I recently had the chance to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and while it is by no means a new game it was the first of the game that I had played. I began my early gaming days cutting my teeth on titles such as Halo 2 and the Call of Duty franchise. Up to the point Modern Warfare 3 released I was buying every iteration and stumbling my way through the multiplayer. The fatigue of the franchise began in Modern Warfare 2, I was completely underwhelmed by Black Ops, and I bought Modern Warfare 3 because I thoroughly enjoy playing the single player campaign but didn’t stay long with the multiplayer.
Now, it wasn’t uncommon for me to go through ebbs and flows of interest in multiplayer FPS but the timing for this to happen couldn’t have been worse. I never played games on PC because until I had graduated from college, I never could afford a PC capable of running the types of games I enjoyed playing. Minesweeper and solitaire will only take you so far. As I discovered the joys of endlessly collecting games for a handful of dollars I’m likely never to play on Steam, I was offered a chance to get in on the Planetside 2 open beta.
I had been keeping an eye on this game since it was first announced, the concept of the game intrigued me and I was drawn to the idea of fully open ended warfare. I started playing the beta and fell in love, honestly I could take or leave the sci fi setting as it has always felt a bit tacked on to conveniently explain why three factions were fighting each other all with very different weapons, but the gameplay was truly exciting. Loading up in a galaxy with eleven other infantry in your faction’s warpgate and then leaping out above a frenzied battle where you have to dodge tank shells as often as you do bullets really scratched that itch other shooters had been lacking in (for me personally) for a long while now. Fast forward nearly a year, and I’m still playing Planetside 2 on a near daily basis. I belong to an outfit, I’ve leveled up my character nearly to the point I’m happy with and have even had the chance to start trying out the other two factions. The main thing that keeps me coming back to PS2 over the slew of other shooters out there is the tactical thinking that goes into this game. You constantly have to figure out how to frame engagements with the enemy to try and tip the fight in your favor with a constant eye towards an exit strategy. If you get bored of fighting on foot there are plenty of opportunities to climb into a tank or take to the skies and engage in some seriously tense air battles.
That long winded exposition brings me to my actual point, I loaded up Black Ops 2 multiplayer and jumped in, and while I did enjoy the gameplay I found myself becoming fatigued in short order. I refuse to get into the quintessential internet debate of whether someone is deficient by enjoying playing a Call of Duty title. I genuinely couldn’t care any less what others choose to play for entertainment. Considering the game from a personal standpoint however has brought me to the conclusion that I no longer enjoy playing the Call of Duty style FPS. I believe that the open gameplay of Planetside 2 has essentially “broken” me to playing more traditional shooters.
This brings me back to the debate often touted on the internet comments of which is better, COD or BF3 and I can confidently say the answer is both and neither. We are in a beautiful time for gamers where no matter your interest, availability, or other distinguishable traits there is a game for you. The FPS genre was traditionally straight forward, you had a gun you shot things in front of you until you reached the end. As new games come out they are now iterating on new formulas while staying true to the genre’s roots. If you prefer a more arcade style shooter with Micheal Bay inspired soldiers you can play Call of Duty. If you want a bit of arcade mixed with tactical gameplay that also allows using vehicles you can call Battlefield 3 your home. If you prefer a more tight and refined sci fi/ near future shooter that pulls from both Battlefield and Call of Duty you can play the Blacklight series. If you want fight across a sprawling open world with all the tactical gameplay elements and then some you may want to try your hand at Planetside 2. If none of those float your boat there are a myriad of others and more on the way that just may be the right fit for you.
I believe that we are existing in an age where gaming is finally starting to mature, and just like any college student there are bound to be some experiments and self exploration that will lead to some pretty remarkable things. That isn’t saying there aren’t some mistakes, and won’t be some down the road but that’s all a part of growing up isn’t it?