I’ve noticed something strange recently: for whatever reason, first-person shooter campaigns published by EA tend to be lackluster. No seriously, hear me out. Third-person shooters that sport the EA label, like Dead Space, Mass Effect and Freedom Fighters tend to be well-made games. However, when it comes to first-person shooters that EA have published, you tend to get games that are dull and uninspired, as if the iconic circle surrounding two capital letters somehow curses any FPS campaign it touches. You get games like Syndicate, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and…. Battlefield 3.
Yes, Battlefield 3. Those of you who played it certainly remember it, don’t you? Actually, you probably don’t, since it was about as generic, plodding, insultingly linear and lifeless as shooter campaigns come. Don’t take my word for it, though. Just ask the internet, of whom the vast majority thought BF3’s campaign was a genuine waste of time. The fellow in the video below certainly makes a great case.
It’s not hard to see why this happened, since DICE likely rushed the campiagn in order for the game to come out close to MW3’s release. Let’s face it, Battlefield has always been seen as primarily a multiplayer shooter anyway, so there was no real creative drive behind the campaign. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be a great stretch to say that DICE had no interest in making a campaign and were forced by EA to shoehorn one in. A tragic occurrence, for sure, but one that got me thinking:
Perhaps Battlefield 4 shouldn’t even have a campaign.
I know that’s going to sound absolutely bananas coming from me. After all, I’m the guy who
scribbles writes for a site that is solely focused on single-player gaming. Why would I want a game to purposefully exclude a single-player portion?
Well, you see, I’m not necessarily a supporter of single-player games. I’m a supporter of GOOD, WELL-MADE single-player games, and I firmly believe that if DICE and EA decide to tack on another uninspired campaign to the inevitable Battlefield 4, featuring the same lack of time and effort, it won’t do anyone any favors. In fact, if anything, it’ll be harmful to both the overall game as well as EA’s image. The following are a few reasons why:
It’ll only serve to lessen the Battlefield brand and EA in the eyes of single-player gamers
People are incredibly skeptical when they see a publisher or developer’s logo on a game. I’m one of the many who scoff when I see Rebellion’s logo appear on a box, or have second thoughts when I see Activision.
The same is true of IPs themselves, however. If you thought Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age II were festering piles (as did many), then it’s likely you’ll be less excited about future Bioware projects and perhaps you’ll even promise not to buy them (as did many). If someone feels they wasted their money on a $60 game (more for you poor Aussie folks) when they could have bought something else, it really does make an impact.
So, we have skepticism of the developer, skepticism of the publisher, and skepticism of the brand itself at risk here. These are not things EA and DICE can afford to jeaporidize any further, and by carelessly serving gamers another ‘bleh’ campaign, they could really end up hurting their public image. What if they end up publishing a good single-player FPS one day? Not as many people will trust them at that point and be willing to give them a chance.
If a publisher/developer has a track record of making lackluster games, even just in one specific genre, it can really damage their reputation. EA’s already on thin ice; the last thing they need is heavier skates.
Resources will be diverted from the multiplayer portion
When us single-players run our mouths off about unnecessary multiplayer modes using up resources that would be better spent on the single-player, we fail to mention that the opposite is also true in some cases.
I like Battlefield’s multiplayer. It’s one of the few multiplayer games I can stand playing for more than 10 minutes, and it’s become one of the few truly popular multiplayer shooter franchises, one that has successfully established dedicated and long-lasting communities.
It’s what the game does well, so why not give it as much breathing room as possible? Many gamers had genuine complaints with Battlefield 3’s multiplayer, such as lacking environmental destruction compared to Bad Company 2 as well as some iffy map design, bugs, etc. Had they dropped the campaign altogether and focused all their manpower on the multiplayer, they could have ironed out those issues and turned the multiplayer from consensually ‘very good’ to ‘excellent.’
Reviewers will score the game lower
When you were reading/watching Battlefield 3 reviews, I bet you probably read/heard a statement similar to the following one:
“Man, this game’s multiplayer is amazing! I’d like to give it a 9.5/10, but gee… that single-player campaign… because of that, I have to knock the score down to a 9 or even an 8.5.”
A lot of critics view games as a ‘whole package’ kind of deal. They take all of the game’s components into account, meaning they’ll bring down the score for Spec Ops: The Line for having tacked on multiplayer or they’ll bring it down for Battlefield 3 if it’s single-player campign is not up to snuff. Their philosophy is “if it’s here, I have to take it into account.”
Personally, I feel that method of reviewing is flawed, but who am I to say how they should review games? That’s how they do it, and if a multiplayer-focused game also happens to contain a terrible campaign, they’ll consider it when scoring the game and bring down what could have been a higher score. The message here should be firmly established: if you’re going to include a single-player portion, do it well or not at all.
I’m sure there are other problems we could touch upon regarding a hackneyed campaign for Battlefield 4, but by now it should be apparent that making such a move is not wise.
Battlefield doesn’t need a single-player campaign in order to be successful. Nobody in their right mind buys a Battlefield game for the campaign, and those who do end up being disappointed and more opposed to its publisher and developer as a result. Battlefield 3’s campaign was an entity that grappled onto the game like a leech, sucking up resources while giving the product nothing worthwhile in return.
Hear us out, EA and DICE. Drop single-player for Battlefield. Focus your budget and time on the game’s multiplayer, which is what really matters to everyone who buys the game. If you want to enter the single-player campaign stage, really bring you’re a game, because it’s a competitive market with genuine standards. Maybe you could drop Medal of Honor’s multiplayer and make that a single-player focused brand.
Battlefield 3 was like a battlefield in itself; a multiplayer faction and a single-player faction warring against each other, vying for resources and territory. Even though multiplayer was the clear victor, the United Nations of EA forced multiplayer to make uneasy peace with single-player, allowing it to lazily occupy the same country while sitting on its butt and doing nothing worthwhile. Next time, UN/EA, choose a true victor. Let the multiplayer win out, because it deserves it, and take the defeated single-player under your wing. Train it, teach it, then put it back out onto the battlefield to fight foes of its own ilk. That way, you’ll end up breeding a stronger warrior for yourself.