A buyer’s guide to the three big-budget first-person shooter games available now. Which one’s right for you?
Each holiday season, a myriad of big-budget video games vie for the attention of gift shoppers and gamers looking for an experience to get lost in. The first-person shooter genre is a mainstay at the top of wish lists and sales charts. This season, instead of the usual one or two blockbuster FPS titles, there are three: Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
How do you decide among three games which are set to appeal to similar audiences? Even if you can afford to purchase all three, precious gaming hours are limited, so which virtual world should you spend your free time inside this holiday?
Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Let’s break down what’s inside the package of each of these first-person shooter games — all of which are available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
First-person shooters, while often played with groups of friends over the internet or on the couch, typically feature a single-player campaign. All three of these games offer a solo experience, and if you don’t like playing online, the quality of the solo adventure is the most important factor determining your choice.
Trench warfare in Battlefield 1 has never looked better! Via DICE/EA.
Battlefield 1 takes on an era rarely touched in first-person shooter games: World War I. For history buffs and those looking for something different from the prototypical single-player campaign, Battlefield 1 is a welcome arrival. Consisting of six long missions which take players to France, Italy and Turkey, Battlefield 1 tells a sweeping story set from 1915 to 1918. The game is based on real WWI conflicts — the Battle of Cambrai in the Hundred Days Offensive, the Gallipoli Campaign and others. In terms of first-person shooters that strive to replicate the harshness and depravity of war, Battlefield 1 resides in the upper echelon.
Atmospheric planetary exploration Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Via Infinity Ward/Activision.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare once again sends players to a futuristic setting. This time it’s outer space. For those familiar with recent iterations of the most popular first-person shooter franchise around, Infinite Warfare turns the gameplay, especially within the story, on its head. In a bold move, the development team has taken the player off their feet and into zero-gravity environments. This creates — for the most part — a previously untraversed experience in the franchise and even the genre. Armed with a grappling hook and throttle abilities which help you latch onto surfaces and confront enemies, Infinite Warfare explores aerial combat through a brand-new lens. Seamless transitions from space and ground combat make the latest Call of Duty campaign one of the most immersive in the storied franchise. With a scope that includes missions across multiple planets, asteroids and satellites, Infinite Warfare is the perfect adventure for those interested in space and futuristic technology.
Constant movement is paramount in Titanfall 2! Via Respawn/EA.
Titanfall 2 is the least known of the three, and the first Titanfall game came packaged with only a multiplayer variant. So how does the first single-player campaign from Titanfall 2 shake out? Like Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2 is set in a futuristic, highly tech-influenced society. In this world, pilots engage in ground warfare but also (and this is the real difference maker) take hold of massive Transformers-esque mechs. Artificial intelligence plays a key role in the story, as the Titans are sentient beings tasked to protect and aid their valiant Pilots in battle. Titanfall 2 employs a fast-paced gameplay system in which the Pilot is equipped with wall-jumping and hyper-fluid running abilities that make player movement transformative within the genre.
Aerial combat in Battlefield 1 is breathtaking! Via DICE/EA.
In terms of single-player experiences, all three of these games offer similar-length campaigns that can last anywhere from six to 10 hours (average for the genre). Each of the story lines is engrossing and highly polished. If your choice were based solely on single-player experience, none of these three games would prove to be disappointing. Yet Battlefield 1 gets the edge here for its visceral depiction of World War 1 that separates it from the futuristic forays of the others.
The other major component of first-person shooter games, the multiplayer, creates some distinct differences among these three titles. Several factors have to be considered when making a purchase based on the multiplayer/online experience.
What type of multiplayer experience are you looking for?
While it’s almost never advisable to fall into peer pressure, each of these first-person shooter games is better in the company of friends.
The Battlefield series is known for its large, open maps that utilize both ground and vehicular combat. Because Battlefield is more grounded in realism, the multiplayer experience is perhaps best for those who favor strategy over going in guns blazing. Call of Duty, on the other hand, features a variety of small and medium maps with fewer players in any given match. While strategy is important in Infinite Warfare, it is much easier to hop into a game without a group of friends and still come out the victor. Titanfall 2 is the multiplayer experience that most closely resembles its single-player campaign. All the aspects learned while manning your Titan cross over to the online battle arena. This mix of jumps and sprinting combined with mech warfare make Titanfall 2 the most novel in this category.
High-tech weaponry and armor in CoD. Via Infinity Ward/Activision.
The simplest way to choose one of these three games solely on the multiplayer aspects is by mirroring what your friends pick up. While it’s almost never advisable to fall into peer pressure, each of these first-person shooter games is better in the company of friends. Multiplayer experiences often live and die on their communities, and if the community consists of some of your closest buddies, all the better.
The unfortunate point that needs to be made about these three games is the size of the communities and the longevity of their consistent activity. Call of Duty, year in and year out, maintains a vibrant community many months after launch. It is, as of now, the king of the first-person shooter genre. Battlefield, perhaps the second most revered in the genre, also sustains a strong community months after launch. Yet, because many players are needed in each Battlefield match, following the initial holiday buzz, finding an online game will more than likely take longer than it would with the latest Call of Duty. And as for Titanfall 2, the player community is its biggest downfall. The first Titanfall started off with a bang as an Xbox One exclusive, but within a couple of months, community engagement plummeted to the point that finding a match in some of the variants was nearly impossible. With Titanfall 2 now in the same launch window as Battlefield 1 and Infinite Warfare, its staying power in the multiplayer ecosystem is extremely uncertain.
Use the buddy system in Titanfall 2! Via Respawn/EA.
If you add on the popular “Zombies” mode included in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and the fact that the purchase comes bundled with a remastered edition of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the latest Call of Duty is the best value of the three.
It’s hard to go wrong with any of these three first-person shooters, though Battlefield 1 is the top choice in terms of its campaign. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is astoundingly solid all around, and probably the safest choice. And Titanfall 2, the wildcard, is arguably the most addictive and fun of the bunch.