Call of Duty is one of the, if not the, biggest game of the current generation. Since the dawn of the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, the series has gone from strength to strength, gaining more and more fans along the way. Every year like clockwork, a new Call of Duty game gets released and every year like clockwork, the games break through the $1 billion revenue ceiling. However, rumblings of discontent with the series have now grown into full-on shouting. Many feel the series has failed to move forward. With next generation upon us, the newest entry, Ghosts from Infinity Ward will bring around changes to the franchise which many have been waiting for. But are they all really changes that we haven’t seen before in a Call of Duty game?
The first feature that caught my eye was the “Squad Points” system. Essentially, this system boils down to points that you earn from playing the multiplayer modes on offer. These allow you to buy equipment, perks and new weapons in the order that you want, unlocking your choice of loadout without being bogged down with the generic progression XP system of old. It all sounds pretty good and would be revolutionary for the series if a similar system hadn’t been tested out on Black Ops, the game from the other COD developers Treyarch. Ever heard of COD points? Maybe not as they were ditched after one game. COD points were earned through contracts (challenges for the player to accept in a certain number of games), wager matches (arcade style games which let players bet their COD Points against others) among other routes. These were then used to buy weapons, attachments, perks and player customization. You didn’t have to buy all the weapons or buy each and every perk. You do it at your pace choosing your favourites. While the progression system was still in place in Black Ops 2, there was no pressure to buy a specific item. Just like this “new” feature. Sounds pretty similar, no? COD Points was dropped immediately after Black Ops and had not been revived for future games. It seems that COD Points have been renamed Squad Points.
Another feature that seems to have been directly influenced by Black Ops is the Dynamic Map Events. These are “player triggered traps… map-changing events that allow gamers to strategically redirect the action and transform the map to deliver new levels of strategy and gameplay.” While they will almost certainly be more fleshed out, it is wrong to assume that they have never been seen before in the franchise. Black Ops featured maps such as Radiation, where a large portion of the ground would open up or close when players pressed a button on one side of the map to reveal an objective or another route through the map that goes underground; Launch, where during the match a rocket would launch, incinerating anyone who was unlucky enough to have been running under it or who had been capturing the fag that was conveniently placed there and Firing Range, a map where cardboard targets would move across the field of vision in certain places, making it difficult to shoot through windows or fire towards enemies effectively. These features certainly seem to alter the strategy of gameplay, wouldn’t you say? That was just a handful of the maps with dynamic events, in Black Ops and even in Black Ops 2, last year’s Call of Duty entry, there were some additional ones.
A new weapon class that has been added to the game is the Marksman Rifle class. These are basically Sniper Rifles with no scopes. According to Infinity Ward, they are a midway point between the Sniper Rifle class and the Assault Rifle Class. While this is a very cool addition to the already varied weapons that already appear in Infinity Ward’s games, it sounds an awful lot like the rifles from the Call of Duty games of old, World War II style. Guns such as the Kar98k or the Mosin-Nagant which were capable of long and mid-range combat without necessarily needing a scope. These kinds of weapons were not available in non-scoped versions for multiplayer before Ghosts but it seems like an obvious choice to have them in previously and it is a wonder that they haven’t been. It is less of an improvement and more of a “finally” feeling to the announcement. Zombies mode can use them but not multiplayer? OK then!
Features like the new Create-a-Class system and the re-organization of the perks available, seem like incremental upgrades rather than new ideas. We already have Create-a-Class and the addition of customization to your soldier seems like something that is playing catch-up a little bit. Is ten classes of soldiers and different than the ten classes we had in every other installment? Barely. Is making perks look more organized a step forward for the series? Well, going by the use of points to make up a “budget” for your perks was used before and is far from revolutionary. Black Ops 2 used the “Pick 10″ system for the entire class, using one allocation point for each item. Ghosts’ perk system bases the points off of how much damage they do up to a certain number.
All this similarity begs the question: Is Call of Duty: Ghosts really a next generation game? New generations tend to bring new IPs and extra effort from developers for their game to be noticed in all of those lovely launch games. It seems as if Ghosts wants to recycle the old and pass it off as the new which is something against what next generation stands for.