Aug 18, 2011

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Call of Duty Elite Beta Impressions

Call of Duty Elite Beta Impressions

The Call of Duty Elite Beta launched awhile back, giving gamers a glimpse at what the service is and how they can track their stats via a website. I’ve spent some time with Elite and while the interface is excellent and it’s nice to see all my stats in one easy place, Elite isn’t anything that I haven’t seen before and the only real draw to the service right now are the competition events.

Call of Duty Elite is basically a stat tracking website on steroids. You can get detailed stats, easily compare them with your friends, view heat maps, watch user created videos and compete to win virtual and tangible prizes. For Halo veterans, this is Bungie.net but with an updated design and interface. While you can view a lot of these stats in-game, Call of Duty Elite brings it onto the web and gives you easy access to community features.

Once you sign into Elite and link your gamertag/PSN ID, you’ll be sent right to your Career page. This screen shows your career summary (win percent, K/D ratio, XP, Earnings and Time Played), Recent Matches, your current Custom Class, Personal Bests, Leaderboard stats and Weapon performance.

Career

Your career summary is pretty standard, displaying your career stats, and it’s nothing that you can’t find within the game itself. The recent matches feature is something that I’ve always liked on Bungie.net. This section of your Career page shows all of your recent matches and displays the stats for them like what weapon you used the most, your nemesis and the scoreboard. You can get even deeper into the matches by looking at heat maps or progression charts that show your SPM (Score Per Minute), XP, K/D ratio and a ton of other stats. The matches update pretty quickly to the website which is really nice. This is definitely something that is interesting to see, especially because you can start to look at what maps you need to improve in and where people like to hangout. While this is a nice feature there are still some things that I would like to see such as detailed objective information (captures and defends) and the heat map could use a lot more detail as well.

Custom classes and Personal Bests are pretty standard affairs. From here you can view your custom classes and view stats for each weapon equipped in the class. It would be great to be able to change your classes on the website and have them sync with the game. Personal Bests simply displays your personal best stats for various things like most head shots and most kills in a game.

Leaderboard Tracker and Weapon Performance are two of the better features in Elite. Leaderboard tracker allows you to add “Rivals” from either your friends list or random gamers. From here you can see how you match up with your friends in various game modes. While this is something you can access in-game it’s nice to be able to get quick web access to it and of course it makes for easy bragging rights. Leaderboard Tracker also allows you to so see where you rank among all Call of Duty players in the normal leaderboard.

Weapon Performance is something that could help you improve your COD skills. Here you can view all your weapon stats from K/D ratio, accuracy and even what weapon people killed you the most with; it should be no surprise that most people killed me with the FAMAS although the Galil is right behind it. Not only can you see what gun you are best with, but you can check out which Killstreak you used the most, how many grenade kills you got and even what equipment you used the most. Looking at these stats can give you a lot of insight on how you can improve your skills and also proves my point that everyone uses a FAMAS.

Connect

Once you are done checking out your COD stats you can head over to the Connect page to join groups, watch videos or create a clan. Groups allows you to connect with people you might share interests with, people who go to your school or even people who live in your area. You can join these groups to compare leaderboard stats, chat with people within the group or you can add people to your friends lists to play some games. This is a pretty interesting way to see how you compare to people in your area or amongst fans of your favorite sports team. While you can create your own group there is no search function at the moment so right now you can only join groups that your friends belong to or that are featured, hopefully this will change with the full release.

Theater is something that some of COD Elite users are excited for. Here you can watch Staff Pick videos, a few tutorial videos, your own collection of videos or search through all the user uploaded video content. While the Staff pick and tutorial videos are nice, I didn’t find much reason for me to check out all the videos there. Although I will say that the cameo section, which allows you to view videos that you were tagged in, is a really nice feature.

Compete

Compete is probably the best part of COD Elite. Here you can compete in hosted events to win both virtual and tangible prizes. For instance this week you can compete for the most defends in CTF which will net you a nifty badge to show off on your profile or you can compete in a Headquarters event where the player with the most captures will win an Oakley backpack. There are many events that take place throughout the week some require skill and a lot of free time, others are just about luck. A few of those events are things like “post your best Sticky kill” or “post your best diving kill.” In these events, players will post videos of their kills and the Elite staff will pick who had the best video. For these events you can win an iPad 2 and a Canon camera, so you can see why gamers would want to spend the most time here. There’s no word on how many events like this they will be holding once MW3 comes out or whether or not the prizes will continue to be this.

Improve

Finally Improve is exactly what it sounds like. Here you can view detailed information about the maps in the game (objective locations and starting spawn points), you can view information about each weapon, attachment or killstreak, and you can find a few “pro tip” videos and tips on what perks and classes to use for a particular game mode. To be honest I don’t really see a reason for this portion of the site but for those looking to get into other modes than just TDM, this might be a good place to do some research before jumping into objective games.

The beta offered a lot of the features that will come with the full release in the fall but there are a few things missing. Leagues and Clan support were not included in the beta and those are two of the modes I think many fans will be interested in seeing how they work with MW3. Mobile apps were also left out but I assume the app will be pretty similar to what the website offers. Later in the fall the app will be available for iOS and Android devices.

Overall the COD Elite Beta shows a lot of promise. There are some things I would like to see like more detailed stats and improved heat maps, but for the most part it’s nice to see Activision follow Bungie’s footsteps and bring a great user experience to gamers outside of the game itself. For someone like me, who has been using Bungie.net since Halo 2 almost 7 years ago, there isn’t anything here that is too impressive. The addition of hosted events and the additional community features are nice but I think what will really set Elite apart from Bungie.net will be Clan/League integration along with the many features that have not yet been announced. For now the Beta seems to be doing well so far; stats get updated quickly and aside from a few times where stats fail to load, the Beta website runs really well.

For those looking to test out COD Elite you can head over to their homepage now to sign up, invites are being sent out on a weekly basis but as of now it is only for Xbox 360 users.  For now check out our many screen shots from the Beta Website and stay tuned for our continued coverage of COD Elite.