The Call of Duty franchise is pretty popular. Ever since its debut in 2003, a whopping 250 million units have been sold and, as we enter its 14th iteration (not including multiple forays into an expanded universe!), that number will only increase. With it always being in the spotlight as one of the greatest video games of all time, certain aspects of the game have become debated talking points. The games are all about war and conflict within the world and, with the world being so different depending on your personal beliefs, this list provides a broad spectrum of debacles that the franchise has been involved with.
Now you'd think after this would deter people from maybe getting involved with this franchise, but that doesn't seem to be the case. In-fact, the longer Call of Duty has been around, the more star power it seems to attract. Big names such as Kiefer Sutherland, Gary Oldman, and Kit Harrington have all lent their voices to the games, with the later even lending his likeness to the character he plays. Much like the villain he portrays, the lovely game developers, along with the various game studios working on the games, feel the need to take risks to stay ahead of the competition. Fortunately, more often than not, they hit the mark. Unfortunately, when they don't, they REALLY don't. With that in mind, let's look at 15 times CoD went WAY too far.
Way back in 2009, getting any professional athlete to promote your video game was a huge deal. After the gargantuan success of Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, this sort of marketing came easy to publisher Activision, who hired the services of professional Baseball player Cole Hamels in an online advertisement. Why didn't they hire an actual actor for they ad? Who knows. What we do know is the ad is supposed to be campaigning against the excessive use of grenades within the game, naming the campaign the Fight Against Grenade Spam.
Instead of an awesome ad showing the improvements on previous games, and shots of new and exciting gameplay, we got a minute long video of a military character, voiced by the aforementioned Mr Hamels, talking about how "Grenades are for pussies" and "Not cool." The video ends with a note from their sponsor, F.A.G.S.
Obviously, the ad offended a lot of people.
14 Nuclear Bomb Scene
By now, Call Of Duty isn't a stranger to showing scenes of mass destruction. In fact you'd be forgiven for thinking this scene is actually a little tame to be on this list. However, you'd be wrong.
Yes, multiple games of this variety have shown the likes of D-Day and the Gulf War, however none compared to having a Nuclear Bomb blow up in your face. It kills not only you, but the people in the vicinity and the very land and wildlife in the surrounding area too.
CoD had never looked so real or graphic, and it shocked players, especially considering the setup to the scene was that the player character had finally left the fighting behind him.
13 Prophet(able) Quotes
Dealing with religion in media is hard, especially in video games, as you have millions of people with multiple religious beliefs among your audience. We get that.
We do still find it a little too much to understand that no-one on the Dev team noticed they had put religious quotes into the game, with the Favela map in Modern Warfare 2. For those not in the know, the quotes that are attributed to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and are translated as ''Allah is beautiful and he loves beauty." Why is this such a big deal? Well, they were inscribed within a bathroom.
Anywhere else and these quotes would have been perfectly fine. Nevertheless, their placement was seen as offensive to those of the aforementioned faith.
12 Space, Man
When Call Of Duty first raced onto the scene, it came with a (literal) bang. Set in World War II, it gave you control of a soldier in the thick of the action. Now, around that time, World War II shooters were all the rage and it began a steep and steady spiral of over-saturation of the source material. So, Infinity Ward rejuvenated the franchise by bringing it in to the 21st century and beyond, and everything that entails.
It seems with the resurgence of games like Halo and Titanfall, the developers have decided to also try their hands at going full Sci-fi with the past couple of games. But, if the trailer reaction to Infinite Warfare is anything to go by (it was the most down rated trailer in YouTube's history) people just don't want that.
11 Animation Repetition
Nowadays, Call of Duty is known for being a little tired and worn down. Let's get that out the way right now; we and everyone else understand this. Do Infinity Ward understand this? Well, if they do, they may not really care. When Call Of Duty: Ghosts was released back in 2013, it was the first Call Of Duty game released for multiple generation of consoles. As such, it seems that to get the game completed on time, certain shortcuts had to be taken.
As seen above, these certain shortcuts refer to cut scene animations in which a Call Of Duty: Ghosts scene plays out exactly the same as the ending of Modern Warfare 2.
10 Overcharging For DLC
It's a common theme nowadays that all video game map packs are around $15 as an industry average standard. However, that was not always the case, as this all started with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Before then, the standard was set to roughly $10. However, in 2007, Activision deemed it necessary to test the waters and see if they could charge more.
Of course, because at the time Call of Duty revolutionized the modern first person shooter on consoles and it was so popular, it worked. The map pack still sold millions of copies, as did every subsequent map pack created for Call of Duty after the fact. It's because of these sales now that other game publishers feel they can also charge more for map packs and DLC.
9 Introduction Of Pay-to-win Micro-transactions
Now the term 'Pay-to-Win' boils down to having certain equipment in-game that is locked behind either grinding for what seems like several dozen hours playing the game or paying real money to unlock this particular equipment with no more effort than checking the status of your bank account. This started on PC MMOs, where you would get extra potions or mounts you could ride.
Over the past couple of years. this mentality has seeped its way into the console market and, more importantly for the purpose of this list, Call of Duty games. The past couple of games have introduced random loot boxes, but Infinite Warfare has taken this a step further by adding powerful weapons within these random boxes. It wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that the fastest and most convenient way to unlock these weapons is with real money, putting players that didn't part ways with their cash a disadvantage.
