I don’t know about you, but for me, the Call of Duty storyline was always something that vaguely happened between firefights, and generally provided a good opportunity to freshen my drink or avoid deep vein thrombosis. Times are changing, however, and there has been a more or less steady accumulation of lore, history and quality storytelling over the various iterations of the Call of Duty franchise. As Dave Thier from Forbes pointed out, the quality and complexity of single player campaigns in the franchise has been a little spotty at times, with Ghosts especially appearing to be phoning it in. Overall, however, Call of Duty’s lore has been building up and now, with well-regarded developer Treyarch working on Black Ops III, it looks as if players like me are going to need to do a whole lot of catching up.
The combination of Treyarch and a sci-fi setting looks to be a potential winner, with the developer’s darker, more intelligent style set to be a real bonus for the franchise. But it seems that they are very eager for us not to miss out on any of the story so far, if their recent Powerpoint presentation on YouTube is anything to go by. Okay, so it’s not a Powerpoint, but it’s hard to know how else to describe 10 minutes of stills and text. Instead of the usual Call of Duty tropes — explosions, more or less feasible justifications for conflict, explosions — we get a timeline tracing the game’s history back over 100 years, according to Kotaku. According to my math, it’s 102 years.
Oddly, I found it fascinating. Call of Duty: Black Ops has some serious story behind it, most of which I have admittedly ignored over the years, and in a weird way, watching Treyarch’s video was more compelling and interesting than just boning up on the in-game wiki could ever be. This seemingly random new tactic might represent a potential new direction for Call of Duty as the burden of its long-running success continues to build pressure to remain fresh and relevant. The very fact that Treyarch is insisting that we understand the story so far indicates that the next installment’s single player campaign might be a more complex and layered experience than usual.
There’s a few months before the November 6 release date, and in that time we fully expect to see some footage of men in tactical gear exploding things all over space, but for now, here’s Treyarch’s actually quite interesting Call of Duty history lesson.
[Picture via Getty Images/Christian Petersen]