The age old first person shooter rivalry has fired up again, now that Call of Duty has clearly given a large scale 32vs32 game mode a shot. Fans have been excited to see Ground War, the biggest game mode for the franchise to be introduced during the second wave of the open beta. Initial reaction to Ground War has been that of ‘it is just like Battlefield’, with one popular Reddit-thread even arguing that it feels more like Battlefield than Battlefield. Admittedly, at first glance there is a striking similarity between the Ground War game mode and Battlefield’s wildly popular Conquest game mode, but there are a few glaring differences to the two. And here’s why.
Sure, there’s a large map with multiple capture points that the two ‘armies’ have to fight over; that aligns with your typical Battlefield gameplay. The problem is though that the map design featured in the beta, Karst River Quarry, is really just a regular Call of Duty map in disguise, featuring two points (A and E) so close to the opposing team spawns that they’re basically always uncontested. The central three points (B, C, and D) give you the same, close quarter struggle as every other Domination game. Except of course, for the vehicles soaring through the air and racing between the three main buildings.
And while on the subject of vehicles, those too are vastly different from Battlefield’s motorized gameplay mechanics. Modern Warfare’s vehicle control layout is much more basic and less like you are piloting a military vehicle. They don’t have the same impact on a large scale fight as, say, a tank in Battlefield 4 can have. Decked out with cruise missiles and infrared optics, a tank can really sway a fight in a teams favor. As for the beta of Ground War, tanks and helicopters really only impact the open areas that, because of the lay-out of the objectives in Karst River Quarry, are largely ignored by infantry.
That wouldn’t be an issue though, if Modern Warfare featured destruction. Of course, Battlefield (and the whole Frostbite Engine) has been designed to encompass the destructive nature of warfare, not just the gun fighting aspect. But because destruction is not a part of Modern Warfare, the real importance of vehicles is lost. Sure, you don’t want to have to walk from point A to points B, C, and D all the time, but apart from transportation, vehicles only serve the ‘it is fun to use them once in a while to keep it fresh’ narrative.
Lastly – and maybe even the main reason why we felt the need to point out the many differences between the two – it is important to differentiate the way combat works in the two games. Modern Warfare has some of the fastest time to kill (TTK) of any Call of Duty game. Compare that to Battlefield, where people are significantly more bullet spongy, and you have a fundamental reason why Ground War just doesn’t feel like Battlefield.
Because of a longer TTK, Battlefield allows for a more pronounced push-and-pull feel during a match. Fights are drawn out and the player therefore has more time to savor the current state of a fight, assess where front lines are, and – if they’re lucky – even find a way to exploit that state of the battle. Call of Duty is much more fast paced, which makes it difficult to analyze a fight. You will probably have a lot more success (and fun) running to the nearest contested point and just fighting there.
In short, in it’s current state Modern Warfare’s Ground War doesn’t seem to scratch that Battlefield-itch for us. That’s not to say that the reboot of one of the most influential shooters of this millennium isn’t great. Quite the contrary, it’s a fantastic addition to the franchise and maybe even the best Call of Duty game since the original Modern Warfare. But in it’s current state we don’t see Ground War pull in the hardcore Battlefield community just yet.
Disclaimer: We at Game Enthusiast are aware that Modern Warfare and the Ground War mode are still in beta. Therefore everything that we have described here is subject to change.