Call of Duty: Ghosts critique - a word of warning following the next-gen hype
Among the highlights of today's news cycle was the world premiere of Call of Duty: Ghosts, the next installation in the critically acclaimed Call of Duty series and developer Infinity Ward's first foray into the next generation. Activision CEO Eric Hirschberg made a number of promises at Microsoft's Xbox One reveal this morning: Ghosts will offer a new, "character-driven" world with the best FPS gameplay to date.
We can waste time focusing on the timed exclusivity of Xbox content that we expected to carry into the next generation, but for PlayStation and Xbox gamers alike, the reveal of Call of Duty: Ghosts was an invigorating glimpse into what the next generation will offer us on the frontlines. Month-long exclusivity is, while occasionally irritating, is not a dealbreaker or a reason to buy one console over another.
But before we all begin setting money aside for Activision's bestseller, I encourage fans of the franchise to restrain themselves until E3 2013 in three weeks' time. The Xbox reveal undoubtedly garnered a considerable amount of attention from the entire gaming community, leading some to assert their love for Xbox One and others to begin investing in the PlayStation 4, and this was exactly what Activision was hoping for. By keeping the audience waiting with bated breath and ending with the reveal of Call of Duty: Ghosts, Hirschberg could have said and shown virtually anything, instantly winning over the wallets of millions of gamers.
At first look, I was just as tantalized as the rest of the viewing audience. Ghost's visuals are awe-inspiring: a vast improvement over previous titles and a very good indicator of the kind of sights we can expect from developers in the years to come. Apart from visuals, despite Hirschberg's note that actual gameplay would be shown during the world premiere, Activision had very little to show beyond the creation of the game and some stunning cinematic scenes. Both of these aspects--visuals and draw-dropping scenes--were already expected by the gaming community at large, as they've been a pivotal part of every preceding Call of Duty title.
In other words: Activision only showed us what we already knew.
What Activision failed to do was illustrate (Hirschberg said it plenty) the supposed emotional connections gamers will make with the game's characters, or how the new engine will create an improved gameplay experience. The absence of actual gameplay could mean a number of things: It could mean that Activision is simply trying to mask the fact that Ghosts isn't a far cry from its predecssors. Or Activision could simply be waiting for E3 to give further evidence of Hirschberg's promises.
Reasoning aside, I know how easy it is to get on the bandwagon. When bits and pieces of footage, even if most of it is unrelated to gameplay, are shown and accompanied by hype-inducing promises to an already eager audience, it is incredibly easy to go from being undecided on the title to feeling like it's a "must-buy." But, for the sake of spending our money wisely and not being fooled by strategic advertisement tactics, let's reserve our judgement and wait until E3 before deciding that Call of Duty: Ghosts is the "next big thing."
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