(Originally published May 31, 2019)
The recent news of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare receiving a soft reboot reinvigorated my need to divulge my dream Call of Duty game. This would be a perfect love letter for the games before it while also introducing new mechanics into the franchise to mix up the gameplay. Ladies and gentlemen, let me propose to you my Call of Duty game:
Call of Duty: Time Warfare
Think about it. One of the first things people care about with each new iteration is setting. World War II. Vietnam War. Current day. Near future. What if there was a game that could focus on any location and any era in time? Not only would this add a new wrinkle for story telling purposes, but also give a seemingly endless amount of potential content for multiplayer.
Let me begin with my proposal for the narrative in a single player portion of the game. When it comes to time-travel stories, it’s difficult to be original. Thankfully storytelling in general is pretty derivative of past stories, so it shouldn’t be a major fault.
The game begins in an undefined time in the future. It is there that the world is united under one government and have tasked themselves with policing time itself now that time travel has been discovered. They are not set up to change time, but prevent it from being changed. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
For reasons yet explained, they get a hit of a ripple effect through time and space. So they do what they were formed to do – they go back to check it out. Each mission in this game involves visiting a different time frame as the villain hops around altering the future. These can be brand new areas never before seen in previous games, or for those nostalgia hits, bring back levels of previous games with enough explanation in the story to change them up a bit.
Since the player comes from the future, they have tools available to them that wouldn’t exist during that time frame. So picture running through the trenches of World War II firing off weapons that wouldn’t exist for hundreds or thousands of years later. It could give off a very Wolfenstein feel in a way. Worse comes to worse, if ammunition runs out (and it will), you have the option to mix in the guns from yester-year into your arsenal as well.
Fortunately, this gives developers a chance to spread their creativity muscle in building new and unique weapons or tools not seen in previous games. What if there were guns that aged or de-aged you as you were shot? Grenades that could slow or freeze time? Hell, remember the game Singularity? That had some fantastic concepts behind it such as the Time Manipulation Device that altered time leading to changes in the surroundings or methods to attack enemies. Who developed that game again? Oh yeah, Raven Software…a current Call of Duty team.
Since the villain also comes from the future, it’s also possible the enemies could be sporting some higher tech gear from time to time. It could even escalate to things like mechs or metal gear-like creations. I will always be down for enemies that break away from the tired “dude in body armor and carrying an assault rifle” formula.
There can be potential for broken or split timeline stories too. You want to work in a reason to have a zombie mission to tie that into the game? This could do it. Even better, the story mode could have diverging timelines giving players a reason to try out the single player mode again.
So when it comes to single player, it’s hard not to see how freeing it can be in terms of weapons, locations, storytelling and even enemy variety when you don’t tie yourself down to one period in time. What does this mean for multiplayer? Everything.
As if this wasn’t obvious, the maps available could span all previous games to hit those nostalgia feels while also including new maps to keep things fresh. Even the old maps could be tweaked to have a new map feel similar to the way Nuketown did at one point.
The weapon loadout could be tricky for balance reasons, but could be doable. Perhaps older maps have older guns or it is a free-for-all where you can pick any loadout you desire.
We could take it a step further and make all multiplayer matches custom rules to limit certain weapons, maps, etc. Instead of a drop-in based on game type, have lobbies after that selection is made. This lobby could detail the specific rule-set making each potential match unique.
My personal inclusion for multiplayer would be a special toggle each player possesses similar to the one in Titanfall 2. During the match, the player could press a button pulling them to a different timeline in that match. Using Nuketown as an example: everyone could start on the pre-bombed map. Then players have the option to press a button sending themselves to the future after the bombs have dropped. After a cooldown, they could press the button to be sent back.
This would create a new tactical gameplay element not only for getting out of firefights (and into new ones possibly), but this could lead to other creative things as well. Instead of a nuke to end the game, a high kill streak could wipe out a timeline killing anyone still there and keeping players on the remaining one. That killstreak would then be replaced with something else since we are limiting this to two timeframes though. The other option is a Split/Second like approach where a series of actions leads to the events to create that future timeline.
So let me try to wrap things up here. I love time travel. I love it in movies, books, games, comics, radio dramas; put time travel in and I’ll be interested. That’s partly why I think involving it in Call of Duty could be cool. It’s also an easy way to not only tie games together in an unnecessarily fanfic way, but allow a content flood that no previous game in the series could muster. The number of maps, enemy variety, new weapons, storytelling avenues and more make me think it would be an interesting approach at least.
So that’s my attempt at pitching a new Call of Duty game. I think the potential is there and plenty of reasons why it could work. However I’m not in the industry, but if I had a shot at calling the shots, you would be seeing a Call of Duty: Time Warfare game.
*EDIT* After writing this piece, it came to my attention through Managing Editor and Xbox Stalwart Allan Muir that a game like this was actually made. In 2009, a game called Darkest of Days was released that is very similar to my idea. Not having played it (or knowing this game existed), I watched a little of the content on YouTube for comparisons.
From what I can tell, storywise it seems pretty identical to what I was going for. I have the mindset of being less restrictive in terms of weapons used however and there can be a story reason that comes into play where people from the future follow up with your actions to make sure things don’t go amiss. Think of the scanner from Men in Black that makes you forget.
There also seems to be some futuristic weapons as well at play, so this game could also look to those for uses as well. I also don’t know if there was a multiplayer component as well, but evn if there was, I’m sure nothing to the scale of a Call of Duty game.
So I wanted to add this little addendum as it seemed important to note the comparisons between this fantasy game and one that actually exists. Without having played it, I can’t go into much more depth, but it is certainly worth noting. *END EDIT*
-Written by Josh Miller