It's fair to say that the Call of Duty franchise has taken a hit to its reputation over the past few years. From the apparently terrible Ghosts installment to the quite catastrophic buildup toward the release of Infinite Warfare, #CallOfDuty has certainly seen itself at the centre of a lot of negativity.
Admittedly, the last game from the series I played was Black Ops III. I enjoyed it enough, but not enough to actually purchase it. I know my housemate at the time was deeply disappointed at the fact he forked out $50 for it. But why has Call of Duty been slacking and declining whilst the likes of Battlefield has seemingly gone from strength to strength? Maybe it's simply become the trend to hate games even before they're released.
Battlefield's boldest move was traveling back to its origins, rather than progressing chronologically through history and on into the future, much like Call of Duty has been. It was a risk that seemingly paid off, as the level or excitement surrounding the game reached a fever pitch, even before the first beta was released. It seems that futuristic space battles and laser-wielding robots are not what the audience is looking for from these types of games. Destiny can cater to that desire, or the Halo series. Both of these are very successful, so it must not be the space battles that are the issue, but Call of Duty itself.
When Modern Warfare Becomes Too Modern:
My reaction to hearing that the next installment of the Call of Duty franchise would be set in space? Sigh. My initial thoughts were: How predictable, where is the originality here? Is Call of Duty going to morph into Halo soon?
It's certainly not far off. It's not been released yet, so I cannot confirm the presence of any aliens, but I wouldn't be surprised if they made a sneaky appearance somewhere.
The storyline, although I am unaware of the ins and outs of the progressive narrative, seems similar and the offline gameplay has that same first-person shooter feel to it. Go somewhere, kill everybody, press a button, cutscene and repeat. I admit, I used to love this on the earlier outings from Call of Duty, but it has vastly become stale and unbearable. It's standing out as being stagnant in an ever growing genre of games that are forever creating a new and unique style of play.
Some People Don't Want To Play Online, You Know?
This is a problem that has seeped across the gaming landscape, at least for the mainstream companies like EA, Infinity Ward and 2K. The dependency on the online content is vast and the online options available more than outweigh the effort and challenges set forward by the single-players mode.
Some of the most successful games that have been created over the past couple of years have not even offered any online gameplay at all. Titles such as The Last of Us, God of War, #Fallout and #Skyrim have not offered the player the ability to face other players online. Has this been detrimental to their success? Absolutely not. Their success grew from their original single-player campaigns, which were engrossing and time consuming. The idea of playing multiplayer was not considered because, in all honesty, it was not needed. You can create an immersive, playable game without the reliance on multiplayer.
But then I suppose that has been Call of Duty's downfall in many ways. The reliance on a multiplayer experience has led to a vastly repetitive and, at points, meaningless single-player mode. It's not only Call of Duty that suffers from this, but the series has seemingly become the most reliant on multiplayer to continue its relevance and overall existence.
Yes, I Do Want My Gun To Be A Fluorescent Pink, Thank You
Maybe it's the YouTube generation that has led to this change in attitude for Call of Duty. You seemingly cannot go longer than 30 minutes without seeing an "Epic Killcam" or a "Unbelievable Round" video appearing on YouTube feeds. But there certainly is a market in place for a collaboration between the two. Certainly streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube can profit from these videos existing and being created at such a rate. I can see why online streaming is promoted, but it is detrimental to the offline gameplay, having such a strong emphasis on creating an online video for the sole purpose of looking awesome and building a following on YouTube.
The series has been in existence now since 2003 — 13 years on and nothing has changed, apart from the environments they are set in and the depth of the online gameplay. Arguably, while Call of Duty 2 was the title that everybody fell in love with, the drop-off can be traced to the release of Modern Warfare 3. It could be related to the fact that veteran gamers are simply becoming tired of the similar nature that is presented from the Call of Duty gameplay. But it could also be that fans are crying out for a return to the franchises routes.
