Call of Duty Ghosts is a good game. It’s not the best in Activision’s power-selling series, but it’s certainly up there, taking a slight step back yet bringing some new innovations to the table.
Though beguiling if you haven’t got a clue what you’re doing, the custom, piece-by-piece loadouts are a great idea, as is the paring down of some killstreaks. In Modern Warfare 3 they were ridiculous and no less so in Black Ops II, Ghosts finding that middle ground between the most recent entries and Call of Duty 4.
Aside from general series fatigue, a problem I’ve had with Call of Duty for a while now is just how intense competitive multiplayer can get. Whichever gun you’re carrying, whether it be an assault rifle, SMG, or even a pistol, they all pack a punch.
Though I could be completely misguided, after World at War (the best Call of Duty, in my opinion) player health count has also dropped, creating this frenzied strain of online warfare that hinges entirely on reflex and those split seconds, head-to-head encounters.
In truth, it doesn’t bother me all that much. For the most part I still enjoy Call of Duty games and wouldn’t say I’m a particularly poor player either. It’s just that sometimes I reminisce on how things used to be.
For grizzled veterans such as myself, Ghosts’ newest online game mode, Heavy Duty, is just what the doctor ordered. There are no complications here whatsoever; it’s a playlist of three modes in which players’ health count is slightly topped up.
It’s definitely an odd inclusion, not to mention a ballsy one considering how die-hard the Call of Duty fanbase is nowadays. With that said, the premise alone was more than enough for me to jump back into Ghosts just to see if liked the game any better – and I do.
It’s hard to determine just how much extra health players get because it certainly isn’t much. Four or five well-placed shots at close or medium range is still enough to put someone down. At first I thought Heavy Duty may have been some kind of placebo conjured up by Infinity Ward but as time went on I began to feel the effects.
A complaint some have had in the past is the range efficiency of weapons with only a slight difference between a selection of SMGs, assault rifles, and even LMGs. In Heavy Duty, however, their nuances are certainly more pronounced. Pulling off longshot kills in maps such as Stonehaven, for instance, is noticeably harder. Then again, it’s equally as hard for your opponent to hit you.
One argument against against Heavy Duty is that it detracts from the intensity of competitive multiplayer and I’d quite happily agree to an extent. After being battered by a hail of enemy fire, chances are, you might have just enough health to duck into cover and potentially turn the tables. Getting this second wind may prolong firefights but in my opinion this amplifies the tension, only detracting from Call of Duty’s inherited rapidity.
It’s a worthy sacrifice too, opening the doors to another dynamic the series’ brand of online warfare has been lacking. In Heavy Duty I found myself playing tactically more than ever, trying to seize objectives at every possible opportunity. Instead of alternating between bouts of sprinting and hiding behind cover, I was always on the move.
Travelling in pairs or small groups also became common in the games I played. With increased health, you can no longer mow down an entire platoon, even when coming from behind. Just looking at the mini-map activity, at times it felt as though I was playing Battlefield, not Call of Duty.
The modes compatible with Heavy Duty do a good job in demonstrating the subtle yet advantageous changes and are particularly noticeable when playing Blitz. For those who aren’t familiar, Blitz has players running into score zones (locating near enemy spawn points) to bag points. It’s basically capture the flag on steroids and often results in a stupendous bloodbath.
On paper, it didn’t sound like a good match for Heavy Duty but then something clicked. The reason I hadn’t gotten on with Blitz before was due to the constant punishment I received whenever trying to run into the score zone. Players would always be waiting to picking me off, crouching in isolated corners or behind heavy cover. Whenever playing Blitz it would mostly simmer down to a bitter, bloody stalemate. Something tells me that isn’t how Infinity Ward wanted to mode to play out.
Heavy Duty goes to show how a small change to the existing template can have a significant impact. Though there’s a good chance we won’t see the mode develop or appear in next year’s annual instalment, it’s a nice little experiment and one that’s definitely helped me ease my way back into Call of Duty despite a growing sense of indifference.