Well, guys and gals, the rumors are true. After several months of speculation and rumors, we now know that Call of Duty is going back to World War II. If you haven’t seen it, here is the trailer that was released yesterday –
The change in time and scenario is not anything new. Just last year, Battlefield went back in time to World War I. The change not only reinvigorated the franchise, but boosted sales. DICE mention in November that Battlefield 1 was the biggest launch in company history, with one analyst thinking Battlefield 1 could sell up to 16 million copies. On the reverse side, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare saw a dip in sales. In physical sales alone, Infinite Warfare was down almost 50% compared to Black Ops 3. We can’t definitively say that Infinite Warfare was a failure because digital sales were great and they sold a ton of copies that included the remastered Modern Warfare. Still, it makes sense that the franchise is going back to it’s roots, so to speak.
Personally, I am cautiously optimistic. My Call of Duty time has dwindled over the years because each sequel felt exactly the same. Core gameplay doesn’t change much, except the addition of more futuristic abilities and hardware. The story doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that previous entries had (at least that is my opinion….it may not be the opinion of everyone else). So besides changing time periods and settings, what does Call of Duty need to do to win back those gamers who have been away from the franchise? I have a few suggestions –
1. Bring Emotion Back to the Franchise
Despite the graphical innovations in the past 10 years, it still doesn’t change the fact that war is ugly, brutal, and emotional. You shouldn’t look at a war game and exclaim “wow, that is beautiful!” There needs to be some emotional impact to the way you play. I will try to keep Battlefield out of this as much as possible, but the beginning of Battlefield 1 made an impact on me. For those who have not played it, you start the game from the vantage point of various soldiers. You aren’t expected to live. Rather, you die very quickly and take the position of a different character. I get that this beginning may not have mattered to others, but I found it to be a pretty realistic portrayal of war. There is no such thing as a one man army. It gave us a sense of the death and chaos that comes with war. Understand that I have never served in the military, so I can’t know 100% how soldiers feel or what they experience. But I think it is safe to assume that Call of Duty could do a better job of making things a little more realistic.
2. Cooperation and Roles
With the return to World War II, it would be wise to showcase different roles and responsibilities of WWII soldiers. Again, I don’t want the option to be a one man army. I want to see teamwork, which means better teammate AI. There is a fine line between having AI teammates do nothing or too much. Sledgehammer Games needs to find that line and give us an experience of playing as a unit, not a super soldier. And how about we expand our roles? Not just Private so and so or Tank Driver Bob. Let’s have an opportunity to be a high ranking officer send soldiers on missions. Let’s have a few sniper missions like In Modern Warfare. Grunts are key parts of the war, but it would mix things up if we could see different officers and how they played a role in the war. It is reported that co-op will have an original story, so I am curious to see more.
3. Can Anything be done to Invigorate Multiplayer?
I believe there are a sold mix of gamers who either love COD multiplayer or hate it. I’m a bit in the middle of both. Multiplayer can be very fast paced with some fun moments. It can also be really boring with overpowered weapons and abilities. I’m really hoping that some fine tuning goes into the maps and abilities. Let’s make sure that weapons are balanced right at the beginning. Let’s keep the XP coming so people can level up and prestige. Let’s keep the abilities balanced (which I don’t think will be a problem now that future gizmos are off the table). For the most part, multiplayer has been pretty solid, so let’s keep it moving and give us some great maps to play. The addition of the War Mode sounds very promising and should give players more multiplayer options.
4. What to do about Zombies?
Do we need to do something about the zombie mode? I personally think so. I think Zombies have lost some of their luster from when it arrived in World at War. I still remember beating the game and being thrown into this crazy zombie map with great characters and fast paced and strategic action. In a way, I think Zombies needs to be simplified. One of the best parts is the Easter Egg. I really think it has gotten to be too complicated for it’s own good. Let’s simplify it a little bit and make it so gamers don’t have to pull their hair out trying to complete the story. Zombie maps have been pretty insane the past few years, so I’m curious if things will get simpler by going back to World War II.
I understand that Call of Duty isn’t exactly struggling. They still sell millions of copies every year. But you can tell that there has been some franchise fatigue. This is a golden opportunity for Call of Duty, and I think there has been a positive buzz on social media so far. I’m hoping this positive feedback will continue up to E3, where we will hear more info about the game. I think that some changes are necessary, and hopefully Sledgehammer Games has done some tweaking to bring gamers back to the franchise.
What would you do (if anything) to change Call of Duty? Are you excited that the franchise is back to World War II? Let us know in the comments!