Sorry, Black Ops. It’s me, not you.
As the second weekend for Call of Duty: Black Ops IV Beta comes out, I thought this was be a good time to explain why this will be the first Call of Duty: Black Ops game I will not be preordering.
I first started playing when my boyfriend at the time picked up a Playstation 3 bundle with Black Ops. Neither he nor I had played an FPS in a while, but we were in college and it seemed like the best time to get back into video games. Also, I was 1 year sober from my World of Warcraft addiction and really missed playing. When he went off to work, I borrowed his system and played multiplayer without him. It was great! Of course, nothing could replace couch co-op, but I had so much fun playing online, talking trash, and getting the most kills (or least on my off days). I even fell into the storyline (“What do the numbers mean, Mason??”) and played that all the way through.
I learned a few things at this time. One, I was hooked. FPS games were back on my rotation with a huge love for the Call of Duty franchise. Two, I loved the maps. The multiplayer maps were so different and interesting I found I needed to adopt different strategies depending on where my character got dropped off. Finally, I noticed that I got better at an FPS when I played the campaign mode first. The campaign mode had you play with all the major weapons you’d find in multiplayer before you hopped into that mode. That practice can mean the difference between victory and loss.
So, of course, I preordered Black Ops II and experienced all the fun again. From campaign to multiplayer, I would come home from work everyday and hop on to see what new gear and cosmetics I could unlock. In my opinion, this was the strongest of the multiplayer modes in the Black Ops series. It was fluid, the matchmaking seemed accurate, and I didn’t fell I was at a disadvantage with a lower internet speed.
Then Black Ops III came out. The campaign was disappointing (Was it all really a simulation?) and the multiplayer’s introduction of specialists was a little frustrating. Also, microtransactions started to really feel like you needed them to get better gear — rather than just fancy cosmetics. I also just wasn’t great at taking the most advantage of double jumps and wall runs, which I’m sure didn’t help my cause. I still played though, but my interest waned quickly compared to the earlier installments. I think I completely stopped playing after only a few months.
My love for the series wasn’t gone though and I picked up other ones like Infinite Warfare and WWII. They were fun, but, like Black Ops III, I just couldn’t stay hooked.
Now we’re here at Black Ops IV and I have no intention of continuing to play the franchise. Here’s why:
- No Storyline – Remember when I said that I played the campaign mode to practice using the gear before hopping into multiplayer? Well, I can’t do that anymore if I pick up this game. Based on a recent Hollywood Reporter interview, it seems to me that fans don’t really seem interested in campaign mode anymore, but I still am! I’m sure more fans would if you wrote good storylines like in the first two installments.
- Battle Royale mode (I mean, Blackout) – While I get that PUBG and Fortnite make battle royale seem cool, that’s not what the Black Ops series was all about. It was more a focus on teamwork and bringing the enemy down together. I understand the need to pivot to fans’ needs, but really, this just feels like a desperate move to stay relevant against all the other FPS games.
- Still keeping those microtransactions… – I get it. Microtransactions are a great way for a game to increase their profit margin. However, I am so tired of seeing microtransactions that when I saw that one of the preorder incentives was CoD points (used for transactions) I blanched in disgust. No, thank you. I’ll play something else.
So, the natural way to conclude this piece is by talking about what CoD could do to bring me back into the game. The problem is, I’m not sure there is one. They could come out with a good campaign, fluid multiplayer, etc, but I’m not sure I want to give them a chance anymore. Upon further reflection, I think I know why.
At 27, I think I’m getting too old for this franchise.
Hear me out before you go out saying “But, Virginia, I’m 40 and love these games still. I’m not too old for this!” Good for you, but we’re talking about me here.
A lot has happened to me since I put the first disc in for Black Ops. I graduated college, got a job, found my career, and am now working on advancing said career. My free time is precious to me, and I really need to be smart about how I spend it. I could play Black Ops IV or I can spend my money on games with decent campaign modes. I could support an indie developer who’s trying something different with the genre. I could also spend my time sleeping; which is a luxury for me these days.
If you want to keep up with the Black Ops franchise, please, go pre-order the game and get the most bang for your buck. If you’re like me though, and realize that you don’t have the free time you had once before to play, know that you aren’t alone.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases on October 12, 2018 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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