Call of Duty

Spratt column: SBMM could ruin CoD 2020 but Warzone can save it

by James Spratt

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In his first Dexerto column, Call of Duty sniping legend James ‘Spratt’ Spratt takes a look at Modern Warfare, Warzone, and how to make the next CoD — heavily rumored to be named Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War — the best yet.

Within Call of Duty, they’ve mastered battle royale. It fits incredibly in the Call of Duty world, and it’s so successful because it’s so familiar. The looting aspect is so simple and knuckled-down, and it’s a new area of gaming that people love to both watch and play.

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It was hard for me to transition from regular Modern Warfare multiplayer to Warzone. I’ve built such a huge audience on multiplayer over the years; that’s kind of my bread and butter. But I’ve been trying to break into that world, because the audience for Warzone is way bigger than it is for multiplayer. It’s magical. I’ve been having a blast.

Now, Warzone has changed how we see things and what we expect from a Call of Duty game. We’ve got the battle pass, seasons, it’s free-to-play… It’s added an extra layer to the game, that we never had before.

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Warzone can help multiplayer, especially in CoD 2020

One area they’re not really pushing enough, though, is the idea of ranking up weapons and attachments and getting to that higher level so you can succeed more in Warzone. If they did that and made multiplayer free-to-play, they would have an incredible amount of growth on both sides because people are itching to rank up new guns or their favorite weapons.

Moving into the new game, I have this vision of them just nuking the whole map. In an incredible world they blow up the whole map with a nuke and you end up on the new game, whatever it’s called, and you’ve got similar mechanics, same format, Warzone’s still there, you’ve got a brand new map and a brand new multiplayer.

I always recall back to Black Ops 2. When I look back at that game it had literally everything, for everybody: If you enjoyed sniping, the game was good for sniping; If you enjoyed running around with a knife, it was good for that; trickshots, it was good for that; using regular guns and pubstomping, it was good for that. Whatever it was that you liked about Call of Duty, that game had. I think ever since then, every game has had certain aspects of that, but they’ve never had the whole thing.

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I think with the new game, they need to figure out a way to have all of those creators, all of those different types of players, succeed. With Modern Warfare, they’ve kind of missed out the middleman. People that are really aggressive can succeed in that game, people who are slower-paced can succeed at that game, but I think the average, running-around-casually players are punished.

For me, it comes down to the skill gap. I see it in esports now. I’m not really a big follower of the competitive scene as much as I used to be, but I just see at the moment it’s a different team winning every time, and it kind of showcases that the skill gap isn’t really as high as it used to be.

I think that also works within multiplayer. You can see that if you’re at the top, you’re still not thriving as much as you would be on different games because of that smaller skill gap. I think in the next game you need the opportunity, a platform, a game in general, that allows the really good players to thrive and, if you’re on that level, you can’t be touched. If you put time in, if you put the hours in, and you’re a lot better than someone else, you should be rewarded for that skill.

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It’s happening in Warzone right now. You see players coming out of nowhere, who are absolutely ridiculous, and I just think “They’ve only just started doing it and they’re way better than me!” That’s amazing to see. I love to see that. That’s what the new CoD needs to do within multiplayer as well.

SBMM and making CoD 2020 more fun

The thing that I hope, and my fingers are crossed for, is that they remove skill-based matchmaking from CoD 2020. When it comes down to it, the actual execution, it just doesn’t allow for much creativity. It doesn’t allow for any unique gameplay because, at the end of the day, if you’re playing against people who are just as good as you, you have to use the best guns in the game to compete.

It’s the same with Warzone, too. SBMM is there as well, I don’t know if it’s as harsh, but I still struggle. You’ve got to use the meta weapons, especially in all these different tournaments. Moving forward, they need to remove SBMM and allow more creativity and unique gameplay from both creators and just people trying to have fun, whether you make videos or not. If you want to run around with something that’s a bit weird, then you can. That’s what I hope for.

I don’t think they’ve ever had SBMM within the Black Ops series, so I’m definitely looking forward to that side of things.

As long as it plays like a Black Ops game, like a Treyarch game, then I’m happy.