Up Close and Far Away: Battlefield 3 v. Modern Warfare 3

I had to put Skyrim aside while I finish up a mountain of work for the next few weeks, and have instead focused my breaks on shooters lately.  And while playing both Modern Warfare and Battlefield, I’ve obviously noticed some substantial differences.  But today I want to focus on two main differences, both in the area of one-hit killing:  knifing and sniping.  Both games take a somewhat different approach to these integral aspects of combat, and in my personal opinion, Battlefield 3 has done a better job with both.

Yes, obviously...


Call of Duty’s knifing system hasn’t changed much over the past few years (but honestly, what has?).  It’s simple really, you’re guaranteed a one-hit kill if you get close enough to an enemy and take a swipe at him with your knife.  It’s become such a second nature to the games that when two players come within a specific distance of one another, continuing to shoot is simply foolish and suicidal.  It has caused every gamer across the world to shout out in rage as they pump their enemy full of bullets, only to be felled with one swipe of the knife.  I personally find this a problem.

Close enough.

First of all, in what world do the game designers live on where a cut is always more deadly than a gunshot wound?  Not that MW3 doesn’t have stab animations, but all too often we’re presented with a mere swipe of the knife and the enemy is dead.  In the above picture, the guy’s backpack might get torn open, but to have us believe he’ll keel over and die because of it is a little too much for even a gullible guy like me to believe.  When your blood is quickly being replaced by bullets, giving the guy a papercut isn’t going to stop it.  I know we need knifing to be one hit kill so that we’re not left with a slapfest like in Goldeneye, but at least make it realistic.  Maybe something like below?  A little animation where you turn the guy around and actually, you know, put the knife in him?

Like this?

Yes like that!  Modern Warfare, you should have done it exactly like….well hell, like Battlefield.  See, in Battlefield you don’t just limp-wrist your knife at a guy and hope he’s a hemophiliac, you let him know you’re stabbing him.  It’s all the more satisfying to do it, all the more enraging to have it done to you, and all the more realistic.  Plus, not only does it make things way more balanced, but it actually makes knifing more ruthless.  Knifing is far more difficult to pull off, but if you do it, it is a great feeling.  You don’t feel like you got a cheap kill; you feel like you just brutally killed someone.  And when you’re playing a war game, that’s usually the effect you’re going for.  Oh, and did I mention you steal their dog tags?

Kinda a dick move though...


I saw someone say that Modern Warfare 3 is like laser tag and Battlefield 3 is like paintball, and I have to agree.  Whereas in laser tag you run around constantly in a small room shooting each other and giggling until the nitrous wears off, in paintball you move slowly and deliberately; the opposing sides are more delineated and precision, teamwork and patience pay off in the end.  In MW3 I don’t really care if I get killed.  I immediately respawn and run back into the action, guns blazing until I die.  I’m more of a kamakazi; death is inevitable, so why not take out as many people as I can with me.  But in Battlefield, it takes forever to get to a good spot and hold it.  I don’t want to die, I have a real incentive not to.  This is true for all classes and play styles.  And though I’m mostly an SMG man in both games, I’ve recently tried my hand at sniping.  In one game I had fun, in the other I did not.  I’ll give you a hint.  Laser tag doesn’t have sniper rifles lasers for a reason.

My dad wishes I played fooooootballllll!

Here’s my main beef.  Modern Warfare 3 has tons of great weapons in it, just like Battlefield 3 does.  In fact, they have tons of the same weapons, both being modern shooters.  But while in Battlefield you can make good use of really any of the guns, in Modern Warfare you really only need the SMGs or the assault rifles.  I mean honestly, when each map is the size of a Wendy’s, why do you need a sniper rifle?  Quickscoping?  That cheap method of running and gunning with a one-hit kill weapon?  Who here honestly believes that’s how snipers work in real life?  I know video games are able to take liberties with reality, and sometimes that can be good, but what is the point of having a sniper rifle in Modern Warfare?  Some may make good use of it I’m sure, but not to the extent you could if it was on a far bigger map.  This isn’t really what you should see when you’re sniping:

Close enough to knife him, really.

That’s like someone sniping their neighbor in some twisted Hatfield-McCoy feud, except in the suburbs.  The beauty of sniping is the incredible accuracy these weapons offer, matched with the skill of the shooter.  In Battlefield, with the maps as large as they are, one has to take into serious account leading the enemies and the effect of gravity on bullets over an extended distance.  That’s why a kill like in the image above may be sort of satisfying, but it’s nothing compared to a Battlefield snipe:

See, that is sick.  And while I’m nowhere near close to that good (my Battlelog shows my longest headshot at a paltry 112m), it is quite fun in a game of Rush to hide atop a hill and watch the combat below, waiting for that one shot.  And though I miss a lot, and when I do choose to snipe I get very low overall game scores, when I do get that headshot from a distance, I feel very accomplished afterwards.  Because I feel like an actual sniper, licking my finger to test the wind, aiming above their heads so I can watch that white orb drop and pop them a split second later.  Modern Warfare gives us the guns, but they don’t give us the ability to actually engage in all types of this so called “modern warfare”.  We’re only given a part of it.  This very claustrophobic close-quarters combat type of warfare, without any of the rest of it.  So we’re left with guns that can’t be used to their full potential.  And that’s why I keep coming back to Battlefield as my game of choice over MW3.

Plus, you can tell this isn't MW3 because there aren't kids calling you a fag in this picture.

In the end, this is a very partisan approach to it all, and my inner fanboy towards BF3 is clearly showing.  I’ll either preach to the choir or generate disagreements.  So please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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