Call of Duty receives a lot of undeserved hate. The franchise constantly pumps out extremely high quality games, yet the public always jumps all over it. We get crazy debacles, such as hoards of people giving the games 0/10 on Metacritic just because they perceive each entry to be exactly the same as the last (they’re not), without probably having played past the first mission if at all.
I will be the first to admit that I have written numerous articles in the past about the downfall of the Call of Duty franchise. I’ve always been scared that the series was going to run itself dry with each new installment. However, the series has always remained above a certain quality threshold and has maintained a hugely impressive level of quality.
The closest the series ever got to being stale was Modern Warfare 3, but even that game had its charms and it was hugely improved in later updates that made the multiplayer some of the best in series history. While it’s sad that the Infinity Ward is no longer really Infinity Ward, they clearly have a passion for the series and the genre, and we also have Treyarch innovating wildly with their over-the-top Black Ops games.
Yes, it is pretty popular to hate on Call of Duty, but let me try to convince you otherwise. I think Call of Duty is, for the most part, pretty damn fantastic, and these are five reasons why Call of Duty should be revered, not hated.
05. Unique game modes
I think that most developers go into each FPS game they make with a checklist of modes that they need to include for them to feel that their game is really complete. Every FPS game, and hell most games in general, need a Deathmatch variant of some sort, Team Deathmatch, probably Capture the Flag, and nowadays a Horde Mode is thrown in for good measure as well thanks to the massive popularity of the feature in Gears of War 2.
Call of Duty games have all of these game types, but they also feature a lot of other, more unique game types that are a blast to play. Infection is a unique spin on the typical Deathmatch that plays on the zombie craze (more zombies later, by the way) our culture has been experiencing for years now. Innovative game types such as the Wager Matches introduced in the original Black Ops trade the more serious game types for light-hearted, arcadey fun.
Kill Confirmed is one such game mode that solves a lot of problems with the core game and forces players that usually exploit the design of maps (such as “campers”) to be more ambitious in order to reap all the possible rewards from their kills. We saw Kill Confirmed introduced in Modern Warfare 3, and it has made my personal experiences with Call of Duty that much better.
Call of Duty: Ghosts looks to be adding even more crazy game types that really think outside of the box. One of the most hilarious ones is Cranked, a game type that takes its cues from the popular Jason Statham film series of the same name. In this type, players have 30 seconds to get another kill after each kill, or else they will blow up. It’s fast-paced, goofy, and above all, looks to be just as fun as the other similarly zany game types Call of Duty has implemented over the years.
04. No online pass
It’s kind of a bummer that I even have to mention this, but in today’s gaming world, the Online Pass is a big issue. It is just another way to restrict gamers from accessing to content they’ve already paid for or do pay for (in case of Xbox Live) in an effort to make an extra buck. Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and other big name publishers have utilized these Online Passes and have received negative criticism as a result, causing EA to discontinue the program moving forward, starting with this fall’s slate of titles.
Besides the Online Pass, gamers are also always urged or outright forced to sign up for stuff like EA’s Origin service or Ubisoft’s Uplay nonsense. Call of Duty keeps it simple. Sure, there will be one page that pops up explaining the optional Elite service, but press A on that and it all goes away, never to be seen again unless outright accessed through the menus. Jumping into an online Call of Duty map is as simple as ensuring a stable connection and popping in the disc. No unnecessarily long codes to clumsily input with a controller or lame services to sign up for. It’s fast and simple, just like Call of Duty itself.
Call of Duty: World at War marked the first time that Treyarch really took the franchise into left field. Before World at War, the series maintained a pretty serious depiction of warfare, from the ragged battlefields of World War II as depicted in Call of Duty 2 to the blood-soaked desert towns in Call of Duty 4. World at War ditched all of that for some Nazi Zombies, and Activision has been laughing to the bank ever since.
Evolving from the Nazi Zombies game mode, Zombies has become synonymous with the Call of Duty name. Treyarch has since expanded the concept to be a meatier game type, with Black Ops and Black Ops II each containing a sizable amount of Zombies-related content.
Of course, the Call of Duty multiplayer has a serious following behind it, but so does Zombies. I know people personally that have probably racked up hundreds of hours playing this mode, trying to discover all the best ways to play and beat their high scores or to discover the secrets of the maps and earn achievements.
