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The Downfall of the Modern FPS: Why "Call of Duty" Sucks

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Flashy = Cool!

What's Wrong With Call of Duty?

Call of Duty is breaking records. Since CoD:4 Modern Warfare, the first-person shooter series has taken the video gaming world by storm, perennially outselling most games on the Xbox 360 and the PS3.

Black Ops was labeled the “best-selling entertainment title of all time,” selling over seven million copies on the first day of release, and Modern Warfare 3 is looking to gross more than it, boasting a 32% increase in pre-orders. Battlefield, the rival FPS franchise, has been selling more and more each year as well, culminating in Battlefield 3 recently selling five million copies in its first week.

The problem with the two FPSs: nothing, if you’re Activision or EA, or if you’re just a casual gamer looking to simply shoot down some people on the weekends. But for more hardcore and competitive gamers, the departure in quality of first-person shooters has been very, very apparent.

Call of Duty is leading the charge for this drop in FPS quality, but why would it fix anything? Technically, from a fiscal standpoint, it’s not even “broken;” in fact, it’s doing better every year!

This is the reason for the loss of innovation in the FPS genre—if a game wants to be successful, it has to follow the “tried and true” structure laid down by Call of Duty; a cinematic, linear, single-player campaign, fast-paced, gun-on-gun multiplayer.

Video game publishers aren’t willing to take risks in trying to sell unconventional takes on FPSs, so innovation is almost shut out completely across the board.


When did it become mandatory for a first-person shooter to have a single-player campaign?

Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2 didn’t, and they did fine—the games were received as groundbreaking, and people couldn’t stop playing them.

It started with Call of Duty, which from the onset, included a campaign. CoD:4 brought it to the mainstream, though. Modern Warfare’s single-player mode was filled with explosions, flashy cut-scenes, and no creativity whatsoever. You had to go where the arrows pointed and do exactly what you were told.

Battlefield followed suit with Bad Companies and Battlefield 3, including short, “intense” campaigns in an attempt to attract more buyers (campaigns make better commercial fodder).

The problem is that the developers started spending more time in making these modes and less in multiplayer modes, where gamers barely even spend any time in the single-player (most players probably play one play-through, 6 to 10 hours, while spending weeks or usually, months, on the multiplayer).

In trying to appeal to the broadest audience, FPSs have become watered-down.

In trying to appeal to the broadest audience, FPSs have become watered-down.

An Ode to the Casual Gamer

With the success of Call of Duty and Battlefield heading into more watered-down versions of their previous selves, the key to success in the FPS industry has become obvious—cater to the casual gamer.

Game developers have found that for more people to buy their games, they have to make the average gamer feel like they are good at the game. Hard-to-learn games apparently aren’t worth playing anymore, but easy, instantly gratifying games are?

Call of Duty has had a recurring theme: guns with ridiculously small amounts of recoil. This takes away the need to have any skill for gun-on-gun combat; you don’t need any practice; you just point and hold the trigger. Sniper rifles in the Modern Warfare series simply zoom in and one-hit-kill at any range, requiring very little skill.

Grenade launchers (commonly known as “noob-tubes”) have been a part of Call of Duty that has angered the community every single year, but the developers insist to keep them in the game to cater to gamers who can’t aim. They’re perennially labeled as annoying, overpowered, and dumb, yet they have stayed in the game.

Modern Warfare 3 has even tried to hide the fact that grenade launchers are still in the game; in the previous games, there was a unique symbol in the kill-feed if someone was killed by a grenade launcher. But in the last installment of the franchise, the symbol in the kill-feed is gone. Basically, the developers are trying to hide the fact that people are getting killed by the noob-tubes and pretend away the problem.

Knives kill in one hit. Guns kill in two to four hits. Knifing is easy—another ode to the casual gamer. Similar to the grenade launcher, you don’t really have to aim your knife. Many interesting ideas about knifing taking two hits to kill from the front and one from the back have been suggested, but to the chagrin of the gaming community, no changes have been made.

