When it comes to gaming, it doesn't get much bigger than Call of Duty. What started off as a relatively unknown first-person shooter has morphed into the biggest gaming franchise the world has ever seen. The series has sold millions of copies, inspired endless imitators, and literally defined the first-person shooter genre for years. It's a series that started in World War II, took us to the Vietnam War and into 'modern warfare,' and, finally, to space and the future of armed conflicts.
For all the accolades and millions in sales the Call of Duty franchise has racked up over the years, it hasn't all been good. For better or worse, Call of Duty has been the game series that other first person shooters are now judged by and these are the way the franchise has ruined the First Person Genre.
With this list we're going to examine many of the different aspects of the genre and how Call of Duty as impacted their development. Activision's long running series has made many changes of their own, but as the leader of the last decade of FPS' it's important to appreciate how other games in the genre have followed their design.
Call of Duty wasn't the first game to introduce microtransactions to the world of AAA titles, but it was certainly the biggest. Despite fan outcry and the seemingly general dislike of them amongst the gaming community, once Call of Duty adopted the model, there was no going back. Other game developers saw an easy way to make boat loads of cash and, if COD could get away with it, then why couldn't they?
Things like weapon skins, weapon sites, and other attachments, things that used to be unlocked through playing the game and completing certain challenges, have now been locked behind a pay wall. What used to be a fun way to extend your playtime has simply become another way for developers to make money.
14 Expanded Universe
Every time I hear the term 'expanded universe' I do my best to avoid rolling my eyes. It's something that has become popular in the film industry with the success of Star Wars and, more recently, Marvel and its many movies, everyone seems to be jumping on the 'Expanded Universe' wagon (though, with limited success).
The makers of Call of Duty have obviously been paying attention to Marvel and recently announced that the COD universe would be expanding to the big screen with multiple movies and more planned. Now, I don't think I have to tell anyone about the track record of video game movies. In addition, the COD universe has never been known for its great stories. It is more about the action and gameplay. Like follow the leader, other game franchises will follow suit, trying to expand their universe, while cheapening their product to meet the demands of the largest amount of customers possible.
Perks were a great and novel thing back when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launched. No one was doing what COD was doing in terms of allowing gamers to customize their multiplayer gameplay. Suddenly, the options seemed nearly endless. You could customize based on the way you played a game or simply based on the kind of weapons you wanted to use that game.
But all these years later, perks have become stale and something that nearly all shooters felt the need to adopt. Instead of feeling like a great way to customize your play style, perks have to become, at best, annoying, and at worst: extremely boring.
12 Throw-Away Single Player
Remember back in the day when first person shooters had a great single-player campaign and the multiplayer was just an added bonus? Multiplayer was another way to explore a world that you fell in love with in the single-player portion?
Well, I remember it. These days, it seems like a lot of games are shipping single-player portions of games that feel like rushed, half-thought out campaigns rather than the main focus of development and you can blame Call of Duty. Even in the heyday of the franchise, COD single player campaigns were nothing to write home about, and they have progressively gotten worse over the years. Multiplayer focused games are fine, but if developers are going to include a single player element, they should be well thought out, not like what we've been getting recently in games like Rainbow Six Siege or the first Titanfall.
11 Die. Respawn. Die.
From day one, COD has been a fast paced shooter. The action is frantic with bombs going off everywhere, people yelling, and, when you die in multiplayer, there is little lag time between death and respawn. It makes for a great gaming model that has worked for the COD series for many years and iterations now.
Unfortunately, other game developers took this as a sign that all gamers wanted were first person shooters that featured that same kind of frenetic action. From Battlefield to Halo and everything in between, they all seemed to be grasping for that Call of Duty feel to their games. While not all of these changes have been bad (for instance, the faster pace of action in the latest Halo felt like a step in the right direction), there have been some notable missteps, Battlefield being the biggest victim of this trend. What used to be a slower, more methodical shooter that took a while to master, has morphed into a more simplified kind of shooter.
10 Stealing From Other Games
Wall running, jet packs, and sliding across the ground with your weapon still raised.
Does this sound like a Call of Duty game to you?
It doesn't to me either. What it does sound like is Titanfall, and it was clear that the COD developers were chasing Titanfall (whose team, coincidentally, was made up of old COD developers) when they started to add those features to their games. Now, don't get me wrong, of course, other games and other developers are inspired by each other. No art is created in a vacuum, but the way COD has stolen from other franchises and, in many ways has taken the credit for innovations other developers have created.
9 No Change From Game To Game
When a formula is working, why change it up? When you are selling millions of games and raking in even more millions from your products name being placed on everything from t-shirts to shot glasses, why change virtually anything from game to game?
To be fair, the COD franchise has evolved over the years, but the changes have been minimal, to say the least. The single player campaigns are still forgettable, and the multiplayer feels almost identical to the way it did when the first Modern Warfare launched. Other first person shooter titles and even some outside of the genre saw that COD could pull off a yearly release window and still have massive sales and because of this, the overall quality of those type of games dipped.
