|System: Xbox 360, PC, PS3|
|Dev: Beachhead Studios|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
It's been heavily rumored for quite some time that the Call of Duty series would see the release of its own subscription-based service. Today, we can finally confirm this. Call of Duty: Elite is a subscription service that's being built from the ground up for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and will release alongside it this fall. It will allow players to experience the blockbuster multiplayer aspect of the Call of Duty franchise in a whole new way.
During an unveiling event several weeks ago, we were given a few basic points about the service, and we even got a little bit of hands-on time. Although only a few early details were made available to us, we can give you the basic rundown on what to expect from Call of Duty: Elite.
First off, Activision wants to dispel any rumors that Call of Duty: Elite is replacing the multiplayer experience. The regular multiplayer offering will remain free to play and will not change because of Call of Duty: Elite. Essentially, Call of Duty: Elite will provide an augmentation of the existing multiplayer offering, and will allow those who choose to use the service to go deeper into the experience.
So exactly how will Call of Duty: Elite accomplish this? There are three basic tenets to the Elite service: "Connect," "Compete," and "Improve." Connect is perhaps the most interesting feature of the service, and is the one that is the most likely to make hardcore fans stand up and take notice. Essentially, what the Connect feature will do is allow players to create a persistent profile that works throughout all Call of Duty games (starting with Call of Duty: Black Ops) and connect with players across all games. This includes people you've met in random matchups, those you play with from your friends list, and those you have labeled as "rivals" in the game.
In addition to showing you stats on those you already play with, the Connect feature allows you to discover new people to play with using groups and clans that you can create. The group system includes an expansive tagging feature that allows you to create, join, or browse groups with any tagged word. During the demo, we were shown that you could type something like "photography" or "pizza" to find people with the same interests as you. Once you join a group, you can browse stats and post social messages in a central hub. The Connect feature really aims to turn Call of Duty: Elite into the Facebook of COD, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The Compete function is a little less multi-faceted and will give players unprecedented access to current battle stats and active competitions straight from a central dashboard. The team at Beachhead Studios has promised that there will be a constant flow of challenges and contests with real-life prizes for Elite members to take part in. Players can "enlist" in these competitions with a single click, and their in-game progress will automatically be monitored for the contest.
Improve is the final facet of Elite, and this will give players the opportunity to take a hard look at their game and raise their skills. The Improve function will show users detailed stats on weaponry, heat maps that show areas where player deaths happen most often, and will recommend video tutorials that will help them improve on both basic and advanced techniques.
Now that we've got all the basics out of the way, two questions probably spring to mind: when can I try this and how much will it cost? To the first question: Activision has announced that it will be holding an open public beta of the service this summer using Call of Duty: Black Ops. As to the second question: we don't know yet. Considering most people play the Call of Duty series on Xbox Live (which you already have to pay for), it wouldn't make sense for the service to be extremely expensive. But as soon as we know a price point, we'll let you know.
Call of Duty: Elite looks like a promising service for those who play Call of Duty on a regular basis. Though I can't see it being a "must-have" service for casual players, it's hard to deny that there's a huge market out there for the hardcore COD sect. The Elite service will certainly fill a niche. However, like all things, the success of Elite is all going to come down to price, and that's the one thing we don't know yet. Though it would be nice if Activision made an announcement at E3, I wouldn't expect price information until after the open beta this summer.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer