Activision’s kicking off their first-ever Call of Duty XP fan fest this year and they’ve got a weekend full of multiplayer reveals, real-life paintball combat and even a Kanye West closing concert lined up for attendees. Among the highlights is a $1 million tournament where regular joes get to face off against celeb and pro athlete contestants, as well.
One of those COD players from the world of sports will be Kevin Love, power forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves. I had a chance to speak with the 2011 Most Improved Player before the XP festivities began and he talked about how his COD playstyle differs from his play on the basketball court, as well as the most important thing about playing in the tournament.
You’re going to be at the Call of Duty XP fan fest this weekend. Would you say that you’re one of the NBA’s top COD players?
Kevin Love: I mean, I try to be, at least. I know that some of the guys are at Level 50 Prestige, and you have to kind of creep around the levels and you can’t go out there out in the open.
You’ll try to go hard in the paint and put yourself out there all the time, like I do. But if you go right out there into the open, they’re going to kill you. I try to fake it ‘till I make it more than anything. But I definitely try. So it will definitely be interesting on Saturday to go against Chris Bosh and the service members and the other participants. So it will be fun.
So it sounds like you’re saying your personal style as an athlete is totally different from how you play Call of Duty?
Yeah. You have to be careful and not try to get killed while also trying to go out there and kill guys yourself. Whereas if you’re too careful on the court, you’re not going to make anything happen for your team.
It’s a very, very tough game, as far as multiplayer, but it’s a lot of fun. You have to go about it a certain way, just like in anything, in order to have success. I just can’t be going out there and put myself in the open or else I’ll be done.
What do you like most about the game? Is it the speed and the visceral sense of the action? Or is it like being a little bit more strategic? Why are you a Call of Duty fan?
Well, definitely the strategy. Like you said, how you go about the game, it’s all strategy. I definitely love to play against different people online all across the world. You can really understand while you’re playing it why it’s the biggest selling game of all time. I’m very excited to try some of the new levels and the new style of play in Modern Warfare 3.
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What’s your favorite weapon in the game?
Personally, I like the Galil. I hate the guys who just stand there and are the snipers all the time. I personally like the Galil. I don’t know if that’s the best gun in the game but it’s something I’ve always ran with and I took a liking to when I first started.
It seems that particular of weapon is better for a mid-range, run-and-gun style.
Yes, and that’s definitely the type I am without being too crazy and racking up deaths all the time.
Do you find it’s easier to memorize a level? Because that’s the thing that always gets me, I always forget where stuff is.
Right. I always forget where stuff is. I definitely like to memorize the level, memorize the map, but a lot of times, that’s very, very tough for me. I’ll find myself not even looking at the map at certain points. Just going about my business and that will get me in some trouble.
So you’re saying it’s not any easier despite the fact that you have all this experience, like with memorizing plays. If your coach outlines a play for you, is it a different set of tools all together?
Yeah, definitely it is. It’s easy when you can just put yourself in a particular spot on the hardwood, but when putting yourself out there in different levels where it’s just mayhem at all times, it’s very tough.
Just memorizing the different levels is challenging, and anticipating where people are going to be. A lot of the time guys have figured out different pockets in different levels to where they like to scope and hide out as snipers go. It’s tough. You have to go about your business in a different way than in sports. I’ve gained a lot of respect for the game because it’s very, very humbling playing it.
But, if they were to take you on on the court that would be something else entirely?
I can definitely say yes to that. [laughs]
Why did you agree to participate in the tournament this weekend at Call of Duty XP?
I agreed to do it because I thought it would be a great way to interact not only with the fans but the service members. We’ll actually be able to play some of the members of the Armed Forces abroad. It’s a good way of getting the troops together and showing support for the men and women that are serving our country. Plus, I get to go against Chris Bosh. [laughs].
So, all the athletes like me, they’ll give you a lot of trash talk and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Afterwards Kanye West is going to close off the show. It’s for a great cause. All ticket sales go the Call of Duty Endowment. It’s a non-profit that assists veterans transitioning into civilian life. In that regard it’s pretty cool to try to provide a career for them afterwards and help them go along. This weekend is kind of getting the best of both worlds: You get a lot of entertainment and it’s for a good cause. It’s the first time people get to be hands-on with Call of Duty Elite and Modern Warfare 3.
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On the Elite front, it’s kind of like a stat aggregator. So you can kind of learn how you play it. I wrote it up a couple months ago and I compared it to watching film. When you’re watching film of yourself or other teams, like what kind of things do you pull out to try and use in a game? Let’s say you’re going to face up against the Warriors or a team like that.
Well I think you always look at their strengths and weaknesses and definitely their tendencies. If you know the percentages on a guy, like where he likes to turnover, his right shoulder, his left shoulder. He likes to drive right, drive left.
Where he scores most of his buckets from. Where he gets stops in the defensive end. So, I think it definitely relates to the Call of Duty game, especially in terms of watching film and kind of finding out a guy’s tendencies: what weapon he likes to use, where he likes to score from, and how he goes about his business. There’s definitely a connection between both concepts.
So that’s something you think you’re going to find yourself doing? Reading up on your opponents or yourself to see how you can improve your game?
Definitely. Like I said, it’s very humbling when I get online and really start playing. Because some of the guys in there are just so good. You definitely have to sit back and understand what you have to get better at, and what you have to work on. Definitely figure out the other guy’s tendencies and where they’re going to be, and really figure out the levels as well, I think.
All right, let’s go back to your main job. What are your thoughts on this season coming up?
It’s going to be interesting. Obviously, with the labor negotiations, the CBA, and the owners, there really hasn’t been much leeway and we are really at a position where it’s hurry-up-and-wait. Mid-September, maybe early October we’ll start making leeway. There will be more negotiations, but a lot of it is unknown at this point. We as the players kind of just have to sit back and find other ways to make money.
Yeah, because at this point you guys would have been in camp still or would preseason have started?
In two weeks, we’d be reporting to camp at least. So everybody is just kind of working out right now and doing their best to stay in shape so when the time comes we’ll be ready to go.
What do you to stay in shape? Just pick-up games or…?
Yeah, I’m lifting four times a week. Doing basketball five to six days a week. And I’m doing yoga two to three times a week.
So I got a pretty heavy schedule with mixing in different endorsements, different endeavors, different things that have come my way. I’m very blessed to be that busy and have the different opportunities like this one on Saturday. And I’m just going to try to keep that going as much as possible.