Modern Warfare 3 is on the horizon, meaning we’re in the middle of an age-old Call of Duty phenomenon: details are appearing in droves every week, leaks from “trustworthy sources” abound, and hype is soaring to new heights.
Every year, a new feature gets the fanbase riled up. This time around, it’s the return of all 16 Modern Warfare 2 (2009) Multiplayer maps, the reintroduction of Slide Canceling, the YY animation, and Sledgehammer Games’ decision to put red dots back on the minimap. In the past, it was the introduction of jetpacks and Specialists, the removal of jetpacks and Specialists, two different Battle Royale systems, or a whole new Gunsmith.
Each new entry in the franchise offers something to get excited about. Like an annual Holiday, there’s something fans are desperate to love. Yet, each year, there always seems to be dissatisfaction around the new games. The roar of social media gets loud, and negativity rises to the top like clockwork. People who aren’t happy call out those who still enjoy it and insist they must be corporate shills. The idea someone could love the latest games has become a foreign concept. “We want the old CoD back,” they cry.
Having already released 16 annual additions, Call of Duty remains at the top of the gaming charts and continues to sell at an impressive rate. This is a testament to the unwavering loyalty of fans who never lose faith in the franchise’s ability to deliver. As an avid player, I hold onto the hope that the game will regain its industry-leading position each year. I willingly invest my hard-earned money into this iconic title out of a deep and genuine love for it. This cycle of perpetual hope and eternal optimism reminds me of the human spirit. We are indomitable in our passion and cherish what we love with scorching intensity.
A Call of Duty Love Story
I was 13 years old back in 2009. Modern Warfare 2 came along right as I discovered the unending joys of online gaming, and it sank those gorgeous, gleaming claws right into my cerebellum. I remember those first mindless explorations of Sub Base, Derail, and Invasion getting repeatedly interrupted by embarrassing killcams. I promise I did my best to shoot back, but the results were brutal. I was playing on a friend’s Xbox 360, and I did so poorly that he eventually kicked me off so I wouldn’t catastrophize his precious K/D.
I daydreamed about the maps on the walk back to my family’s apartment and pondered how I would ever convince my mom to spend $60 on a new game (and another $20 on Xbox Live). Still, she found a way, and over the next four years, my life began to revolve around Call of Duty. It started with YouTube commentary videos and montages – creators like SeaNanners, Hutch, and Big OpTic H3CZ were constantly on my laptop screen. Before I knew it, I was off on an adventure that still hasn’t ended.
Their content offered me a way to improve, a cure for that constant itch to play, and endless entertainment on boring, lonely nights. I vividly remember hearing the soulful notes of Chicago rapper Matlock’s ‘Brand New Nikes’ for the first time when H3CZ used it over a Free-For-All Daytage. It was explosive, offensive, and dated even for the time, but the marriage of music and gameplay put into action what I couldn’t describe back then: games are an art form – they’re meant to leave an impression on us. Those memories are at the core of my being. Thirteen years later, they are as precious to me now as they were then.
Content warning: strong language, not suitable for all ages
My love only grew over the years. I became obsessed with the competitive scene and wanted to be a pro player more than anything else. That never panned out, but it put me on the path to make it here, writing to you about the game that means more to me than any other in the world.
If not for that era – what many consider the Golden Age of Call of Duty – I’d be floating out in the world, looking for something to ground me. If not for GoldGlove, Predator, TryHardNinja, the Machinima Respawn crew, and many others, my life would be far less complete now.
Call of Duty’s Bright Future
My story isn’t the only one. Each new generation of the game spawned new fans. Whether their first game was Call of Duty 4, Black Ops Cold War, or somewhere in between, I’m sure it holds a special place in their hearts. Even the doomsayers’ frustration began as love.
Dogpiling the current game is the foremost trend in Call of Duty and almost always has been, but a more subtle effect happens in the months after a new entry is released. The vocal protestors get drowned out by the voices that loved the previous entry. I am guilty of this as well. Some of it can be attributed to many launch-era problems being long forgotten by the end of the cycle, but sentimentality often radiates from the community.
Although Vanguard received criticism for its subpar map design and wonky spawn system, I often reminisce about the thrilling gameplay of that title. The weapon balance was excellent, the operator design struck a perfect harmony between being weighty and fleet-footed, and the sound effects were some of the most satisfying in Call of Duty history.
Those successes keep me around. They give me hope. I know Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games, and Infinity Ward still have gas in the tank. These developers redefined the FPS genre before, and they can do it again. CoD’s studios are often criticized for treading on nostalgia, and that certainly won’t get better this go around, considering the remastered map situation. Still, those maps hooked one generation, and they just might reel in a second one.
The franchise isn’t perfect. The community around it, just like ‘Brand New Nikes,’ can be overwhelming and offensive. But it can also be so much more than that. It can be the adoring fans of the Call of Duty League, the regular supporters of the Call of Duty Endowment program, and the fresh-faced sixteen-year-olds that are staying up all night on release, watching their favorite creators, and continuing one of the most beautiful cycles in all of gaming. Call of Duty is hard to love from the outside, but for those who brave its depths, I sincerely hope your dedication pays off. Regardless, I hope to see you out there.