Infinity Ward have had a bit of a storied past, as the original team that introduced the world to Call of Duty and who have created a bunch of games in the series since then. Call of Duty really took the world of gaming by storm by bringing a fast-paced style of gameplay to the realm of the World War II first person shooters. It’s hard to believe that is ten years ago now and nine major releases, with a tenth on its way this year, Infinity Ward responsible for five of them, with the next one being the sixth. Yet that is where we are and it just shows how far the Call of Duty games have come in those ten years. It went from just another PC WWII shooter to one of the best-selling series of all time in gaming.
This year’s release will mark a new sort of landmark for Infinity Ward, though, as you could even argue that their last release, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, was not like their other releases. Modern Warfare 3 was when the literal shit hit the fan at Infinity Ward and the studio saw a major overhaul from now-owner Activision. Infinity Ward was responsible making Activision so much money, but in the end, what Activision wanted Activision got and pressures tore apart the team that brought Call of Duty to life in the first place. It was a scramble to keep what was left of the team together and to bring in other studios to help finish Modern Warfare 3 and it showed.
The game lacked the same laser-focus that we saw from past Infinity Ward games and even lacked some of the polish that was expected from the Treyarch games. Fans of the series had long-felt that Infinity Ward were the superior developer, but the release of Black Ops and the follow-up of Black Ops II has skewed opinion towards Treyarch and left Infinity Ward a bit out in the cold. It is hard to blame gamers, though, as Black Ops and Black Ops II were far better, more complete games when compared to Modern Warfare 3 and led to the complete overhaul of Infinity Ward. Some would even argue that it is an entirely new studio now, just with the same name.
In a way, this leaves Infinity Ward with a rather unique opportunity with the release of the upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts. They’ve shed behind past key members of the team and thusly, they’ve left behind the Modern Warfare series which helped to turn the Call of Duty series from a hit to a sensation. The gravity of being a Call of Duty game is still there, but for a new team there is a new sub-series for them to create, craft and to make their own.
They will be up against stiff competition from DICE’s Battlefield 4, as the team at DICE is united and ready to provide a new Battlefield experience that has a lot of promise to fans. But one has to wonder if that will just push the team at Infinity Ward to make their next Call of Duty game even better and to break new ground, much like we saw in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The series absolutely needs that kind of overhaul and new imagination put into it, not only to thrive, but to survive.