Whether you love it or hate what it has become, Call of Duty is an important mark in the history of First Person Shooters, action games, and online multiplayer (at least on the consoles).
CoD4: Modern Warfare revolutionised the FPS genre back in 2007. I remember I lived in Spain at the time and a friend of mine sent me a copy and instantly I was hooked. When I wasn’t out on the beach or drinking sangria, I was playing this game! It was here that the VoiD (my clan) and my love of online multiplayer FPS games was born. Looking back now the game was very basic, but the players loved it. Everything there was perfected. Infinity Ward had done the perfect job and created this masterpiece. Call of Duty games, before this, were mainly story focused games set in World War 2, following every possible allied force who even looked at the frontline. It echoed the original Medial of Honour games, which were still regarded as some of the best World War 2 games, but the new generation of consoles that had been created (Xbox 360 and PS3) craved for something more, and thus Modern Warfare found its way into our hearts.
Having said that, the single player story mode of the original Modern Warfare was quality. It was intense and a breath of fresh air.
Activision naturally saw the opportunity to milk this cash-cow that they had created, and yearly Call of Duties became a thing, and are still on-going to this day with the release of WW2; which came out last Friday. While WW2 is by no means a perfect game, it is a step in the right direction for the series. They have yet to announce it a new one is to be released next year. This is similar to the Assassin’s Creed series, which took a year hiatus from its annual releases to take the time and perfect their game. This year saw the release of Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which I have yet to play, and some of my friends who have it say it is one of the best Assassin’s Creed games out there (are you listening Santa?!), so I am hoping that this current Call of Duty might be Activision listening to their fans the same way that Ubisoft did.
One main thing about Call of Duty: WW2, is the fact that it has brought everyone back online. Nearly every person in my friend’s list are playing it, and I find myself being invited to multiple game lobbies! I have never felt so popular.
Recently, what with Daddy duties and other real life things getting in the way, I have focused my attention on Single Player games (as you can see from the list of game reviews here on Bearded Robot.co.uk) and multiplayer ones have gone on the back burner, other than the occasional Co-op experience. Whenever I have played a heavy MP game, replaying the same levels over and over again just didn’t appear to me the same way that it did back in the day.
You see after the original Modern Warfare, World at War was released (made this time by Treyarch). This would be Call of Duty’s last outing in World War 2 until the newest release. While the single player wasn’t bad, the multiplayer was excellent. Riding on the waves of Modern Warfare, we were giving a fantastic World War 2 multiplayer experience, complete with killstreaks, weapon unlocks, and awesome game modes like Search and Destroy (which already featured in Modern Warfare previously, but I have yet to mention it).
I can remember many amazing sessions playing this game, and a couple of really good friendships (which I still have managed to hold onto) were founded on the battlefields of the Pacific front.
Of course the greatest thing from this game was the Zombies mode. Originally just a little hidden mode after you have finished the single player campaign, it eventually grew to the immensely complex game mode we know today. The DLC levels for this mode were amazing (Der Rise mainly, with me and my usual crew getting to level 32, which for me was an amazing achievement). Although the game was based around moving and shooting (which came more into focus in Zombie levels in later games), we enjoyed the classic hold up situation. Many a-nights I had to choose between going out or staying in and playing this with a few beers with the boys online, and many times Zombies won. I would tell my girlfriend at the time that come 11, it was CoD time. Sometimes we would find ourselves up until 3 or 4 in the morning, having played and drank all night, now listening to the birds chirping at the rising sun. Some of those memories I will hold on to until my dying day.
Treyarch and Infinity Ward seemed to take turns developing the next Call of Duty, and here Infinity Ward decided to release the magnificent Modern Warfare 2. I remember when I originally saw the trailer for it and was instantly hooked. It was one of the best game trailers I had ever seen, and probably still holds a top spot if such a league existed.
I went to the midnight release and booked the day off of work just to session it as much as I possibly could.
Not only was the multiplayer redesigned and updated, the single player story mode was the bollocks. It was an intense spy/espionage thriller that really upped the stakes from your standard war game. It was heartbreaking in places as well.
As for the multiplayer, one of the greatest experience of my whole Call of Duty gaming life, is playing it at half 12, 30 minutes after the release, when nobody had any weapon attachments or unlocks. It was pure bare bones. Then everyone unlocked the n00b tube and the game was carnage for about an hour. By the time I went to sleep and got on it again, loads of people have levelled up massively beyond the puny underbarrel grenade launcher. Now it was those blasted old western guns, duel wielding, that was running the show. These things were like duel tactical nuclear sniping missile launchers made of gold. They would lay waste to anything and everything. Eventually these were nerfed the players found some other means to “break” the game.
Infinity Ward had done well with mixing up the slightly stale formula of the other games. Changeable killstreaks, new game modes, bigger levels, Modern Warfare 2 was another masterpiece. Not to mention, in replace of the Zombie Mode, we had Spec Ops, which were single missions played in Co-Op. These were pretty cool and me and a friend had a lot of run doing them on the hardest difficulty.
Unfortunately this game saw the end of the perfect quality as well as the breakup of the original developers after that whole Infinity War dilemma. It was a terrible situation and WE, the players, suffered massively from the fallout.
Treyarch came next with Black Ops, which, single player wise, was a little bit pony. It was here that I stopped trying to complete the game on the hardest setting, and started to just play it once and be done with it to move onto the multiplayer, which is what a lot of other players did as well. Activision saw this and decided to spend less and less time focusing on the SP and worrying more about the multiplayer modes. In terms of MP, Black Ops was great. The VoiD was really coming into its own and forming nicely, and the levels were pretty good. The game itself was solid. I loved the creating your own emblem feature, which has lead to the creation of some hilarious ones throughout the years.
