First thing’s first. I am a Call of Duty (“COD”) fan. I must admit that I am a recent convert, as I joined the ranks of the COD community just over one year ago when COD 4 Modern Warfare was released. Since then, it has consumed every aspect of my life; my young children have grown quite accustomed to falling asleep to the sound of machine gun fire and artillery strikes, as I walk through the corridors of my office at work, I often take note of ideal places to stash “bouncing betties,” and I’ve conditioned my wife to crawl in the prone position beneath my television set when I’m in the middle of a match.
With this in context, I’d like to share my thoughts on the recently released new maps pack made available last week. Four new maps are available (including the Zombie Asylum) titled: Nightfire, Knee Deep, Station and Verruckt. Nightfire allows you to wage a night campaign within the burning streets of Berlin. Knee Deep is a bit more classical as you engage your enemy across fortified Japanese bunkers. Station is a wreck, literally. You do battle in a bombed out, underground train station. The last of the maps, Verruckt, takes place in a Zombie Asylum.
On the plus side, each map is impressive and offers unique settings, brilliant artistry and imaginative design. Unfortunately, if I wrote an article on how great everything was, no one would read it. Accordingly, I’m hard pressed to share with you why I feel these new maps fall short of my very high expectations. It revolves around one theme; map size!
Some people feel that map size is highly overrated. I’ve heard the common phrase, “It’s not about the size of your map, rather how it navigates.” Conversely, a satisfying game play experience does revolve around the size of your map, and contrary to what you might be thinking; it’s the smaller maps that count!
The best maps COD (4 or 5) have to offer for online play are the small to medium sized maps for several reasons. First, no one wants to spend half of the time traveling to the action. Often times you find yourself respawning at the furthest points from the action. The travel time often dulls the game play experience, especially when your killed by a random, hiding camper forcing you to respawn at the same point all over again. Let’s face it, people want to maximize the amount of time in combat, not racing to the action, and judging by the size of these new maps, you better have the Extreme Conditioning Perk handy.
The current match play doesn’t allow for teams large enough to cover the size of these maps. Even on a big night (i.e., Friday and Saturday nights), any given match typically supports 7-10 players on a team (assuming your playing Team Deathmatch). These maps are simply too large for even the largest Team Deathmatch format on a busy night. As I played them, I observed that most of the players hovered to one section of the map and remained there for the entire round. Although this occurred at different places throughout the map as different rounds were played, I couldn’t help but wonder what a waste of space all the other parts of the map were at any give time.
Private matches are particularly fun because you get to showcase your skills against your family and friends who are also part of the COD family. The problem is that private matches are even smaller than when you’re playing on-line matches. The result, you find yourself playing the Shipment (COD 4) or Dome (COD 5) maps until you’re nauseous. I tend to grow tired of private matches with my friends because of the lack of smaller map options. This recent release of new maps offered no smaller maps to cater to this demand, hence, I was left wanting more. The Knee Deep map is my favorite of the four, and last I checked, it was a medium sized map.
If large maps are a must, then a different angle should be considered; force players to utilize the entire map during game play. For example, it would be interesting to see an explosion closing down a portion (or portions) of the Station map. Perhaps making certain areas within a map sensitive to explosive devices such as artillery, grenades and better yet, my favorite, Bouncing Betties! This would mean that you start on a large map but end the round on a small or medium map. This would make those larger maps a bit more appealing to play.
I close by leaving our well respected creators at Treyarch with this message: Size is everything! Scale back on the size of your maps or get more creative with the larger ones. Current game play is does not allow for teams large enough to cover the ground created on large maps. As a result, combat action is compartmentalized into sections of a map at any given time; wasted space. Focus more on how to keep the combat experience alive through small to medium sized maps or by getting more creative on the larger scaled maps. And in case you’ve forgotten, WE LOVE YOU!! Looking forward to November 10, 2009!!