Why Call of Duty Will Never Die
IN THIS ARTICLE
- Logical analyses of a few video games.
- Witty points punctuated by mentally stirring illustration.
- The feverish ramblings of a life-time role-player whose eyes have been opened.
NOT IN THIS ARTICLE
- Cookies. Unless you have them turned on in your browser, but that's not my fault.
- The meaning of life, the universe and everything. (Spoilers: It's 42.)
- Mindless bashing of video games with little-to-no experience with said games.
Now before all of you Final Fantasy fanboys start raging about how Call of Duty is just the same, recycled crap game-in and game-out, just read the next line.
It's not an RPG.
What a lot of people don't realize is that Call of Duty isn't about what guns there are, what characters you can play as, or whatever. It's a tactical, competitive first-person shooter with one of the biggest non-RPG communities in the world. People play it, love it, and will keep buying it, so long as other people keep buying it. The beauty of it is that it's not some stupid herd mentality, as many people think. In fact, up until recently, I counted myself among those with that belief. But I did something that a lot of you CoD-haters have never done.
I sat down and played the freaking game.
I'm an RPG guy, personally. The Legend of Zelda was my first ever video game, my first Game boy game was Pokémon, and I have formulated more theories about Final Fantasy and all of its companion games than I thought was humanly possible. I cosplay, I play D&D, and I've been known to LARP a bit, too. So, trust me; I know all about blindly hating these shoot-em-up, "7-year-old-kids-pwning-your-face-up-your-rear" online shooters. In fact, whenever I play online games, at all, I hate PvP. Absolutely can't stand it. Warframe has Conclave PvP now, and it makes me sick. Minecraft servers are almost nothing BUT PvP, nowadays, and I want to cry whenever I see those RP servers with "Towny" in their list of plugins. I know your pain, Warriors of Light and Heroes of Time! I have lived your struggle!
But seriously: find a Call of Duty fanboy, and just sit down and watch them play. Don't talk to them. Don't ask any questions. And for gods' sake, DON'T try to warn them about something you THOUGHT you saw. That's a no-no, kids; no backseat spotting. Just watch them play for a good long while. Get a look at how they react when they win, how they rage when they lose, and all the small defeats and victories along the way. If you're open-minded enough, you'll eventually see something magical.
You know when you beat a boss in Final Fantasy and you're like, "YEAH. SUCK IT, DOOD. EAT MY VICTORY. YOU GOT OWNED." Call of Duty players do that when they get payback on the guy who's been wrecking them for the whole match. You know that feeling when you level up and you unlock the ability to equip that cool new weapon you've been wanting for gods know how long? Call of Duty players get that, too. You clear a dungeon, they win a match. You pull off that epic combo with your partymates, they pull off the epic two-pronged attack on the enemies with the highest rank. It really is no different, in that regard. And it is that reason, alone, that makes people keep buying Call of Duty; it's moments of huge triumph like these.
What it comes down to is this: watch the game a bit, then play it. Then continue to hate on it behind the backs of your friends with the "L337 5|<1LLZ". But if you keep an open mind about it, you'll learn a lot about why Call of Duty is such a successful series of video games.
Let me give you an example from my own personal experience. My sister and her boyfriend play Call of Duty: Ghosts. A lot, actually. I've been staying with him for a bit now, and, being an RPG aficionado, said that "they would never corrupt me to play that game with them". I now play it with them quite a lot, and most of the time, we have a ton of fun with it, even when we get utterly destroyed. (14 to 75 on Hardcore Team Deathmatch. Ouch.) One particular incident made me realize exactly why Infinity Ward can "get away with" releasing what at first seems like identical games with slightly different packaging.
The pair were playing Hardcore Team Deathmatch online using splitscreen on the Xbox 360 here. They left one lobby and ended up in a new one against a team made up of five clanmates and what appeared to be a sixth who was their friend. It was a clan against whom they had utterly failed in previous encounters, and they were all at least level 30 on their second prestige ranks. A daunting foe, to say the least, seeing as both of them were only level ~55 and their team had one prestige guy who left halfway through the match. The game stayed pretty close until the last two minutes. Suddenly, something clicked with my sister, and she started utterly devastating the other team. Shot after shot, kill after kill, the other team started falling apart at the seams. Her boyfriend very quickly got into the groove with her, and the pair of them picked their old foes apart like an esteemed Scottish chef picks apart bad cooking. The match ended with a grenade from the hand of my own dear sister, right into her favorite spot on the map, which had been loaded up with enough explosives to make the TF2 Demoman crap himself. The whole building lit up like a fireworks warehouse, ending the match in a glorious spray of fire, shrapnel, and soiled pride.
Now why would I go into such detail describing this situation? Well, it's not the situation, itself, that makes my point; it's the aftermath. I have never in my life seen someone so happy, let alone the pair of them in front of me cheering, whooping, and damn near CRYING with joy. A seemingly unbeatable team of super-pro controller warriors, brought low by a pair whom they had previously dominated on the very same map. It was a thing of beauty, seeing their excitement and witnessing their triumphant jubilation at this, their greatest victory.
And this, my friends, is called "the promise of victory".
But surely that can't be the only reason why people keep buying these games, right? I mean, so much more of the time spent playing these "games" is spent raging and screaming at your screen! There must be something else that keeps drawing people back to the same crap, game after game... Right?
Yes, actually. There is one more thing. It's a little thing called "graphics". If you look at the very first Call of Duty game, what do you see? Pixely textures, clunky animations, easily-exploited systems... The list goes on. Take a look at Ghosts, now. The graphics are clean, for the most part, the animations are much more fluid and believable, and the controls and game systems are immensely tighter and more responsive. Each game in the series isn't so much a "new game" as it's a paid-for patch for the old ones. With each game, you get higher quality graphics, more in-depth systems, and more stable gameplay. While I still think that anything more than $30 is flat-out robbery for this kind of thing, I can definitely see why people keep buying it: it lasts a while, and is always something you can come back to, should you want. You pay $60 not for the game, itself, but the months and years that you keep it. For every glorious victory and every shattering defeat. For every well-earned kill and every "OMFGWTFBBQ HOW DID HE EVEN HAX WTF" moment.
So stop looking at Call of Duty fans and question their reasoning for buying "the same game over and over", my fellow adventurers and role-players... And start wondering when Square Enix is going to stop botching every game they make outside of Kingdom Hearts and Deus Ex.
- 2br02b, 2014
David Underwood is a freelance writer and video game buff. He makes YouTube videos with reviews, comedy, and commentary. Check out his stuff at www.youtube.com/user/TheClarosVita and his favorite content from around YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/FlamestrikeEntertain.