It's a debate as old as time itself: Call of Duty or Battlefield? It's a question that has sparked so much heated debate in the online gaming community that most chat rooms and message boards turn poisonous after only a few posts. Rivaling only the console wars, the question of Call of Duty or Battlefield has separated gamers since the series' inductions in the early 2000s. These two franchises have created two passionate camps of fans that swear by their selected franchise and can provide a laundry list of reasons as to why they play the superior first person shooter. Unfortunately, one of those camps is living a lie.
Now, before we get started and I start receiving death threats, let me make one thing clear: this is a matter of taste. You can play any game you want if you enjoy it. Your tastes and opinions are what dictates your life and when it comes to video games, every gamer has the right to enjoy themselves in whatever way they wish, (as long as its not hacking or software piracy).
Now that we cleared that up, Call of Duty sucks. Hear me out! I don't mean that you shouldn't play it, I just mean that it's inferior to Battlefield in a lot of ways. Don't believe me? Well, I've come up with a few reasons why you're obviously wrong. So, jump into the tail gunner seat while I fire up the biplane, let's get started!
The Call of Duty series started in World War II all the way back in 2003 on PCs, slowly gaining momentum and finding its way onto virtually every console and operating system in the known world. Its resounding success in the current day can be traced to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Featuring a selection of weapons that were considered modern to the past installments in the series, the franchise’s weaponry has only gotten more modern, and with the latest installment, futuristic. Personally, this is not to my liking. Any artist can sit around and draft designs of some futuristic shotgun that fires grenades and electrified proximity mines. In this day and age, that’s lazy. Its been done countless times, by every nickel and dime FPS on the market.
I believe that it takes more effort to research the weapons of a period and be surprised by the variety of them that were used, but are generally unknown to your common gamer, and to get those weapons right is a larger achievement. The battlefield series has done that most prolifically with its newest installment Battlefield 1. For instance, I knew that The Great War had the first widespread use of heavy machine guns, but I did not know that all sides implemented some of the first submachine guns on all sides as well, in addition to all the crazy rifles and explosives.
The maps in the Battlefield series have always been superior to that of Call of Duty. The scope, variety, and general design of the Battlefield maps are so smartly constructed that they allow for pulse pounding fun for veteran and amateur players alike. Snowy mountain ridges serve as perfect nests for stationary snipers, sloping valleys set the stage as a no man's land where infantry exchange fire and grenades, all while tanks and plane's bombing runs level the burning villages below to rubble.
Even in the previous Battlefield titles that mirror Call of Duty, say Battlefield 3 for instance, do modern, smaller maps better than Call of Duty ever did. Seine Crossing is an excellent combination of tight alleyways, wide-open cobblestone streets, and claustrophobic stairwells that make every player’s play-style a crucial asset. At the opposite polarity, massive maps like Caspian Border offer a sprawling forest and scattered military structures that serve as excellent battlegrounds for vehicles and infantry firefights alike. Call of Duty has never come close to the depth achieved in these maps, even those in the older Battlefield entries.
13 Single Player Campaign
Considering that the Battlefield series started with Battlefield 1942, a strictly multiplayer offering, save for playing the online maps with bots, Call of Duty’s campaigns used to keep me occupied for hours. The first few Call of Duty games had excellent single player campaigns with historically accurate, action packed set pieces and fun, tense shooting gallery segments. They also featured a few vehicle levels, but nothing like the recent Battlefield vehicle levels—in Call of Duty you were usually riding shotgun and mowing down Nazis while an NPC drove from point A to point B. In the past few years, this has changed however.
Call of Duty has become more and more outlandish in its attempts to appeal to a single player oriented gamer with over the top set pieces, ridiculously nonsensical storylines, and that damn “press x to pay respects” debacle that the series will never live down. Battlefields campaigns have, for the most part, also been pretty outlandish, save for Battlefield 1. I believe that the latest Battlefield installment has been the first FPS to take a realistic approach to the reality of war: it is an awful and brutal thing. With the diversity in level structure, including well-designed stealth missions and vehicle chapters, Battlefield 1’s single player campaign is leaps and bounds above anything else on the market.
Online multiplayer shooters are usually competitive, with the exception of a few games modes that have you facing hordes, such as Call of Duty’s trademark zombie mode. With competition, especially in online gaming, come toxic players. Players that spam mics, team kill, block doorways, and trash talk like drunken sailors. Honestly, who knew that your twelve your old neighbor had such a colorfully vulgar vocabulary? Despite this usual stigma of online companions, in my experience, the Battlefield games are the exception.
Considering that most vehicles operate better with two or more players, teamwork becomes a crucial part of racking up the kills. In addition, the class based system in the Battlefield games means that most players aren’t outfitted to be one man wrecking crews; teamwork is required to successfully hold control points or turn the tide of opposing players. You won’t find one elite player bunny hopping around the map, akimbo firing machine guns and calling in air strikes. Because the Battlefield games reward you with points for helping your teammates, like reviving as a medic or resupplying ammo as a supply class, your teammates actually become just that, teammates. It beats having a twelve year old with a mouth full of Doritos scream at you for being a noob.