The Zombie mode was back. While some levels were good, a lot of them were designed around moving and shooting, which was not what me and my friends wanted from this game. We did play every single DLC, and we did have a lot of late night sessions on this, but the game was starting to become less fun with every new Zombie level created (I am looking at you Mob of the Dead and Moon!), but some levels; like Ascension, were fantastic and I have fond memories of playing those maps to death.
After this game the ‘new’ Infinity Ward with Modern Warfare 3, which was the closing act of the story in terms of single player game. The SP itself was pretty forgettable. It shoe horned in new characters and acted like we had known them all along, and while some levels were alright, the story never lived up to the quality of the previous Modern Warfare instalments and fell a little flat in delivering a fitting ending to the series.
Spec Ops returned, and the DLC (thrown in with the rise of the infamous Season Pass) offered some enjoyable levels for this mode, as well as many for the normal MP.
Multiplayer wise, this was when the VoiD began to get into the UK Leagues and actually do pretty well. The league was based around Hardcore S&D, with no shotguns, snipers, perks, killstreaks, and loads of other stuff which made it a game of pure skill. Perfect!
But you were also not allowed the DLC maps, so the actual multiplayer ones I never really played as much… meaning I bought the season pass for those Spec Op levels (what a terrible thought).
We would meet for training games where a friend (and one of the original VoiD members) would have figured out tactics and places to throw grenades. We would go into the MP and test these tactics out as a full clan and absolutely dominate HC S&D. It was brilliant.
By the end of MW3s year life cycle, we were just starting to come out on top of the league we were in. Some of the time we would get absolutely dicked on, I can’t deny that.
Then came Black Ops 2. Again the single player lacked the quality of older CoD games, and so this was played once and forgotten. I think Michael Rooker might have been in this one again (having been in a Zombie level in Black Ops 1). Zombies was again still pushing towards running and gunning, and so never had the charm of the previous ones. Even Black Ops 1 had far superior levels than this one.
But by this point, the only reason to buy this game was for the Multiplayer. The league for Black Ops 2 started up and the VoiD were there. HC S&D was all we played. We were on it religiously every Wednesday and Sunday night for either training, or a league game.
One amazing time, we were second in the league and playing the top in the final game of the season. If we won the match, then we would win the league, but if we lost or drew, then they would.
The game was carnage. We were down 3-0 and everyone was feeling shit about it. But something strange happened. Something just seemed to click and we pulled it back to 3-3, all now sitting on this final round and we won. We were ecstatic. It was were celebrating for weeks afterwards as if we had just won the FA cup. It was the greatest ever match of Call of Duty for me, and the VoiD truly became my family (even though two of them sort of were already).
We played Black Ops 2 like this for the entire length of the year until the next Call of Duty game’s release, which saw the end of the league, people getting online, and my own PvP multiplayer experience. It was not the same for everyone, but it certainly was for me and my friends. When Call of Duty: Ghost came out in 2013, made by Infinity Ward once again, it did not have Hardcore Search and Destroy. What the fuck?! We were livid… beyond livid. We were disappointed. It ruined it for us. We tried to play core S&D, but it was terrible. Everything about the game was terrible. We tried to play other stuff, such as the Extinction mode, now replacing the zombies one, but that was crap as well.
The VoiD dropped out of the league games, which eventually went under as there was players who had old gen copies, and ones who had next gen ones, who could not play together. So teams were split. It was too much. It was disbanded.
The VoiD stopped getting online, and so did everyone else. I ended up focusing on Single player games, occasionally playing Co-Op games like Gears of War and Ghost Recon, but it was not the same and never lasted more than a month. Competitive multiplayer died for me. I tried Star Wars: Battlefront, Titanfall, and Battlefield, but it never had the same sort of magic and barely got played.
Ghosts crashed and burned the CoD series. It was in a downward spiral and now everyone was hating on it. They released Advanced Warfare the next year, which I stupidly bought, did the terrible SP (which starred recently fired Kevin Spacey), and played the multiplayer for about 10 minutes before I realised it was a piece of shit. It was jumping on the Titanfall bandwagon and was trying out jet-packs and wall running, which made the game fucking terrible. Players were all over the place and it was not for me. The tactical team based shooter had become an arcade clusterfuck. I was done.
I never bought Black Ops 3 (which I might have even enjoyed if I played it, but by then I was done with the series). I played the demo of Infinite War, which was 2 single player levels and up to rank 10 of the multiplayer, but that was naff as well. I didn’t mind the SP, but I think that was because I had not played a campaign of a Call of Duty game for a few years.
The game itself was negatively received by literally everyone, as hating CoD was the cool thing.
Activision had to listen to the players now. They had spent so long milking the series and doing whatever they wanted to players, that eventually they were going to say “No More!”. Infinite War was the lowest selling CoD game of all time (of the proper series that is), and so they decided to do what anyone in their position would do, take a step back, and thus WW2 has been made. A step in the right direction, or a new angle to get the cash in from players, who can say? All I know is that I am loving playing CoD with my friends online once again. Whether or not it will hold up enough to undo all the damage that has previously done or not, remains to be seen, but for now, I am going to enjoy playing this Call of Duty: WW2.
In the next few days/weeks, Bearded Robot will do a number of reviews and articles on CoD:WW2. At the moment it is just a separate review for the Multiplayer, Zombies, and the Single Player, but I am sure more will creep up as time goes on, so keep an eye out for those.
Until then, Semper fi soldiers. Hopefully I will see you on the eastern front.