Though I always thought that Bungie's website did amazing things with Halo statistics, it was always held back a bit by the fact that I'm just not great at playing Halo against others. So it's always cool to see specifics on my play in Halo: Reach, ODST, Halo 3, and Halo 2, but it always sort of comes back with the same basic idea:
"You're kind of shitty at Halo, man."
That's fine. I can take it. The cycle of getting pretty good at something quickly only to never play it again once the review is written sort of comes with the territory in this job. But with all this data collecting, isn't there some way for the game to tell me what I'm doing wrong? Or what I need to be working on? That's the future potential for this sort of stat tracking, and it's one of the potential differentiators for Activision's similar service for Call of Duty called Call of Duty Elite.
Or, at least, Activision's claiming that Elite can make you a better player. The catch is that it isn't really showing much of this "teach you how to be better" potential. I saw an exhaustive presentation for what is, essentially, Activision's version of Bungie's free stats service, complete with personalized heatmaps, and a Steam-like setup that lets like-minded groups commune. "Improve" is even one of the three pillars of the service, which means it was sort of driven into our heads again and again by the presenters. But short of looking at those maps of levels and seeing where you die a lot, it didn't seem like the service was set up to actually systematically tell you what you're doing wrong. It lacks analysis. Even a basic "you need to work on aiming, your opponents are getting shots off on you 0.3 seconds before you're returning fire" would probably help. Instead, it appears that most of that advice is set to come from the community. The "improve" section of the Elite site currently shows maps of all the levels with a bit of descriptive text, as well as articles on every weapon and attachment in the game, which all strikes me as a little basic for the type of person who might be willing to spend time on a site devoted to Call of Duty stats.== TEASER ==
Groups and clan support will also be present. Groups look similar to Steam groups in that they can be about anything, so they can be for fans of in-game characters to fans of football or Chevys or whatever. Clan support was talked about, but not really shown. It, along with most of Call of Duty Elite's features, will be integrated into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 upon its release this November. But the service will also support Black Ops, and the stats that that game has been keeping since its launch last year will be present when Elite rolls out.
Elite will also have support for leagues and tournaments with prizes for top contestants. Some of these challenges won't require top play, though, with different categories like "best screenshot" or "best video clip." Another one listed the "Most Destroys" for Headquarters mode. Hopefully these goals will focus on team-oriented goals over personal goals, as it would be pretty annoying to have everyone on your team going for broke on some specific objective just to win a Jeep--which was one of the placeholder prizes shown on the work-in-progress version of the Elite site we were shown.
Activision's being really cagey about what will cost money and what will be free, and it seems like they actually haven't figured out where to erect the pay wall. Things like stats and groups will, from the sounds of things, probably be free to all players. Considering these services are done for free elsewhere, that's probably a good move. The other potentially interesting thing is that being an Elite member gives you all of the Modern Warfare 3 downloadable add-ons as they're released. That, it's safe to assume, will only be for people with paid accounts. So if we further assume that there will be three map packs released over MW3's lifespan, that's $45 of value right there. How much would you be willing to pay for something like this? Activision will only state that it will be "less than any comparable service." Considering that Bungie does stats for free on its shooters--and that's pretty comparable--I'm having a hard time seeing anything that makes Elite worth more than the raw cost of the map packs alone. Maybe getting all its DLC money up front, while you're still super excited about the game is enough. Activision's claiming that Elite is an evolving service that will grow over time, so maybe it'll have more going on that we were initially shown.
The good news is that nothing is being forced on you. If you want to buy Modern Warfare 3 and buy (or not buy) the map packs, you'll have roughly the same experience you've always had, but with the potential addition of deeper stats. That, of course, all depends on where Activision decides to drop its pay wall. There's nothing wrong with that. And if you're the type of person who absolutely has to have it all and wants in on tournaments and leagues and all that extra stuff, well, Activision will be ready to accept your payment details later this year.