War is on the rise for the top spot of First Person Shooters. Activision has recently released their debut trailer for the next installment in the Call of Duty franchise with Infinity Ward’s presentation of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Its trailer was met by harsh criticism on YouTube, with over 180,000 positive ratings and a growing 400,000+ negative ratings. Activision have since responded to this negative criticism with the following statement as posted here from an article on Polygon:
First of all, you gotta love the passion of gamers. This is an industry like no other and a fan base like no other. We love that our fans treat this franchise like their own and have such strong points of view about it. There just aren’t many entertainment franchises on earth that can generate the kind of passion that Call of Duty can… and that’s a good thing.
Secondly, of course, we know there are people in our community who are nostalgic for the boots on the ground-style gameplay; that’s why we made Modern Warfare Remastered. But we also have millions of people in our community who want to have new innovative experiences in the game each year and Infinite Warfare is going to deliver that.
The good news is this year we found a way to deliver both in one package while keeping our community together. While of course we see the passionate opinions online, we also look at other measurements and the fact is — while it’s very early — pre-orders are off to a very strong start. Views of the reveal trailer … are up and, in fact, the number of likes per view on the Infinite Warfare trailer are the highest we’ve ever seen.
We’ve seen this in the franchise before. The reveal trailer for Black Ops 2, which took the franchise into the future for the first time, had the most dislikes of any reveal trailer we had ever made at that time. And that went on to become our most successful game ever.
Right now, the franchise has never been stronger. We have more people playing Black Ops 3, a game that takes place in the future, with boost jumps and fictitious weapons, than any game in our history.
What we know for sure is that if we always just did what worked in the past and never took any creative risks, we wouldn’t have a franchise. The day to worry is the day we stop trying new things.
While I myself have questioned Activision’s motives towards moving into the future with the franchise, this response does warrant merit – particularly with the part where they address the issue of moving forward to something different, something many in the Call of Duty community have requested. That in itself is a strong and aspiring statement because there is a stigma about how things are handled with entertainment products these days, many people just seem to want more of the same.
Personally, I welcome any changes to the series, but one key area is in desperate need of an overhaul, the story campaign. Maybe make something less predictable if you will, limit the holes in the plot and actually use the talent of these well named actors that are cast instead of throwing them into a role that is either too generic or too predictable. Sorry Kevin Spacey…I love you as an actor and I’m sure it was a nice pay-check, but that role was rather weak for an actor of your calibre in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
While many things are in desperate need of an upgrade, there have been changes in the franchise and its mechanics, some that I do enjoy and others that may have been annoying, but far from what I’d consider as “terrible” as a growing number of gamers have cried about. Let’s face it, the Call of Duty games aren’t terrible, perhaps mediocre or as I mentioned before, predictable, but far from the worst games out there. We hear and see the comments year after year from gamers saying things like “I’m never buying another Call of Duty game again” or “Activision is just running this franchise into the ground, its lost what has made it great”. Yet year after year, sales records are broken by Call of Duty games.
Have some games been more successful than others? Yes, but has the franchise lost much traction at all? Not very much really. So Activision is going to be just fine, people. No matter how many negative comments they receive, no matter how much people say they are going to rally against Activision and buy something else, it doesn’t matter. Activision will be just fine and will continue to make Call of Duty games as well as many other games for years to come.
Many games have tried to dethrone Call of Duty as the lead First Person Shooter, but none have ever fully succeeded. The next wave of shooters that will make their bid to capture the addiction of gamers is not far away; Doom, Overwatch (my current personal favorite), Gears of War 4, and the newly announced Battlefield 1 developed by DICE and published by Electronic Arts. Like the new Call of Duty, three of these have more of a fantasy or futuristic aspect which lends to the idea that gamers are interested in a future style warfare game. Battlefield 1 has taken a different approach, however, more of the odd man out among all of these choices placing its setting during World War I. I personally wrote an article asking if people “missed killing Nazis” in video games, if we yearn to go back to the days of old and I do believe there is a significant growing number of gamers that do want to have their shooters go into themes of the past rather than the future. On either end of the spectrum, there is evidence to prove both statements are true. Electronic Arts and DICE are taking a risk by bucking the trend but having enjoyed great success with the Battlefield franchise and the more recent Star Wars Battlefront game, Battlefield I is definitely the one to watch, the frontrunner for taking some of Call of Duty’s audience.
So, will I be taking my warfare skills to the past or the future? I truly don’t know. The near definite truth is that I will purchase both games. Not that I will just play both games, I will more than likely purchase both games. As for the question of which of the two I will play more, I believe it will be Battlefield I over Call of Duty, and it won’t be because that Call of Duty is terrible and I like Battlefield I better. It will most likely be because I just want to play along with more people I know than just playing with random players. Of my own circle of friends and acquaintances, the majority of them are stating just that they will choose Battlefield I over playing Infinite Warfare, that familiarity is a surprisingly important part of the decision making process with games of this nature.
One hopes that should Call of Duty lose this round of popularity, given the negative initial response, that they learn from the experience and reconsider their direction. Should this game fail to meet the heights of past releases then it’s not going to bankrupt them, its not going to ruin them, and its not going to make them stop making games. The largest problem Call of Duty faces is how to meet the expectations of those who enjoy a good story to go with the action and multiplayer aspect.
Now that the trailer has given us a glimpse of what the new game’s story will include, and from the statement Activision released shortly after, it is clear that they are trying to give players a taste of what they want from past Call of Duty games such as the original Modern Warfare, but some players don’t see the point. A comment made by a user on the same article from the Polygon article gave the constructive statement that those players that want another game like Modern Warfare should just go back and play that very same game or just enjoy the new remastered version along with the new game.
By demanding that Activision bend to the demands of those who want a refreshed Modern Warfare series game, is basically demanding that they repress their creative process. Their action to chase a futuristic game is not just a bold move to give the franchise something new, but most importantly give credit to those within their company that have these bold new ideas, those that are not afraid to try something new. In my opinion, Call of Duty has become such a strong series because it broke into the idea that players wanted a modern day warfare themed game.
Prior to Call Of Duty 4, there was only a handful of titles that sort of touched on that theme, most choosing one of the world wars as their setting. Counter-Strike is probably the number one title that utilizes this theme but even that game only applied a simple multiplayer aspect without putting names to their characters, no one wanted to depict named soldiers of the modern day dying. It’s as relevant as with driving games of the past where developers didn’t want to or couldn’t depict the every day car that we drive ending up terrible wrecks. Car manufactures just didn’t want to allow games to show their beautiful cars in burning wrecks, but that has long since changed. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, however, gave names,memorable faces and deep back stories to their games. You can’t really play Call of Duty without remembering the names “Soap” or “Ghost”. Those characters were not just roles in a story, they were characters that players became and formed an attachment with. I understand that Call of Duty wants to give us new names and new faces to form relationships with, but they will never have the impact.
Not that I’d like these characters rehashed, absolutely not, nobody needs another remake. The remaster of Modern Warfare included in the limited edition Infinite Warfare collection is more than enough for me.
That said, I have an idea to pitch which works for every Call of Duty fan. With the release of Modern Warfare Remastered, Activision have this golden opportunity to create Modern Warfare, but not Modern Warfare. First setting the game in the future, have a character travel back in time to the timeline of Modern Warfare and change the history of the game, creating an alternate timeline. I know it sounds far fetched by think about it, Modern Warfare 1 with a potentially new storyline, surely that is a win for everyone.
Obviously, that is just a dream of mine, but I’d love to see it come to reality one day. Until then, we as gamers have a choice to make, do we play in the past with Battlefield I, or do we play in the future with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.