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The problem with Gun Game in Black Ops

The crossbow is one of the weapons in Black Ops' Gun Game.
The crossbow is one of the weapons in Black Ops' Gun Game.

Gun Game is one of the newer free-for-all game modes to the Call of Duty franchise which first made an appearance in Call of Duty: Black Ops and was also included in the more recent Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It is a fairly popular mode among players online and will probably be included in Black Ops II. Even Battlefield 3 incorporated a version of Gun Game called Gun Master which is relatively the same with just a few differences.

The premise of Gun Game in Black Ops is this: players start off with a handgun. Upon getting a kill with the pistol (or two kills in BF3's Gun Master), the player moves up to the next weapon. They then must get a kill with that gun in order to keep moving up the ladder until they have earned kills with every weapon. Basically it's a race to see who can finish all the weapons first. If a player gets knifed or commits suicide, they are demoted back to their previous weapon.

Gun Game and Gun Master seem like good modes for a change of pace because it forces players to become proficient with a wide variety of weapons rather than just continually using the same gun match after match. The mode has a crucial flaw, however. The weapon tiers are backwards!

Players shouldn't start with pistols, they should end with them. It makes no sense for players to start with the weakest guns and continually get stronger and stronger guns as they progress. This makes the next level easier than the one before it. This is why games in Black Ops are often completed so quickly. Once a player starts to unlock the stronger weapons, they might need to spend only a few seconds on each one before moving up again. That's stupid. The next tier should be harder to get a kill, not easier.

The final tier of Gun Game in Black Ops is a knife. How does it make sense to work your way up from a pistol to a grenade launcher, to then all of a sudden be bumped back down to knives? It would be more of a logical progression for players to start with the easiest weapons to get a kill with (grenade launchers) and then their weapon becomes smaller and smaller until they are down to nothing but a knife.

Infinity Ward actually got the order right in Modern Warfare 3 by starting players with the M4A1 and ending with the P99, but then it was then messed up again in Defiance where players started with the M9 and ended with a rocket launcher. What?!

Aside from just being illogical and making games end way too fast, the incorrect weapon progression also affects the gameplay profoundly. The way the mode is currently set up in Black Ops and Battlefield 3, if you get stuck on a lower tier, your game is pretty much over. Imagine a match where you have a hard time getting a kill with the pistol. Meanwhile all of the other players are moving on to shotguns and sub-machine guns which makes it even harder for you to get a kill. Suddenly you are trying to use a revolver against a Famas. Good luck trying to make a comeback now. You might as well just leave!

If the tiers were reversed to their proper order, this would allow people to remain in contention to win it even if they initially had trouble. In the scenario outlined above, the person on the lower tier would have the Famas while a person on the higher tier would have the revolver. It's a lot harder for someone with a handgun to get the kill there so this would make it harder for the person on the higher tier, as it should be.

Of course the demotion system would also have to be changed to prevent people from wanting to be demoted just so they could pad their kills with stronger weapons. Getting knifed should not demote you to the previous gun; it should simply make it so you need to get one extra kill with your current gun to progress. So rather than requiring one kill, you now need two (or three in Gun Master since it already requires two). Each time you get knifed while on that level, it would just stack on another required kill.

Or better yet, just remove the demotion system altogether.

If Gun Game were set up this way, it would be much more balanced and much more fun. As it stands, it can be one of the most frustrating game types in Black Ops or Battlefield 3. And that's saying something! Hopefully Treyarch will implement it correctly in Black Ops II.


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