Call of Duty Infinite Warfare releases in a few months time and like previous years grumblings have arisen from the regular naysayers regarding the annual release schedule of the first-person shooter. However, what makes this year different is the sheer number of dislikes the upcoming title is receiving on Youtube and for the first time from the hardcore Call of Duty community. If you’re reading this you probably know why, but for those that don’t let me explain.
The series began with Call of Duty 2 on consoles and that’s where the franchise really began to gather a small following for its online multiplayer. Despite it being quite basic and lacking features such as sprint, the core gameplay loop attracted repeat players, more specifically the fast gunplay (for the time) and excellent map design. This gameplay philosophy was followed religiously by sequels Call of Duty 3, World at War, Black Ops and the Modern Warfare series. Each game had its ups and downs but, at the heart, they held true to what the original franchise aspired to be while still iterating on what came before.
Black Ops 2 was the first real title to delve into a futuristic setting but, despite initial reservations, Treyarch didn’t go overboard with the game’s core gameplay mechanics. Blacks ops 2 held true to the Call of Duty philosophy. The whole futuristic angle was very much an aesthetic layer draped over a Call of Duty game. While being incredibly fast, the game played the same as previous titles in the franchise where map design, control and tactics were the focus of the game.
Ghosts then arrived, and while at first glance it looked like another brilliant entry into the franchise it turned out to be a bit of a dud. Unlike previous games the map design was horrifically bad, the maps were too big, there was too much verticality and to top it off too many traffic routes. The tactical side of gameplay was a nightmare, you could no longer play a map as you had in the past because there were just too many exits and rooftops to watch for enemies.
Advanced Warfare is where the game ceased to be Call of Duty for me, you were no longer playing on a map, you were playing in an arena. The addition of boost jumps negated all walls and cover turning the game into a test of reaction speed. While Black Ops 3 cleaned up some of Advanced Warfare’s extreme movement, there was still the unfortunate boost jumping which turned every firefight into a clay pigeon shoot. Furthermore, if you were playing with a regular controller you were at a disadvantage because of how the extra buttons on a custom controller could help with boost jumping and shooting at the same time.
Call of Duty multiplayer has drastically changed over the last few years, alienating the original Call of Duty crowd and when Infinite Warfare was shown as a space shooter I heard the Call of Duty community audibly groan along with me. We were going even further into the “future” meaning the simplicity of Call of Duty is, for another year at least, hidden behind more bells and whistles the majority no longer wants. However, before laying blame on Infinity Ward we do have to remember that this game began development 3 years ago, before the boosting movement mechanic had proved to be unpopular with the majority of fans.
The change in direction for Call of Duty began to show when sales of the series declined. However, probably because of the brand name, Black Ops 3 bucked that trend and sold better than Advanced Warfare, but still not as well as the previous two Black Ops games. The next test will come with the sales numbers of Infinite Warfare, but again these numbers will more than likely be bolstered by the included Call of Duty 4 Remaster. The only way the popularity of the upcoming multiplayer can really be judged is by the numbers playing online which I’m sure the people at Infinity Ward and Activision will be watching very carefully.
So where do we go from here? What is the next step? Do we stick with the futuristic setting but drop the boost movement mechanic? Do we return to current times? Or do we go back to where it all began? One thing is for sure, the series is at a crossroads. There are younger players who have joined the series and the boost mechanic is all they know and then there are us older gamers who yearn for the more controlled yet tactical Call of Duty we grew up on. It’s a problem developer Sledgehammer has to solve, but with Black Ops 3 selling nearly 30 million units I’m sure Activision aren’t at panic stations yet, despite the outcry of the community.
For me personally I originally wanted to return to World War 2, to the very beginning, but the more I think about it the more I’ve come to realise that it’s best if we return to modern day combat. Don’t get me wrong, I would still love a WW2 FPS but the development teams would be incredibly limited with what they can and can’t use in terms of weapons and equipment. At least with a modern military shooter you can borrow from a wider range of weapons and ideas and include them in a multiplayer. Despite that, one thing is for sure, I don’t want anymore boost jumping.
Having played the Titanfall Technical Tests over the past couple of weekends, I’ve realised the reason boost jumping works so well in those games is because of the scale of the maps, they have to be large to accommodate gameplay for both Pilots and Titans. Furthermore, it’s essential for Pilots to be able to escape the mechanical goliaths and even rodeo them, whereas with Call of Duty it’s more of a gimmick, the gameplay just doesn’t require the – pardon the pun – over the top movement.
Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer will be revealed later today at COD XP and you can expect a full breakdown article to follow, but I’m interested to see where this year’s multiplayer will leave us in terms of gameplay.
So where do you stand on Call of Duty and its future going forward? Are you one of the fans who enjoy the faster movement? Where would you like to see the franchise go? I would be really interested to hear your thoughts.