Yeah, I think Call Of Duty might be done now.
After the last three iterations progressively shed their now-tedious modern trappings I think we can say that, even without the recent announcement of the frankly ridiculously-titled Infinite Warfare1, the Call of Duty franchise has now fully committed itself to being a proper near-future sci-fi shooter. If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from Ghosts and Advanced Warfare it is that the supposed genre trend-setter is evolving in response to its competition – slowly and at times painfully, but the move to that sci-fi setting opens up a more interesting design space to the various developers involved, allowing them to introduce mechanics that should fundamentally change the way the game plays – at least in theory. I bought CODBLOPS 3 (I love that acronym) because I’d heard it had improved movement mechanics including wallrunning and double-jumping, which intrigued me since it appeared that this would be the franchise’s first real response to the unfortunately short-lived Titanfall. Having finished the single-player now I feel that it’s also the first CoD game I’ve played that’s really started to explore the possibilities of the sci-fi setting. But the catch here is that exploration always carries with it an element of risk, and Black Ops 3 is a long, long, way from being an unqualified improvement on what came before.
Reviewing two Call of Duty games in one year? What is the world coming to?
I see Advanced Warfare as CoD’s sluggish response to a gaming world that’s starting to leave it behind. CoD 4 was an incredible success that moved the series out of its increasingly-tired WW2 setting and set the FPS trend for the next half-decade, and five years ago you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a Modern Warfare imitator. Today, though, things look very different. Even this second incarnation of CoD is getting long in the tooth; Modern Warfare-era shooters have become just as overexposed as WW2 was a decade ago, and CoD is facing challengers to its crown (Titanfall in particular) that are innovating in ways CoD simply cannot if it remains resolutely entrenched in the modern world. And these newer games are good enough — and successful enough — that for this shooter with a hundred ripoffs, this FPS that used to dictate the direction of the entire genre, the message is finally becoming clear: adapt or die.