Coke and Pepsi – two multiplayer-centric, war-themed shooters.

Battlefield and Call of Duty – two sweet, sugary beverages.

The comparison, natural. The similarities, obvious.

Actually, I’m not sure that’s quite right. I mean there’s not actually guns in my can of Coke – that’s absurd. And there’s no tanks in my Pepsi, either. If so, they should totally recall that: I hear tanks can give you a really nasty case of the runs.

So, there’s lots of sugar in Battlefield. Sorry: guns, I mean guns – there’s guns in EA and Activision’s seminal shooters. Lots of them, too.

Let’s start again: Battlefield is Coke, Call of Duty is Pepsi. They’re nearly almost identical on the surface – but very, very different.

To clarify: Coke and Pepsi do not contain guns and tanks. Your fizzy beverage should be an armament-free situation.

If it’s not, write a strongly worded letter.

Or consult a medical professional – immediately.

The same but fundamentally different – that’s the theme.

Call of Duty: a war-skinned arena shooter – a quick-kill, quick-death, twitch-or-be-twitched deathmatch wrapped in a militaristic skin. It’s die or be died, with nary a space in between. You’re a killer, the guy killing you is a killer – and the guy you just killed is a killer. The goal: to wrack up those murder merits.

Battlefield: an explosive jungle – a jungle in which virtually every facet of its digital reality is trying to kill you, the prey. Your primary goal in Battlefield, then, isn’t to kill – it’s to survive. By definition of the sheer volume of numbers alone, I’m not chasing the kill, it’s chasing me. A sniper, a tank, a horse – they all want that murder-merit morsel.

And that gap is crucial as to why one is Coke and the other, Pepsi. Call of Duty encounters are typically binary: it’s you or them in a split-second muzzle flash. Rarely – ever so rarely – do both parties live to tell the tale.

In Battlefield, the jungle gives you a little more time to die. A sniper snags you, you retreat to the confines of a collapsing building or the pseudo-safety of vehicular tin can. You have time to recoup, regroup and re-shoot.

What’s more, top-dog status can be reached without as much as picking up a gun. Everybody is prey, and each squad is a tribe unto themselves trying to survive. One person in that tribe might be the predator – and like Call of Duty, exclusively chase those ratios and murder merits – but it’s an environment where it’s difficult to judge those who aren’t quite up to the task, provided they offer utility elsewhere.

That’s also what makes Battlefield so appealing: your squad’s struggle to turn the tide of battle in a world where everything is intending to make that as difficult as possible. The emotional reward: sheer exhilaration. Of dozens upon dozens of players, my squad made that game-winning play.

But Battlefield’s existential death threat can leave you feeling disempowered, particularly if you’re greener than most. Activision’s money-maker makes you feel like the predator you want to be – it provides the illusion that you’re at the wheel.

As a result of these distinctive environments, Call of Duty’s multiplayer feels coincidentally war-like. Or at least, based on the popular portrayal of armed conflict. Conversely, Battlefield seemingly attempts to offer a vague simulacrum. It’s impossible to imagine how a solider couldn’t feel anything other than the ever-looming threat of death.

Call of Duty’s traditionally smaller, more funneled maps provide a known quantity in which to plan patrols and anticipate encounters. Battlefield’s environments are, by comparison, an ever-evolving variable. Predictability versus uncertainty.

So, yeah: Coke and Pepsi. Different games for different players – or the same player, if that’s your thing. The occasional ‘one’s better’ argument doesn’t really wash, as it’s easy to see why one might partake in both despite their ostensible similarities.

The secondary point: Coke and Pepsi shouldn’t contain guns, tanks, med kits or any other kind of military paraphernalia.

And if they do, you should contact a professional of sorts – of any kind, in fact – and tell them that I called ‘can-gate’ first.

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