With all focus on the console war between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it's easy to forget about another battle on the first-person shooter front. Call of Duty: Ghosts versus Battlefield 4. The two blockbuster shooters are back, taking the fight to next-gen consoles.
I'm sure you all remember the great debate from 2011 – when the internet was abuzz with comparisons of Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. Even the developers took shots at each other. The war of words between Activision/Treyarch and EA/DICE certainly did drum up some hype – enough hype that both games went on to sell incredibly well. It doesn't matter that we didn't have a “winner.” Or did we?
Regardless, we're now gearing up for what is sure to be another big year for both franchises. After a year off, both Infinity Ward and DICE are back working on their respective games. Infinity Ward is ditching the whole “Modern Warfare” subseries and is starting fresh with Ghosts. DICE, meanwhile, is looking to improve upon 2011's entry – both in terms of campaign and multiplayer.
So how do the two games – Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 – stack up against each other thus far? Let the first shots be fired.
Call of Duty: Ghosts vs. Battlefield 4
A renewed focus on story
For as popular as multiplayer is in both Call of Duty and Battlefield, you'd think it'd be easy for Infinity Ward and DICE to just ditch the single-player campaign entirely in their respective games and focus their effort entirely on multiplayer, the same thing Respawn is doing with Titanfall. Would you really miss the needlessly over-the-top action sequences and predictable plotlines?
Activison certainly thinks you would. The publisher has gone out of its way to sign on Academy Award-winner Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) as scriptwriter for Ghosts. Yes, the initial reveal trailer was still filled with “shocking” explosions, but there was a certain emotional appeal that CoD games of the past have forgotten about.
And let's not forget about the dog, Riley. You know Activision will use that damn dog to tug at our heartstrings.
Like Activision, DICE approached Battlefield 4's reveal with a similar focus on the game's single-player campaign. But unlike the Ghosts reveal, much of the Battlefield 4 demo was dedicated to the game's stunning visuals and explosive gameplay. There was less emphasis on narrative with Battlefield 4 and more focus on the technical aspects of the game – the collapsing buildings, the shaders, the way the light shines through the holes in the walls. That's not to say there was no emotion, though. I recall one part where you had to sever the leg of a pinned squadmate.
Activision has been unusually quiet with Ghosts' multiplayer. E3 would've been a perfect time to roll out any new or innovative features, but Infinity Ward chose to show off more of Riley. While seeing the dog perform a reverse breach was entertaining as hell, I find myself questioning whether Ghosts can deliver a next-gen multiplayer experience or if it will merely ride the coattails of this current gen.
DICE took a different approach, saving its multiplayer reveal for E3. During EA's press conference, DICE showed off 64-player multiplayer on next-gen consoles. It was certainly a sight to behold seeing 64 players all on-stage playing the game at once. Then they let us go hands-on with the multiplayer so we could feel what the intensity of 64 players in one match was like on consoles. Huge maps, stunning graphics, action-packed multiplayer gameplay, and Levolution – oh, and the return of Commander mode AND a new spectator mode.
Yes sir, Battlefield 4's multiplayer sure looks promising, but I'm still holding out to see what Infinity Ward has to offer.
Dat next-gen look and feel
As I mentioned before, the fight is being taken to next-gen. Both Ghosts and Battlefield 4 will be next-gen titles, available for Xbox One and PS4. Furthermore, both will have some sort of timed exclusive content on the Xbox One. Will this help Battlefield 4 steal some of that Xbox market share from CoD?
A lot of the will come down to how each game looks on next-gen consoles. Battlefield 3's Frostbite 2 engine was simply magnificent. DICE is looking to kick it up a notch with Frostbite 3 in Battlefield 4. Yes, Ghosts has those perfectly rounded scopes with Sub-D technology and impressive underwater effects, but the engine just looks dated. There's still the dreary grays and neutral tones in Ghosts whereas BF4 makes use of brighter, more vibrant environments. I suppose it's all preference, but I like a little more color.
Frostbite 3, meanwhile, allows for Levolution – the changing of the environment as a result of your actions during a match. Not only will it alter the landscape, but could completely change your team's strategy and approach midway through the match. This is the type of ground-breaking gameplay I'd expect from a next-gen title, one that I'm hoping Activision and Infinity Ward will debut as we get closer to Ghosts' launch.
It's still waaaaay too early to declare a winner; too much is still to be revealed between now and launch. But as of right now, Battlefield 4 has my vote.
Then again, I said I wouldn't be getting Black Ops 2 last year until Activision and Treyarch had me hooked with that damn Pick-10 system. They somehow always manage to convince me…
Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 will undoubtedly both sell extremely well. They are both just too massive at this point and already have their own respective established audiences. But a little competition is always welcome, right? That's how progress is made!
So let it be heard… Who's winning: Call of Duty: Ghosts or Battlefield 4?