Gamepad: Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and the Dangers of Prejudice in Games

ACCOD    We hear the same things every year: the new CoD will be just another cash grab, the new Assassin’s Creed game will suck (again), EA will come up with new ways to scam you into buying DLC again, game journalists are secretly paid by developers to overhype bad games, and that all the good games seem to be gone. However, I had a very recent epiphany, so let me tell you a short story…

November 2015, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was released with mostly positive reviews. Now, yours truly decided to skip it, because at the time it didn’t seem appealing enough to spend 60 bucks on it. Of course I decided to not spoil the story of the game to myself, avoiding any spoilers if I ever decided to buy the game for myself.

Skip to half a year later, my local games retailer offered a discounted version of the game, so I decided what better time to get the game than now, after all my exams were over, and I had a ton of free time to spend on collecting the numerous items scattered throughout Victorian London. However, upon putting the disc in my trusty PS4, I suddenly discovered I’m throwing myself into a game blindly, I had no expectations whatsoever, and I had to get used to the whole ”assassin thing” again. This is when it hit me: Syndicate is actually a very good game, the main characters – the Frye twins have fantastic chemistry between them and feel unique and realistic, not to mention the fact that we have a very diverse cast of characters good and bad this time around. The thing is, I wasn’t expecting the game to be that good, in other words I wasn’t prejudiced…

We can all agree that Unity caused many problems for Ubisoft, with its numerous bugs and glitches, so before Syndicate was released everyone was crying ”graphics downgrade” and ”another re-hash” and preparing for another fiasco from Ubisoft, but that didn’t happen, there was a different problem here. The problem is that it didn’t sell well, mainly because of the problems with Unity -a game that doesn’t share much with its successor. But that didn’t mean crap for the average player / consumer, so even though Syndicate was a great game, it was ultimately doomed to fail due to gamers’ prejudice.

The same trend is visible in this year’s CoD. As one YouTube comment puts it: ”the CoD community is a joke, we’re talking about fans who turned their backs on their favorite franchise over a TRAILER, so the dislikes don’t mean anything” and I couldn’t agree more. Looking back at things, the year Advanced Warfare was released, based on the new schedule for CoD games, Infinite Warfare was already a full year in development, so they couldn’t just scrap 12 months of hard work in favor of a different game. I mean we’re talking about a time when Kevin Spacey in a video game was ”the hot topic” and Black Ops 3’s Snapchat campaign was still on the whiteboard of some PR guy, so it’s no surprise that the developers thought the game’s future setting would be received well, after all CoD is the same thing every year and 12 year olds on the internet know their stuff…

BUT NO! We see the Call of Duty brand try to distance itself from present day and World War settings, because people were crying at Activision that every new CoD is just a ”re-hash” (sound familiar?) and so the publisher came up with this kind-of-complex-but-not-really plan for giving the rights to three studios who can have three years for development for their game in order to increase the quality, while still being able to release Call of Duty games annually. While not perfect, the games were not a huge disappointment with Ghosts being the most disliked one. Speaking of dislikes the ”controversial” Infinite Warfare reveal trailer sits at 2,800 000 dislikes (as of the writing of this article). The comments there are a circle-jerk of people trying to say clever and cleverer things, while the positive comments are drowned in the sea of negativity. We’re experiencing the ”Cool Kids Table Syndrome” (as it shall be known from now on!). Out of the almost 3 million dislikes I can almost GUARANTEE, AT LEAST a million and a half are due to “children” (actual or otherwise juvenile) who want to feel accepted by the herd of idiots mindlessly disliking the trailer. I went and did my homework comparing all of the new CoD trailers from Ghost to IW and there seems to be a  pretty interesting statistic. So apparently the IW reveal trailer has the most likes out of any of the new games with Black Ops 3 sitting behind it. It’s also the third most viewed trailer out of the four and strangely enough Ghosts has the least disliked trailer of the four (and look how that turned out). So if anything, you can’t really trust YouTube statistics. I’m not saying that they don’t mean anything, but out of 100 000 comments saying they won’t buy the game, 60 000 had probably made their mind before the trailer even came out.

The bottom line is this: we have seen less than 3 minutes of this year’s Call of Duty, and all of a sudden people are calling it quits, while jumping ship to Battlefield which would apparently take place in WW1 now. I have zero interest in a past setting and have already made my choice, and even though Infinite Warfare may be a bad game, it may even be Game of the Year (the same could happen to Battlefield). All I’m saying is that we should wait and see the actual quality of the game instead of bashing it because of a few minutes of cinematics and a David Bowie cover. Time and again we’ve seen that the Call of Duty community has become too hard to please, demanding new and exciting things, then complaining they don’t get a World War setting. So let’s just wait and see how Infinite Warfare turns out, alright?

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