Aside from the standard quick slap with the butt of your gun or a knife, melee attacks are usually the under represented aspect of most first person shooters. They’re a good way to finish an opponent off while you reload, don’t have time to switch to your side arm, or you just come into close quarters combat quicker than you expected. A few first person shooters of the day have animated their melee kills a bit, like having you slip an opponent over and stab them. Battlefield 1 has, once again, made an example that other first person shooters would be wise to follow.
Players now get a choice of melee weapons—including hatchets, shovels, and clubs—to bludgeon and slice their enemies with. Stealth melee kills will play out in quick animations that are brutal and satisfying, and each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, adding a depth not seen in first person shooter melee weapons before. Battlefield 1 also introduced the concept of having a bayonet fixed to the end of your weapon and being able to dash at your enemy in a frenzied charge. Landing a bayonet charge on an enemy results in a one hit kill, making melee attacks a viable option for the first time, in a long time in modern first person shooters.
It’s rare to find a game these days, especially a first person shooter, that doesn’t have responsive shooting. Considering a game in the genre’s success is how fun it makes it to shoot things, if it’s lacking, there is no hope. Not to imply that Call of Duty doesn’t make it fun to shoot things, to the contrary, Call of Duty’s shooting is some of the best on PCs and consoles. But with the last couple installments, I found that the Battlefield series has come out ahead.
Shooting feels slick and grounded, as compared to Call of Duty’s more arcade reminiscent dual wielding and wall running. Battlefield makes vehicles accessible to control and tough to master, but they’re always a blast to fire a few rounds into the carnage of battle. And the tools of war in the Battlefield series always seem to have such a gravity to them, a real feeling of power when you’re firing even the smallest weapon. I find that too often in Call of Duty I’m just firing the same re-skinned peashooter, leaving the weapons feeling lacking and the shooting feeling like more of a slog than a good time.
If there is one thing that has always stuck out to me about the Battlefield series, it’s the sound. They’ve always done a fantastic job making it seem like I’m actually in the moment, whether it’s the furious cackle of a heavy machinegun or the subwoofer-rattling boom of artillery touching down nearby, the Battlefield series has always done sound right. The eerie quiet of a helicopter cockpit as you and a copilot hover over a control point in conquest, the thundering sprint of an entire unit dashing through the trenches, or the sizzling snap of bullets flying by your head from an unseen sniper; the incredible sound design for every facet of the Battlefield games has always been a standout point in the series. While the Call of Duty franchise might also have decent sound design, it just doesn’t stick the same way Battlefield’s booms and bangs seem to.
Battlefield 1 is dripping with atmosphere: trenches are soaked, muddy, and filled with wounded soldiers. Tiny, remote villages sit silently, waiting for the first shots of an intense firefight to fly. Tanks traverse eerily quiet fields; the tension building before the first shell comes sailing from an unseen enemy. Your fellow soldiers are as hopeless and destitute as you, and their stories are often tragic, their deaths abrupt and meaningless. Battlefield 1 does a great job portraying the hopelessness of war to the player, not only through excellent cut scenes, but through the gameplay and missions themselves, and the dialogue you share with NPCs during the course of those missions.
Even the tutorial in Battlefield 1 sets the tone for the game, as you switch through a cast of characters who are futilely holding against advancing enemy forces and eventually cut down. Plus, Battlefield 4’s single player campaign had Michael K. Williams as one of your squad mates. Any game that lets me play beside Omar Little from The Wire is always going to be superior in my eyes.
7 Multiplayer Modes
When it comes to online multiplayer shooters, there are game modes that are the standard in this day and age. Deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag…you know the rest. Essentially, kill as many guys as possible and maybe grab an objective and deliver it to your base. There are deviations on this, like Counter Strike’s bomb disposal mode or even cooperative modes like Call of Duty’s zombies. While these are loads of fun in their own way, when it comes to competitive multiplayer modes, Battlefield takes the cake.
First introducing Conquest mode in the original Battlefield 1942, the opposing teams are tasked with capturing and controlling points over a massive map using a variety of tactics and vehicles. In the newest installment, Battlefield 1 introduced a handful of fresh new modes like Operations, an extended Conquest game over multiple maps, and War Pigeons, where you must secure and release a pigeon to call in artillery on the opposing team. Modes like this help to freshen up the stale multiplayer modes that have become the norm for so many, especially the Call of Duty series.
