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I know how to save Call of Duty in a post-Advanced Warfare world

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A victim of its own success

I don't think I can ever go back to the old style of Call of Duty.

I've heard some variation of that sentence at least once per week since the launch of Advanced Warfare, and if I were Treyarch or Infinity Ward, I'd be sweating right now. Not “oh, this room is a little too warm” sweat either. I'm talking a glossy, dripping, full-on flop sweat. Sweat so profuse it could be more accurately described as skin vomit.

Sledgehammer broke the code, solved the Sphinx's riddle, and threaded the impossible needle; the studio found a way to make CoD feel fresh and interesting again without screwing up the the basic formula. The developers took all the best parts of the CoD experience and added a sleek sheen of sci-fi gizmos, meaningfully different weapon types, and late-'90s mobility (basically rebuilding all the FPS tropes CoD played a massive hand in tearing down over the last decade), and it worked.

Even scornful hipsters such as myself, who have made sport of the series for years as an easy target for our snark, are giving Advanced Warfare a second look. A good long “hrmmM?” with a flirty upward inflection. AW coyly wiggling its exo-skeletal frame, like what you see?

People love it, and they aren't about to go back to slogging it on the ground with a crusty AK-47 or accepting the dolphin-dive as the height of combat mobility. So what the hell do you do if you're Infinity Ward or Treyarch? Halfway through production on your own version of the CoD experience, knee-deep in code, QA, voice work, and the million other pieces that eventually assemble a videogame, and you find out that THIS is what the people really wanted all along (even after harping on Titanfall all year)?

You pivot, that's what you do.

Timecop it out

Ok, so you're Infinity Ward. You've spent the last two years eating shit over how much of a letdown Ghosts was. You need to rally, you need to get back to the core of what people love about CoD. You're thinking of going back to the well, maybe another Vietnam game, or something set in the '80s. People love that '80s shit. Or God forbid, some focus-test fiasco told you THIS was the time to head back to WWII, “the audience is totally ready for it!”

You need to pull a Timecop.

Timecop is a forgettable relic of mid-'90s cinema. The last desperate throws of the '80s tough-guy flick starring a leading man who barely rates as a punchline these days. A film you would have rented with the express intent of getting boozed up with your friends and unloading your own slurred, half-clever, MST3K commentary on.

But the opening scene of Timecop is brilliant. A brief flash of what could have been a much more interesting movie before Van Damme takes the wheel and swerves the bus into a drainage ditch. A group of Confederate soldiers carrying gold bars for General Lee (who presumably intends to melt them down and stamp them into musket-balls or something) are held up by a lone cowboy-looking dude. Despite featuring the accent and dentistry of the era, the cowboy whips out two futuristic sub-machine guns and ventilates the lot of them in less than a second.

It's a great scene because it sets up the entire premise so succinctly. Criminals have time travel, they can plan and commit crimes based on specific historic knowledge, and they have the tools and equipment to utterly dunk on the pathetic lawmen and soldiers of the day.

So take your three-quarters built WWII game and flip the premise on its head. You're a soldier sent back in time to deliver an exo-skeletal beat-down to the third Reich before it can ever inspire the rise of a fourth in whatever crazy future you're from. Just take the game as it is, give the player character a jet-pack and a laser gun, and let them loose on the Battle of the Bulge.

Videogames are power fantasies after all, and that sounds like a pretty fun power fantasy to me. I want to grapple-hook to the very top floor of the Reichstag, smash through one of those red-bannered windows, and cave in Hermann Goering's jowls with a mechanized right hook. I'd love to clown all over the Vietcong by flying over their bamboo spike traps with rocket boosters, flushing them out of their sniper roosts by burning down the jungle with a wrist-mounted microwave emitter. Make the multiplayer kill-streaks a race to rip open time portals to replace your Tommy guns and potato-masher grenades with plasma-casters and fission-powered smart-mines.

I mean, I'm sure that the idea of a futuristic soldier fighting an entire army of outdated historical soldiers has never been done before.

Right?

Thine liege Lord sounds the horn of battle, whilst thou answer the Call of Duty?

Ok, you're Treyarch, Black Ops 3 is well underway but you've still got time to pivot, still have time to grab the rudder and steer the ship to a bold new course. Screw trying to imitate what Sledgehammer has done. You're leaders, not followers. If anything, they just bit off the future-tech craze you started in Black Ops 2.

It's time to flip the table over, to do the wild and unexpected, to prove you're the CoD development house with the biggest balls and the most nerve. It's time to go medieval on their asses.

If people thought jetpacks were cool, wait till they ride into battle on a motherfucking horse. Steal whatever “thunder” Chivalry has and craft the finest first-person melee combat simulator the world has ever seen. Create a silky smooth, 60 FPS, beheading experience where you charge into battle with swords, spears, and cudgels. Screw all that “360 no-scope” rubbish, it's time to make the struggle real again. No more camping out in a power position, it's time to beat your berserker warrior chest, get right up in someone's face, and mash on the STAB button until something dies.

You're going to hear a lot of shit. That the gameplay is a chaotic mess, that 16-person multiplayer simply doesn't work when everyone just charges across a field wildly swinging the fastest weapon they can. That your pre-planned “Classic Map Pack” DLC doesn't make much sense anymore and it looks weird to have men-at-arms marching down the streets of Nuketown. That the “catapult barrage” kill-streak is completely unbalanced. Don't worry about it, just block them all out and know you're doing the best thing you can for the franchise.

Game of Thrones is the hot thing these days right? The kids are all about knights, and dragons, and incest, and you don't want to be left behind. It's time to bring the war maul of the CoD franchise down on everyone and show them what Historical Warfare is all about.

(Well, except maybe the incest thing, marketing is having a shit over it and Australia is already saying they'll refuse to rate the game. You'd think we were talking about cleaning out an airport worth of innocent civilians or something.)

Fuck it, just make them all dogs

“We worked for years on Ghosts and all people liked about the game was the fucking dog.

I missed my kid's birthday, on consecutive years. I haven't seen a movie since... Wow, I haven't seen a movie since The Dark Knight was playing in theaters. The other day a co-worker asked me something, and instead of trying to turn my head to respond, I moved my mouse to the right and was surprised when my view didn't change. Seriously, I sat there waggling my wrist wondering why my mouse was broken for a few seconds before I realized what the hell I was doing.

I've given my life to this series and. All. They. Liked. Was. The. Fucking. Dog.

Give the babies what they want then. Call it Collar of Duty, Call of Doggy, Advanced Tail-wag, or whatever cheeky name the internet came up with. I just want to see my family again.

Maybe we can get some co-marketing synergy going. A DLC pack to play as the Valiant Hearts dog, or maybe Kojima will let us use Snake's new wolf-puppy if we trade him for the phone numbers of all the Hollywood guest stars that have been in our ads. Does anyone remember Balto? We could get him, Bolt, Lassie, and Beethoven to appear in the zombie mode if everyone signs off on it...

Whatever. Pass me the bottle, I'm so sick of making these games...”

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Nic Rowen
Nic RowenAssociate Editor   gamer profile

(formerly known as Wrenchfarm) has been an active member of the Dtoid community since After toiling away in the Cblog mines and Recap Team workhouse for more + disclosures


 


 


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    Filed under... #Call of Duty #Destructoid Originals #Editorial #feature #Infinity Ward #Sledgehammer Games #Top Stories #Treyarch

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