17 Years of Call of; Duty

Call of Duty has left lasting memories for millions of players around the world, including a whole generation of gamers who spent their teenage years with…

17 Years of Call of Duty

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If this were a real person, Call of Duty would likely be a rebellious teenager now, just a year away from entering the joys, freedom, and challenges of adulthood. Instead, during this time, the military-themed FPS has left lasting memories for millions of players around the world, including a whole generation of gamers who spent their teenage years with the series and stick to it to this day.

So it’s no surprise that the series is becoming a cultural phenomenon that continues to generate blockbuster hype levels, with each new part surpassing the last, earning tons of money for the publisher Activision. The latest installment, which just came out this month, seems like a good time to scratch the surface of this series, which has now become a sales juggernaut employing half a dozen development studios.

Sit back, grab some Doritos and Mountain Dew as we hit the target and take a look at the 17-year history of Call of Duty, from the first game released in 2003 to this year’s Black Ops Cold War.

Call of Duty (2003)

The early 2000s were exciting times for military-themed shooters, especially WWII variations. Electronic Arts shot at all cylinders in the Battlefield and Medal of Honor series, and in 2002 set the bar for the genre in the single-player and multiplayer modes of Battlefield 1942 and MoH: Allied Assault.

The latter, as it turned out, was also the genesis of Call of Duty. Developed by Infinity Ward, a fledgling studio led by Vince Zampella, Grant Collier and Jason West, all of whom previously worked on MoH: AA, work began on what is arguably the spiritual successor to Allied Assault.

By today’s standards, the gameplay is a bit rough, but Call of Duty’s intense, thrilling combat and often witty dialogue complemented the WWII scenery perfectly. These attributes would eventually become an integral part of the franchise. The Call of Duty campaign wasted no time shooting, crouching, and shooting by the player through various events in the US, British, and Soviet theater, with its dependable rifle, submachine gun, or panzerfaust as it gets hairy.

The radio beacon activated just minutes after the campaign started, and all around you can hear sirens, gunshots, explosions and adrenaline

Call of Duty also introduced the – quite subtly – the infamous time-traveling hero Captain John Price on an insidious warship mission where he also meets his fate after being overwhelmed by Axis forces. Captain Price has obviously been resurrected in a few future installments of the game, and was last seen “darkening” in Modern Warfare in 2019. The game’s multiplayer, though in its infancy, had over a dozen maps with players battling in Team Deathmatch, Headquarters, and a few other modes.

Undeniably a hit in 2003, Call of Duty development studio Infinity Ward was acquired by Activision the same year as the publisher was looking forward to establishing a solid competitor to military-themed shooters such as Counter Strike, Battlefield and Medal of Honor as others like Halo and Far Cry.

Note: Call of Duty: United Offensive is an expansion pack that was released in September 2004, which included several new campaign levels, multiplayer maps, and an assortment of WWII weapons and vehicles. Two months later, the first console version of the game appeared with Call of Duty: Finest Hour.

Call of Duty 2 (2005)

In addition to the graphics and audio enhancements, the launch of Call of Duty 2 along with the Xbox 360 was a sign of what was to come, as the series eventually became more popular and console-focused than it was on the PC. Health regen was also implemented, meaning players no longer needed to search for health kits to replenish their health and could just crouch or lie behind a sandbag for a while before attacking this MG42 killer shooter again.

Cuts were rare in the early Call of Duty games that relied on journals to get an authentic, direct account of the events. They also served well as loading screens.

This time, the campaign began on the Soviet front, where biting cold and potatoes accompany the player during basic training with weapons. From close-quarters combat in the war-torn streets of Stalingrad to battles in sandy trenches and tanks in Egypt’s El-Alamein, North Africa, Call of Duty 2 also featured D-Day’s historic invasion of Normandy and another reincarnation of Capt. Price.

The multiplayer game offering was solid as well. Shooting from rooftops in the Tunisian city of Toujane with Mosin-Nagant or Lee-Enfield is just as gratifying today as it was in 2005. Also, with no killstreaks to aid players in battle, we focused solely on placing the enemy in the crosshair at the right time. What happened next depended entirely on who first pulled the trigger.

It’s worth noting: Treyarch made his first franchise debut with Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. It was an exclusive console, as was the studio’s next game: Call of Duty 3.

