When you think of a Call of Duty game, what comes to mind? Well, I suppose it really depends on what era we're talking about. If we're talking about early Call of Duty, things like World War, AK-47's, and trench probably come to mind. If you're thinking of the newer CoD titles, then you're probably thinking about robots, wall-running, and space battles.
Yes sir, Call of Duty has certainly changed throughout the years, becoming an almost entirely different kind of game from what it was in its early days. But throughout its many changes, from RC cars to hover drones, there's one thing that's stayed a staple of the Call of Duty franchise: Guns.
After all, Call of Duty is a war franchise. The premise of every game usually center around two warring fractions, so guns are an obvious element of the franchise. However, wars are as old as time, but guns are not, so it's not like you need them to make a war game. Other franchises have focused on time periods that didn't have gun warfare, instead featuring the old "sword and shield" method of fighting.
The oldest time period Call of Duty has focused on is World War I, opting to rapidly accelerate towards the future. The next Call of Duty title, Infinite Warfare, is set way into the future. It features space battles, robot soldiers, desolate planets, and other sci-fi elements.
Fans have been expressing their desire for Call of Duty to go back to the way they were for a while now, especially when EA unveiled a brand new Battlefield game set during World War I.
It doesn't look like that'll be happening any time soon, as Call of Duty continues to ascend into future—but as it turns out, we almost got a Call of Duty set during an older time period. Though, it wasn't exactly the time period we had in mind...
Call Of Duty: Roman Wars?!
When fans said they wanted Call of Duty to take a trip back in time, they were most likely thinking of time periods like WWI, WWII, or the Vietnam War. They wanted the series to focus on traditional warfare.
What they probably weren't thinking about was a game set during the Roman Wars. That's right, we almost got a game set during a period where guns were't even a thing! Call of Duty: Roman Wars would have centered around famous historical figure Julius Caesar and his Tenth Legion.
Developed by Vicarious Visions (of Skylanders fame) back in 2008, Roman Wars would have featured sword and shield gameplay, and would have also let players to ride horses and elephants, and use catapults.
Players would have a had a variety of weapons to choose from, such as swords, bows, and axes. It certainly would have differentiated itself from other CoD titles, being the first in the franchise to feature ancient warfare.
An anonymous developer who worked on the game described the vision for Roman Wars in an interview with GamesRadar:
“I really thought an ancient warfare game would do well, re-skinned with the Call of Duty engine. Basically we were following Julius Caesar’s Tenth Legion – his special forces during those times - and we were doing a one level prototype based on the Battle of Alesia."
So What Happened?
Call of Duty: Roman Wars was set to release as direct competition to the Xbox One Exclusive, Ryse: Son of Rome, but it never got past the prototype phase. Even though it's not exactly the game fans were asking for, I think a game set during the Roman Wars would have gotten a lot of attention, especially with the success of game franchises like God of War and Rome: Total War.
So why didn't this interesting Call of Duty game come to light? Well, Activision, while impressed by the game demo, just wasn't sure Roman Wars was a "Call of Duty game". At this time, Activision was looking ahead, literally, as they wanted to focus on a future timeline for the Call of Duty franchise.
Vicarious Visions tried to use the fact that Ryse was going to be an Xbox One launch title to convince Activision to go for an older time period, but to no avail:
Anonymous Developer: “You had Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, you had all the future stuff - especially with Halo and all those more futuristic-style shooters - they weren’t sure if it was going to resonate as strongly, but then a launch title actually was a freaking ancient Roman warfare game. I think if Call of Duty did that, and they did it with the mechanics we were working with and that engine? That launch title would have been a lot bigger and a lot more well received”.
Unfortunately, Call of Duty: Roman Wars was scrapped, so we may never get the chance to see what an ancient war Call of Duty game would have been like. Hopefully, after Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty will heed the fan's words and travel back to a simpler time for the next installment.