Sorry. I lied about my next post being on an original thought rather than something tangential to a video I just watched. But this thought is sure to blow minds, I guarantee it.
It’s often been said that the killstreaks in the recent Call of Duty games have been lacklustre, and it’s also often said that the core game mechanics of CoD were inherently listless and boring, not offering much of a challenge at all therefore not offering much satisfaction either.
But what if I told you these two complaints aren’t two separate problems but actually inescapably intertwined?
As Mr Ap0col1pse so elegantly surmises in his video above, in from MW2 onwards, a big portion of a player’s enjoyment of the game is the risk-reward system that the killstreaks created. It’s all because killstreaks weren’t only about getting kills, it was also about not dying. And in a game like CoD where kills come easy, the challenge is then to continue to hunt and kill increasingly-weary enemies, not inclined to let a strong player like you get on a roll and wipe the floor with an AC130 or Chopper Gunner.
Perhaps the original Infinity Ward picked up on CoD4’s lack of strong core game mechanics, and they responded with the killstreak system. Many accused the killstreaks of being overpowered but looking back at things now, I think it’s safe to assume that it really helped glean more satisfaction from the core game of kill-or-be-killed.
MW2’s viscerally satisfying killstreaks added a major reward for players, satisfying them both by giving them a big advantage and giving them another big toy to play with. But more importantly, it added an aspect of risk to the core elements of the game, to the second-by-second game we play.
But all other CoD games have killstreaks too, you might say. The thing is, although they were seen as massively overpowered at the time, the accessibility of the MW2 killstreaks made sure that everyone could be excited about them, that everyone could be involved in that high-risk/high-reward system.
Other CoD games don’t seem to have put as much emphasis on killstreaks. The Black Ops games were fine, though. I think Treyarch opted to improve on the core gameplay meta rather than adding tangential features that affected player psychology. But MW3, Ghosts, and perhaps AW and even the Black Ops games might’ve suffered from lack of the strong, fun, but accessible killstreaks the MW2 had.
I’m not sure scorestreaks helped much either. It’s still a risk to go for PTFO points, but in the games where PTFO points started helping a player work towards a streak, the streaks were so high that most players weren’t often rewarded enough to make it a goal of their’s (I mean me, since I actually suck at the CoD).
Like another cool YouTuber always says at the end of his commentaries, the haters are always the loudest because people who like things the way they are are less likely to feel like they need to say something. I’m not sure I noticed it back in the MW2 days but there was real tension in that game, the likes of which I haven’t felt for a long time in any CoD game. I didn’t understand it at the time, for those of us who did, I think we should have said something.
I think we should have told the world what we loved about the game, rather than only being vocal about what we had to complain about. ‘Cuz it seems that if we leave the vocality to the haters and the haters inside of us, we only get less of what we don’t like rather than more of what we do like. And sometimes, they’re inescapably intertwined.