‘Battlefield’ vs ‘Call of Duty’: Is It Even Still a Question?

The antagonist of 'Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare'

Call of Duty players and Battlefield players have a long-spanning rivalry | Activision

Wade into the gaming side of the internet, and you’ll discover that there are two types of shooter fans: Call of Duty people and Battlefield people. Resentments between the groups run high. Battles rage on gaming forums, YouTube comments, and social media. It’s a merciless war, but then again, that’s the nature of war. But it’s also a puzzling rivalry — in most conflicts like these, the two competitors are similar. When it comes to Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the two games are so different there’s hardly a comparison to be made. Fans of both need to relax.

In previous years, Battlefield and Call of Duty have appeared similar on the surface. Both are long-running first-person shooter franchises. Both started out in the early 2000s with games set during World War II. As the frequent installments of both series kept coming out, the settings gradually shifted to more modern conflicts.

But for all the similarities between the series, Battlefield and Call of Duty have always had plenty of differences. Battlefield’s multiplayer maps are enormously expansive, featuring soldiers on foot, in tanks, and in planes. Call of Duty’s environments tend to be tighter and more intricate, with faster-paced action and less downtime. Most of Battlefield’s single-player campaigns have often been unremarkable, whereas Call of Duty’s are stuffed with celebrities and action set pieces.

In recent installments, the differences between the franchises have been clearer than ever. Last year’s Battlefield: Hardline ditched the military setting entirely and focused on cops and criminals. Last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 flashed forward into a future of war robots and cybernetically enhanced soldiers.

Trench soldier in 'Battlefield 1'

Battlefield 1 takes us back to a World War I setting | Electronic Arts

This year continues the trend of the two franchises going in different directions. Battlefield 1 brings players back to World War I, one of the messiest, most horrific conflicts in history. The game is gritty and realistic, with a surprisingly humane campaign that tonally recalls Band of Brothers.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, on the other hand, takes place in the distant future after humans have set up mining outposts across the solar system. You play as a futuristic soldier fighting in outer space. Both games bring fresh ideas to the table, like incredibly tense stealth sections in the Battlefield 1 campaign, and spaceship fights in Infinite Warfare.

They’re both first-person shooters, sure, but they could hardly be more different. And yet, dedicated fans of both series act like you have to be in one camp or the other. Confusing matters further, this year we have a number of other shooters coming out at right around the same time. Gears of War 4 may play from a third-person perspective, but it’s about as similar to those two series as they are to one another. Then there’s Titanfall 2 and Destiny: Rise of Iron, games that brings their own unique traits to the genre. All of these games are shooters that are going up against one another. And yet the big rivalry remains Battlefield versus Call of Duty. Whichever game you’re in, you’ll still come across players disparaging you as a Battlefield or Call of Duty player based on your play style.

A soldier wearing a futuristic helmet aims a silenced rifle.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare takes place in outer space | Activision

All of these games tend to be well received by critics and fans alike. Since there are so many shooters coming in such a short window of time, few people can play them all, which probably accounts for the tribalism among fans. Everyone in the market for a shooter has to pick one, and they don’t want to think they picked the wrong one, so they lash out at the others. But framing the rivalry as being between Battlefield and Call of Duty doesn’t make sense anymore, if it ever did.

Wouldn’t it be better if everyone just relaxed and let people play what they wanted to play? Just because you prefer one over the others doesn’t mean the others are any less worthy. These are all excellent games, and that’s a good thing for all of us. So let’s set aside our petty differences and enjoy blasting our digital enemies to kingdom come.

Follow Chris on Twitter @_chrislreed
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