Black Ops 3 already let me down

black ops 3 next genThe cinematic trailer for Black Ops 3 had me singing its praises and excited for the story arc and campaign in the next Call of Duty. As I said before, it clearly displays creativity and innovation, even though someone pointed out on my YouTube that has similarities to the story arc of Deus Ex. I do want to quickly say that the “human-tech-hybrid-our-technology-will-destroy-us” idea isn’t exclusive or original to Deus Ex, so I think it’s fair game. Treyarch wasted no time capitalizing on the hype surrounding their teaser to have a reveal where they outlined details and showed some gameplay. I was excited to hear there would be a beta, but was then quickly disappointed when I heard the only way to get access to the beta is by pre-ordering, which ironically defeats any consumer benefit of a beta test. My disappointment continued when I saw the gameplay trailer.

What happened?

Fans who have been with the franchise since its inception are probably the most irritated at the complete loss of the games soul. It might sound weird to talk that way, and I do push back on the attitude from gamers who don’t want a franchise to ever change at all (mainly because they’d be the same whiners saying they didn’t add enough). But honestly, what happened? This game looks like a complete cluster and combination of cliches and carbon copes of other games. Wall running from Titanfall, Spider tanks from Destiny, Mechs that look like straight rips from the Spectres in Titanfall or loaders in Borderlands, and exo-suits and futuristic helmets that are reminiscent of Halo. It’s like they took visual cues and mechanics from every big big shooter franchise and slapped it all together into a hot mess of fast movement and explosions. Call of Duty has become the Michael Bay movie of the shooter platform. Rather than stripping the game down and returning to the “Call of Duty” identity, we are getting another hype machine full of everything but the kitchen sink. And big surprise, they tie the beta to a pre-order. So the only way you can see if the game is worth the $60-100 many will drop on it, you have to pay, which is the most nonsensical thing I’ve ever heard of. I’ve seen pre-orders that get you access to betas for completely separate games as a minor bonus, but I’ve never seen a beta hidden behind a pre-order wall for the actual game being sold and tested. They are basically saying, “Give us your money upfront, and then help us stress test and debug our game for free”. The only silver lining here is that it may mean they are doing dedicated servers as that is the primary reason so many games have done beta tests recently. But why another Black Ops? Answer: because Black Ops 2 was the most popular Call of Duty to date. Translation: We peaked at Black Ops 2 and hope to get our massive revenue streams flowing again.

Black Ops 2, where noobs became gods

Already the hype is cranking up with blogs and articles entitled things like, “Could be the best Call of Duty ever” and “Multiplayer is faster and more acrobatic than ever before”. The most infuriating part surrounding the hype machine already cranking out blogs and articles that amount to fanboy drivel is having to listen to David Vonderhaar wax eloquent about why Black Ops 2 was the most popular Call of Duty. He ignores the continued growth and success of the franchise up to that point and just talks about how great Black Ops 2 was. He also seems oblivious to the fact that Call of Duty sales have been on a 49% decline since Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 launched after MW3 with a 17% drop in sales and yet it’s “the most popular and longest engaged with”. I actually trust that it is the longest engaged with, as many probably scooped it up used after they heard some of things I’m about to outline. So it may have seen weaker sales on the front end, because the Modern Warfare style was always more popular, but there may have been steady growth after launch when compared to other CODs. Do you want to know why it was the most popular, and at the very least why it is still the most heavily engaged with Call of Duty title? Because they added numerous features with the primary focus of letting the lesser skilled feel like they were suddenly transformed into Call of Duty gods. It’s why YouTube is dominated by “gamer channels” that amount to nothing more than showing off k/d ratios and game footage, when they somehow managed to never be good in any other shooter or Call of Duty title. That’s why people still heavily engage with it, because they don’t get their hand held to the same degree in any other Call of Duty or any other shooter. So what am I talking about? How do they get their hand held?

David Vonderhaar is the father of the term “pub stomping” with respect to Call of Duty, and he’s the reason you play Black Ops 2 and feel like all your skill, reflexes, and instincts matter very little. They introduced the heaviest amount of lag compensation ever to be seen in a Call of Duty title, to the point that countless YouTube videos were made showing people how to throttle their internet connection in order to get on the good end of lag compensation. There was even a video of a guy going on a 112 kill streak, and nobody seemed to notice that none of his quickly dying enemies managed to ever shoot back. It was because he was throttling his connection, getting the benefit of lag comp, and nobody ever actually got to shoot first. We’ve all had the experience from time to time. You swear you shot first and got the drop on a guy, watch the killcam, and you didn’t actually shoot any bullets. Typically you just scratch your head and move on as it happened pretty infrequently. Black Ops 2, however, this was basically every engagement if you had a good internet connection. And if you manage to find the clip in question, just watch when he checks his score, everyone has full green bars except for him.

