PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Games

How Not to Make a Multiplayer Game

Medal of Honor's multiplayer tries to marry elements from Battlefield: Bad Company and Call of Duty but only borrows the surface trappings of these elements and none of the depth.

Medal of Honor was supposed to be EA’s big salvo against Call of Duty, an attempt at bringing down Activision’s juggernaut of a shooter at least a little bit. While I think the single player portion of EA’s game is far better, the multiplayer is surprisingly derivative for such a high profile game. It tries to marry elements from Battlefield: Bad Company and Call of Duty, making what probably sounded like the perfect shooter on paper. But Medal of Honor only borrows the surface trappings of these elements and none of the depth, resulting in a multiplayer mode that feels as if it was made by people who don’t understand why its peers are so popular.

Call of Duty is all about killing people. There may be some objective-based game modes, but from my time with the franchise, it seems that most players ignore these objectives in order to extend the match and rack up more kills. It’s all about the kills, the kill count, the kill streaks, the kill/death ratio; the entire multiplayer revolves around this one action being repeated over and over and over again. Thankfully, the developers (whether it be Infinity Ward or Treyarch) stuff these games with so many different ways to kill people that this repetition doesn’t get boring.

There’s always some new gadget waiting to be unlocked: a new gun, perk, leveled-up perk, or attachment that will make killing easier. There’s a tremendous variety in each Call of Duty game that’s only getting more complex with every entry in the series. Players also have the ability to create their own class, mixing guns and attachments and perks in ways that complement individual play style or that encourage a different kind of play style. These games go out of their way to create variety, giving us an absurd arsenal and then letting us customize that arsenal, but this variety is necessary because the moment-to-moment gameplay rarely changes.

By contrast stands Battlefield: Bad Company, which is more about the team than the individual, so kill count isn’t as important as your overall score. Here, it’s all about the points. Support actions can earn you just as many points as a kill, encouraging players to help each other out in addition to killing, or for those players that aren’t skilled at shooters, it encourages them to stick solely with a support class. It’s these distinct classes that give Bad Company its unique feel.

Each class has its pros and cons. The Assault class is good for straight attacks, but weak against armored vehicles and can drop ammo pickups for teammates. The Engineer can fix friendly vehicles and has a mix of tools to destroy enemy vehicles, like mines or rocket launchers, but isn’t very effective in full on combat. Medics can revive and heal people, but their guns aren’t very accurate, especially at long range. Snipers are the most effective support character; naturally good at long range, and even if you can’t hit a target, you can mark the enemy so he shows up on the map for your team to kill. Motion grenades do this as well, and motor strikes are devastating in the right hands. However, Snipers are weak in close combat. Each class shines in certain situations, making them distinct with different abilities, weapons, and unlocks.

Like Bad Company, Medal of Honor is structured around specific classes, Rifleman, Spec Ops, and Sniper. Unlike Bad Company, there’s very little difference between classes, which renders the entire concept pointless: Support abilities become kill streak rewards, available for all classes. Your guns are different, but not nearly different enough. In terms of practical use on the battlefield, a Spec Ops’s SMG is almost indistinguishable from a Rifleman’s assault rifle. These two classes are essentially identical, and the Sniper is only unique because it gives the player actual long range sniper rifles.

The moment-to-moment gameplay is a clear imitation of Call of Duty in that there’s nothing to do except kill people. Unlike Call of Duty, there’s shockingly little variety in Medal of Honor. Each class gets only three guns, six if you count the “enemy version” of your normal weapons. You’ll mostly be rewarded with attachments and gadgets: red dot sights, extra ammo clips, silencers, etc. But all these unlockables are tied to a class, and this is where the class-based structure becomes a band aid meant to cover up a lack of content. Since there’s so few things to unlock, if these rewards were spread across all classes or if players had the ability to mix and match like in Call of Duty, then there would be so few options that the game would be ridiculed for its barren arsenal. By tying rewards to a specific class, you’ll end up unlocking the same attachment multiple times, giving the illusion of more content.

A friend suggested to me that this may be part of an attempt to make a more realistic multiplayer shooter, as in soldiers aren’t really separated into unique classes and only use a select few guns in real battles. But if D.I.C.E. really wanted this multiplayer to feel realistic there are other things that they could have done. As it is now, Medal of Honor clearly more wants to be more Call of Duty than war sim. Matches are nothing but pure competition, driven by kill counts, kill streaks, and kill/death ratios. Even if that excuse for the limited arsenal holds some measure of truth, it’s just another example of how poorly thought out this multiplayer really is: You can’t be realistic while chasing after Call of Duty (at least in terms of multiplayer).

As it is now, this multiplayer in Medal of Honor is just a poor imitation of better games, and really makes one appreciate the tactical depth of its peers.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.