The Call of Duty franchise is one of the biggest names in the video game industry, with a near-annual release schedule of titles that are almost always guaranteed to be among the year’s biggest releases – particularly thanks to the enduring strength of its ubiquitous multiplayer component. But to many gamers and gaming-biz watchers, the series has become symbolic of stagnation and obligatory sequels, frequently criticized for only minor innovations between installments and reliance on formula.

Now, a new report from Games Radar reveals that the series almost took its most radical turn ever – a proposed installment set in the world of Ancient Rome.

The exhaustive chronicle by GR’s Leon Hurley details how Activision, in 2008, begun accepting pitches for extreme reworkings of the increasingly similar Call of Duty formula, with a goal of finding a new direction to send the series under a new development team. One such pitch came from Vicarious Visions, who proposed a massive franchise overhaul that would have not only changed the setting but also the gameplay and narrative approach familiar to fans of the series.

Bearing the tentative title of “Call of Duty: Roman Wars,” Vicarious Visions’ pitch would’ve placed players in Julius Caesar’s Tenth Legion utilizing a third-person gameplay perspective similar to Gears of War, with the series’ traditional first-person view reserved for specific sequences like a brawl in The Colosseum. The game would have featured weapons combat, horseback riding, open-field combat and even missions involving war-elephants, with players even taking control of Caesar himself at key points.

Check out the video report below:

Speaking anonymously to Games Radar for the report, a source asking to be identified as Polemus went into greater detail:

“You were going to fight against the Germans and the Germanic Tribes and really stay true to the history of Julius’ conquests during the Gallic Wars. You were going to jump around from officers to low grunts to Caesar and get a little variety of all of those little battles, so you’d play an archer here, you’d play a cavalry over in this phase. And it was going to stay true to the Call of Duty franchise in that jumping around, playing those different characters and getting a whole feel of the overall battle during those times.”

Ultimately, Activision chose to follow a more traditional path with the Advanced Warfare series, which retained the series’ familiar military-FPS trappings but moved the narrative to a futuristic setting. However, the Xbox One later featured a Roman warfare-themed title, Ryse, from a different developer, which many critics at the time compared (usually unfavorably) to a Roman Call of Duty. It is unclear whether Activision has since closed the book on the possibility of other historical spin-offs in the future.

Source: Games Radar