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Call of Duty Elite: how it improves multiplayer for both experts AND novices

Confession: I’m crap at Call of Duty multiplayer. Oh, I do well enough against other journalists and love competing at review events, but as soon as that game releases to the general public, I’m finished. I can’t devote hours, days or weeks to mastering every weapon and memorizing every map, but plenty of other folks can, so I’m quickly rendered obsolete and lose all interest.

Call of Duty Elite could change that. Activision representatives dropped by our office earlier this week to demo the service and, despite my cynicism, I immediately recognized how this could make FPS multiplayer fun for me again – and for the countless other average players just like me.

Note: Everything described and shown here is free. Paid “premium” elements of Elite have yet to be announced.

CAREER

The Call of Duty Elite website is divided into four major areas. The first, Career, is where you track your multiplayer progress: how many hours you’ve played, how much experience you’ve gained, how many matches you’ve won, how much money you’ve earned, how many headshots you’ve pulled off, etc.

What experts will like: Bragging rights are now a visible, tangible thing – Call of Duty Elite treats the player like a virtual athlete, tracking and displaying every statistic with the same importance of a baseball card. If you’re hardcore, you’ve likely devoted a significant chunk of your life to these games and should appreciate seeing all that work celebrated. Much like real sports, you can also compare your record to your competitors’ on a ridiculously granular level.

What novices will love: Okay, so your stats are probably a little depressing, but Elite offers some powerful tools to improve them. The best in the Career section are heat maps, which detail where and when you were killed in recent matches, as well as who killed you and what weapon they killed you. Notice that you died the most while outside? Learn to keep indoors on that map. Notice the M60 is usually the gun that takes you down? Try switching to the M60 yourself. Notice that one particular guy kills you again and again? Study his stats (everyone’s “cards” are searchable) and learn from his successes. Or use this next section of the Elite service to avoid him altogether…

CONNECT

This section consists of two subsections: Group and Theater. The former enables you to create and join communities of like-minded (or like-skilled or like-located) players to compete and chat with. The latter is an extension of the theater mode introduced in Black Ops – pick out a 30 second or less clip of your match and upload it to the Elite service for all to watch.

What experts will like: With custom groups, you suddenly have as many leaderboards to climb and dominate as you choose. Maybe you’re better than all your friends, but how about all your neighborhood? Or all your city? Or all your state? Other baseball fans? Other Game of Thrones fans? Other people named Charlie? And with Theater, you have a public stage to show off your skills – Elite will not only store and occasionally feature your videos in a favorites section, but also automatically tag the players featured within the video so they know you massacred them.

What novices will love: You think you’re alone, but you’re not – use groups to join a community of players with equal skill or equal maturity (I’ll be looking for #GameJournos) and Call of Duty multiplayer will suddenly become much more tolerable and perhaps even enjoyable again. A Facebook connect option also enables you to find real-life friends – ones you might have had no idea played Call of Duty – that are interested in fun, casual matches. What remains to be seen is how these communities affect who you’re paired with during in-game matchmaking. I want to play with my groups easily and instantly, no scheduling or exchange of gamertags necessary. I want available matches filtered so that I only end up in those with members of my community. If such options aren’t included in the full service, this could be nothing but a glorified chat forum.

59 comments

  • Berretxz4t4 - July 28, 2011 2:19 p.m.

    @zacharybailey: this, I think, will make sniping BETTER/EASIER not "impossible". @everyone who thinks this is retarded: actually the idea of taking something that is all ready in another game(Halo3 Waypoint) makes sense if it's going to make the game better. Excuse me if I sound like a fanboy, but that's just the idea I get. And halo fans should not feel jealous or as if their game has been ripped off, but rather that activision is admitting that bungie had some better ideas and decided to incorporate them into their own franchise I, for one, know that if it can be used on the 360 I WILL use it. Coming from a so-called halo 'fanboy', who rathers halo (combat evolved at least) better.
  • daz9111972 - July 20, 2011 5:26 p.m.

    If this is half as good as Halo waypoint ill b happy. Will it b on the xbox like waypoint or will u hav 2 use ur pc to access it ?????
  • AlphaAGENT144 - July 18, 2011 10:04 p.m.

