This past weekend held the yearly Call of Duty expo, where new footage was shown of the upcoming Infinite Warfare and its rig-based multiplayer. More than any CoD title thus far, Infinite Warfare has much to prove in the eyes of fans. Its first trailer was met with a largely negative reaction, and even being helmed by the original developers of the franchise didn’t save it from becoming one of the most disliked trailers on all of YouTube.
As is always the case with Call of Duty, the conversation eventually becomes “when will this series end?”, but asking if Activision will end this franchise is like asking if superhero movies are going to fade out: we already know that the answer is going to be a resounding “no.”
That said, it is worth wondering if Call of Duty, or at least the ones developed by Infinity Ward, still have a place in the world. In fact, one may wonder if it’s time for them to hang up their guns, as it were, for this series. Hear me out.
At first, it seems obvious to say that Infinity Ward can’t leave this franchise, because without them, we wouldn’t have many of the staples of the series that we now take for granted. Not only are they responsible for the entire brand to begin with, but their Modern Warfare series paved the way for both crazy fun multiplayer progression in online gaming and action-packed story campaigns in shooters. Missions like “All Ghillied Up,” “Aftermath,” and “Game Over” still stand up as some of the best levels in modern gaming, and while Modern Warfare 2 doesn’t exactly have the best campaign the series has seen, there’s no denying the appeal in the wild set pieces the game throws at you.
Even titans have to fall, and for Infinity Ward, that came in 2011 with Modern Warfare 3. It was their first Call of Duty title after the rough breakup with studio founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, along with a migration of multiple employees. While it wasn’t the worst game in the series, it’s definitely not the strongest, in both the title as a whole and the Modern Warfare sub-franchise. But in the time between the two Modern Warfare sequels, it was Treyarch who proved themselves with 2010’s Black Ops. While the game was incredibly fun, it was the Zombies mode that elevated it to the fame it still enjoys to this day.
Each of the Call of Duty subseries has been defined by its setting. To differentiate from its then sole competition with Modern Warfare, Treyarch moved the Black Ops storyline forward 50 years in time to the mid 2020s, complete with futuristic weaponry. Of course, Infinity Ward couldn’t stay in the modern day forever, so 2013 saw them propel the series forward with Ghosts. It was a title still grounded in realism, but with traces of sci-fi in there thanks to the advanced technology of the Ghosts and mind control plot.
There was a difference between Ghosts and Black Ops thanks to the former’s approach of making America the ‘down but not out’ underdog, as the latter started edging towards hard sci-fi with cybernetics and drone warfare. With Advanced Warfare in 2014, the writing was on the wall: the separate Call of Duty franchises were all converging onto the future storyline.
Infinity Ward was once the lead dancer for Call of Duty. With Infinite Warfare, though, it seems more that they’re now following along with the pack and Treyarch’s taking the lead, from its adoption of Treyarch’s Zombies to the way you can see elements of Halo, Titanfall, and Destiny in the gameplay additions and aesthetic. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the similarities, though it does run the risk of overpopulating a series that already receives flak for releasing with minimal changes every year. This, more than anything, would be an understandable reason for them to jump ship and leave this brand in the hands of Treyarch and Sledgehammer.
Infinite Warfare probably has a sequel in pre-production as we speak, as the studio has said they are planning a sub-franchise universe for the title, should it turn out to be a hit. Assuming it does, Infinite 3 would be the best note for them to close out on. They’ve been with the series long enough, and it may be time to let some new blood shine.