Call of Duty and “game annualization” have become synonymous over the past years in the video game industry. Every year, a new Call of Duty game is released and goes on to have record breaking sales numbers.
That’s not to say that every Call of Duty game has been good, though.
When Call of Duty: Ghosts was showcased in more depth at E3 2013, “buzz-words” abounded around the military shooter. While Ghosts provided some memorable sequences (such as having a gun-fight in space), it was overall lacking some real inspiration and ingenuity on the genre. A lot of the sequences felt “trope-y” and familiar. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare helped break that mold in 2014.
Heralded as a return to form, Sledgehammer Studios showcased what a full development cycle on the game can do. Changing the location from the now-tired Middle East, Korea became the battleground, but the enemy was from within overall. The superb voice and mo-cap acting of Kevin Spacey, Troy Baker, and the rest of the cast made you feel as though you were actually in the room with the Call of Duty characters.
So how should Treyarch, the developer of the next Call of Duty game capitalize on the success of Advanced Warfare? Below are a few thoughts.
Keep the location out of the desert
One of the saving graces of Advanced Warfare was that it kept players out of the Middle East. While the news cycle and everyday events bring our military overseas into that hotbed region, it doesn’t mean our games have to immediately gravitate towards fighting terrorists in the desert. Call of Duty developers have a wide-range of locales and timelines to choose from. Treyarch has deviated from the normal path with their iterations of Call of Duty in the past. World At War took players back to the Second World War, while Black Ops I & II took us to Russia and some tropical regions. Keep with that formula, but don’t copy it exactly. While some players may want a Call of Duty: Black Ops III, other players might want a wholly fresh experience, much like what they received with Advanced Warfare.
Make the characters believable
For all the futuristic technology that Advanced Warfare brought, at the core of the story was something intrinsic to the human experience: loss and anger. Because the story wasn’t driven solely on one person’s quest for global domination (though that was the goal), the purpose behind that drive made Kevin Spacey’s character one of the first truly human characters in a Call of Duty game. Instead of using the tired cliches from war games, make the motivations behind the characters driven more by human emotion, rather than a desire to prove to be the biggest meat-head on the battlefield.
Treyarch started the Zombie phenomenon in Call of Duty back with World At War, and while Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has done a great job with its “Havoc” DLC, nothing beats fighting back Zombies as a bevy of world leaders (a la Call of Duty: Black Ops). If Treyarch can capture the novelty that made the zombie game mode so popular, but then top it with another mode of their own, Call of Duty games in the future will have a lot to live up to in the next iterations of the game.
What do you want to see with Treyarch’s Call of Duty this fall? Comment below with your thoughts.