Multiplayer gamers have a plethora of game modes and types to choose from when it comes to online shooters; Call of Duty’s Search and Destroy, Battlefield’s Conquest, and Halo’s Headhunter are just a small sampling of the myriad choices. While the new, unique, and esoteric gametypes help keep a game fresh and a community dedicated, shooter fans will probably never let go of the original and (arguably) most popular gametype: Team Deathmatch. While objective gametypes often charge players with completing some sort of flag- or bomb-related task, Team Deathmatch keeps it simple: kill the other team. More than they kill yours.
Countless titles have incorporated Team Deathmatch into their online component, and it has become requisite in most popular shooters. With a slew of shooter series now vying for the biggest piece of the online game pie, we gamers have the chance to compare and evaluate each title and its Team Deathmatch component. Which modern franchise pulls off the best Team Deathmatch experience?
The Halo series has been hosting Team Deathmatch (dubbed “Team Slayer”) matches for ten years now; while the goal of the game is the same as it was in the previous decade, Halo’s superb map design and weapon placement placed an emphasis on teamwork and map control. Power weapons and vehicles could make or break a match, and it was imperative that a team was working together. Now, that’s not to say that a lone wolf couldn’t turn the tide of battle, but even a lone wolf will have trouble facing a team wielding a rocket launcher and a Warthog. Two teams of 4 compete in an attempt to reach the 50-kill limit first; Halo 2 introduced Big Team Battles, which require the teams of 8 to reach 100 kills. Halo offers an incredibly balanced Team Deathmatch scene, and it’s hard to find fault in its mechanics. That being said, power weapons can affect the balance at times, especially on the asymmetrical maps.
Call of Duty
Call of Duty offers a glut of gametypes, and Team Deathmatch is one of the most popular. While its mechanics are similar to Halo’s, the core Call of Duty game elements turn it into a different beast altogether. Killstreaks, perks, and loadouts create a dynamic battlefield, and one map may never be played the same twice. While there are natural chokepoints, there are no power weapons or pickups, so teams won’t be instinctively battling over a specific location or weapon. Killstreaks reward two types of players: the really good ones, and the ones patient enough to wait for the prime killing time instead of running around aimlessly. Killstreaks are what differentiate CoD’s Team Deathmatch from pretty much every other iteration out there. Yes, they can be seemingly cheap and unbalanced at times, but it creates a unique playing field that is incomparable to its competition.
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Battlefield 3 is the first installment in the long-running franchise that offers Team Deathmatch, and while the series is new to the gametype, it is a more than serviceable offering. For a game known for its huge battlefields and in-depth vehicle support, its Team Deathmatch mode is surprisingly bare-bones. That’s a good thing. With no vehicle support, and no map-specific weapon pickups, the game is all about a team and its guns; no killstreaks, armor boosts, or invisibility boxes are to be found. The maps are the same as the Conquest and Rush maps, but feature barriers so that the playing field is small and personal; you won’t have to walk too far to find a kill (or death). The real flaw of Battefield’s Team Deathmatch experience is the spawning; with such small maps, and such quick respawn timers, it’s common to spawn right behind an enemy, and get insta-killed, or to have an enemy spawn directly in front of you, giving you a cheap kill and them a cheap death. Hopefully in future DLC and installments this flaw will be remedied.
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Gears of War
Gears of War is also relatively new to the Team Deathmatch scene; while past installments have featured “kill or be killed” scenarios, the third game is the first to include a standard Team Deathmatch mode. It’s standard in most respects, but still takes a creative approach to scoring. Instead of a team winning by reaching a certain amount of kills, a team wins by draining the respawns of the opposition. This creates a normal Team Deathmatch scenario for the first half of the game, but once a team has less than 5 respawns left, the tactics change. Then a team has to hunker down and play even more cautiously; there will be no backup or reinforcements if the team incurs another death. Akin to Halo, Gears of War features map-specific power weapons that are fought over. A team brandishing the One Shot or the Mulcher can make quick work of its foes. While this would seem to imbalance the gameplay, the emphasis on cover and the tight-knit maps help players avoid many of the enemies’ powerful super weapons.
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Which is the best? Well, it’s hard to say (apologies for the cop-out). Much of it comes down to personal preference. It’s hard to directly compare, say, CoD’s Team Deathmatch, with its killstreaks and loadouts, to Battlefield’s stripped-down version.
That being said, the Halo series offers the most balanced, fair, and competitive Team Deathmatch experience (so, I guess it’s not hard to say). That’s my verdict, and I’m stickin’ to it.
Let me know in the comments why my pick is right/wrong/terrible, and let me know which of your favorite games offers the best TDM.