So that, my friends, is why Black Ops 2 is the most popular Call of Duty. Because they enabled the lesser skilled to become better by artificial means, and they basically incentivized a version of non-punishable cheating. How do you punish someone for having bad internet? There are people with legitimately bad connections, so how do you sift them out and only punish the throttlers? And I hate to break it to you, but these “throttling” people are legion. Play any game with dedicated servers and you will see them skipping around the map seemingly unfazed by their horrible connection. And, contrary to the increase and accessibility of better and faster internet, more and more people seem to have abysmal speeds and yet choose a hobby that requires a good connection. Thankfully dedicated servers nullify a lot of the benefits of doing this, and just makes you slightly harder to kill, rather than giving you the drop on every enemy. So excuse my ranting, but I wanted to pull my hair out having to listen to bogus declarations about a games greatness from the guy who introduced more than just game breaking lag compensation, but also defended protections against “pub stomping”. His idea of “pub stomping” is basically just doing what you’re supposed to do. You are supposed to party up and work together, because, oh I don’t know, 90% of the game modes are team based and require some semblance of communication. So if lag compensation didn’t get you, skill based match making would, the other brilliant addition to Black Ops 2. You and your buddies bag a couple of wins in a row? Well now you are matched based on “skill” and they try to find a similar team with similar stats from their most recent games, and sure enough, you’d end up in a laggy lobby and get decimated. Every time, without fail, my buddies and I actually managed to get on a win streak, it would suddenly stop putting people in our lobby. And, like some form of punishment, we’d be forced to back out, search for a new game, and get matched to a full squad in a game with a horrible connection. We had no problem playing against full squads because it actually makes the game more competitive. But when connection takes a back seat in match making, you’re on a quick path to awfulness.

Everyone gets a trophy

This is why the franchise has seen a steep decline in sales since MW3. Players that rely on lag compensation, skill based match making, and especially those who were throttling their connections all knew their reign of terror would probably be limited to Black Ops 2. This is why Ghosts was good about 80% of the time. The influence of lag compensation and skill based match making was significantly minimized in Ghosts as my clan was able to crank out more large win streaks and we even bagged a couple 1st place wins in Clan Wars. But all of the Black Ops 2 throttlers and fanboys who were enjoying easy kills and connection advantages stayed away and have since stayed away with Advanced Warfare having the weakest sales yet with the already mentioned 49% sales decline since MW3. So if you capture and keep a large audience with this “everyone gets a trophy” mentality, you’re going to have to continue doing that. And it seems the poor sales numbers and engagement with Call of Duty Ghosts caused them to re-implement more lag compensation and skill based match making in Advanced Warfare as many of us had identical experiences from Black Ops 2 with inconsistent game performance and poor match making. I’m sure Black Ops 2 fanboys are chomping at the bit to sink their teeth into another rigged game with Black Ops 3, but the announcement of the beta test is probably bad news for all the throttlers, because lag compensation will be almost unnoticeable if the beta test means we are getting dedicated servers. Black Ops 3 sales will probably be better than Advanced Warfare primarily due the larger engagement numbers from Black Ops 2, helping to fuel early sales. But the grand irony here is that all the lower skilled players who flocked to Black Ops 2 and stayed there will probably complain about Black Ops 3 being “too hard” or “unfair” because if dedicated servers are implemented their precious lag compensation and un-punishable cheating by throttling will no longer turn them into a god.

A co-op Campaign tho

Unfortunately, as frustrated as I am that this game will have horrible over hyped multiplayer with stolen ideas and mechanics from other games, I’m going to buy it for the co-op campaign. I feel that my twitch stream and YouTube are growing enough to warrant playing and reviewing the game for those who are on the fence. And to me, it’s worth it for a co-op campaign, because regardless of the franchise, I love a good co-op shooter campaign. That’s part of the reason I’m getting Halo 5 and it’s definitely related to why I don’t enjoy PVP shooters all that much anymore. In any case, keep it tuned here for more information, reviews, and gameplay once the game launches. Be sure to check my YouTube and Twitch if you are interested in games that come out and want to see them or ask questions about them before you buy them.

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  1. Pingback: | Destiny’s new PVP matchmaking is sadly considered innovative

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