Ok, so as it turns out, even a quiet year for Call of Duty can be quite noisy.
The mainstream media all popped up with big news articles about the game. MCV even conducted two radio interviews to mark the game’s arrival.
Yet this was a quieter year for Call of Duty. The franchise has been steadily declining over the last three years, and this time there was no lavish blockbuster launch party, and the midnight openings were even muted – possibly due to the duel launch days (gamers could access the title a day early if they pre-ordered. Only this ‘Day Zero’ edition was in plenty supply, so anyone could buy one by walking in off the street).
It’s a shame because this year’s Call of Duty is actually very good, according to the critics. ‘The best Call of Duty in years’ appears to be the common consensus.
And you can see why, Advanced Warfare took some three years to make, which is longer than any other Call of Duty. It was built by new studio Sledgehammer Games, too.
Activision likes to tell the press that it’s decision to give Sledgehammer control was a brave decision, but I put that in inverted commas because I’m not convinced giving the game to a studio that has not only helped make a Call of Duty before (Modern Warfare 3), but is also staffed my some of the finest game makers in the land, is especially brave.
No, what would have been brave is if Sledgehammer Games had said: ‘You know what we haven’t made for a while? A WWII shooter.’ Or perhaps ‘How about we do a game set in an alternate reality’? Or, my personal favourite suggestion from one of our staff writers, ‘a sort of TimeSplitters-meets-Call of Duty mad mash-up’.
This industry loves to chase trends. It was WWII shooters once, and then everyone (and I mean, everyone) abandoned that to make modern shooters, and then everyone gave up on those to build ‘near future’ games. Since the launch of Xbox One and PS4, we’ve had four of these titles. Two Call of Dutys, Battlefield 4 and Titanfall.
They’re all great titles. But why are all these talented, brilliant creators making effectively the same games? DICE, Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Respawn and Sledgehammer… the finest triple-A shooters studios in
the land have all been spending their time competing with each other over the same sub-set of the same genre.
Call of Duty has lead the genre for years now. Where it went, others followed. Maybe, if Activision really wanted to be brave, it’s time it went somewhere else next time.