Call of Duty 3 (2006)

Like the previous two games, the third part also focused on the events of World War II, but this time the campaign told the stories of the Canadian and Polish armies, as well as American, British and French forces. The game only just arrived on consoles and brought with it a new class loading system for multiplayer, a feature that PC players won’t be able to experience until next year in the fourth and arguably most significant installment of the game.

The charging system based on the Call of Duty 3 classes will appear in many future versions

With three more titles and a few expansions based on the events of World War II, it’s high time for the franchise to try something bold and new, especially as its main rival to EA has ventured far into the future with Battlefield 2142.

As it turned out, Call of Duty found the perfect foothold in the present.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2007)

It’s been an amazing year for story-driven and multiplayer first-person shooters. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s fresh take on a global conflict with a strong storyline, slick presentation and engaging gameplay that is second to none other heavyweights released this year, including Medal of Honor: Airborne, CrossFire, Halo 3, BioShock, Team Fortress 2, Portal and Crisis.

Running on the id Tech-based IW 3.0 engine, Modern Warfare featured a number of visual and gameplay improvements. In addition to thoroughly redesigning the menu and interface, players were now able to slice watermelons as well, and some surfaces, such as wood and sheet metal, were pierced by bullets.

The star of the series was the single-player campaign that portrayed the riots on a global scale, especially Russia, the Middle East and the mood of Captain Price when he discovered that his next SAS recruit was called Soap. Nevertheless, it quickly turned out that our shooting skills were good for embarking on a risky freighter mission in very bad weather.

The loading screens now had neat mission summaries and a good dose of tactical callsigns

In addition to Soap MacTavish and John Price, the Modern Warfare campaign has provided unforgettable characters such as Gaz, Nikolai and Griggs who accompany the player in climatic, linear game scenarios where tanks have to blow up with Javelins and an AC-130 helicopter is summoned to the air Help. For many, this intensity peaked with Captain McMillan on the infamous All In Ghillied Up flashback mission, even if the campaign itself ended in a pretty cliffhive.

The game’s multiplayer has taken its own path, enhancing the class loading feature introduced previously with the addition of a new perk system. The icing on the cake, however, was the maps that allowed players to take full advantage of their arsenal and unique playstyle. Backlot, Crash, Crossfire, and Overgrown provided a good mix of open / semi-open environments to master snipers, assault rifles and ahem, camping, while Killhouse and Shipment favored medium / short range weapons.

With a solid foundation, Modern Warfare was poised to release its next blockbuster sequel, but not before Treyarch once again took part in World War II with World at War in 2008, creating his own series, “Black Ops.

Note: Call of Duty: Roads to Victory, the WW2 spin-off was also released this year on Sony’s PlayStation Portable. Modern Warfare received a remaster in 2016, and the series was rebooted in 2019.

Call of Duty: World at War (2008)

Narrative wasn’t just Infinity Ward’s forte, as Treyarch proved with his boldest approach to World War II, this time focusing on the Pacific and Eastern Front.

The campaign began in ambushed jungles in the Pacific islands where US Marines faced the Imperial Japanese Army. While the flamethrower finally arrives to lighten the situation, players initially need to eliminate camouflaged snipers sitting on top of tall trees and bayonet enemies charging at full speed. Meanwhile, on the Eastern Front, Viktor Reznov of the Red Army turned out to be another memorable character for the series to appear in (almost) every future Black Ops installment.

Dmitri becomes a true companion following Reznov’s orders throughout most of the campaign

In the multiplayer game, World at War, Treyarch introduced a different progression system to Modern Warfare from 2007, carrying over most of the traditional game modes. However, his most notable contribution was the addition of the 4-player Nazi Zombies mode, which became an instant hit and gained a devoted fan base.

Moreover, Treyarch introduced the co-op mode for the first time in every Call of Duty, including the single-player campaign, which now allows players to experience these action-packed missions together with a friend. For many players, World at War stands out as the best game in the entire series, while others are forever convinced of what came out the following year.

Note: Call of Duty: World at War – Final Fronts, developed by Rebellion studio, appeared at the same time as World of War, but was only released on PlayStation 2 and had a separate story from the main part.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

High expectations were related to Modern Warfare 2, the first CoD game that directly carries over elements of the plot from the previous title. As the story thickened with the introduction of Gen. Shepherd, Makarov and several other characters, players were given a variety of missions in new locations, including the controversial “No Russian.’

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