How Battlefield 4 won my heart over Call of Duty: Ghosts

Battlefield 4 Screenshot - 1142601

Back in November, I posed the question "Has Battlefield finally beaten Call of Duty?" Admittedly, it may have been a bit premature, as both games were relatively new at the time, but it's a question that seems to arise every year. It's not necessarily always Battlefield versus CoD, but usually whatever the year's challenger is. For some reason, it seems the industry is eager to see Activision's odds-defying shooting lose its crown. But while the same question is asked every year, it's usually the same answer: Call of Duty remains the top dog. 

This year it's no different. Even in a down year (by typical Call of Duty standards), Ghosts has seemingly managed to outsell its challengers, namely EA's Battlefield 4 which was probably Activision's biggest threat. 

Keep in mind, this is based purely on perception and early numbers provided by both publishers as well NPD Group which revealed Ghosts to be November 2013's top-seller. The individual publishers have been mostly tight-lipped when it comes to revealing actual sales figures, with Activision being the only one to even provide a hint.  On November 6, the Call of Duty publisher boasted that Ghosts sold over $1 billion into retail in the first 24 hours; although. it's important to note that this figure does not represent actual sales of the game to consumers. It's also important to remember that any sales numbers reported by EA in terms of units sold should take into account the massive sales that have been held during the month of December; I mean, I purchased the game on PC for a mere $20 and this is only a few weeks after its launch. 

Point being, the only real thing that matters when it comes to crowning a victor in the eyes of publishers and investors is the amount each game earns. But for the rest of us, the gamers, there are far more factors: stability, gameplay, campaign and, most importantly, multiplayer and replayability. With both titles offering a Season Pass filled with content that'll last throughout the next year, it's important that each game hold your attention. And after owning both games, only one of them has been able to do that for me: Battlefield 4. 

Prior to this year, I'll be the first to admit that I was a an avid Call of Duty player. I was never pro-level, but I always leaned toward Call of Duty when it came to choosing one shooter to get at launch. This year was no different as I purchased Call of Duty: Ghosts first on PS4, while opting to later buy Battlefield 4 on PC for $20. Best $20 I ever spent.

Campaigns aside, Battlefield 4 has done a much better job holding my attention. In just about every multiplayer facet, I prefer Battlefield at this point. The key difference, and this all comes down to player preference, is how each game plays. Call of Duty has more of a fast-paced arcade feel to it. Battlefield, while not a hardcore sim, takes a much more methodical, slower approach. Each gun feels different -- some have insane kickback, others have better range, and things of that nature. Every weapon in Call of Duty feels the same to me.

Battlefield 4 levolution

Ghosts still feels smoother and more polished to me; Battlefield 4's mechanics on PC seem sluggish and clunky, though I should point out that I'm playing with a controller instead of typical mouse and keyboard (insert snarky comment). Maybe that's the reason I find myself on the losing end of most shootouts, or why I have particularly bad accuracy. Unfortunately, with all of the bugs plaguing Battlefield 4 since launch -- on all platforms -- I'll never really know. To DICE's credit, they are working to smooth things out, but it's impossible to ignore the problems many are having with Battlefield 4.

To that end, Ghosts is a better game; but, the funny thing is I'd still take a buggy Battlefield 4 over it. The overall feel of the game is just that much more enjoyable. Maybe I've changed as a gamer, but I enjoy the larger maps opposed to the smaller run-and-gun style of Ghosts. I like the addition of vehicles; it adds an entirely different layer to the gameplay. The amount of vehicles can sometimes get a bit overwhelming, but the various classes and weapon-types to counter these vehicles creates a complexity in the gameplay that I enjoy -- almost like a chess match between two teams. 

Speaking of teams, Battlefield 4 is a much more team-oriented game. The game removes the lone wolf approach by rewarding you for team-like behavior. Kill assists, spawning on teammates, assisting in blowing up vehicles, repairing vehicles, healing or resupplying teammates all earn you experience points -- it's not just about getting the killing blow. Even most of Battlefield 4's game modes encourage large scale team cooperation.

And, of course, Battlefield 4 has "Levolution," dynamic changes that each map will undergo based on player actions. In some maps, buildings will topple. In others, streets will flood. All of these can occur if players perform a specific action. Ghosts attempted to compete with Levolution with its own new dynamic map event mechanic and to its credit, it was a memorable experience when it first happened to me; but the amount of destruction in Ghosts isn't even comparable to what can be seen in Battlefield 4

Call of Duty: Ghosts isn't a bad game by any means, but I think I've outgrown it. I want more from my first-person shooters and Battlefield 4 delivers on that. The teamwork, vehicles, Levolution and sheer scope of Battlefield 4 makes for a more entertaining overall experience. When it comes down to it, my gameplay experiences are based on memorable moments and I've had many more with Battlefield 4 than I have with Call of Duty: Ghosts. The freedom -- the openness of its maps and gameplay -- allow for these special holy sh*t moments, and that's what keeps me coming back to Battlefield 4 despite my inability to achieve a 1:1 kill/death ratio.

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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