Call of Duty’s New Mode Everything Shooters Should Aspire To Be

Running to the last possible helicopter to escape an increasingly radiated map, my heart is pounding. I know the helicopter is going to be there for almost two minutes, and here I am running, alone and vulnerable. I sped through the middle of the map in a truck to escape the radiation and now I must defend my position to escape. I looted a three-plate armored vest, a large backpack, a durable gas mask, and at least three or four keys to locked areas.

Running to the helicopter, I take out some AIs, climb in… and then I see a player with his back to me. I raise my sniper rifle and fire a silenced shot: his armor cracks, realizing that in my haste I forgot to load a full clip before opening fire. For the crime of breaking the cardinal rule of first-person shooters, that player spins, I freeze, and I get murdered. All that loot is lost. And yet I’m ready to deploy again.

DMZ launched with Obligationsbattle royale updated, war zone 2.0. While it uses the same map as Battle Royale, the objectives are very different. In a battle royale, the goal is to be the last one standing; but in DMZ, you probably have more problems the longer you stay on the map. Teams of three are tasked with traversing the map, fighting AI forces, collecting loot, and fulfilling a variety of faction missions, contracts, and the like. It’s a very free-form multiplayer game that modulates between fierce competitive PvP matchups, intense PvE firefights, stealthy gameplay, and open-world mission crawling, often all at once. Cod It may not be the first property to run this type of game, but DMZ is one of the most simplified and accessible attempts yet. And I hope other games copy this mode into oblivion because when it’s done this well, I just can’t get enough of the extraction shooter genre.

DMZ has been the first game to break my 20-year commitment to standard team-based FPS matches. battle royale, while interesting and sometimes funny, I could not do it. Hero shooters (in my case, Siege) was close, but the base of team multiplayer was still there. And while I’ve definitely logged in many hours fate 2, I am emotionally unable to handle the PvP of that game. I also get tired of having to keep track of RPG stats when really I’m just looking for a test of my reflexes and knowledge of weaponry and gear.

DMZ retains the reactivity of a first person shooter without you having to memorize too many statistics. And it also allows for emerging moments of exciting FPS gameplay, the kind you’d expect from a really well-done single-player campaign, but without any narrative wrapper. Everything is live, on the spot, in the moment. Here one moment, gone the next.

A player looks at Al Mazrah in the Call of Duty DMZ.

Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

Here is an example. In DMZ there is a train that goes around the map. It’s easy to tackle, and you’ll likely find some great loot there. One night a friend and I went up and cleaned the cars. While looking at the map to plan the best route to an extraction zone, we heard (and saw on the map) an enemy vehicle driving alongside the train car. What followed was a shootout between two moving vehicles.

I’ve done this in games before of course. uncharted 2 has perhaps one of the most memorable “run and shoot the train” scenarios in recent memory. But in Unexplored, I’m playing as Nathan Drake and I know I’m moving through a scripted scenario. In the DMZ, this kind of thing happens spontaneously, and it’s me (although I play an operator with a name and a sketchy sketch of a fictitious identity) who has to react as best I can, from start to finish.

at the end of uncharted 2In the train sequence, Nathan Drake fires a heroic shot at a propane tank, saving himself and blowing up everything else in the process. The game doesn’t allow you to do that as a player; it’s part of the story and Drake always comes out. But in the DMZ, it is necessary for you, the player, to find those opportunities to save the day. And there is no script to guide you. You have the same chance of failing as of succeeding.

I’ll be honest: my friend and I were absolutely gutted by that party of three that showed up. My death was at the hands of someone who jumped on the train and stabbed me. There was no way of knowing this was going to happen. This specific sequence of events will also not happen again. Sure, similar situations can play out in another round of the DMZ, but the fleeting and ephemeral nature of these wild pop-up moments that demand you react early, make quick decisions, and make the best possible use of the gear you arrived (or found) with are all spontaneous. No two implementations are the same, even when you have the same goal. And I think that’s why I keep playing DMZ, because there’s always something new.

I might go in with the goal of retrieving the White Lotus intel (one of the faction missions in the game, no spoilers for the HBO series), but at any time the presence of a ruthless AI or other players could deny me that goal. Do I ditch it in favor of picking up a random contract? Did I just get some good booty and bounce? Do I consider myself lucky to have found better equipment for a future trip? Or do I try my best Solid Snake and try to achieve the objective despite being flanked and outgunned?

A player sees another player running through the sand dunes in the Call of Duty DMZ.

Do you observe, participate, let them go? The friend/foe balance is always tricky in DMZ.
Screenshot: Activision / Kotaku

That constant push and pull around making critical decisions is electrifying. And unlike a battle royale, which is a downward slope of matchups until the best or luckiest are still around, in DMZ I have to make a call as to whether or not it’s smarter to extract with what I have or keep pushing for the promise of possibly bigger rewards, namely gear like armored vests, bigger backpacks, better weapons, and keys to secret places. And “winning” isn’t just about how well I can aim and shoot. In fact, like a game of Dungeons and DragonsWhile there are things you can “earn” in the DMZ, the concept of “earning” doesn’t really exist. It is the emergent story that unfolds from deployment to extraction. That’s what I’m here for.

Successful DMZ runs could, in theory, be completed without firing a single shot. Unlike battle royales and other common FPS game modes, your weapon is both a defensive equipment and a killing tool. Sure, you can go and hunt down the AI ​​and other players, and sometimes I do, but often the thrill of moving around a map and surviving is worth not firing a shot until I need to stop an aggressive advance against me. And the lessons I learn as I jump over and over again, dying with victory in sight or sticking out the skin of my teeth, have nothing to do with which weapon is the best.

Sure, loads do make a difference. But look at my initial example where I tried to shoot an unsuspecting player. I know for a fact that if I had run up to them and landed a few quick melee attacks, I would have made it out alive. Well, I know that now, that’s it. Having the DMZ teach lessons like this makes it even more appealing, and that lesson is worth more than any loot I might have leaked with. Doing well in the DMZ cannot be summed up by a single in-game element or button combination. It transcends that kind of game into something similar, I imagine, to what other people appreciate in sports.

DMZ offers a series of time trial scenarios typical of an action movie, all in real time.
gif: Activision / Kotaku

But for all the fun the DMZ has given me, its environment forces me to practice intense cognitive dissonance. It should come as no surprise that he’s not a fan of the military-industrial complex; still Obligations is a fantasy about it itself, and one that prides itself on approach the conflicts and oppressions of the real world. (it’s not up alter key details serving its narrative, however.) It is also published by a truly horrible business. As much as I enjoy this game, I deeply wish that it wasn’t associated with very real and terrible conflicts in the real world. I just want a shooter to play while hanging out with friends. I guess now is a good time to remember that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism.

Critical perspectives on the DMZ issue aside (if we can really put that aside), this game has been a powerful surprise and a refreshing twist on not just shooters, but world games as well. open and a variety of others. genres I have enjoyed over the years. Yes, the bots could be a bit fairer. And maybe the spawn points need to be adjusted. DMZ is in beta, after all.

Despite its room for growth, I can’t remember the last time I was truly this excited to sit down for multiple rounds of a first-person shooter. As an endless story generator spinning scenarios of random action and survival, few multiplayer games have come close to capturing my time and attention as thoroughly as war zone 2.0‘s DMZ has.

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