Call Of Innovation: The Time Is Nigh For Change

Call Of Innovation: The Time Is Nigh For Change

With a mixed reaction to Modern Warfare 3 this year, what does the Call of Duty franchise need to do next year to ensure that it isn’t met with a massive backlash?

Well, the short answer, my friends, is absolutely nothing. COD is a seemingly impossible juggernaut of gaming that, despite probably being the same game for the past nine years or so, sells in the absolute millions every single year without barely lifting a finger.  In that sense, in terms of sales, the Call of Duty series of games has to change absolutely nothing whatsoever about how it goes about its business.

From a critical  gamer standpoint though, there’s a lot I’d like to see them do next year that could revitalise what, for me, is rapidly becoming a tired and repetitive franchise.

As many avid Manatank readers probably know, I was less than pleased with Modern Warfare 3.  The main reasons for my gripes were the series not doing enough new to justify the hype behind the series, and being introduced to stellar games this year with massively lengthier campaigns and multiplayer left me with a very sour taste in my mouth.

See, COD’s done it all before. Every year. I get it, people like the COD formula and its addictive multiplayer.   But, for me, this is a franchise that needs to move forward, as it is becoming increasingly more stagnant, and it is starting to put me off.  Let me just say I’m in no way a Call of Duty hater – I’ve put many an hour into it myself, but, as I say, I’m becoming exasperated.

Therefore, here’s some steps I’d like the next iteration in the Call of Duty series to take. These are my Calls to Innovation.

Step 1: Make Me Care

As it stands, I’d be hard pressed to recall any moments in the Call of Duty series’ storylines outside of the highly controversial ‘No Russian’ mission in Modern Warfare 2 (which I only remember because I heard about it for months). Call of Duty is all spectacle, no substance. Sure, things blow up. Sure, things crash into the ground and bullets fly everywhere, but the fact of the matter is Call of Duty’s campaign is merely an endless string of set-pieces with negligible character development, the result of which is I find it extremely, extremely hard to care about what’s going on.

It isn’t hard-hitting. It isn’t emotional. I didn’t develop bonds with the characters, nor did I give a monkey’s when someone I was presumably meant to care about died.  See, the single player campaign in Call of Duty has become almost an afterthought to the multiplayer suite. In many ways, it just isn’t given the same level of attention, as the devs know that it probably won’t get that much attention from the COD userbase.

This is why the story of the Call of Duty franchise needs an overhaul. We need a more gritty, hard-hitting storyline that is less about spectacle and more about fighting against the odds, with interesting, dynamic character development between the rag-tag group of soldiers we’re involved with. Keep the set-pieces. Keep the action-packed rides with AC-130’s and predator drones. Just – and I beg you COD developers – make me emotionally involved in the storyline instead of just shunting me from place to place with reckless abandon.

Step 2:  Leave Us, Linearity

You remember when Final Fantasy XIII came out, and everybody moaned because it was like a big corridor? COD’s just like that as well. The single player is always a general linear sprint to the finish with maybe two or three slightly different paths thrown in for good measure once in a blue moon.  I get why this is done – its to keep the action fast-paced and intense, but it really does limit the gameplay options significantly.

We’ve got that many shooting games in the modern climate now, I think Call of Duty really needs to step up to the plate and show us why it is the massive gaming juggernaut it is today.  This is why I want them to branch out beyond the linear paths of the previous titles. Give us more scope. Give us multiple, branching paths throughout the levels, without making us follow a set course. Want to be a sniper and not be pigeon-holed into a dog fight, or perhaps run in guns blazing with reckless abandon and a general disregard for your life? These should be options that the gamer has at their disposal when and where they choose, not when the game dictates. It would allow the single player to be much more diverse, much more playable, and offer a deeper level of customization similar to what is offered in the multiplayer suite.

Step 3: Away With Annualization!

I know, I know, for many of you, COD is the thing you wait for all year. If it didn’t come out every single year, you’d probably fall into a massive slump and cry solidly until the next holiday season. For some of us though, a Call of Duty yearly is just too much, and is one of the reasons people are beginning to become exasperated with the franchise.

Now technically, each Call of Duty title is generally under development for just over a year, as both Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch are responsible for the titles and alternate between each other on a yearly basis.  This isn’t really enough time to make a massive gaming package, and I truly do believe that if Activision stopped feeding their cash cow and took an extra year off, the final package of a two-yearly COD game would be much, much better than if we got it every single year.

Imagine what they could do with more time and effort. A lengthier campaign. An even deeper, more diverse multiplayer suite packed to the rafters with new features and exciting gameplay. Spec Ops in abundance. Zombie maps with a special campaign. The list, literally, is endless.  But with just a year, not a lot of this is going to be possible. The time is nigh to take longer to develop these titles.

Step 4: Beyond The Call of Duty

COD is the money-spinner of the past decade. It’s sold absolutely untold millions of copies, created obsessive fans, and caused people to shoot each other billions upon billions of teams in online competitive multiplayer. It’s spawned clones, affected how we look at multiplayer and even could have been the cause of our current obsession with all things zombie.

See, as I’ve been getting at in this post though, that was all in the past. The next Call of Duty has to innovate and be truly spectacular, as my interest has already waned greatly after Modern Warfare 3. As I said though, the next Call of Duty, no matter what, will sell millions of copies. Just think before you buy it though: will this game truly offer anything new, and is it not about time it did?

 

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