Activision had a prototype for a Call of Duty set in ancient Rome

But nothing ever came of it

Call of Duty has always tackled relatively modern conflicts. Some titles may take us to the past, but never so far that guns haven’t existed yet. That’s been the one underlying constant of Call of Duty all these years: Guns.

Eight years ago, there was a chance all that could’ve changed, at least for one game. According to a report from GamesRadar+, developer Vicarious Visions (of Skylanders fame as of late) created a prototype for a Call of Duty that was set in ancient Rome. It was tentatively titled Call of Duty: Roman Wars.

The above-embedded video goes into a good amount of detail about the project. The demo featured a soldier in Julius Caesar’s Tenth Legion but it would’ve shifted protagonists and eventually included a playable Caesar. Gameplay was going to be a mix of first- and third-person combat; Gears of War is said to be a good parallel for the third-person stuff, while Condemned: Criminal Origins was inspiration for the first-person melee.

This venture was born out of an urge from Activision for its studios to try something experimental with the Call of Duty name. The series was a runaway success at that point, and the publisher was looking for any extra way to capitalize on that.

As it turns out, Vicarious Visions may have gotten a bit too experimental. The prototype got all the way up to Activision president Bobby Kotick who reportedly liked it but had concerns about using the Call of Duty branding. Obviously, nothing ever came of it.

Vicarious Visions did get some degree of validation a couple years later when Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome was announced. It was proof that someone was interested in funding a war game that wasn’t future-focused, and as a new console launch title nonetheless. As for Activision, well, it’s apparently not comfortable turning back the clock quite that far.

The incredible story of Roman Wars: The lost Call of Duty game [GamesRadar+]

Brett Makedonski
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