Locked in a room for 24 hours and forced to play video games, I rediscovered Call of Duty, and it wasn’t rubbish.
I did the Call of Duty thing back in the day. I had an Xbox 360, played often with friends and my brother, we even got quite good. This was around the time of Modern Warfare 2, which I’m told is a high point for the series, and after pouring hundreds of hours into that title my interest waned.
In my mind Call of Duty had become a derivative Titanfall wannabe, clutching at straws to keep alive an over-inflated franchise. Publishers and others had bet big on CoD, but it was starting to whither, so they bust out the robo-suits. Like many others I played Titanfall and enjoyed those first and only two weeks before I just sort of stopped, never looking back. Why would I want to do that again under the CoD banner?
My first taste of Advanced Warfare was on the Xbox One, a non-native console for this PS4 owner, and was a 4v4 team event. We were thrashed 6 rounds to nothing in a Counter Strike-style bomb planting/defusing contest. We went on to lose two further matches 6-2 and 6-3, winning five rounds out of 23.
It was confusing. None of the guns made any sense, some of the buttons did weird robot things, everyone kept jumping higher, further and faster than me and I couldn’t for the life of me change loadouts between deaths. At that point I was happy that CoD was still crap, and I could go back to “real” gaming.
Except I couldn’t. Aside from all of the games and consoles we’d set up for competitions during our 24 hour marathon, there were only Xboxes to play on, and a limited selection of games I like and hadn’t completed already.
CoD:AW was there, and it was already on. I picked up a controller and tinkered around with loadouts, stuffing as many points as possible into perks and my primary weapon as I didn’t understand the robot, am incapable of remembering to pull a secondary weapon and wasn’t about to be earnings killstreak rewards.
After working out how to jump and dodge, and how to never ever press the Xbox button lest I was subjected to the awful UI, I realised I was starting to get a few kills and I was having fun.
This was all multiplayer. I’ve no idea what the story line is and I don’t particularly care, which is probably best given the writing quality of the pieces of the series I’m familiar with. Hopefully the plot and setting justify the robo-suits and technology, because the techno-wizardry abilities seem to work for those that know how to use them, and I quite liked the variation and themes of the maps across various modes.
When I picked up the controller, the account was on something around level 45. During my time playing, through the early-hours hangover and oppressive fatigue, I prestiged that account at level 50, resetting its level back to 1 and wiping most of my progress and unlocks. Through the heavy haze of dawn and through to lunch I somehow dragged it back up to level 30.
The gun-play is tight, the upgrading and unlocking of tacticool accessories and abilities is at the right level to keep that all-important goal-within-reach, downtime between rounds is long enough to check your loadout and not so long as to get infuriating, and not once was I called a faggot by anyone. Toxic community is very much in my mind when I remember CoD; maybe I just got lucky in those many hours, but things seem better.
CoD, or at least the CoD I experienced, has at some point in the past few years become a good game again.
Hating on Call of Duty is now a pretty standard hobby for the “real” gamer, and I’m guilty of it myself. People who play CoD are on the same level to me as those who play FIFA: if they claim to be gamers, they can be shunned.
Yesterday I traded in my ill-gotten pride along with a few old games to join the heaving ranks of CoD players on the PS4. My official return to the glory years of 2007-2009 starts tonight, I’ve booked tomorrow off work, and I can’t bloody wait.