Over the past week, Activision and EA have unveiled the key details of the newest entry in their flagship FPS franchises, Call of Duty and Battlefield. Treyarch has once again brought back the near-future gameplay of the Black Ops series, with the return of specialists and a deeper focus on team-based objectives. Meanwhile, DICE is returning to its roots by traveling back to World War II, while also expanding the popular Operations mode and dropping the Premium pass to instead feature a live service experience that is free for all. Fans of each franchise have plenty of reasons to be excited, but there’s also room for that hype to waver as we draw near their October release dates depending on how each publisher approaches the months ahead. In order for both Activision and EA to keep expectations in check over the next five months, here’s one key area for each publisher to focus on that can help their respective releases reach the largest audiences possible.
Call of Duty: Blackout Should be a Step Forward, Not a Reaction
One of the biggest announcements to arise out of the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 reveal last week was the absence of the series’ classic single-player campaign, instead embracing the approach of games like Overwatch and their take on world-building stories through creative gameplay and environments. Taking the campaign’s place is a mode called Blackout, which brings land, sea and air vehicles within a large map alongside Call of Duty’s solid shooting mechanics to the battle royale genre. This mode was leaked weeks beforehand, leaving Activision out of the conversation in regards to the mode’s reaction, leaving fans to fill in the blanks and frame it as a response to the massive success of Fortnite and PUBG. The brief cinematic trailer did little to sway that opinion one way or the other, instead merely being content to have it confirm the mode’s existence.
While Black Ops 4’s likely appearance at Sony’s E3 press conference may be too soon to be the first showcase for the Blackout mode, Activision and Treyarch need to highlight just how Call of Duty will push this mega-popular genre forward, from the rumored smaller player count to the expansive map that covers multiple Black Ops games and much more that is yet to be revealed. If the team can effectively convey how Blackout will not only establish itself as a unique entity, but have the staying power to entice and evolve in the months (and potentially years) to come, then the biggest mystery surrounding Black Ops 4 will slowly become less of a hurdle and more of a selling point as we near its October 12 release.
Battlefield: War Stories Should be a Primary Focus, Not a Supplementary
As a result of Call of Duty no longer including a single-player campaign, many wondered if the team at DICE would follow a similar path, with a rumor last month even indicating that the upcoming Battlefield could also include a battle royale mode. In addition to a brief confirmation during EA’s earnings call earlier this month, the reveal event for Battlefield V officially dispelled these whispers, instead confirming that the surprisingly emotional and well-executed War Stories mode from Battlefield 1 would be making a return appearance as the game’s single-player section. Much like Battlefield 1 before it, Battlefield V’s War Stories will center around a series of missions that feature several characters with tales and events based on real-life stories, with a specific desire to tell stories that haven’t already been featured in the bevy of other media that centers around World War II.
In years past, this mode would merely be a welcome inclusion for those looking to experience a Battlefield experience other than the game’s central multiplayer modes, which will likely remain the main attraction of the now-standard post-press conference gameplay at EA’s E3 event. Now that Call of Duty is taking a break from this type of solo experience, however, EA and DICE have the opportunity to brandish this mode for the portion of the FPS audience that appreciates the more focused nature of a single-player mission. Battlefield 1’s War Stories not only offered engaging stories that felt unpredictable, and more importantly, human, but were also great introductions to various elements of Battlefield’s often-times chaotic gameplay, and each of these aspects are great selling points to differentiate Battlefield V from its competitor releasing the week prior.