#Battlefield1 chose to return to the Great War origins where the game began. This movement was welcomed with open arms, the people had spoken and Battlefield had listened. Perhaps the same would be accepted by the fans of the Call of Duty games. The first title to make the leap from the world wars to modern-day battlefields was Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Fans were initially a bit skeptical about the change, but forgave the developers due largely to the fact that the game was so well-constructed. They still do get a high level of praise from critics, but an ever increasing number of fans have started voicing their opinions about the series, and what would a video game series be without its fans?
Warfare With Battlefield
There has always been console wars present throughout video game history: Nintendo vs. Sega, Spyro vs. Crash, Sony vs. Microsoft and now Call of Duty vs. Battlefield. The two have been competing with each other for over a decade now, and it finally seems as if Battlefield is taking the lead. For a significant amount of time the ball was in Call of Duty's court; Battlefield was perceived as the game for the hardcore players, focusing on realism and ultra-effective gameplay, whereas Call of Duty was a lot more fun to play. Such is the life of a video gamer, you always must choose a side and stick with it.
For me, I was formally in the corner of Call of Duty, actively dismissing the Battlefield franchise — until, that is, DICE entered Battlefield 4 in the ring. Its realism combined with carnage and destructible environments morphed together to create an immensely enjoyable game to play.
Video game wars can now be won solely based on YouTube video likes alone. If this is anything to go off, you may as well hand the title belt to Battlefield. Infinite Warfare's teaser became notorious for being one of the most disliked videos in the history of YouTube. Infinity Ward can blame bots for all the dislikes all it wants, the numbers do not lie.
Internal Warfare At Infinity Ward
It's very rare that a company can be the source of its own downfall. Usually its the case of a rival company driving it out of business. But the internal battles between Infinity Ward and Activision have become a very public affair. These issues have resulted in the company taking a significant hit to their reputation and overall credibility.
The duo who founded Infinity Ward, Vince Zampella and Jason West, were fired by Activision for insubordination. The duo were at the helm for the company's most successful title, Modern Warfare.
Apparently, Zampella and West wanted to take Call of Duty on a new and explorative route, whereas Activision were pushing for more Modern Warfare titles. The latter was the winning division. Zampella and West, along with a number of senior staff, did leave the company to work on a new and ambitious project with EA. This would end up being the wildly successful #Titanfall. This episode cost Infinity Ward dearly. Without Zampella and West, the games suffered horrifically. It was a case of Zampella and Ward vs. Activision, and the fans were siding with Zampella and West.
War Never Changes. It Just Grows More Tiresome, The Longer It Goes On
I used to be a fan of Call of Duty and I wish I was able to say I still am. But 13 years of waiting for something new and getting nothing in return has left me deflated, with a sour taste of disappointment filling my mouth. The most innovative thing that comes to my mind was the zombies gameplay mode, but even that has become watered down amid a haze of bright lights and neon-clad characters.
The franchise suffered from a seemingly copy-and-paste approach to the gameplay. The campaigns seem like a move that has been inter-spliced with 10 minutes of ridiculous shooting. Allies are seemingly invincible, but incapable of providing any form of help when it comes to fighting alongside them. You don't feel immersed in the game at all; in fact, I feel distant rather than involved and it all grows tedious at an alarming rate.
I cannot see how this game continues to sell the number of copies it does. I suppose there is still a very loyal fanbase who will stick with the franchise through thick or thin. Maybe the fan base is becoming younger, and so are in part being influenced by what their parents are buying them. Certainly the online play suggests this, what with the amount of children I hear shouting down their headsets.
The game is repetitive and rapidly becomes boring. Nothing has changed and Activision can be held accountable for this. The company had a formula and are insistent on squeezing every last ounce of blood out of it until its dead and buried. The way the series is going, it has been squeezed so hard, it is currently on life support. The signs are not good. It's probably time to let their friends and family know the end is near.
What's your experience with the Call of Duty franchise? Answer in the comments section below.