While I find the ridiculously long Easter Eggs pretty obnoxious, it’s hard to deny the fun that can be had from getting together with friends online and going for broke. Plus, there’s just something fun about killing zombies. I can’t wait to see where Zombies is taken next…I’ve got my fingers crossed for a true Zombies campaign in Black Ops 3.
Before the seventh generation, it was almost a guarantee that an FPS game or any game with a multiplayer component would contain a local multiplayer component as well. Unfortunately, this generation has seen developers include only an online mode in many games, which is an annoyance, but at least it helps weed out the games truly worth investing time and money into.
Right from the start, Call of Duty has supported split-screen. When Call of Duty 2 debuted on Xbox 360, players were able to play in four-player split-screen on one console. This tradition has continued through to every console Call of Duty game released to date. And the best part is, the Call of Duty experience is just as fun offline as it is online. There’s just no beating sitting on a couch with friends and playing some FPS together.
Before the release of Modern Warfare 2, Infinity Ward (the real one) took to Twitter to look for suggestions from fans on how to improve Modern Warfare 2 over Call of Duty 4. I was one of the many people that sent out my suggestions, and I was happy to see that some of the things I recommended made it to the final game.
For example, I suggested that aspects of the online experience, such as leveling up and the like, be added to the split-screen game. This was accomplished to spectacular results, with me spending hours upon hours with my buddies in front of the television screen with my offline multiplayer character. I also asked for bots, but we didn’t see them come until the first Black Ops.
All of that being said and regardless of if my suggestions to the team actually influenced any decisions or not (I’d like to believe it did), I personally think that the best form of multiplayer is the kind that combines the offline and online ideals and meshes them together. Usually this comes in the form of split-screen online, which allows players to team up on one console and one TV in split-screen and take the game online.
The Call of Duty series didn’t support this until the first Black Ops, but every entry since then has included this feature to allow two players to play the game in split-screen online. This makes Call of Duty that much more appealing, and it’s why Call of Duty is the go-to game for me and my guests instead of Battlefield 3. Having to wait for your turn just isn’t a whole lot of fun.
Most annual release franchises, and I’d actually say the vast majority beyond Call of Duty, are very hit and miss each year. Sports games are sometimes fantastic one year, only to play it too safe the next and completely disappoint. Other annual release franchises, such as the Assassin’s Creed series, has become so convoluted and bogged down by its own universe that the series has become a mere shell of what it used to be at this point. Call of Duty, however, has remained incredibly consistent throughout the years.
With every Call of Duty, you get a ton of bang for your buck, and you know exactly what to expect. The campaign will have insane set-pieces, and while it may not be the best designed campaign in the world, the campaigns are serviceable and can be quite a bit of fun. Then there will be the game-changing multiplayer that Call of Duty always brings to the table. The multiplayer in Call of Duty has tantalized millions upon millions of people ever since Call of Duty 4 released in 2007. It’s always high quality and always incredibly addicting with each installment, so that high level of quality and expectation has also remained consistent throughout each game.
And finally, we always get more game modes that are just icing on the cake. Spec Ops was added in Modern Warfare 2 and added a lot of replayability to the game, whereas the Nazi Zombies mode mentioned earlier has made the Treyarch-developed Call of Duty games even that much more entertaining.
It’s hard to trust most companies to deliver high quality, reliable DLC, but to their credit, Activision makes sure that the DLC for the Call of Duty games is topnotch. Treyarch is especially good at this, releasing DLC packs that contain wonderful new maps and crazy twists on their Zombies modes to keep players returning to the game again and again.
Not only that, but each Call of Duty game improves on the last. We’ve seen numerous improvements throughout the years, such as more class customization, beefed up Killstreaks, four-player split-screen added to Zombies, bots, and so much more.
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I don’t know about you guys, but three franchises dominated my console’s disc tray this generation: Grand Theft Auto, Elder Scrolls, and Call of Duty. It may be fun to hate on Call of Duty, but the Call of Duty franchise, in my eyes, has done a lot of good for the industry by setting the bar incredibly high to hopefully make other developers and publishers strive to constantly better themselves.
The reasons above are just five reasons of many to love Call of Duty.
Do you love or hate Call of Duty? Sound off in the comments below and let your voice be heard about whether you think Activision’s FPS blockbuster franchise is deserving of the hate it gets, or deserves a little more credit.