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A Brief Background

When one thinks of casual gaming, a title usually mentioned in the conversation is none other than any title from the Call of Duty franchise. Throughout the years, since 2003, a total of 17 games currently make up the franchise and over time, the core values of Call of Duty have stayed the same despite all of the other small changes surrounding the titles.

The first-person shooter series finds its beginning back in 2003, where it wrestled with the popular theme of games surrounding World War II competing with Medal of Honor and Battlefield. Pioneered by Infinity Ward, the initial three games all followed this theme and arguably bested their rivals critically – what made Call of Duty unique besides a focus on a compelling campaign is the ease and arcade-like formula behind the multiplayer.

As sales began sky-rocketing thanks to the very successful premier of the Modern Warfare series in 2007, the yearly release of a Call of Duty title would soon dawn on the horizon due to the constant success of each game – each one shattering the sales record of the previous one. In order to do this, Activision, the publisher, sorted the developers of Treyarch, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games into a 3-year cycle where each publisher would release a game after 3 years of development.

Bearing this in mind, Call of Duty offers different ideas and mechanics every year as the development teams learn and build off of one another and in 2016, sales of the series went over $15 billion.

A strong community has been built on the roots of Call of Duty, often polarized by each release as opinions on each title run rampant. There are many sub-sections too – the Zombies community, the GB community and the Treyarch community are all examples. Games such as Infinite Warfare were not well received while others like Black Ops 2 are beloved – the Call of Duty community is very passionate and this is caused by the gameplay and reflects on viewership.

Unlike other franchises such as Super Smash Bros., the Call of Duty following usually completely focuses on the latest game while previous titles are immediately shelved once their life cycle is over. The recent title of Modern Warfare has also opened the door into the realm of competitive battle royale too, thanks to the popular Warzone add-on.

How to Play

Bearing in mind how many titles make up the series, the number of developers and how the games have progressed with time, we’ll focus on the core mechanics which are found in every single Call of Duty, for the most part, noting that the series is mainly played on console with a minority of PC gamers. 

Firstly, with any Call of Duty, there are usually 3 core sections with a minority of PC gamers.

  • Campaign – a solo component usually formed in a story where players learn the basics and commit to a narrative of sorts.
  • Multiplayer – here, players may compete online in both Casual and Ranked settings across multiple game modes
  • Third component – a third option is usually always provided either as Battle Royale, Zombies, Spec Ops, Survival or anything else. Both solo and multiplayer.

Not all games have all three components, as the recent Black Ops 4 did skip out on a Campaign much to the community’s disappointment. Do keep in mind that usually, the campaigns are an enriching experience with solid plot-points. For the most part though, a player will spend most of his time enjoying what Call of Duty is known for – it’s visceral multiplayer.

As aforementioned, Call of Duty is an arcade first-person-shooter where, unlike titles like Battlefield, online games are short and fast-paced and don’t require long-term planning or epic traversal of large maps. Playing Call of Duty involves small maps and a furious amount of engagements and gunfights.

Customizability has always been a distinctive feature of Call of Duty. When playing Multiplayer, players will have to create loadouts or classes depending on the layered system of the game. The following are the usual primary weapon classes:

  • Submachine guns – light, compact and ideal for aggression
  • Shotguns – close quarters spray and pray
  • Assault rifles – mid-range gunfights
  • Light machine guns – heavy ammunition to lay down suppressive fire
  • Snipers – long-range pinpoint accuracy
  • Special – riot shields, crossbows and others

Then, a secondary weapon is chosen;

  • Side-arm – pistol, machine pistols
  • Launchers – anti-air and personnel
  • Special – combat knife, grenade launcher and melee weapons

Apart from weapons, the following are usually involved when creating a class:

  • Perk – each game has its own perk system where players may select different abilities such as Scavenger (pick up ammo) or Dead Silence (no footsteps) which have a massive impact on the class
  • Lethals – devices such as claymores, grenades and throwing knives etc.
  • Tacticals – smokes, stuns and trophy systems etc.

Some titles will offer ‘abilities’ too, where selection involves picking a special character with a chargeable ‘super’ so to speak that makes gameplay exciting – this has been seen in the past 3 titles.

Movement is a big part of Call of Duty. When playing, you’ll want to make yourself a harder target by jump-shotting, drop-shotting and if the game involves advanced movement one may wall-run or use a jetpack for increased verticality. Mastering the movement is key to success.

