Thursday, February 6, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

There’s no question that Call of Duty: Ghosts is the most disappointing release in Call of Duty’s annualized run, outside of Wii ports and portable and mobile installments. The unevenly bad campaign along with terrible narrative made the single player unequivocally pointless, and the multiplayer’s unnecessarily convoluted map design only favored certain game types. With Extinction as the game’s only major contribution to the franchise, Call of Duty: Ghosts was a let down to this Call of Duty fan.

News hit today that the Treyarch and Infinity Ward’s annualized volley has now been stretched to a three year development model, inserting somewhat-newcomer Sledgehammer into the cycle. This is fantastic news for the Call of Duty franchise, one that’s much needed for the new generation as Call of Duty will now have to share the shooter space with its former creators at Respawn with Titanfall, and Activision’s hopeful “next billion dollar franchise” Destiny.

Modern Warfare 3 seemed to be rather telling of how talented Sledgehammer games is. After the Activision vs. Jason West and Vince Zampella debacle hit Infinity Ward between MW2&3, and much of the core team at the studio rapidly dissolved to form Respawn, the final chapter in the Modern Warfare saga was looking bleak. But the critical success of Modern Warfare 3 is largely credited to the aid of Sledgehammer. Some could argue that their absence from Ghosts might have contributed to its short comings; either that, or perhaps the added cooks Neversoft and Raven Software fragmented the process, or maybe it was the hassle of getting the game ready for next gen hardware under its already pressured schedule. Hypotheticals aside, Sledgehammer Games has clearly done something right if Activision approved the studio to take the lead of every third Call of Duty title.

And that term “third” is so refreshing to hear.

Despite the incessant criticisms of the franchise, up until Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, the series has managed to produce great shooters that offer something significant to the franchise; and this happened on just two year cycles. Now that we’re going to be delivered Call of Duty titles that have been in development in almost the same average time as most AAA projects, and now that we have two talented studios (sorry Infinity Ward) instead of one, we can at least look forward to possibly two more years of great Call of Duty titles.

Call of Duty: Ghosts effectively turned me off the franchise with Titanfall just around the corner. And though I won’t say that I’ll return with the same level of investment as I have before, hearing Sledgehammer take over this year’s Call of Duty with three years of development absolutely made me more excited for the franchise moving forward. 

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