Advanced Warfare is receiving a fair bit of praise for its new movement system. To this I say, congratulations. In a series that has been held up as one of the biggest cases of cookie-cutter sequels in the industry, it is great to see new systems. That said, Weapon Balance, an often neglected part of the series, once again takes a beating.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone here when I say I’m a huge fan of machine guns. Way back in Modern Warfare 2 I met a reliable workhorse LMG known as the RPD. Since then, I’ve used these heavy-but-powerful weapons in every CoD game to date. As someone who’s been using these for about five years, I’m appalled by how unfit the weapons are for AW.
There’s a few reasons for this change, one being the maps. In earlier games, LMG’s, along with Sniper Rifles, were unparalleled at covering long sight lines. AW gets rid of many of them, and those that remain are so long that few guns, even in that weapon class, can consistently bring down targets. Just take a look at the maps the next time you’re playing, count the spots where some obstacle blocks what would otherwise be a perfect line of fire. Light Machine Guns are designed to have an ideal Time To Kill at longer range, past the ranges where Assault Rifles and Submachine Guns are dominant. Now that there are very few places to take advantage of the better range, most stand-up fights are not in the favor of the machine gunner. On top of that, these few vantage points are also marked with several approaches, making defensive play (and/or camping) nearly impossible.
Next up is the previously mentioned mobility system. It’s no longer enough to point your gun of choice down a corridor, not in a game where targets can dash and jump and slide, throwing off your aim just long enough to score a kill on you. Machine Guns, historically, have the lowest innate aim sensitivity, and they suffer in this new environment. The new vertical aspect to all maps combines with the already widespread alternate routes to defensive locations, making these slower-moving players increasingly vulnerable to flanking.
So what do the developers do in the face of this? Maybe give machine guns better handling to keep up? Nope. Instead they double down, and give us guns horribly unfit for the game they created. Let’s start with the first machine gun available: the Pytaek. The optics obscure targets at long range, the gun kicks too much to consistently hit targets at long range, but the slow fire rate and resulting time to kill means it’s meant for long range. Sure, the gun becomes more accurate over time, but if you have to wait 3 seconds for your gun to actually kill things, you’re dead 20 times over. Then we have the XMG, which requires a user to enter lockdown mode (see- stand completely still) in order to be used at full effectiveness. It’s actually accurate enough to kill things at long distance, but you still have the constant horizontal and vertical outflanking to worry about. The Ameli is the one exception, having a high fire rate to give it some use in closer quarters, and it’s the very last machine gun unlocked.
This isn’t just theory. To try and prove myself wrong, I used the Pytaek (because that’s what I have) for several matches. I was easily sprayed down at short ranges, medium ranges, and even long ranges. Half the time by the Bal-27, the AR/SMG hybrid of the game, AKA “that gun that shouldn’t be winning long range battles with a machine gun.” I kept trying, even going so far as installing a silencer, which emits clouds of muzzle gases and obscures your sight even further, only to achieve the same result. Those guns just don’t work in this game, period.
Now, I know what you’ll be saying: “you just suck at the game.” That’s entirely possible, but it does it really defeat anything I’ve said beyond the last paragraph? Even if I played like a god among mortals, machine guns just aren’t meant for AW’s gameplay. And I find that sad.