5 Ways Treyarch Can Innovate the Next Call of Duty Game
Ben Sheene / Feb 13th, 2015 1 Comment
Activision recently announced Treyarch is working on the next entry in the Call of Duty franchise, which is due in 2015. The game will be the first Call of Duty from Treyarch to implement the three-year development cycle future games in the series will take. Last year’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare from Sledgehammer Games was the first to take advantage of this new, longer development process.
Treyarch is widely known as the studio behind the popular Black Ops installments of Call of Duty. With its last release being 2012’s Black Ops 2, Treyarch has had plenty of time to take previous experience and use it to mold a potentially innovative game. For years Call of Duty has been scrutinized for not changing the formula enough. While Advanced Warfare’s exo suit took the acclaimed first-person action to new heights, there’s still room to do more. Looking forward, here are five ways Treyarch can innovate with 2015’s Call of Duty.
Blast to the Past
Eight years. That’s how long it’s been since players were taken from the advancements of modern warfare back to the Call of Duty roots of World War. Yes, we’re talking about Call of Duty: World at War. Set in the Pacific Theater of World War II, World at War was Treyarch’s follow-up to Call of Duty 3. Though it was released after Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, World at War didn’t feel like a step backward. While the original Black Ops took us to a somewhat advanced 1960s setting, most Call of Duty games have featured advanced weaponry, futuristic settings, and impressive technology.
[adsense250itp]Maybe what Call of Duty really needs is a voyage back to its roots. As cool as they can be, a lot of the fancy gadgets and weapons seen in modern Call of Duty games are used in “gimmicks” that sweep across entire levels. Whether using magnetic gloves to climb buildings or hiding from baddies with optical camouflage, advanced tech gives developers an opportunity to create incredible action set pieces.
If Treyarch moves back to its own Call of Duty roots, it would require the developer to hunker down and focus on storytelling and setting. The war stories of the past may have been told several times and played out in multiple games, but that wouldn’t prevent them from being revisited with a fresh eye and shinier graphics. Could Call of Duty 2015 be a kind of “greatest hits” of the pre-Modern Warfare era, a greatest hits of World War I or II? Players have become all too familiar with modern shooters, and this approach would be a more grounded one. Going back to the past could prove more innovative than many may imagine.
Zombie is a word players have come to expect from Call of Duty. Ever since Treyarch put the zombie mode in World of War, it has become a popular staple of the Black Ops series. The mode has grown into its own beast with a fully realized story, sense of humor, and addicting gameplay. Players who don’t frequent Call of Duty’s multiplayer modes have often found solace in the horde mode, co-op aspect of zombies mode. Get four friends and blast endless waves of zombies trying to survive. As competitive as the normal multiplayer can be, zombies is just as so.
Would Treyach be brave enough to abandon the tried-and-true war campaign for a zombie apocalypse? If they were able to craft an interesting campaign, why not? Either way, if players are expecting to get their hands on a hypothetical Black Ops 3 or a new spin-off, they are going to expect more zombies. Minor tweaks and buffs have been given to zombies over the course of a few games but what else can be done?
Why not find a way to integrate zombies with the traditional multiplayer experience. Players are fighting off an endless horde of zombies while trying to get the jump on each other. Maybe opposing teams are tasked with killing off more zombies than the other. How exciting would it be to have to capture control points only to find a pack of zombies resting at Bravo or Charlie? Good luck trying to spawn camp. Ultimately, zombies is a great experience just the way it is but the same could be said about Call of Duty’s multiplayer. That doesn’t stop developers from trying to find new ways to transform it.
One of the best things about Treyarch’s storytelling during the single-player campaign is its ability to provide variety. During several points in the story, players are given choices to make or actions to perform that will impact the story. For a straightforward experience like Call of Duty, this was a mild revolution. Games these days tinker with storytelling in unique ways and while Call of Duty may not seem like the franchise to toy with, Treyarch seems content to mix up the formula.
If the studio wants to take the risk, it could truly run with the concept of branching the story. Why not allow players to make decisions that could completely alter the course of the story? Having one character die or completing one objective over the other could send players to an entirely different mission. Multiple endings and morality choices are something games have tackled countless times. It isn’t like Call of Duty isn’t given the budget. Plenty of players appreciate single-player campaigns and the spectacle provided in Call of Duty is hard to beat. Giving this aspect a little more love and care wouldn’t go unappreciated.
Despite some major flaws in variety (among other things), Bungie has created a bit of magic with Destiny. Surprisingly, it isn’t with the multiplayer or the story. Some of Destiny’s MMO-like elements resonate quite well with the first-person shooter gameplay. Before players got tired of them, daily bounties provided an entertaining side activity to gain experience and add an additional challenge. The same applies to public events where multiple players rally together to complete a difficult objective.
Let’s get this straight: Call of Duty shouldn’t try to be an MMO, unless of course, that kind of experience is being built from the ground up. Instead, Treyarch could adapt methods used by the likes of Bungie. Maybe during a zombies or multiplayer event, players are given special objectives that reward bonus experience or additional unlockables. These events can be entirely optional, but entirely fun. It’s hard to expect an ever-changing experience from Call of Duty, but to have the game be mildly tailored to the ebb and flow of online play wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
Space and Other Considerations
During an online session I had with a few friends playing Destiny, one mentioned that he was excited about Battlefield: Hardline because it was one of the few current-gen shooters that wasn’t too futuristic. This is a valid point, but I’m sure few players could deny that they haven’t wondered what Call of Duty would be like in space. Call of Duty: Ghosts briefly took us out of the atmosphere, but why not go a little further? Who wouldn’t love to see the kind of guns and explosions Treyarch could make on Jupiter or somewhere else in the solar system?
Aside from zombies, co-op hasn’t been a completely invigorating experience in the series. It’s mostly restricted to a choice few online modes and nothing else. A side co-op campaign that touches upon locations and missions in the main campaign would be a great way for players to get the most out of their story.
Before Sledgehammer Games began working on Advanced Warfare, it was already developing a third-person Call of Duty game. This is not an idea that should get buried forever. If Activision really wanted to do something different, it would allow their blockbuster franchise to momentarily break away from its first-person chains and go for something akin to Spec Ops: The Line or even more genre-inspired like Uncharted. Will it happen? It’s hard to say. Such experimentation might have to wait a couple more years for Sledgehammer’s original vision to come to fruition. No matter what, even a long-running franchise like Call of Duty still deserves a little innovation.
tags: activision , black ops , call of duty , Call of Duy: Black Ops , opinion , treyarch