Friday, May 20, 2016

The Future be Damned, Bet on History!

For those who aren't interested in gaming (or have, but have been living under a rock for the last several weeks), there's quite a contrast out there between upcoming games for the Call of Duty franchise and the Battlefield franchise. I'll just leave the trailers for both games right here:


The makers of the game, Infinity Ward and Treyarch, are continuing to go with the future and science fiction even though they try to spin it differently. I'll be honest, the last Call of Duty game I purchased was Advanced Warfare (though I have played Black Ops III). Both were games that took place in the future, but not necessarily too far in the future. The latest installment, titled Infinite Warfare, is clearly way ahead in time with the addition of space battles and fighting on other planets (the clear highlights of the game). It would be foolish of me to ignore the obvious reaction:


Infinity Ward and Treyarch should be a little worried. There is a clear disapproval from the gaming community. Compare that to EA DICE's and Visceral Game's Battlefield: One trailer:


Rather than go hundreds of years into the future, we're being taken 100 years back to 1916 during the First World War. There are no spaceships and planets, but instead zeppelins and trenches. I'll be honest, I've never played a Battlefield game, but I'm aware of the Hardline series with the focus on law enforcement and Battlefield 4 taking place in a modern era. The new game with its very clever title goes back before World War II, which put both franchises on the map. That's one of the most important parts of the game to me. They aren't going back to the basics of where they got started, but a whole new direction. The response has been terrific:


So what's with all this dislike towards Infinite Warfare? I think it's mainly the setting. People love history and find it more fascinating than the future. Few games have come out about World War I, which in many ways was more significant than World War II. It's a clash of the old and the new. Armies at the time had access to modern industrial technology, but were trained with old tactics and wore outdated uniforms at the start. Monarchs and aristocrats led young men into the battlefields while fervors of nationalism and socialism boiled at home. It marked the end of the peaceful Edwardian era and started a gruesome conflict that would last for four long years, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I think many people today are curious about different periods in history. They don't just want to see film and read books about wars, they want to understand the true experience. Gaming has offered a simulation. It's as close as you're going to get unless a time machine is built.

People don't hate futuristic games or science fiction. Look at EA's Star Wars: Battlefront, Creative Assembly's Alien: Isolation, and Bethesda's Fallout 4. These games are widely popular, but I think there's an easy explanation for that. They come from franchises that are all about science fiction. Who doesn't know Star Wars? The Fallout series has been out for decades and gamers know that it features post-apocalyptic role play. Also, Fallout games don't come out on a yearly basis like Call of Duty does. I think there is one main argument you can make for the opposition to Infinite Warfare. In my view, gamers see too much science fiction, which I think is oversaturated with Call of Duty. Games about wars in the past take Battlefield back to its roots. History is the ultimate alternative to the future and there aren't many big franchise first person shooters on World War I.

In all fairness, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare might be a great game. It's not like no one is interested in it, although you can never be sure about sales with the anger in the gaming community. Erik Kain of Forbes posted a good article on the matter that I agree with. I don't think the reaction to the trailer was about how the gameplay will be. Rather, I think the dislike en masse was on what it is about. I think gamers have been longing for more historic shooters for a while. EA DICE and Visceral Games have answered that call. Activision and Infinity Ward have not.

Bibliography of Sources Linked Above

1. Hanson, Kyle. "CoD Infinite Warfare Is Not a Sci-Fi Game, It Is ‘First and Foremost a Call of Duty Game’ Says Infinity Ward." Attack of the Fanboy. Modern Media Group, 16 May 2016. Web. 20 May 2016.                         
2. Kratsch, Benjamin. "In the Battlefield 1 Trenches with DICE." Red Bull. Red Bull, 16 May 2016. Web. 20 May 2016.                         
3. Kain, Erik. "All This Crying Over 'Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare' Is Absurd." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 09 May 2016. Web. 20 May 2016.                         

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