8 Bay Of Pigs
''Bay of Pigs'' is a mission where the main character and his cohorts attempt to overthrow and assassinate evil dictator Fidel Castro. Obviously, in real life, this attempt failed and he lived to fight another day. However, within the context of the game (which is told through flashbacks), the mission succeeds, as you shoot Fidel and the mission continues.
It is quite an entertaining mission in the context of the game, but not everybody thought so. Cubadebate, a Cuban news site, picked up on it and had some choice words regarding the mission: 'What the United States couldn't accomplish in more than 50 years, they are now trying to do virtually.'' Did Black Ops have to go there and assassinate a president who, at the time of release, was very much alive? Maybe not.
7 Their Use Of Dogs
Call Of Duty: World at War was Treyarch's follow up to Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare. With Modern Warfare changing multiplayer in such a drastic way for the modern era, Treyarch had no choice but to follow suit in their World War 2 effort. As such, one of their problems was adapting the 'Kill-streak' system into the World War 2 setting.
Well, what Treyarch came up with could be considered bad taste in some circles. Getting seven kills in a row gives you the opportunity to release a squad of attack dogs on your foes, giving them the ability to shoot and kill then as they maul people down. We get dogs are a cool weapon to use in a multiplayer match, but surely World War 2 had more devastating and more humane options that Treyarch could have used.
6 Press X To Show Respect – Contrived Game Mechanics
Way back in 2007 with the release of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward standardized what would soon be called ''Call of Duty controls',' a control scheme that is used by most modern First Person Shooters. However, fast forward to 2014 and Advanced Warfare, where by now COD and the way it plays is extremely well established, and the developers decided this was not enough. What do you do to try and keep such a long term audience engaged?
You give them a false sense of control over a very dramatic funeral scene.
Within the scene, your main character has attended the funeral of one of his comrades that has fallen in battle. It's very sad and moving, and we have no issue with that. But what we do have a slight issue with is the fact that the game gives you control, while also at the same time popping up an icon. This scene could have had the same emotional impact, possibly even more, if you did not have to press 'X' to pay your respects, in a moment in which you can do virtually nothing else, before you are able to leave. Pointless.
5 Possible Plagiarism
Back when Call Of Duty first came out, it led the way in terms of sales, but it definitely wasn't the only shooter around. In 2005, Gearbox software released Brothers In Arms to try and halt the success of Call Of Duty. It was mildly successful and produced several sequels. The reason we're bringing this to your attention is that with the recent unveiling of Call Of Duty WWII, a potentially huge accusation has come out. Simply, the fact that the cover art that Activision has been using to promote Call Of Duty WWII is shockingly similar to Gearbox's 2008 effort Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway has upset some people, with Gearbox's CEO Randy Pitchford pointing this out via Twitter.
4 Removing Spec Ops For No Reason
When you think of Call Of Duty multiplayer, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was all 13 year-olds living with their parents shouting profanities at each other. However, it wasn't always the case. Back in 2009 when Modern Warfare 2 (and Modern Warfare 3 – 2011) came out, the game included a Spec Ops mode, where you didn't have to listen to a hoard of puberty-fuelled rage goblins, but instead could grab a friend across the internet and tackle various small missions against the computer with tact and precision on a difficulty setting of your choosing.
It's a travesty that this mode was dropped for various takes on the endless Zombie mode that now infests Call Of Duty games. We're not saying Zombies is necessarily bad or anything, however we do feel it's the right time that this mode got its dues and acknowledgement.
3 Fake Terrorist Attack
Picture this; Black Ops 3 is out in a short while, so you check your Twitter to see if anything new has been announced. Only, what you find is not the latest details on Multiplayer or DLC. No, instead what you find are a series of tweets that were posted a few months before release by the official Twitter account of the game, which changed its name to 'Current Events Aggregate'. The Twitter account’s profile picture and description were also changed to make the account like an official news outlet.
The actual tweets from this account consisted of mock up 'Breaking News' headlines that consisted of explosions happening in the Singapore Marina; an area within Black Ops 3. Also, much like in real journalism, the Twitter account provided followers who were waiting on baited breath 'ongoing updates' such as how the country on the whole were dealing with the disaster and what came next. Intending to be a viral marketing campaign for Black Ops 3, it's not hard to see how Treyarch dropped the ball with that one.
2 London Bombing
By the time Modern Warfare 3 came out, the mission structure of the game was getting a little tired. Follow the waypoint and shoot the bad guys. However, with this being the first game from Infinity Ward post "No Russian," maybe they felt they needed to equal that sort of shock value. Well, here you have a mission in which civilians are put in as the centre of attention once more, depicting a young family on holiday in the UK's capitol when, without warning, weapons of mass destruction go off.
Now, it's not hard to see here why people may have thought back to another 'real life' incident that happened quite recently in London, a fact that even the Houses of Parliament commented on, with one member of Parliament putting across the idea that even they may need to be wary of the violence contained within games such as Call of Duty. When you've got the government involved, you know you might've gone too far.
1 No Russian
This is the mission that caused plenty of controversy back in 2009, when Modern Warfare 2 was released. If by some chance you don't know about it, "No Russian" is the name of a mission that essentially has you take control of Russian terrorists, as you gun down an airport full of unarmed civilians. Of course, seeing this in a cutscene wouldn't be all that shocking. However, actually giving the player control and having them pull the trigger themselves added some serious emotional weight.
The reason we feel Call of Duty went too far here is due to the actual content (because it is optional and can't be skipped altogether) and because it was completely unnecessary. We feel they really took it way too far.