In just a few years, Call of Duty has established itself as a staple in the FPS. Always at the top of sales, this series has brought together an incredible number of aficionados coming together to get out of the way with Kalashnikov interposed. If the single player segment of the license has always been important, CoD has attracted crowds thanks to its multiplayer. But by what means has this shooter managed to reach such a large audience? So let’s come back to the multiplayer career of soldier “Kalof”.
If Call of Duty first of the name marked the spirits, it is above all thanks to its direction of the setting in scene. Infinity Ward, a team made up of veterans who officiated on Medal of Honor, gave birth in 2003 to a big show FPS for Activision. It is mainly for the panache of its narration that we remember this first opus which nevertheless lays solid multiplayer foundations. We find the traditional Team Deathmatch, General Melee, Capture the Flag, in short, very classic. The whole is put at the service of a gameplay still very reminiscent of Medal of Honor, with the difference that we can use its sights here and that the whole gains a bit in mobility. Subsequent episodes timidly reiterate, treating pan multi as more of a solid addition to a single player campaign, rather than a central mode to the experience. It will be necessary to wait for the fourth episode for the license to fully find its competitive identity and create an architecture that will engage players for a long time.
COD 4, foundations built to last
A real slap in the face of its release, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare abandons historical conflicts to transcribe a contemporary war. This isn’t the only new thing in the episode, as the multiplayer is jam-packed with it. The Kill Streaks disembark and allow air support to intervene in the middle of the battle. Thus by chaining the kills without dying, the player can call a spy drone or a combat helicopter. Another novelty is that the bullets pierce certain materials. A late-game killcam shows everyone the latest action. An experience system allows you to unlock customizable weapons and equipment. Once the maximum level is reached, the player can resume his progression to 0. The famous “Prestiges” attest to a significant playing time and offer new personalized class locations. These prestige however were only available on PC.
All these new features, coupled with the much more efficient network infrastructure of seventh generation machines, make CoD 4 a founding and cult opus for many. Console gamers have found strong online competitive FPS in the Infinity Ward title. Recall that at the time, only Halo was known to offer excellent gameplay of guns to the controller and it was only available on Xbox. Here, the nervousness of the fighting and the aim assist have managed to give CoD 4 conflicts a lot of panache without going overboard. The speed of a Quake or the precision required by Counter-Strike not being the most adapted to the controller, it is CoD who with this episode, has proved to be THE console multiplayer FPS par excellence. Beautiful, dynamic, innovative … Thanks to its eye-catching structure and its solid content, CoD 4 has found the miracle recipe for the Activision shooter. The legacy of this episode has impacted other titles in the genre. Its experience systems, weapon unlocks and cosmetics foreshadow many retention mechanics that will be used in multiplayer games of the late 2010. Finally, the Battle Pass is never more than a monetized variant of these systems. .
This recipe, Activision rushes into it, because the formula ultimately changes very little over the episodes. New upgrades and abilities, additional equipment… The following opus differ mainly in their historical context and the weapons used. The episodes developed by Treyarch, however, benefit from a mode that will instantly attract many followers. Zombie mode allows four players to survive cooperatively while protecting themselves from increasingly fierce waves of undead. Something to satisfy players who are quicker to cooperate than to get out of the woods. The license then enters into inertia and only slightly calls its structure into question. This formula will nevertheless lead to very complete and well produced games.
Some opus add their stone to the edifice. Black Ops II, for example, incorporates scorestreaks, an evolution of a few changes made by MW3. Air assaults and other overpowered bonuses are dissociated from kills and reward more player profiles. You no longer need to be a PGM to request tactical support, assists and goal-taking count. The legacy of the greatest successes of the license is felt and the creativity of the developers varies drastically from episode to episode. Thus the cards of the first Black Ops reappear tirelessly in the following opus of the sub-series. If this trend pleased fans of the first hour, it is another indicator of the difficulty that the license had to renew itself. For its part, the structure based on experience gain and class customization of Call of Duty 4 continues and will not leave the series. In parallel, Activision is experimenting with the free-to-play model by entrusting the reins of a free episode to Tencent. This episode, which mixes the content of previous opuses, is released exclusively in China under the name Call of Duty Online.
