My memory is hazy when I try to recall a time before the Call of Duty (CoD) – Battlefield rivalry. For years they followed similar trends, offering their own unique takes on the current shooter model. Discounting releases prior to CoD 4 (2007) the two franchises have largely shared the modern warfare banner, with CoD arguably deviating more than it’s competitor. Yet recently Battlefield and CoD have been steered in completely different directions giving rise to a huge amount of debate. More specifically my thoughts have been on the rivalry, and whether Dice have left CoD in the ballpark of the other futuristic shooters like Titanfall 2 to reforge a subgenre – the historical military FPS.
As a fan of both series I can sheepishly state that I’ve bought every CoD and Battlefield game since 2007. Therefore you can believe me when I say that they are completely different games. Campaign aside; the pacing, the scale, and the feel of gunplay is drastically different and seems generally to accommodate two separate fan bases. With the release of Battlefield 1 almost upon us, you can guarantee loyal Battlefield fans will have begun crafting their sick notes – nothing new there; but with the WW1 setting being so widely praised post-E3 by so many newcomers could this spell bad news for Activision and Infinity Ward?
A quick nosey around reveals that on 24th September US pre-order figures for Infinite Warfare exceeded those of Battlefield 1 (99,934 to 85,373) – a surprise for me at least since Battlefield 1 seems the clear ‘favourite son’ of the internet. We haven’t seen a huge amount of CoD promotion yet, but you can bet on there being an advertising storm around 21st October – the date which marks the UK release of Battlefield 1 and the beginning of the Infinite Warfare beta on Xbox One. It would seem competition for sales is as strong as ever.
Time and Money
We are going on the assumption that players will only buy one of the two titles. Since games cost around £50 most people can’t justify buying more than one, and with the demands of online play being theoretically ‘infinite’, a lot of gamers don’t have the time to play two multiplayer shooters (OK they both have campaigns, but c’mon who buys either for the campaign?!).
Its at this point I remind you of how different the two games are. The growing disparities mean that more than a handful of you will want to buy both; and some will instead be toying with the idea of dropping CoD for Titanfall 2 since they both occupy a similar gaming niche. The picture is bigger than CoD vs. Battlefield, because every FPS title is in furious competition. However my belief is that Battlefield has finally become something different by shedding the aged modern shooter skin, and in doing so has shouldered the competition in favour of pioneering a new FPS trend. Both games seem safe within their sub-genres for now, but with Titanfall 2 (ironically also from EA) putting pressure on CoD sales, it will be interesting to see how the FPS market develops in the coming years.
CoD and Battlefield have large dedicated fan bases, and with the creative direction of each growing different by year the relevance of their ultimate rivalry becomes blurred. To me it feels like the two are superpowers on separate sides of an ever expanding ocean – an ocean which is continually developing and forming new and exciting threats. The two companies may be in furious competition, but our options as FPS fans are expanding. It’s a good time to be a gamer.