Last year's Call of Duty was a bit of a disaster. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare a.k.a "What if COD but space?" was, if not a commercial disappointment, at the very least a PR catastrophe. To date, the official trailer for Infinite Warfare has nearly 4 million dislikes on YouTube where, if you're watching it, you'll find a sidebar filled with scathing parodies and incensed criticisms. Now after an appropriately long period of full-court press PR support for their space opera, the folks at Activision are sending a different message: "We hear ya."
According to an earnings report published by Activision released Thursday the next installment in the series "will take Call of Duty back to its roots."
To be fair, I haven't really committed to a non-zombies Call of Duty gamemode since Modern Warfare 2 and I wasn't crazy about even that title. But the WWII setting could solve many of the gameplay issues prominent in the newer chapters. The biggest problem with the modern and futuristic Call of Duty games for me was how quickly you could be killed by triple-shot rifles like the M16 or rapid-fire SMGs. That and the complete and utter destruction of the game's tone by putting it in space, but let's put that one aside for now.
Now think, were any of those problems present in World at War? There was something immensely satisfying about making a mad dash from one hiding spot to another on maps like Castle or Dome and taking half a clip of MP40 bullets along the way. That doesn't really happen in the newer CODs. Most of the guns have become so lethal and quick that the art, at least for players like me who are a bit aiming-challenged, is removed from the other aspects of the competition.
Beyond the gameplay benefits of returning to WWII, there's a much more concrete motivator at play here for Activision: popularity. While IW still crushed it in sales compared to non-franchise titles, it was relatively disappointing. The critical and cultural cold-shoulder it received came alive in decreased sales and an atrophied online community. However, there was a ray of light amidst the disappointment: Modern Warfare Remastered. The digital redux of the game which is widely considered the best in the series, Call of Duty 4, was immensely popular among fans and YouTube gamers/streamers (who are a key demographic for assuring sales of expansion packs and season passes).
Could the nostalgic success of Modern Warfare Remastered be the reason Activision has opted to return to its roots in 2017? Maybe, maybe not. According to Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg the forthcoming game was greenlit "over two years ago." Given the annual release cycle of COD games and the factory line of developers required to sustain that, I'm skeptical as to the truth of that statement, but I'm still ready to hear them out.
Be on the lookout for an official announcement sometime in April/May 2017 and keep checking in with us, the good folks at Popdust Gaming.