Call of Duty: Elite, Activision's much-hyped online service designed to provide a means for Call of Duty players to connect outside the game and analyze and improve their performance, is finally live.
In the wake of the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 , which has seen millions of players hammering the service's servers, I've had little luck connecting via PC, and only moderate success via my Xbox 360.
I suspect many readers have experienced similar problems, which is one of the reasons why I want to open up the comments section to a discussion about Elite.
The other reason is that I want to hear what you think of it (assuming you've been able to connect). Do you find value in its features? Is it helping your game? Did you opt for the paid premium subscription, or are you using the basic service?
I'll get the ball rolling with a few impressions of my own.
Here's what I love most: Analyzing recent matches. Scrolling through a timeline to view each spot on the map that you were part of the action is weirdly cathartic and, I believe, somewhat educational. I found it surprisingly easy to detect patterns in my successful kills (they typically take place on the outskirts of maps, where I move slowly and have my back to a wall) as well as my deaths (pretty much any time I decide to heedlessly hoof it through the centre of a choke point).
Also useful is the hot zones view mode, which highlights map locations with the most activity. Hot zones can change from one match to the next, but I've found they're generally pretty predictable once you get to know them. Get to know them and you can potentially take advantage of cooler areas for movement and keep your head down when passing through the red areas.
What am I not so thrilled about? The difficulty I've had connecting to the service is certainly a bummer (I get bumped out every time I try to access one of the communities under the Connect tab), but I suspect/hope that Activision will sort out their server issues soon.
Beyond connection issues, I'm a little disappointed with the Improve tab, which is surprisingly static and seems to me to simply offer information once found in instruction manuals -- detailed descriptions of weapons and game modes -- along with a little advice on how to make best use of your gear and how to approach different match types. I was hoping for some kind of automatic, dynamic analysis of my playing style and the custom classes I've created.
All of the features I've mentioned are available for free. One of the biggest questions, then, is whether there's a good reason to spend $56.99 to upgrade to a premium Elite membership.
At first blush, the answer for most players would seem to be no. Most of the bonus features that come with a premium subscription – extra storage for game clips, access to personal advice and strategies, enhanced clan services, and the ability to take part in competitions with real prizes – are great, but only the hardest of the hardcore will make good use of them.
However, it does come with one massive perk that has the potential to appeal to everyone: Access to all Call of Duty downloadable content for the next year. You'll get it in monthly drops, and earlier than non-premium subscribers. If you're the kind of player who digs into your pocket to pay for $10 or $15 content packages several times per year, going premium will end up saving you money in the long run.
That's my two cents. What do you think of Elite?