By aurahack 6 Comments
Sorry for the late post--schoolwork caught up with me in a bad way Sunday and had to focus on that instead. But hey, you get a post now! REJOICE. SING WITH PRAISE. Send me gifts.
I’ll try and keep it short because I have other school stuff to get to tonight but I want to talk about something that is especially irritating to me. Over this past weekend, Black Ops II was holding a Double XP ‘event’, so I sat down for some hours to play and grind out experience and progress. I did so with a friend of mine both in preparation for the upcoming DLC pack, Revolution, and to try and have some fun. While I succeeded in the first, I completely failed in the latter. Black Ops II, for a variety of reasons, is a frustrating experience. There are faults, there are reasons why those faults are even more aggravating, and there is the final reason why it makes me completely sad that I have to deal with said faults for a year.
So to start off, why is Black Ops II an infuriating experience? Though I think most could see this as being subjective, I feel it pretty objective to state that Black Ops II’s multiplayer is broken. Between lag compensation, unbalanced weaponry, poorly sized maps, awful matchmaking, and the worst spawn system the series has seen, Black Ops II does a significant amount to crush any positive changes that it brought to the table. Treyarch did a number of smart additions to multiplayer, like Scorestreaks and the Pick 10 system, that don’t change the formula but switch it up enough to make things feel somewhat fresh. At its core, it is the best the series’ multiplayer has been since Call of Duty 4. When everything works, it’s some of the most fun I've had playing games.
The issue is that it very rarely works. As of lately, it’s never really worked at all. Player connections are mediocre at best and the game’s terrible lag compensation makes some situations even worse. Running for cover is no longer an option because shots will hit around corners, thanks to the game delaying hits to “even out” the connection odds in the present lobby. It’s become common to shoot at an enemy and have him turn around and kill you, all whilst you continue to riddle him with bullets. Everything when playing feels ‘off’, as if the game was in this constant struggle of leveling the playing field by adjusting everyone’s connection to some kind of average ping. I'm sure this is not how the lag comp actually works but it's how it feels to me when I play it. This is in addition to SMGs that dominate the playing field, maps that contain choke points that encourage the use of the formerly-mentioned weapon type, matchmaking that will frequently stick unbelievably skilled players against a team of way lower skill, and a spawn system that doesn’t think twice about spawning you, or the enemy, within feet of each other. Multiplayer has become a balancing act of min/maxing my class loadout for “what works best against players this week”, fighting lag compensation, and working around all the faults mentioned above to complete an objective in a game mode.
I link to this video because while I don't usually care much for Youtube commentators/players, he explains lag comp really well (far better than I can, anyway) and states pretty clearly why it's an issue in Black Ops II. Notably, there's a winning side and a losing side to every gunfight based entirely on the connection at play.
Awful, isn’t it? I should just be able to sit down, play with my friend, and have some fun, but I can’t. I can’t turn off my brain anymore and just play. The balancing act takes too much processing power and to even have the slightest chance of winning a match or finishing above a 1 kill/death ratio, (which is an entirely different problem) I need to concentrate and focus. Every time. What makes those problems even more aggravating? The actions taken to change them. Which is none. None whatsoever. I’m usually not a subscriber to the vocal outcry from a game’s angry community, (lolololol DmC) usually dismissing it as the internet will be the internet. I won’t be an idiot here and say the Black Ops II community is any different, as I dismissed their extremely vocal complaints for a while but... I just can’t anymore. They’re not wrong. They’re vocal about it because underneath all this horseshit is a game that is worth playing. Worth playing for hundreds of hours. None of us can access it, though, because there are all these issues to deal with and no one’s done squat about it. It’s been brought to Treyarch’s attention multiple times and the only response the community’s gotten is either “Get better internet” or “It must be you, because the game is fine”. Constant dismissal with two patches, alongside other numerous hotfixes, have brought no change to the core issues at hand. The better person in me wants to believe that Treyarch is actually very hard at work on fixing these issues. I want to believe that they are. They were terrific at supporting Black Ops 1 whenever issues arose. If they are working on a fix, is it too much to ask for a simple acknowledgement of the problems nearly everyone in the community has been experiencing?
I just wish the game would feel right again. I’ll spare the longer paragraphs I could write about the experience but I recently went back to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer and... it’s frightening how, five years later, that game is still unbelievably excellent online. Everything felt right. Every hit, every death, every assist, and every game mechanic. The cut in extra features felt like a breath of fresh air. Three killstreaks. A set of perks to worth with, all providing minor changes. 4 attachments per gun. That’s it. Go nuts. To go from that to Black Ops II, an ostensibly more advanced game, and feel like everything is wonky and not working quite right feels tragic. You guys had four games to get it right with and it’s still flawed. How do you work off a brilliant blueprint and Sharpie all over it, hiding what made the foundation excellent?
In any other situation, I’d do what I did with XCOM when I couldn’t see past its flaws. I’d stop playing. I’d just give up. I’d bring my game in, I’d trade it, and probably buy myself something neat like Asura’s Wrath. But I can’t. I can’t, because of the reason why it makes me completely sad I have to deal with these flaws for another year.
Like many other players, I bought the Season Pass. I bought it when the game was still fun to me, thinking that I can’t wait to play all the awesome new maps in this awesome game when they come out. Shit, they’re even adding new weapons! (And, to be truthful, the new maps do look super cool and the Peacemaker SMG does look fun to use.) But as my time with the game’s multiplayer grew, I got to realise I wasn’t having fun anymore. The only reason I was playing was just to do something with my free time, (an admittedly shitty reason) to keep up with the community’s playstyle, and not let myself get rusty for when the maps release. The joy and excitement I got out of the new features and the great new maps are gone. Instead, I fight the game to try and fight the opposing players. Deaths feel unfair. My own kills feel spotty. Matches feel disjointed and poorly paced. I’m playing a game that I know and accept as being busted, and I can’t stop myself from playing. With an additional $60, I preemptively promised myself dedication to something I thought I loved, only to find myself dedicated to something I understand and now somewhat dislike.
There are plenty of ways I could phrase it buthad it best when I came to the realisation on Twitter.
It is a game I sincerely, deeply, honestly want to love. For all the criticism it gets, the Call of Duty series is a fantastic bunch of videogames that can continue to offer hours upon hours of fun. It’s why it hurts me so much to say the things I said above. I want to love it but I can’t. I just can’t anymore. It’s aggravating and I hate spending my time on something I don’t enjoy because it has flaws I cannot look past. They are flaws that actively ruin an amazing experience. They are flaws that could be easily addressed, (at the very least, the important ones like netcode) and they are ignored and dismissed as the constant yelling of an angry community. It fucking sucks.
But hey, they got my money. Twice. I suppose the joke’s on me, right?
Oh my, I didn't keep it short, did I? Well, I suppose that's another point to how much I want to like the game. :c
I'd also like to thank the aforementionedfor throwing me down a dark, T-ara ornamented hole I'll probably never get out of and for also pointing me towards some really cool tunes. Thanks for reading, guys! See you next week, hopefully with something less depressing of a subject matter.