The hugely popular Call of Duty franchise has dropped the latest iteration alongside next-generation gaming consoles, but the main reason people buy the game won’t take advantage of the newer consoles’ most attractive features.
Gamers couldn’t wait to play the excruciatingly titled Call of Duty Blacks Ops Cold War, when it came out last week, but they were forced to wait after server issues on launch day prevented many from playing.
At one point problems with the game were so bad that they were crashing and abruptly shutting off Xbox and PS5 consoles, striking fear into the hearts of people who’d just dropped $749 on one of the new consoles.
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People who couldn’t access multiplayer might have passed the time by dipping into the campaign.
That campaign is not the reason people spend $79 (or $109 on the newer consoles) on the game though, and the developers know that, which is why the campaign only lasts around five hours.
Some gamers regularly spend that same amount of time on multiplayer in a single session.
In 2018’s Black Ops 4 there wasn’t even a single-player campaign included in the game.
But at least on PS5 and the new Xbox, the game takes advantage of the superior processor power and virtually non-existent loading times to provide a good gaming experience (during the campaign).
In the competitive multiplayer that most people actually buy and play Call of Duty for, there’s less to get excited about.
The game supports cross platform play, meaning people can play online regardless of whether they’re on a PC, Xbox One, PS4 or the newer Xbox Series X/S or PS5.
This is good for groups of gamers who are split across platforms but still want to play together, but it’s bad news for owners of the new consoles (or PC gamers depending on their configuration).
The new consoles use solid-state storage, which is significantly faster.
Along with software enhancements on the consoles, this allows developers to virtually get rid of loading times.
On the new Call of Duty on PS5 for instance this means it only takes a few seconds to jump into a new map during a multiplayer session, but when you do you’ll be waiting anyway.
Cross platform play means everyone can only move as fast as the slowest person (or console) and the round won’t start until everyone has loaded the map, so people on the faster platforms are waiting for the previous-generation gamers on PS4 and Xbox One to catch up.
Cross platform play has created challenges according to the developer Treyarch’s co-studio head Mark Gordon.
“You want to make it so the next-gen is an improvement, but you want to make it so it’s not essential to the experience,” Mr Gordon told the Washington Post.
Some of the areas where there is an improvement on the next-gen console include higher frame rates for smoother gameplay and better sound capabilities (useful in a game like Call of Duty where hearing an enemy coming for you before they see you can be the difference between life and death).