Call of Duty used to be the standard for first-person shooters. The series peaked from 2007-2010 with Modern Warfare, World at War, Modern Warfare 2, and Black Ops. However, with each iteration, fans are treated to the basically the same things: a campaign that cares more about explosions than story or character development, a multiplayer mode with incremental changes, and gimmicks designed to keep Call of Duty relevant. Fans have been disappointed in recent years and declining sales have showed this (even though the sales are admittedly still good). Many COD players were hoping that Treyarch, developer of World at War, Black Ops, and Black Ops II, would be able to “save” the franchise.
Activision recently made it so that Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games, and Treyarch would each have three years to develop a COD game. Infinity Ward has been making Call of Duty games with a modern setting since 2007 and Sledgehammer moved the series to the future. After last year’s lackluster first outing from Sledgehammer, fans were looking forward to Treyarch’s effort.
Treyarch has had their most success with World at War and the first Black Ops, Call of Duty games with 20th century settings. Earlier this year, there were rumors and speculation that Treyarch’s next game would be World at War II, something that I and many others were hoping for. Unfortunately for us, Black Ops III was announced and it will have a futuristic setting, joining the crowded futuristic FPS market. Call of Duty, Battlefield, Titanfall, Ghost Recon, Destiny, Evolve, and the upcoming Halo, Doom, Star Wars Battlefront, and The Division are all games/series with modern-day or future settings. With all of these shooters taking up space on store shelves and on your hard drive, is there any more room for Call of Duty? At this point, isn’t it just another FPS with jetpacks?
The market was once overcrowded with WWII era shooters and that has now changed. Now a WWII shooter would feel welcomed, refreshing. I believe this is how Call of Duty can return to its former glory and stop being a laughingstock — by returning to its roots and making an awesome next-gen World War II shooter.
When people think of WWII FPS games, of course they think of playing as an American shooting Nazis, and that is probably why gamers started to grow tired of them. There’s only so long that shooting Nazis in their faces with the same guns in the same locations across different franchises can remain fun. I really think some developers forgot that Word War II was also fought in the Pacific. What made COD: World at War so great was the setting — it was set in a theatre of war that hadn’t been explored as much as its European counterpart. This introduced players to new level design, new weapons, and new enemies in a great game.
But if COD were to return to World War II, they would probably play it safe and set the game in Europe. Treyarch did a fantastic job with their European half of WaW. I enjoyed playing as a Russian soldier and the sniping level, especially the part in the fountain, was a high point for the entire Call of Duty series. Bringing the series back to the 40s would inject new life into it. Call of Duty would stand out on the shelf. There’s a million FPS games with a modern-day or future setting, so a WWII game would be like a breath of fresh air, kind of like how Wolfenstein has come back and made a name for itself.
If Activision really wanted to shake things up and go even further back, a World War I game would made Call of Duty stand out even more. WWI is a setting that typically gets disregarded when it comes to settings for FPS games. I think a Call of Duty WWI could be really fun (or any WWI for that matter) with a new emphasis on tanks, chemical warfare, and, of course, trench warfare, as opposed to jetpacks, cloaking, and quickscopes. I doubt that a World War I game will ever be added to the Call of Duty series, but it’s fun to think about it.
Right now, there just isn’t room for Call of Duty anymore. Sure, the next iteration is still going to sell well — the series has cornered the market of racist teenage Xbox owners — but there are just too many other great shooters releasing soon, not to mention great games in all genres, for Call of Duty to shine. Eventually the developers and Activision will realize that the series needs something, anything, that’s different, but when that realization comes, it may be too late for this fading franchise.