In addition to easy-to-use weapons, death-streaks, basically benefits for dying many times in a row, have made a comeback in Modern Warfare 3. There’s absolutely no need to reward players for doing badly; the only use for them is for securing the sub-par-player demographic.


Jason on April 01, 2016:

CoD sucks. I don't understand why the hell it sells so much. I don't understand Black Ops' Metacritic score either, and the only explanation is that the reviewers are paid off. Meanwhile unique FPS games like Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 get only a 2.5 on metacritic. What I dislike the most about CoD is the lack of choice. What made DooM so good? You have choices in that game. Ran out of BFG ammunition? That's alright, just use the double barreled shotgun. Since it's hard to kill it with a double barreled shotgun you die. Next time you should save the BFG ammunition for the stronger enemies. Or you can again try to kill them with the double barreled shotgun, but it would take more skill to kill them that way. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 also gives the player choices. The reason the Call of Duty series doesn't give the player choices is because they don't trust the player. They think that they know better. But the best games I've ever played give me a lot of choices to shape the gameplay to what I want.

DixieKongJD on October 30, 2015:

This is old...

But I absolutely agree. I get bashed at school and called a '****ing r*t*rd*d' or some other thing for liking games mostly made before 2010.

Most of them like COD, although a few have the sense to hate AW with a passion. However ALL COD is crap especially after MW2 (excluding black ops), the quick scoping elitist bastards.

All kids and adults who like Call of Duty MW2 and post-games should be thrown under a bus. Oh wait, that's an insult to the bus.

REAL games like goldeneye 007, DKC2 and other games had proper multiplayer, smooth gameplay and nowadays you don't need to fork out much money for them. Oh yeah, and they last longer and have a future value, unlike Call of Duty.

I don't play much FPS anymore (besides retro ones) because of the idiocy of the genre. It's making video games look worse and is also making smaller-selling games fail to be known.

I blame it on mass media advertising, peer pressure, people's idiocy, and the companies paying critics to review them highly (especially for a certain console as well).

If you want to get a real console with first-party titles get a Wii U, and you can download virtual console (old) games too and play them. Or alternatively get a SNES or N64.

End of my rant,

-Dixie Kong

Mr Inviincible on June 13, 2014:

Yes! Thank you. This is what I am trying to tell everyone. The franchise is so bad and I can not stand the lack of quality. I share similar thoughts and I though your article was very good.

Hockey boss on March 16, 2014:

What about the new factor in mw3 with it being simple to get a kill because I have hallow points those are noexistant and then u have the screaming three year old swearing every other word

Yumad on January 01, 2014:

"Sniper rifles in the Modern Warfare series simply zoom in and one-hit-kill at any range, requiring very little skill."

Yes, they are very skillless. You personally could go 50 and 0 with a sniper rifle I bet. You don't even have to aim! The sniper rifle shoots for you. I guess in console peasant games it does.

boom on November 19, 2013:

SOCOM is coming back in January!

Styx on November 04, 2013:

I agree with your points completely, but there's a well known game outside these repetitive patterns: Team Fortress 2. The graphic style is unique, the gameplay fast-paced, but tactical, you need a lot of skills to master it and, most important, practice. Every class plays like another game, and, despite the lack of a single player campaign, the game has one of the most compelling, funniest and original fluff I've ever seen.

Big Ole' on October 27, 2013:

I used to play Call of Duty so many times until I got bored and figured out why it was a piece of shit game compared to Borderlands 2. I'm glad I know the truth!!

God Of Gaming on October 16, 2013:

For 2013, there were only 2 worthy FPS games - Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and the new Shadow Warrior. Everything else was crap.

my name shall remain anonymous on August 29, 2013:

You're not alone either Yomama I still enjoy metroid prime.

Ze Figurant on August 16, 2013:

You're not alone Yomama, but metroid prime isn't an fps, it's a piece of art!

