibility of its environments, coupled with it’s awesome use of a variety of vehicles, and this meant that I played it nearly every day until the release of Bad Company 2, which again is keeping me entertained until I can get my hands on 3. It is because of this that the numerous reports on the linearity and set piece based nature of its single player are worrying me and the fact that the full blown destruction of Bad Company 2 is being replaced with the more moderate destruction found in the first Bad Company game.
Why are DICE doing this? Why change the things that define your game in a way that makes them worse than they used to be? Surely they should use the power of Frostbite 2 to enhance the destruction? Surely the single player, with its open approaches to each mission, should be made to be more open and more detailed than ever before? DICE can’t hope to compete with Modern Warfare, not now, the series has yet to begin its downfall, a downfall that is likely to begin with the release of Modern Warfare 3. DICE should keep improving upon the formula that it used in the Bad Company games and wait until Modern Warfare dies, then, and only then, will it achieve the commercial highs that Infinity Ward have reached with their series. If the reports of the changes they have made are true then they risk losing fans at a time when they could easily be gaining new ones, biding their time until Modern Warfare, and the Call of Duty franchise, inevitably implodes amid a sea of little more than mediocrity.