Why Battlefield Hasn’t Beat CoD (And Why They’re Closer Than Ever Before)

Amongst shooter fans, there are two camps: that of Call of Duty and Battlefield. For years these two sides have thrown venom at each other. To be fair, it was mostly EA throwing the collective monkey-poo but animosity has flowed both ways. As heir to the throne apparent, EA and DICE (the studio behind Battlefield 3) have worked hard to seed the gaming community with doubt for CoD’s killer formula. There’s more to shooting guns than shooting guns, y’know. The games have gotten better and better, each series coming more into its own with every iteration, but one thing has kept Battlefield from seizing the throne. You, America. You’re the problem… but maybe not for long.

Sit a minute while I weave a tale of two matches. In Call of Duty, you join the game, pick the load out, then sprint around the map, shot-gunning, grenade launching, and knife-killing noobs before someone snipes you from a far off window. In Battlefield: Bad Company, you do pretty much the same, except for one key difference: you spawn on your squad. You take cover in trenches and behind crumbling buildings. You rush towards the objective only to find you’ve run off alone and — you’re dead. In CoD your K/D ratio soars. In BF it doesn’t much matter. CoD makes you the army. Battlefield makes you a soldier.

And that, my friends, is why Battlefield has lost to Call of Duty each and every year smack has flown. The game makes you rely on other people in a time when players want nothing more than the world itself; it forces teamwork or it makes you fail. And you know what that means. Mics. No one ever has a mic (on PS3). No one even wants a mic because, well, you’re on the other end. And they’re playing like it’s CoD. Call of Duty  makes no such gestures. You have a team but you can safely ignore it. Battlefield doesn’t reward you for playing it like a game but like a war simulator; you don’t act as a squad in a real battle, you’re dead.

That’s also why Battlefield 3 is so important. The match-up against Modern Warfare 3 will be the last before we know if the shooter audience is changing hands… and DICE-EA seem keen to make sure the Call of Duty franchise plays second fiddle. By making a number of small tweaks to weapon damage and health, DICE has blended the best of both worlds. Guns, even pistols, seem powerful and never weak like Bad Company 2. Enemies drop fast if you’re aiming and it’s easy to feel deadly – even when you’re squadless. It fits like an old glove on a Call of Duty players hands and adds depth they didn’t even know they wanted.

Reading that, you might be tempted to think Battlefield 3 has finally cracked and embraced the CoD model but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Players who work as a team will always do better than those who don’t. Location, plan of attack, and load-out choice are still as strategic as ever, if not more so. XP rewards highly encourage that teamwork, too; a player who attacks and defends objectives, or the players attacking those objectives, will always outscore stationary sniper. Finally, the addition of prone and many tweaks to loadouts and gadgets make surviving a close-call much more likely. Machine gunners are also medics, so when you drop to your belly under a hail of fire, there’s a much better chance of hitting a first-aid kit and making it to cover.

Modern Warfare 3 will almost surely outsell Battlefield 3, but if they want to keep their top spot, they really need to impress. If their final product feels like an iteration when Battlefield seems like an evolution, the days of “Call of Duty  #1!” being a foregone conclusion might well be over. By this time next year, the landscape of first person shooters might be swinging in a new direction.

Battlefield 3 releases October 25th, 2011
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 releases November 8th, 2011


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Author: Christopher Coke View all posts by
Chris is a lifelong gamer that brings his writing degree to bear at Vagary TV, Rift Watchers, and Game By Night. His current game of choice is RIFT, though he can often be seen plumbing the depths of Call of Duty, Darksiders, and virtually everything Rockstar.
  • Don Parsons

    Even from a glitchy beta, I still agree that Battlefield 3 feels like a step forward. Sure, I’m pissed at the class re-design, but at the end of the day, Battlefield 3 feels like a new game, where as CoD always feels like new maps, a fresh coat of paint, and some new ways to customize yourself.

  • Having put about ten hours into the Beta at this point, I think BF3 feels like Bad Company 2 but kind of broken. Honestly it feels like Battlefield and that’s not bad, as I actually prefer BF to CoD, but its not new either.

    Honestly I am really, really worried for BF3. I think EA may have taken a huge misstep with how they have handled this game.

  • Don Parsons

    I honestly think they are pushing this game out too fast, which I am sure that is what you are getting at. They are trying too hard to beat CoD, and that isn’t going to happen no matter how hard they try.

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  • Graham Stewart

    Is it really enough to give it a more Call of Duty feel? Is that enough to convince the average box-art shopper to switch from the brand he faithfully buys every fall? Pair that with the rumblings I’ve been hearing for the last couple weeks that this game is not ready for launch and I don’t see Battlefield making an impact with anyone but the hardcore.

