The apparent exodus of top-level talent at Naughty Dog is continuing. Having lost the creative head of Uncharted, the game director of Uncharted and the art director of The Last of Us, two more leads from The Last of Us have left Naughty Dog.
The lead game designer and narrative lead for The Last of Us have both left the employ of Sony’s flagship studio and moved onto one of Activision’s premiere studios, Infinity Ward, to start work on 2016’s Call of Duty.
Former military dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega, is the type of person you’d expect to be used as a basis for a Call of Duty villain but his turn as a character in Call of Duty: Black Ops II hit a little close to home for him. Noriega is suing Activision over using his name and likeness in the popular game series.
Activision has announced a major change to how they make their trademark Call of Duty franchise starting with this year’s edition of CoD. Starting with this fall’s release of Call of Duty, all games will be made on a three-year development cycle. To keep the games coming out annually, Activision has announced that Sledgehammer Games will join Infinity Ward and Treyarch as developers.
If there’s a franchise that’s used as a metaphor for everything that people see as wrong with gaming today, it’s Call of Duty. People are using racial, ethnic, homophobic and misogynistic slurs online? Damn CoD kids. Effectively recycling last year’s game for a big profit this year? Old CoD trick. The death of the single-player campaign at the expense of getting everyone into and spending money on multiplayer? You better believe that’s a CoD’ing.
So with the release of the transitional Call of Duty: Ghosts on current generation consoles yesterday, one had to wonder if the reviews would be a referendum on the franchise as a whole.
The answer is that I’m not entirely sure. I’ve never played a CoD game so I won’t be able to tell you how Ghosts this stacks up. (Sorry, I’m just not a big FPS fan.) Many reviewers noted that this was remarkably similar to Infinity Ward’s last effort, CoD: Modern Warfare 3, and marked it down as a result. Others noted that but gave it a high mark because it was still fun. So if you loved MW3, there’s nothing to turn you off here.
When we last checked up on the state of next-gen gaming, we found out that PS4 exclusive Killzone: Shadow Fall would be a 50 GB digital download. Now, we have some of the minimum specs for the PC versions of some next-gen games. If you use a slightly dated laptop as your main PC gaming rig, you’re definitely in need of a major upgrade.
Recently, we’ve seen the official announcement of minimum and recommended specs for three major triple-A releases this fall and they’re not going to go easy on your rig.
The most successful video game on the market right now is the Call of Duty series. Say what you will about the game’s lack of innovation and utter disregard for the single-player campaign, this is the most commercially successful game on the market. The last couple of years have seen gross sales of over $1 billion and units sold well in excess of 10 million.
As such, you could understand why everybody is looking to CoD for cues for their upcoming efforts. Just look at the new all-brown colour palette and gritty art style of Dead Rising 3 and EA turning Battlefield into an annual franchise. The thing is that Call of Duty’s success isn’t about how it looks or how often it comes out. It may come as a shock but there’s a simple but largely undiscovered formula that makes CoD a massive success.