After that’s sorted, players will select from the many game modes available. The following are core modes used regularly in competitive play:

  •  Search & Destroy – tactical, no-respawn, round by round bomb defusal mode. Attackers win by detonating or slaying opponents while Defenders must prevent detonation or slay all opponents
  • Team Deathmatch – team which racks up most kills in time limit or to score limit wins
  • Free-for-all – first individual to reach score limit or most kills in time limit wins
  • Domination – team which secures the flags for the longest after two five minute halves, wins
  • Hardpoint – a rotating hardpoint captured by teams across the map. The team who spends most time in the hardpoint or reaches score limit wins.
  • Capture the Flag – a home and enemy flag where points are scored by capturing the flag and returning to base split in two halves
  • Others – Uplink, Gridiron, War, Control, Blitz, Safeguard, Ground War, Kill Confirmed etc.
  • Ranked – competitive ruleset and ranked ladder to climb up through

There are a plethora of game modes to pick from. Each year, new ones are added and old ones replaced. By playing frequently, players may customize their guns, characters, loadouts and calling cards too.

Despite it being a friendy franchise for new players, Call of Duty offers enough depth for competitive play. The competitive scene is unique in its passion, as it’s the largest console esport in the world.

How to Watch

Ever since 2010, a small competitive scene was formulated. Then, the Call of Duty World League for Black Ops III before Activision created the franchised Call of Duty League for Modern Warfare. With strong first-party support and multiple third-party events, competitive play is unique with features such as in-game ‘hype factor’, drama between players, live listen-ins into player coms and trashtalking galore behind a vicious crowd.

Currently, a $4.2 million League is all to play for,  with 12 franchised organizations involved.

The competitive scene follows the release schedule of titles – so every year is freshened up with a brand new game, new game modes and mechanics, meaning professionals need to adapt quickly. With the franchised league planned to grow in the coming years, the following are links you’ll need to watch competitive Call of Duty:

Note that Activision has signed an exclusivity deal with YouTube, so all the content will be there accordingly.

Besides the main franchise, CoD Mobile is also currently forming its own esports scene too!

Tips and Tricks

Mechanical Skills

One stark difference lies between Rainbow Six Siege and Call of Duty the competitive platform. While R6S is focused on the PC community through mouse and keyboard, Call of Duty is played competitively on a controller.

Mastering mechanical aim will differ here. It’s a matter of mastering the few buttons on a controller while coordinating multiple actions, here are some tips:

  • Finding the correct grip: different grips suit certain playstyles. Standard grip is positioning your palms around the grips, thumbs pressing on the facial buttons with index and middle fingers on the triggers. Other grips include Claw, which can allow for better in-game movement – it’s worth experimenting here
  • Changing the button layout and customizing controllers – professional grade controllers with additional paddles and buttons while assigning different buttons can help out tremendously
  • Experiment with the sensitivity of the analogue sticks – controller players can’t be as accurate as PC players. That’s where adjusting sensitivity comes into play.
  • Mastering the movement – each title has varying movement and combining this with precise aim is essential
  • A common saying in the professional community is ‘shoot a thousand bots a day’ – aim may be improved by practising against AI in custom games. I recommend you try it out.

In-Game Knowledge and Awareness

With Call of Duty, it’s not all about pointing and shooting at fast-moving targets. One can have incredible mechanical aim, but fail to grasp the in-game knowledge and awareness. Year after year, competitive Call of Duty makes use of different game modes.

Here are some tips behind in-game awareness across multiple game modes:

  • Understand and master the maps – you need to know each corner of the map. This involves knowing the standard rotations for Hardpoint, bomb sites for Search and Destroy and flags for Domination.
  • Mastering the spawning system – each CoD utilizes spawn logic. To make the most of an in-game objective, it’s essential for your team to spawn as close as possible to it. By positioning yourself in key positions, these can shape the outcome of a game.
  • Proper utilization of lethals and tactical equipment
  • Making proper use of specialist abilities at the right time
  • Clutching up in Search and Destroy: high-stress situations require the right play at the right time.
  • Keep up to date with the meta changes – gun balances can shift which weapon is ideal in any situation.
  • Stay up to date with the competitive scene and watch competitive games

Personal and Interpersonal – Call of Duty Tips and Tricks

Probably a highlight of our Call of Duty Tips and Tricks is the personal and interpersonal segment. The professional scene is notorious for being vocal, embracing trash-talk, raging and screaming across the stage.

As a player, someone who’s serious about their performance will want to focus on some tips:

  • Communicate with your teammates – offer valuable information such as the location of enemies, their amount of health and observable enemy movements
  • Do not ego challenge – engage in clever gunfights, trade out your teammate’s death and don’t be over-aggressive.
  • Learn from teammates and find your role accordingly – being a main assault rifle, submachine gun player or a flex will require coordination with the team

Tips and Tricks will vary due to the fact that Call of Duty changes every year. Yearly releases mean that players have to adapt to changing of in-game mechanics and other notable information.

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