Yomama on August 09, 2013:

Am i the only one here that plays metroid prime? (even though its not that much like an fps...)

snakeryu on May 09, 2013:

are you kidding me bf3 is the same garbage that plagues multiplayer gaming. Now bf2 and bf1942 was a great game no leveling require(unlocking weapons or perks garbage). The battlefield was balance, which took actual skill to play and made it fun. I didn't have to play the FPS games like they were MMO back then. CSS, Quake, Renegade, Half life, and old school COD were the greatest. Those games test your Skills(reflex, tactical strategies, accuracy, communication, teamwork). WTF happen, when did the world become a place where you get a reward for doing nothing.

OLDGAMER on May 02, 2013:


jono on April 30, 2013:

bf3 will always be awesome cods screaming little children

FistMarine on February 15, 2013:

I'm 17 and I have grown up with classics such as Duke Nukem 3D, Quake 1-2-3, Doom 1 & 2, Wolfenstein 3D, etc.

On the other hand, everyone from my classroom love modern games such as COD, Battlefield, etc. Well, there is an exception: "Counter-Strike", it's very popular in my country, the boys from my classroom always make a LAN and play against each other though because people are rude nowadays, I try to enter to play with them and they kick me out because I love old-school games! WTF??? CS is also an old school game, that's what they don't realize. I mean it was based off Quake engine but they don't believe me when I say "If Doom or Quake didn't existed, then neither your stupid COD didn't exist too", they laugh and say "COD is better than any other game". And also say that "Maybe Doom, Quake, Duke3D were good when they will be released but today they suck." or something like that. People have no respect for the classics.

Screw the modern games, they have nothing compared to the classics!

Jack from United Kingdom on February 12, 2013:

I totally understand your thoughts. The death streaks however, I rather enjoy, sometimes I have a bad match, and I don't want my K/D to go down too much just for that one match, the death streaks help prevent that, and therefore, in some situations, can be very beneficial to the average player.

Ttocs L (author) on January 13, 2013:

these comments are better thought out than what I wrote

szl on January 12, 2013:

Pretty much agree.

V:CoD and CoD 2 were awesome games, as was CS, DoD and Bf1942. I played all these games competitively.

When MW came out I picked it up and was so disappointed. In order to actually challenge myself in MP I would either run around with only a pistol or only no scoped sniper.

You missed a whole lot of what ruined CoD and BF though. Perks, "weapon levels," and "Hardcore mode" are the dumbest things to ever exist in games.

Remember when people used wall hacks? Oh now it's a perk in CoD. Lets add in a UAV for good measure.

Remember when people used to be chastised for being "campers?" Now we have a mode (hardcore) that rewards camping and makes camping the most rewarding play style.

Oh and the joy it brought me in BF:BC2 when they decided to add weapon levels, so my team is made up of 20000000 snipers all just camping trying to max out that kit and the other team is doing the same.

Maps have become way to big with far to many places to hide. MP_Harbor in V:CoD was a great example of a well developed map. You had 2 choke points, with 3-4 hiding spots at each. You knew where the action was and where people would be, it was basically who was better. Now theres so many different ways around and each map has 1000000 hiding spots it slows the game down immensely.

Lets not forget APMs, tripwires and all the other garbage to make sure any semblance of skill is taken out of the game.

Remember when the MP40 was great up close but sucked from distance, while the 44 was great at distance but not so good up close? Yeah screw that, now every gun is good at range and close, oh and you are having trouble aiming? Don't worry, here's a red dot or acog. I remember in MW picking people off from across the map with a SMG, something which should never happen in a game.

I notice there is a lot of hate on snipers. I remember a time when sniping took A LOT of skill. They made it wayyyy to easy to snipe. In turn, instead of balancing sniper rifles and making it skill based, they decided to beef up the other guns. There is literally no point in sniping in any of these games anymore because you can snipe with any gun.