Different Studios, different identities
Some episodes will take risks. Sledgehammer Games, for example, is taking conflict off the ground for its first solo CoD. Advanced Warfare pushes the dynamism to the extreme and integrates a refreshing verticality into the license. Double jump and dash are on the program. This decision is obviously not to everyone’s taste, but it marks a direction for a few episodes. Black Ops III and Infinite Warfare will continue on this path until WWII attempts to put the church back in the middle of the village. Battles anchored on the ground and simplification of the game systems … For some, WWII sounds more like a step back than like a homecoming. Rather than seeing a revisited version of the titles they had loved, some players saw it as an old-fashioned episode that struggled to engage them, despite still strong content and a memorable campaign. If he introduces a new single player healing system, based on our protagonist’s squad mates, he will not dare to upset the license’s habits in multiplayer. To heal, we stay in cover. Despite everything, this episode is full of good intentions and foreshadows changes that will occur later. It is notably the first component to offer larger cards. Much like a Battlefield Rush mode, War mode advances one team point by point on a battlefield of a new scale, while the other defends. Black Ops IIII for its part is taking advantage of the wave of Battle Royale to try to integrate. Exit the single player campaign, welcome to BR. This choice will animate many debates but the mode is generally well received and implements many features inseparable from the Call of Duty DNA. Some localities of the license are integrated on the map, while zombies are present to create chaos and force conflict. With these two episodes, Call of Duty begins its transformation and prepares the ground for the opus that follows.
Finally it is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the reboot of the sub-series of Infinity Ward, which brings new life to the license. It reached 30 million copies sold, which had not happened since Modern Warfare 3. Modern Warfare benefits from a brand new engine that finally puts CoD at the level of its competition in terms of technique. Sweet sound design, more calm gameplay philosophy, large and small scale modes, visual effects and very clean modeling… This reboot slows down the tempo of the clashes, in particular by integrating a “lean” mechanic. The player can fix his weapon at different heights or at the corner of the walls in order to gain stability. We also note the appearance of doors to open or close, which can surprise opponents posted in a room. The games become more tactical and gain in immersion but divide the fans. The (very) many followers of Run & Gun do not meet there. This procrastination of the clashes was not to everyone’s taste, but was fertile ground, conducive to the arrival of Warzone.
Warzone, a success that folds the cards
Thanks to the new intensity offered by its engine and the first successful test of BO IIII, Modern Warfare is the basis for the development of Warzone, one of the essential BRs in the market. Taking advantage of a well-designed map and a finely calibrated Time-To-Kill, this free-to-play already had something to seduce players tired of the tenors of the genre. It doesn’t stop there though, as it implements many ideas that limit frustration or assert Activision’s license membership. Fully connected to Modern Warfare, it integrates the traditional class system and keeps the progression between the two experiences. The player can, under certain conditions, have their favorite equipment parachuted. At the first death, he is sent to the gulag where he faces another player in 1 against 1. In case of victory, he will be entitled to a second chance. These welcome ideas coupled with the solid fundamentals of the license have made Warzone an extremely solid BR.
It is therefore unfortunate that Black Ops Cold War has come across as a regression to many players and to some of the press. This title supposed to go back to the roots of Black Ops and push the player forward seems more like a step back. This CoD regains a certain dynamism, but sacrifices the immersion and the technical progress made by its predecessor. Less complete, less pretty, less visceral … The multiplayer pan of this Black Ops Cold War suffers from the comparison with its elder and struggles to bring its identity to Warzone. The Cold War stamped weapons are integrated into the engine of its predecessor while a reduced size event map, Rebirth Island, will have only moderately convinced players. Where Call of Duty 4 has locked down the license’s multiplayer structure, Modern Warfare and Warzone may well define the engine and gunplay for upcoming episodes. Will the success of the Battle Royale standardize the gameplay and identity of the license? In any case, it’s a question that we can legitimately ask ourselves
The Call of Duty series has had its share of innovations, but also periods of inertia. The multiplayer foundations of Call of Duty 4 still permeate the heart of a license that regularly struggles to renew. Difficult to upset a formulate and satisfy the greatest number when its audience is so disparate and picky. Indeed, for some the quality of an episode of Call of Duty depends on the number of bullets necessary to kill an enemy with a specific weapon. From leader to follower, Call of Duty is a monster that has surfed the trends, often successfully, but sometimes to the chagrin of a section of its community. Some saw the Modern Warfare reboot as a reason to back off the license, while others saw it as a betrayal. It remains to be seen what lessons Activision will draw from recent opuses, because Warzone is now a significant part of the CoD experience. This surprise success could well call into question the output pattern of the next installments as it cannibalizes the attention of players. How will the license revolve around this hit? The future will tell.
Brent Dubin, known as the Gaming Giant among Globe Live Media staff, is the chief Gaming Reporter for Globe Live Media. Having attended all the major events of Gaming around the World, he is sure to give you exactly the update related to gaming World you are looking for.