  • Scbrownsr

    I just started playing BF2 and I have to agree that it is better than COD. The graphics, gameplay, and overall functionality is more advanced. I play COD just to talk smack and like you stated, knife people.

  • scout

    Battlefield an evolution? Adding jets to the game on a few maps evolutionize the game? What an idiot. All BF games have the game modes and the same gameplay. There is no evolution, it’s still the same as what it is before. In fact BF3 copies COD, the new coop is a copycat of MW spec ops, BF3 added team deathmatch to match CODs core multiplayer gameplay.

  • Stef_le_hot

    for the little fan boy of CoD CoD suck. seriously everyone buying CoD because you can’t play with a team an CoD franchise does all player coming good you can be a guys(or a girl) who never play video game and be good at Call of duty but Battlefield is what I call a real game teamwork is always there and you can’t run like a dumdass and knife everyone because you need to be strategic AND in CoD you call and Airstrike but in BF3 you’re the Airstrike so BF3 win

  • Pushaman55

    I agree with this article. If CoD doesn’t step it up and become more innovative, they WILL lose their #1 spot but, not to BF. Sure, there’s no other game with the longevity of these two hard-hitting games but, I don’t think BF can step it up enough to surpass CoD. I’m a teamwork player, I believe in teamwork but, I play CoD for the simple fact that I have more control over whether I die or not. In BF I feel as if you don’t have time to react to getting shot at. Just my opinion. =]

  • Ryan Scott

    I have experienced tons of people playing as a team, in fact most of my friends who play hardcore modes have headsets on the entire time and are constantly helping one another. I like to play many of the objective based games and when you have a clan playing together they really seem to have a great team plan. Many COD players are run and gun, but it still gets you killed frequently.

    This author is also forgetting that the Halo franchise was king of FPS (on Xbox) for many years before COD4.

  • Ryan Scott

    I have played more COD games than any other type game, but I was kind of hoping for an alternative shooter that might be around for a while. I was hoping BF3 would give me a different option, if they don’t push out a new version every year and make it last, that would be great. I heard Battlefield 2 lasted about 4 years in multiplayer? I don’t always like to start over every year, besides the expense of new games. I would have been happy to keep buying new DLC for the Modern Warfare games rather than just getting a new one over and over. My point is that I’m a little worried like you, I know they are saying this is a beta and not like the final product, but it does make me wonder a little if they are just forcing it out without it being a complete product. Hope it’s good for those who want to play it, if I win one of the contest maybe I will see you out there.

  • wholeheartedly agreed. Im sure it also has something to do with how the average BF player is about 2x the age of the average COD player, hence more teamwork necessary and more executed. I hope BF3 destroys MW3 this year- the latter looks abysmal.

  • Somebody

    I love teamwork in Bad Company 2. Just weeks ago I was the secondary gunner of a tank with a team mate who is not in my squad. I was a recon so I couldn’t do anything whenever the tank is damaged but since my driver/main gunner is an engineer, I could cover him with machine gun fire as he repaired. Plus I have the vehicle smoke dispenser skill so whenever my driver went out for repair, I would go to his seat and popped up some smoke, covering him and cancelling out any trace dart on the tank. Quickly I move back to my own seat. Rinse and repeat. A pattern was soon established and we became the bane of the attackers as we make sure that no enemy shall pass the mid point. It took them a longtime for them to kill us. A very long time.

    Even when they did kill us, I respawned and my driver was waiting for me in a new tank. Ordinarily anyone would’ve rushed off alone but he just sat there, waiting.

    Some gamers became better in teams, hence the Battlefield group. They, for the lack of a better word, “augment” each other. Some are terrifying suicidal army of one, the CoD crowd.

    As long as it not as weird as Bulletstorm’s co-op. Sure there’s a semblance of team work but after several hours I got an epiphany : It’s nothing more than a bloody version of pop the balloon. Put a group of rifle totting players in an arena, released the balloons, I mean mutants, everyone start popping them. Finished? Here comes another bucket of balloons pouring in. Pop them again.

    Anyway, team work is nice and I would be eviscerated the moment I stepped into a CoD mp session.

  • This comment is so immensely ignorant. While the two have supremely different audiences there is no correlation between age and those audiences. Do more kids play CoD than BF? Sure, but the sheer numbers of CoD sales is the only reason for this. CoD isn’t anymore of a kids game than BF is more of an adult game. I’ve run into plenty of kids in my experiences with both series, they don’t discriminate.