One thing I really enjoyed about BF1942 especially (and other FPS games) was that a noob couldn't just pick up the game and do well. In BF1942 if you were new chances were you were getting smashes by more experienced players..... The gameplay in the newer games has been so dumbed down that new players can come in and destroy people.

Its sad when I hear people talk about how good CoD is or how excited they are to get the latest CoD game. CoD is a shit series that caters to awful players who have no idea about the golden age of FPS games.

MadD on January 05, 2013:

I was once a passionate online shooter player, but I find myself completely losing interest in contemporary multiplayer FPS games. Call of Duty is just spray and pray; it offers very meager rewards for any player skill. If both players are at least competent, it's lag compensation or luck, not skill, that determines the winner. Not to mention that the community is completely retarded. Just a bunch of silly kids that will curse at you and whine every time they die. Between them, the spray-and-pray mechanic and the utterly horrible killstreaks / scorestreaks, there's not really much for me to like about this game.

So will say to play Battlefield instead. Personally, I find it pointless. The maps are too big and I have no desire to wander around for 5 minutes just so that I can get 10 seconds of action and then repeat this process.

I used to play Quake 1, 2 and 3 very actively. I loved those games because you could always get better and get rewarded for it. The moves that looked very easy to perform took weeks of dedication to perfect. Also in the style of old-school online shooters, Quake gameplay had built in purpose. You HAD to move around all the time for strategic reasons - pick up health, armor, weapons, ammo and power-ups. You HAD to control important parts of the maps at certain times (e.g. waiting for a power-up to respawn) if you wanted to win. Quake was devoid of contemporary stupidity such as the health regeneration system. Low on health? Obtain health items either aggressively or by retreating. No one will hold your hand and let you regenerate it fully by simply standing still for a few seconds. Health regeneration rewards players for making mistakes (stuck your head out and got shot? It's OK, you'll be fine soon). It's the same kind of evil as the deathstreaks were in MW3. I want EVERYTHING I do in a shooter to have consequences. Why should a guy that I shot three times from a distance be able to just walk away and shrug off the damage in a few seconds without doing anything at all?

Honestly, by removing such simple elements, any game just becomes pointless. I did not play Quake for realism. I played it for its competitiveness and constant action, but most of all FUN. Team deathmatch in a game such as COD is pointless and without purpose. The best logical course of action is to find good camping spots and use them to your advantage. There is nothing motivating you to advance anywhere. Objective type playlists mitigate that to certain degree but it's still missing the elements that I described above.

Josh on December 22, 2012:

Seems pretty accurate, yeah. The only shooter that really remains unique is Halo.

ShadowFury12 on December 15, 2012:

actually jcdenton, the last good fps was bioshock. it had a great and well made campaign that was amazing! quake and half life were also amazing games. halo hasn't been good since halo 3, and a lot of developers just aren't making fps' like they used to.

TheRedSnifit on November 14, 2012:

CoD is an awful franchise, ruining once-great series like F.E.A.R, Resident Evil, and Battlefield. The only modern FPS games that manage to stay unique are Halo and Team Fortress 2.

I do disagree with suggestions that the knife should take 2 hits to kill in the front and 1 to kill in the back. This is already done in Halo, but it's balanced by making by less powerful guns so that it's actually possible to get within striking distance. In CoD, this would render the knife completely useless, since weapons kill so quickly.

jcdenton on November 10, 2012:

The last great FPS was half life 2, virtually every thing since then is absolute rubbish. I enjoyed the first 2 COD games and the same goes for MOH.

In my opinion the best FPS games are those that mix a good story line with good action and the need to use your noggin to complete each level.

Games such as Duke Nukem 3D, Quake 1 + 2, DOOM 1 + 2 Return to Castle Wolfenstein even Wolfenstein 3D is much more engaging and challenging the the latest installments of COD and the likes.

