Black Ops Cold War’s League Play launch has been nothing short of a disappointment among the fan base it was created to please.
It has been no industry secret that the release of Black Ops Cold War has been a shaky one for developer Treyarch, who had to step in to complete the development of Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty title.
With one year less under the belt to develop his next title (two compared to the regular three), Black Ops Cold War started a shaky start. Unfortunately for Treyarch, responsibility would continue to increase with the success of Infinity Ward’s Warzone, which was also given to them and Raven Software in the Black Ops Cold War year.
As a result, Multiplayer in their premium title feels anything but a page section in the bigger picture. Black Ops Cold War has all the customization and shooting of a standard Call of Duty title, but does not do anything particularly different from previous titles, nor does it offer much variation in launch content.
As time goes on, Treyarch is adding more free DLC to Black Ops Cold War, which has included some remastered multiplayer maps, small shooter maps and oddball “four-team” mode maps. It is rumored that Fireteam is using a similar content delivery strategy to Infinity Wards “Ground War” mode, using parts of the much larger Battle Royale map – due to falls in the coming months.
As you can clearly see, Treyarch has a lot of work on the board – this does not include the various bug fixes and optimization for a total of five gaming platforms as well. (PS4, PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox Series X | S)
Unfortunately, this has proved clear as the day in the newly added “League Play” mode to Black Ops Cold War, which has disappointed many sports fans at launch.
League Play failed
Fast forward to day 1 of the official League Play launch, disaster is possibly the best term. Playing like the pros has never felt worse, and core issues with the rules and ranking modes were quickly brought up in society.
Unfortunately, professional players have chosen to play on a “Gentlemen’s Agreement” or “GA” system to limit access to equipment and stripes in the game that are considered to have low competitive integrity due to the unlimited and outdated nature of CDL league sets. .
This list includes the Jammer Field Upgrade, Deadly Molotov, Perks Gearhead & Gung-Ho and Wildcard Perk Greed. The whole GA list is quite boring and large, but many players agree that a large part of the list is acceptable to be banned in competitive games.
At launch, all of these elements were usable in the game, which, to put it mildly, turned into a mess of an experience.
Worst of all, scorestreaks persisted between deaths – meaning all players can get powerful scorestreaks at least once with ease, every single game.
A horrible ranking system
The cornerstone of any effectively ranked system is a fair and exciting skill rating system that assigns players to improve in the game. In Black Ops Cold War, the League Play system feels like it violates these principles.
Instead of choosing skill rankings that go up based on overall performance, players are tightly locked into their rankings for a specified amount of days. These are called “events” and last four days each. Players are split into a division against 49 other players and knock out League Play to fight for the top of their division to grab a certain amount of pearls to advance rankings.
If players place first in six separate events, they will be placed permanently in the top “Diamond” rank for the season. Sounds confusing? That’s because it’s it. The whole system is centered around grinding for more wins than your other competitors instead of judging your individual skill. As players evolve, true competition is at the top level of playing time, not in players’ skill.
Even worse, the placement games appear to be intercepted or just random, with some professional players being placed in the Competitor League – the bottom 50% of players.
This system prioritizes quantity over quality and apparently takes no player calculations in addition to gains and losses. For a $ 25 million esports franchise video game, this system crumbles with ELO-based systems in games like Blizzard’s Overwatch and Valve’s Counter-Strike.
Simply put: You should not need a PhD in Call of Duty to understand your League Play ranking, and as an individual player you should feel judged by your individual skill in the game in relation to your playing time. It should not take several weeks (events) for you to reach a correct ranking.
Worst of all, the Black Ops Cold War League Play ranking system is a complete copy / paste of the unpopular Black Ops 4 system, which is even more a slap in the face to the competitive society.
The future of league games
With all the negative reception of players, Treyarch acted quickly to restore some competitive integrity to the playlist. It is an unrealistic expectation to revise the ranks in just a few days, or even a few weeks – they did what they could, and changed the regulations.
Just one day after the launch of the mode, Treyarch banned many GA’d items from League Play – including some scorestreaks, weapon attachments, benefits and equipment.
This update is far from making things perfect, but at least it served as a quick band-aid for the mode. While the debate over the ranks was up in the air, games were once again playable and were almost not as messy compared to the first day.
Unfortunately, scorestreaks were persistently removed after death (and have not yet been removed), so expect games to be filled with RC-XDs and mid-tier stripes like Napalm Strikes.
This update is certainly a gesture from Treyarch that they are determined to fix this mode, and is supported by Treyarch Studio Design Director David Vonderhaar, who took to Twitter to gather feedback and comment on League Play.
In a response to a tweet regarding the overall ranking system, Vonderhaar responds “Keywords: Scope. Availability. Deadlines. Franchise. “Perhaps a hint that time was partly due to the transfer of the Black Ops 4 League Play system. In addition, he says “We got some work done to do IMO to evangelize how it works after we have cleaned up some of the disgusting mistakes”.
Vonderhaar also reached out to the Dallas Empire CDL player, Crimsix for feedback on the League Play rankings as well. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post, but this may be good news for the future. If anything – it shows dedication to the hardcore community from a high-end developer at Treyarch.
With Black Ops Cold War still in the early stages of the years-long Call of Duty cycle, it’s still time for League Play to receive some well-deserved love. Unfortunately, with all the responsibility on Treyarch’s plate, we can wait several months for any meaningful change to the core ranking system.
For now, if you’re looking for a “competitive” experience, League Play achieves at least just that. There are still some more rule set adjustments it needs, but after the changes are in place, the ranking system will be the biggest problem in the future for Treyarch.
Image credits: Treyarch / Activision