8 Shoe-Horned In Multiplayer
Remember that awesome Doom game that ID released in 2016? Remember how gloriously old school it was? There was no run button, you didn't reload your weapons ever, you could carry a dizzying amount of them at the same time, and it was gloriously gory. You could rip demons apart with your bare hands and chainsaw them in half for health and ammo boosts. For all intents and purposes, it was the opposite of Call of Duty and shooter trends.
Except for one thing: the multiplayer. I'm sure some people didn't even know there was a multiplayer mode in the new Doom. That's understandable because it was so boring and felt so tacked on to feel completely unnecessary. But it was included for one reason: Call of Duty. The developers clearly felt they needed a multiplayer element to keep players coming back even though the core game itself was enough. It was a weak and unneeded addition to an already strong game.
7 Series Fatigue
A lot of people used to love Call of Duty, the sales numbers are there to prove it. But as the years have gone on and the games have varied very little from title to title, many people have grown tired of the series. While sales are still tremendous for a video game, compared to the series at its peak, the last few titles have been a disappoint.
Unfortunately, for many gamers, this trend of releasing a game every year has leaked into just about every other genre. Assassin's Creed was a yearly franchise for a few years before Ubisoft realized it wasn't a good idea. Battlefield tried to make the series a more annual occurrence, and many other games have felt the pressure to reduce the amount of time between releases. This leads to games that are not only very similar, but buggy with the feeling that they are unfinished.
6 Recycled Multiplayer Maps
Over the years, Call of Duty has had many great multiplayer maps. Ask any semi-series COD player and they'll be able to name off at least a couple of their favorite maps.
Call of Duty isn't the first game to recycle old multiplayer maps, but they are one of the biggest. How many times can you play Nuketown before it gets old? Not to mention the fact that the developers are charging premium price for map packs full of recycled maps. It's not just lazy, it starts to be cynical and its something that has no become industry standard. From Battlefield to Halo and beyond game developers are recycling old maps to play on gamer's sense of nostalgia and their love for quality maps of the past.
5 Back To The Past
When Battlefield 1 was announced, it was met with almost universal praise from the gamer community. Many people were tired of the modern settings several of the last games had featured, and almost no one wanted the futuristic setting the Call of Duty franchise was heading towards.
Now Call of Duty is heading back to the past with the latest in the series, WWII. While this may not seem like a big deal, and time will still have to tell if it has an impact, but COD going back to WWII has potentially massive consequences for the first person shooter genre. I don't think anyone wants to go back to the glut of World War II games we experienced back when COD featured the war the first time. Let's hope other developers choose other conflicts to cover.
4 Online Trolls
Trolls are the kind of people that hide behind a keyboard (or microphone) and make the game miserable. They yell, they scream, they spawn camp, and team kill. They are generally just out to make your life hell.
Nowhere has that been more prominent than Call of Duty and it is a problem that seems to have infected the entire genre. Making a game as easily accessible as COD has its drawbacks and one of them is attracting a younger generation of players who maybe don't have the maturity to play the game the way it was intended to be played. While COD can't be blamed entirely for the problem of online trolls, with the game's popularity, it can be hard to talk about the problem of trolls without bringing it up first.
3 'Modern War'
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare hit the first person genre like an atom bomb. The game exploded and suddenly every other game was being compared to it. Gone was the World War II setting that had become tired and boring in the eyes of many gamers. Suddenly, we were thrust into modern conflicts using modern weaponry and fighting modern enemies.
And just like clockwork, all other developers began to fall in line. The flood of 'modern' titles that came out after COD 4's success was astounding and, just like World War II before it, it began to all feel very stale. Everything felt the same, and nothing stood out. While you can blame unimaginative developers, and they are certainly to blame, COD's success with the setting was certainly a main influencer in the decision to go modern.
'Bayhem' is a made up term sometimes used in film critic circles to describe the kind of movies Michael Bay makes. They are slick, filled with explosions, and almost completely devoid of any artistic merits. And no other term is more appropriate for the kind of game series Call of Duty has become.
COD has always been known for its bombast. The single player campaigns are loud with explosions everywhere with enough plot just to keep the story moving to the next action set piece, and wooden characters that are soon forgotten. And, once again, other games in the genre began to fall into line with Call of Duty. The games got bigger and nosier, but the gameplay and stories never got better. Games like Battlefield felt like they were chasing something they didn't fully understand while still trying to squeeze it into the mold that made a Battlefield game what it is. Stories became less important as the explosions got bigger.
1 Endless Sequels
When will it end? When is a story over? When do you just step back and say, 'I have no more to say.'
Well according to Activision, you only stop when the money stops rolling in. That's understandable from a business point of view, but from an artistic one and from the view of a dedicated gamer, sometimes enough is enough. Just like many game and movie series before it, COD is suffering from endless sequel syndrome. It is a known property that many people will buy just based on the title alone. Other developers see how well COD is doing so they pump out a half-baked sequel as quickly as they can to try and capitalize on name recognition and gamer's craving for something new.