Though the best game of all time for me has to be the first Deus Ex, this game has no multiplayer, however that is reflected in the fact that the game developers obviously put all their time and effort into creating an amazing single player game.

Modern FPS games are an absolute insult to the gaming industry, I think the population is being dumbed down.

KfcNyanCat on October 24, 2012:

Why I stick to DOOM. Great, hard, lengthy single player mode, great multiplayer, no noob-tubes, no sniping, support of add-ons, (Adding to the already great single player), creativity, and NO LEVELING UP!!!!

Socomfan on September 03, 2012:

My first online game was Socom 1. Back then we didn't need killstreaks because NO one could be a rambo hero and survive more than a few encounters usually before their Health was chipped away. Less people camped because of no kill streaks and people used tactical teamwork! Socom 1,2,3, and combined assault JUST got shut down on the 31st of august! Ten years!! Now that's a real shooter! Counter strike was the inspiration for it from what i can tell, only 3rd person. That's all i want! Socom 1 and 2 with better graphics and im set!!!

Trollarch's Secret on July 30, 2012:

OhgodnonotMW2. First, Campaign was bland very quick. Special Ops Xbox Live Requires you to have an online friend. If not, then its Contr-oh. Sorry. SOLO play for you. And then we get into multiplayer. Im not even gonna start with how much it sucked

Souvik Roy on June 04, 2012:

To be honest, I loved the the very first call of duty. After Hidden and dangerous 2 and Commandos - Behind enemy lines, it was the third WWII themed game that I played. Cod 2 was good as well, though I disliked the regenerating health part..(I think up to that moment, all the FPS I'd played had health pickups).

I have not played any COD game since then. MW1 seemed like an interesting take but I buy my FPS games mainly for single player and the short campaigns do not cut it for me. Also it is difficult to like a series that has a prick like kotick behind it.

udonknowme on June 01, 2012:

Call of Duty really took off after CoD 4. At the time, that style of gaming was fun. The games get more and more unrealistic and ridiculous every year; but the gameplay and graphics remain the same. MW2 was probably the peak but quickscoping and hackers ruined it. Nothing justifies buying MW3 considering it is the exact same game with added unrealism, arcade crap, quickscoping. And now they're naming their next contribution to the Island of Misfit Games, Black Ops 2. Which really doesn't resemble Black Ops at all other than a guy in 2025 that was in WW2. It looks more like a cartoon Transformers v.s. Star Wars. If you want a game that has less 10 year olds saying the f word every other sentence to sound "cool", actually do something other than run around and get quickscoped, fly jets and helis, and a team based game where you actually contribute to your squad, buy Battlefield 3.

Masonicon on May 06, 2012:

What makes me finds Call of Duty(minus ones that sets in WW2) overrated and sucks is: it's characters are just bunch of wimpy and boring Humans with guns.

sunda on February 29, 2012:

This I why I stick to my good old counter strike, they just don't make skill based shooters like that anymore..

Anurag Ghosh on November 17, 2011:

Battlefield is all about tactics and team play. CoD is for those who like out and out gun play. I like Battlefield more than CoD!

Nexis19 on November 17, 2011:

I agree with you entirely. I happen to be one the few gamer's in my area that isn't 100% obsessed with call of duty. Honestly i fail to see the point in going to a midnight launch of a game, which the majority of my friends did, just to get a game with a four hour campaign, an unbelievably unrealistic combat system and to lose their social lives screaming at a high pitched fourteen year old that just murdered them with a grenade launcher online. Gaming is about getting involved in the game and its story as you try to master it and reach the peak of your potential in said game. Its not about saying to you friends two days after the game is released "I'm level 55". Im sorry but when my friend said this to me i thought three things. 1 Dude i haven't seen you in days. 2. Why does it look like you haven't slept in days? and 3. Get help! Honestly for dedicated gamer's who play a game for the experience the drop in quality of FPS games is tragic at best. Great hub i thoroughly enjoyed it!