Call of Duty: An Incredibly Average Series?
Call of duty has established itself as a staple of the first person shooter genre. A series that was often associated with mediocrity rose to the top through industry changing game design, but its time at the top has left the series stagnant and unable to grow.
The games have remained largely unchanged since Modern Warfare and yet Call of Duty remains one of the best selling games year after year.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a phenomenon, it changed the industry in a way that has yet to be seen again. The game came out around the time that online gaming was becoming accessible and widespread, Modern Warfare cemented itself in the multiplayer stage and changed everything. It single handedly made multiplayer games a priority for every single publisher and developer
The game itself was incredible; the campaign was fresh, engaging and well written, the gameplay was snappy and responsive. First person shooters had never been done so well before Modern Warfare, it introduced perks and progression systems into the multiplayer scene and almost every system that we see today in multiplayer games was introduced here.
It was Call of Duty being innovative, unique, and different.
World at War, continued this growth proving that it could still retain the grittiness and the essence of what was the old Call of Duty while still pushing and innovating the multiplayer genre. This game introduced Zombies, a game mode that has become synonymous with the franchise and, in recent times, one of the only reasons to buy a Call of Duty game.
Activision saw the revenue that these games were bringing in and decided to continue to annualise the franchise, and not only that, it continued to further strip Call of Duty of its mechanical complexities so as to make the game more accessible to the masses.
Call of Duty wanted to make players feel like they are superstars, wanted to make everyone feel like they are contributing to the game, and they did so by deteriorating the gameplay experience. This was done through the introduction of random elements that affect gameplay; whether it’s through weapons that require little skill, devices that you can set up and forget, or just simply random spawning, these are all things that are now embedded in the design of Call of Duty, even the map layout is designed to keep you engaged in battles at all times, with little to no downtime.
In Advanced Warfare this problem was only exacerbated, the added mobility to the gameplay – while some argue that it made the game require more skill – really only served to add more randomness into a game that is basically slots at this point.
World War two continues this trend; the massive shotgun cones, mines that have a range in which placement doesn’t matter, lag compensation, they all make the game easier for the masses.
Activision have made it clear that they care more about spectacle than they do substance, they want the game to look beautiful even if it doesn’t contribute in any way, shape, or form to the gameplay and story. A good example of this is the opening scene of the game, it is brutal, sickening almost, but the scene serves no actual purpose. The developer claimed it was to show the horrors of World War II but the gameplay doesn’t align with that statement at all, the player continues to be able to gun down an entire platoon with a pistol while simultaneously carrying someone on his shoulder feeling more like a superhuman than a soldier in distress fighting for his life.
Much of this pointlessness extents to the multiplayer, it is brutal and visceral but it is also ridiculous.
Call of Duty has been walking a fine line in recent times, attempting to push that line a bit further each time testing their limits and how much money they can leach out of people before players stop buying their games.
Loot box rewards and progression became so deeply entwined with Call of duty that the game was basically being built around them. By making the loot boxes offer a gameplay advantage over other players, not only does the game become a pay to win type of game, it also becomes predatory in nature, they prey on the so called ‘whales’ that will spend endless amounts of money in the game, they prey on the less mature side of the audience that will spend this money without fully knowing the impact that this reckless spending can have. Most importantly they prey on addictive behaviour.
World War two was a combination of everything that is wrong with the series, no great story, no strategic gameplay, the map even seemed to be designed to remove strategy to add to the randomness of it all.
Call of Duty’s biggest flaw is its complacency. Their ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach has left the series almost at a stand still for the last decade, their biggest change was the exosuit, and all the added mobility, but with World War two they took it out, bringing the game right back to 2005. The game removed years of improvement and strategy but had nothing to replace it with.
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