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How Battlefield 4 can embrace realism and pull the trigger on Call of Duty: Ghosts

Last week, after noticing their sudden availability, I snagged a PlayStation 4 Battlefield 4 launch bundle on Amazon. Considering the $499.99 price tag, I’m either a Battlefield-fanatic or a moron. More likely, I’m both.

Around the same time, after confirming my affinity for the destructible environments DICE offers over the cookie-cutter regurgitations of the Call of Duty series, I decided to renew my love-affair with Battlefield 3. I glanced through its trophies, sighed at the “0” alongside my Platinum trophy icon, and decided Battlefield 3 would be the game to tick that to a “1”. I haven’t gotten it yet, but I’m getting closer everyday. I encourage any fans of the game’s cooperative mode to contact me.

Yesterday evening, amid my quest for the Platinum trophy, my friend Alex made a comment while watching that I can’t help but wholehearteldy agree with:

“Wouldn’t it be awesome if Battlefield 4 had a no-bull**** game mode where when you die, you die? You can still be healed, but no second chances once the number under ‘deaths’ ticks up to one.”

A few doubts crossed my mind: Wouldn’t that make matches oddly short? Wouldn’t that be frustrating? How would medics work? Could you be revived? The questions go on and on.

I quickly tossed those questions aside and considered the larger picture: Battlefield has always been the first-person shooter to bring authentic, realistic experiences. I still shutter in awe whenever I see a rocket devour the side of a building in Battlefield 3.  DICE has made the leap towards 64-player lobbies, meaning larger-scale strategies can be deployed and rounds will naturally be slightly longer. All of this would either be improved upon or balanced by having only one life at your disposal.

What would be more authentic, more motivating, and more realistic than a game mode in which you are given one life to work with?

The round starts. You’re surrounded by 32 other players. Shotgun in hand, you sprint forward in hope of pumping unexpecting enemies full of lead. You fail to consider the ominous building up ahead, and the figure staring out at you from a gaping window. Gunshot. You’re wounded, but not dead.

In this typical situation, consider how many dynamics of the game would be changed if all 31 of your teammates had no lives to spare:

Would the team medic come to save you? Normally a medic would. I sure would. In Battlefield 3 I’m the hero sprinting through the crossfire with a defibrilator as if I’m Brad Pitt in World War Z.

Would the team take more time to protect the medic? Not everyone is a medic, so protecting the medic would suddenly be more important. You can’t just let one of your few medics run out onto the battlefield to risk his life for the idiot with a shotgun.

Would the enemy team take advantage of this moment of confusion and sprint forward, or continue holding back? When you have only one life, every strategic decision suddenly requires a second thought. Teams would be more likely to stick together and, if they want to succeed, would need to come up with a strategy by which everyone must adhere.

This would be Battlefield’s hardcore more, and it would emphasize the game’s dedication to a realistic military experience. The strategies and mindsets that would develop in such a unforgiving mode would look entirely different from those in the more traditional game modes. The run-and-gun mentality would become infeasiable, and the super-heroic medic would well, stop being such a hero. Snipers would in turn be infinitely more threatening and valuable to a team.

You could take this concept even further. A shot to the leg could slow down your soldier, a shot to the arm disable you from switching weapons. None of these ideas should replace the traditional FPS experience I’ve come to adore, but it is not unrealistic, or even much of a stretch, to deem it impossible to be made into one, or a couple of truly nerve-wracking gameplay experiences.

Capitalize on realism, DICE, and you’ll continue innovating the FPS genre while Call of Duty continues to carry the same ideas from game-to-game, generation-to-generation.

Battlefield 4 will be releasing for the PlayStation 3 on October 29, 2013, and upon the launch of the PlayStation 4, which remains a mystery.

Aside – I might bash Call of Duty, but I own Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4, Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II. I have also purchased nearly all of the downloadable content for each of those games. Call of Duty is certainly a lot of fun, and somehow I’ll probably end up with a copy of Ghosts, but my expectations and excitement for Battlefield 4 are much higher.

Steven Chaffin, Jr. is an American editor for PlayStation Universe. When the PS4 launches this holiday season, Steven will be leading the front lines in Battlefield 4, and will be exploring the open-world of The Witcher 3 when it releases in 2014. You can get more from Steven on his blog, or on Twitter @runnersravings.