    Still not giving any more money to the overblown and overhyped Call of Duty (or should i say "Cut and Paste") series. They havent been deserving of my money since CoDWaW
  • Disturbed1117 - July 18, 2011 7:19 p.m.

    lolz I like how he just seems to be oblivious to the fact that Bungie.net already has this and had had most of this since Halo 3 in 2007!! So yeah total rip off.
  • ChristopherDalley - July 18, 2011 4:27 p.m.

    @smikey1123 free 'shit' isn't good 'shit'. This Elite 'shit' is actually 'shit' that should've been implemented ages ago. Plus, it's 'shit' designed to drain your wallet.
  • HaVoK308 - July 18, 2011 3:28 a.m.

    Games Radar is supporting this shit? Gee, I wonder why that is. Lame...
  • ThatGuyFromTV - July 18, 2011 2:26 a.m.

    Now we're getting somewhere. It might be a glorified Call of Duty Waypoint, but there are quite a few great new ideas in this, especially the grouping aspect of it, and I'm definitely liking the $0 pricetag for everything mentioned. Now what they need is to actually update the franchise graphically and find a way to rework the game. Cmon, Kotick, it's gonna sell whether the changes are good or not, so you might as well try to do something good with it.
  • P0ck3tC1am - July 17, 2011 11:53 p.m.

    LOL Sooooo we're basically paying for the team perks that will make a match one sided? THats bull shit. The name of the game is Modern Warefare, its not Halo. I like how they're role reverseing these 2 games. Stupid people shouldn't make games.
  • IridionSnake - July 17, 2011 7:35 a.m.

    "KielbasaNinja - 2 days 7 hours ago K/D is important because some of us actually care about winning. Those of us that are actually good at the game don't play just because it's fun. Winning is also fun. It's not fair to us that we should suffer losses due to random Johnny-Come-Latelys that can't pull their own weight." It.. is... a VIDEO GAME. Take some time and let that sink in. 'Don't play just for fun', 'its not fair', 'cant pull their own wight'.. tsssh! boo hoo lol!
  • mothbanquet - July 16, 2011 2:04 p.m.

    @D0CCON - Agree totally, KDRs become somthing of a priority for people (even myself) when they really shouldn't be. In BC2 I've constantly not risked going in for an objective because I think I've died a little too much that session and my team suffered as a result. Then you have L4D, where none of that stuff is really taken seriously. Oh well, I might give it a go. I'm no fanboy and the above looks like quite nice. It might reek of Waypoint but isn't that a GOOD thing?
  • ClicheCombinationofExplicitTerms - July 16, 2011 11:19 a.m.

    Some features such as the heat map or the map indicating all of your deaths are already integrated into Black Ops. Many of these features are already integrated and are free. The connecting with similarly skilled players is convenient, however, it really won't change the game. If you don't like the game enough to become good at it, and trust me, it's quite easy to master Call of Duty, then you probably won't really get into it at all.
  • crumbdunky - July 16, 2011 2:04 a.m.

