Gaming isn't just a competitive sport, it's a competitive industry. With every big success story comes a wave of followups hoping to cash in - see Grand Theft Auto, which sparked a boom in anarchic open-world games - and no competing titles exemplify our medium more than the battle between EA and Activision over claiming the FPS crown.
With Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 launching later this year, amid a tirade of PR jabs, sly comments and outright smack-talk, here at Dealspwn we sat the pair down to discuss their differences and try to predict, once and for all, which will win their Winter showdown.
Let's be vacuous, shall we, and discuss which looks best; Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3? The former is running on a brand-new engine - Frostbite 2.0 - which ups the ante in terms of destruction, animation and lighting. It's seriously impressive stuff; and EA know it. They haven't missed an opportunity to remind fans Battlefield 3 has a new engine, unlike its competitor, MW3, which is still running on the heavily modified Quake engine it's used for the past ten years.
However, MW3 is by no means ugly. Whereas DICE is looking to replicate the gritty realism of urban warfare, Infinity Ward appear to be imitating Michael Bay's explosive success on the virtual scene, with all manner of ludicrous and exciting events occurring on-screen, pushing their tech to its very limit. Look no further than their E3 showing, where a fleet of submarines, warships and mobile craft duke it out on the Hudson River in real-time. The word 'jaw-dropping' comes to mind. And let's not forget that MW3 is running at 60FPS, double that of Battlefield 3.
But who's the best looking? Sadly, MW3's creaking engine has let it down, as it can't be argued that BF3 is the better looking game. Not only that, but the tech is better, too. You can't blow down walls or topple buildings in MW3, not unless its scripted, and the animation in BF3 is leagues ahead of its Activision counterpart.
Score 1 To Battlefield!
We've covered the looks, but how does each game play? Pretty similar, when all is said and done, but differing design philosophies, control schemes and invisible details can make a huge difference on what MW3 and BF3 feel like in the palm of each hand. The former, thanks to its silky smooth frame-rate and lag-free controller input, is slick and responsive. So is BF3, but MW3's superior frame-rate has its advantages.
And while BF3 plunks you in the boots of a lowly grunt, Infinity Ward prefers to mix it up with some spec-ops stuff. More often than not, you assume the role of a shady government operative or delta force supremo, and naturally the gameplay is different. From the BF3 stuff we've pored over thus far, you can expect to track down villainous snipers, defuse improvised explosives and even pilot a tank.
In MW3, however, you're more likely to breach the Hudson River on underwater submersibles before infiltrating a Russian sub and re-routing its missiles. DICE and Infinity Ward's conflicting ideals on how each of their game's should play has obvious repercussions on who's going to pick up either title. If you prefer cutting-edge realism, BF3 is for you; however, if the stylish and spectacular approach appeals to you more, then I think you're for MW3.
Online Bragging Rights
It's the online component where MW3 and BF3 will be judged harshest. It's where they've made their presence felt most, and it's a vital part of their success. Millions flock to each game every day to trade gunfire and petty remarks, and they'll be eagerly awaiting new ventures come November when each game launches.
Again, despite featuring very similar components, the actual multiplayer experience itself differs drastically between the pair. While MW3 is much more of a run-and-gun experience, streamlined and tailored to appeal to both the casual and the core crowd, BF3 demands skill and cunning in equal measure to truly master its multiplayer. To each his own; personally, I'm a CoD man, but quite a few here at Dealspwn prefer DICE's punishing offering.
This year, however, Call of Duty's multiplayer is set to stand out a little more with the inclusion of Elite, a community hub where stats, videos and all manner of content are stored in an effort to provide players with a social network where they can set up lobbies and clans and where Activision can hopefully pillage a few more million. EA has countered this, however, retrofitting Need for Speed's Autolog feature for Battlefield 3, dubbing it Battlelog. It'll be interesting to see how the two stack up to each other.
Again, like the gameplay section, it's difficult to declare a winner. Visuals are easy; it's not a matter of taste but fact that Battlefield 3 looks better than Modern Warfare 3. However, as to which has a better multiplayer component depends entirely on who prefers what. However, what with Elite already undergoing a beta since its media reveal, and with the full might of Activision behind it, we're going to have to go with MW3 for this one.
Score 1 To Modern Warfare!
And The Winner Is...
There can be no clear winner in the battle between BF3 and MW3. Each has its dedicated following, loyal to the end. And while Battlefield 3 won't have any problems hitting the multi-million mark, it'll still be a fair way off Modern Warfare 3's triumphant haul. Infinity Ward's blockbuster is all set to shatter past records, as per usual.
In terms of critical reception, however, BF3 is set to impress more than its Activision counterpart. What with its new engine, features and overhauled multiplayer, DICE's title deserves a better response, as despite all its bombast and hype, MW3 appears no different to the past four or five CoD titles that have preceded it, global warfare be damned.
But what say you, fellow Dealspwners? Who'll claim the crown this year? Battlefield 3, or Modern Warfare 3? Will Activision once again reap the rewards of their annualized franchise? Or does EA deserve to snatch the glory right from their grasp? Sound off below! We'll have much more for you next month come Gamescom.