Any gamer that has played an online first person shooter for more than five minutes will know the value, and frustration, of sniping. Sniping can provide invaluable protection for teammates moving all the way across the map or can give a player an immediate advantage over adversaries as their effective range to put down an opponent is increased. Online multiplayer games are generally the land of no scopes and quick, impossible shots that topple enemies with one round. Battlefield approaches sniping a bit differently. Bullets are slow and powerful; you can watch your round travel across the map before hitting dirt or, if you’re lucky, an enemy head.
There are a variety of scopes and sniper rifle types that will drastically change they way you snipe. Players have to compensate for bullet drop, meaning that rounds travel on an arc at distance, requiring true skill to land a headshot from across the map. Counter sniping is a tense game of cat and mouse as you try and land the first headshot, planting decoys and stealthily changing your position. Even though it’s a matter of taste, I’d rather behave like a real sniper, posting up and landing that sweet, sweet headshot, as opposed to jumping around the map and blasting away at random.
Realism in video games is something that can make a video game more enjoyable by providing exciting and historically accurate battles, weapons, and set pieces, or it can make them incredibly dry to the point of taking themselves too seriously. Video games that are able to pull the veil of realism over the player's eyes while still keeping the gameplay tight and fun are rare but the Battlefield series seems to pull it off with ease. Weapons are meticulously researched and crafted for an authentic in-game experience of firing them. The sounds and interiors of vehicles are composed exactly as their real life counterparts, making it the closest I will ever be to riding in a massive tank or spitting rounds out of a mounted machine gun on the tail of a biplane.
Trenches are muddy and pockmarked with artillery and small villages sport shops and homes that can all be used as cover. Although the Call of Duty franchise started out with realistic ambitions, with the first games taking place in real theaters of World War II and the later installments taking on modern battlefields, they’ve recently lost touch. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has you blasting people in space for God’s sake.
Another standout feature of Battlefield's online multiplayer is the class system. Cited as being too restrictive by some players, I think that the class system is an excellent way to break up the monotony of online first person shooters. I know that Battlefield is in no way the first FPS to add classes to its online component, but few do such a good job with implementing it. Every class has its own set of tools and weapons. This means that instead of allowing players to turn their online presence into an unstoppable tank, they need to learn the strengths and limitations of each class and see what works best for them.
Some weapons shine more than others, but it’s very difficult to become a powerhouse in the Battlefield games. The weapon selection and abilities of each class has been thought out, so no one is ever going to become a juggernaut. It also forces players to break out of their comfort zone of the play styles that are ingrained in their fingers. Not only does this make the game more fun to play and succeed in, it also makes it a more fair and enjoyable experience for everyone.
The environments in the Call of Duty multiplayer maps are stagnant; they may get cosmetic blemishes in the form of bullet holes and scorch marks, but a door is a door, a window a window. The environments stay the same so that the game quickly loses its fun factor; what’s the fun in playing against someone who spends 17 hours a day online and knows every bottleneck and shadowy corner to gank you from? That’s why Battlefield’s destruction plays such a large part of why it’s a superior series.
Have a high level sniper that you can’t get a bead on? Call in one of your teammates to blast their perch out of existence with a tank. Half the enemy team stacked in a house that you can’t clear out? Throw some explosive charges on the foundation and bring the house down on them. The destruction in the Battlefield games means that no two matches are going to be the same; no matter where your enemy wants to hide, there is almost certainly a way to smoke them out. And if that doesn’t work, you can always turn their hidey-hole into rubble instead.
It seems like every time you turn around a new Call of Duty is coming out or has been announced, and I feel like that has really started to show. I know that when something isn’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. That does not excuse laziness and recycling the same game with new paint every year or two. As I stated, I realize that the Call of Duty formula is a working one: it’s fun and addictive to play. But when you can’t start telling the difference between games, whether it’s the bare bones single player campaign, the exact same multiplayer as a previous installment, or the feeling that you just paid full price for a fresh can of paint, that’s a problem.
A new Call of Duty has been released every year since 2005. How does that leave any room for innovation? How does a developer have time to blink when they’re already working on churning out the next installment? Battlefield games usually have somewhere around a three year gap between major installments and it shows. The detail and time put into the Battlefield games means that every time you’re dropping top dollar, you can expect to have a new, polished experience.
This seems to be kind of a given when comparing the two, but I still can’t emphasize enough how much the vehicles really add to the Battlefield series. Apart from the time that you’re given piloting numerous vehicles in the single player campaign—especially the tank and plane missions in Battlefield 1—vehicles have been making Battlefield’s multiplayer truly standout from the first installment. Helicopters, boats, tanks, motorcycles, horses…if its been used in warfare at some point, chances are you can drive it with your buddies in a Battlefield game.
Aside from the obvious appeal of piloting a lumbering, heavily armored tank or an agile, death dealing helicopter; they’re just fun. Some of the best times I’ve ever had in a game have been piloting or riding shotgun in a Battlefield vehicle. You can buy any first person shooter on the market and have firefights online; only in Battlefield can you be in the middle of said firefight before a tank shell brings the house down on top of your head.