    I will NEVER understand the need some people have for what they call "metagame" these days and though it kind of irks me to say it I'm totally as non plussed by it as Jaffe is. I guess the nears=est I've ever come to caring about anything so trivial in gaming is when I actuall bothered looking for every feather in SC2 just because I happened to be close to a platinum trophy and I felt totally conned when I'd done it and a bbit anoyed at myself for bothering. What I'd always imagihned to have no worth actually did have no worth ajnd I would have been way better of just finishing the game rather than bowing to false replay reasons around it. While not being quite the same thing i'd always felt the same about caring about your KDR and other main stats in a shooter as caringa bit too much about so,mething I play totally to enjoy myself. Fair enough, if looking at and perfecting your stats is where you get your kicks and you just want to win FOR YOU all the time and only play non objective gametypes(as in team based modes you often HAVE to so things unhealthy for those stats just to win/help the team win/avoid defeatbut therwise I just don't understand why anyione would care this much and , more, to pay for some on top of even this or what Bungie have always offered. It's fun to see what you average but beyond that I can't see how it alters anything except, IDK, maybe your confidence if you need bolstering in your virtual travails. Ad I said, if it's your bag then I guess more of it is cool for you ut I'll just never see the worth or the joy in it at all. If I was [laying competitively, properly wanting tio win or gaming for cash then, sure, anything you can learn is possibly going t help youget that edge and, by all means, do your research but I just think it's taking normal, fun, gaming a bit too seriously if you don't play with that edge all the time and if you do doesn't it take the gloss off knowing most people, like me, couldn't care less about this stuff and play for kicks? Sure, none of us like to lose and will always try to win but I know i've got extra gears to go to that I don't use in everyday gaming and nearly everyone I know is the same-nobody brings their "A game" 24/7, do they? And if not what's the real point of any of this except to make us care and buy into the parts thy can sell? Honestly,I just don't believe that high a percentage of COD players are poring over their stats and even of those that do I can't see all of them playing at the very highest intensity all the time and if you don't then the stats are meaningless, aren't they? Yu'd be admitting to messing with a buig variable that renders the whole thing meaningless and as I said some game types aren't great for all stat types and as a result could this lead to some modes becoming less popular and team gaming getting more rare?I think ,most stats encourage a selfish, or more selfish attitude and when you game primarily because it's fun(and fun to win but not life or death)would we want that? I'm not griping about what Activision are giving as the free part of Elite but do worry about this trend in gaming AND think they're trying to bolster the importance of this side of things purely because they can monetise it further along if they can get enough of us to care about what I see as almost nothing. I'm also of the mind that it's prolly a thing which a lot of younger gamers, brought up more around MP gaming as a big part of their gaming, really like and care about and not ,like a lot of older gamers(who gamed a long time before stats like these were really cared about and, indeed, before online MP at all)who really don't-in the main. As such, ignore me, as the nurse will be round with my meds again soon.
  • rpatel1995 - July 15, 2011 8:30 p.m.

    For everyone who says they're not buying it, all of this is free... It's just if you pay for a premium account, you get all future DLC's for future games incl. games after MW3 and you can be involved in competitions to win real prizes... and a lot of extra things. All of this is just a more advanced way of what they were already doing in Black Ops.
  • RuBIX - July 15, 2011 6:08 p.m.

    Meh, whatever. This might be cool and all, if I even bother to buy the game. I just dont see anything yet that really differentiates it from MW2 or the other recent COD games.
  • Shforteenteen14 - July 15, 2011 5:59 p.m.

    Holy hell. This sounds exactly the same as Bungie.net. The worst part is that most of this stuff, like the heat maps and groups, are availible for Halo 3. The game that came out in 2007. Way to go, CoD! Truly, your quality is never equaled. Surpassed, often, but never equaled.
  • BrianDowns - July 15, 2011 5:54 p.m.

    I can honestly say that I have never cared about stats in a video game. I appreciate that the service will be free and everything, but I play games for fun, not for a higher K/D ratio.
  • Axcleblade - July 15, 2011 3:44 p.m.

    This is the free part? Looks like Bungie.net. Almost exactly, they even copied the same donut chart for games played. I guess it'll be useful but I can't see myself spending much time on here. Unless I want to find some laughably bad stats that I have and tell people about them. I wonder what the paid features are. I could either start WoW again or get them, so they'd have to be pretty awesome.
  • CitizenWolfie - July 15, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    *insert generic CoD/Activision hate in the hope it makes me look cool here* Looks great - I especially like the fact you can search for other players by area code, friend list, interests, shoe size, whatever. The "heat spots" feature seems quite cool to me as well since sometimes I'll just get annihilated by a particular player or in a certain area so that will come in useful. All in all it seems promising. I hope EA's Battlelog will be equally as good. Hopefully the premium stuff won't be essential or give any advantages in gameplay and it's a win for me.
  • zacharybailey - July 15, 2011 12:45 p.m.

    I guess this makes sniping completely impossible now.
  • insertdisk - July 15, 2011 10:53 a.m.

    There is absolutelly nothing wrong in copying what is a great idea. This should come standard with all multiplayer games to be honest as should theater modes. Stop bitching about getting more features.

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