Call of Duty is one of the most popular franchises in gaming. Every year they come out with a new game, and every year people buy it. Sometimes they hype is outstanding – like the recent WWII release – and sometimes audiences aren’t too excited. Nevertheless, CoD has an audience that doesn’t seem to mind when it rattles the cages of gamers and the general public.
CoD has pushed the barriers of what’s acceptable multiple times in the past. There has been some outrage from the public for some of their scenes and missions, but this publicity only served to fuel sales. Controversial content can be a fantastic marketing element for games. All you have to do is look at Grand Theft Auto to know that media outrage will only make gamers love the game more.
While CoD has gone “too far” with their content in some ways, it never disappointed their fan base. There are other ways they went “too far” with as well, and these didn’t sit right with the gaming public.
Ahead, we’ll take a look at how CoD pushed their luck when it came to in-game content and the gaming experience. Fans might not have cared that the game was too violent, but they certainly took notice when Call of Duty started adding elements with which they disagreed.
Here are 15 Times Call Of Duty Games Went Way Too Far.
15. Black Ops 3 Pay to Win
Gamers are extremely sensitive when it comes to “pay to win” in their AAA games. If a game costs $60, it shouldn’t be a requirement that you pay more money if you want to compete at a high level. Take a look at the Star Wars: Battlefront II outrage if you need proof of how gamers feel about “pay to win.”
Some fans completely hate the idea of micro-transactions altogether, but most can handle them when they’re relegated to cosmetics. As soon as they make the jump to game-impacting elements like weapons, they step over the line. This is exactly what CoD did in Black Ops 3. They added weapons that you could only get in loot boxes, and for many fans, it was a step too far.
14. “F” to Pay Respects
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare received mostly positive reviews, but many gamers didn’t love the multiplayer experience. This was the game that kicked-off the biggest departures from the typical Call of Duty formula we’ve seen. Instead of “boots on the ground,” we got double jumping, mechs, and laser cannons.
The best thing to come out of this game – even if you liked it – was the meme of the year for 2014. The “F (or X) to pay respects” meme still has legs, and you’ll see it in Twitch chats to this day. It took place in the opening scene of the second mission, where the main character goes to his friend’s funeral. You pressed X on PlayStation and F on PC to place a hand on the coffin.
13. World War II Censorship
When it was revealed that CoD: World War II wouldn’t include the most notorious of Nazi imagery, many gamers and critics were scratching their heads. Why would they create a game that was supposed to be authentic and take out one of the hallmarks of fighting Nazis?
Some people even took issue with the fact that you could be a black character fighting as a German soldier. This argument, while factually accurate, doesn’t have much bearing on the game. In multiplayer, you play as the Nazis about half of the time, so you should be able to have your character look the way you want in any instance.
The lack of swastikas, though, made it look like CoD was pandering to the current hypersensitive era. They didn’t want to offend people and ended up offending those who wanted their game to deal with the uncomfortable reality of World War II.
12. Copying What’s Popular
Ever since the days of Black Ops and Black Ops 2, CoD seems to be focusing less on its own innovations and more on what’s trending in the gaming industry. Advanced Warfare might have been the first time the series took a page out of another game’s book, but they kept going from there.
Advanced Warfare released right on the heels of the popular game Titanfall, and incorporated a lot of the elements that made that game popular. Call of Duty kept expanding on the Titanfall idea, adding ultimate abilities that felt more at home in games like Destiny.
With World War II, CoD seems to have felt the tides of gaming yet again. Activison added a social space that’s a clear ripoff of Destiny’s Tower, and the “boots on the ground” seems to have been a reaction to the popularity of Battlefield 1.
11. The Pitiful Launch of WWII
Call of Duty has been making games for years. We’d think that at this point they’d be able to figure out how to handle a release. When WWII went live, players could log into a game for maybe an hour before the servers went down. They stayed down for almost the entire weekend, leaving most of the player base frustrated and angry.
The hype for World War II was massive, and while it disappointed in many ways, the player population was high at launch week. Apparently, as we learned, Call of Duty wasn’t prepared for the success of its already successful series.
The WWII release was pathetic. The game was unplayable for almost the whole weekend, and the newly-added headquarters didn’t work for weeks. Activison even had the stoned to add microtransactions to the game before they fixed headquarters.
10. Expensive DLCs
Downloadable content is nothing new, but Call of Duty is one of the franchises responsible for it. Now, gamers almost expect that 50% of their game will be locked behind a paywall after their initial $60 purchase.
Call of Duty isn’t as bad as games like Destiny, but adding paid DLC maps only serves to split the player base every time a new one is released. Every time a new map comes out, some people buy it and some don’t. That means that some of the players are playing a game mode on the new map while others are stuck on the old ones.
9. Adding Flames to Shotgun
Shotguns and snipers are two of the most rage-inducing guns in Call of Duty. For some reason, the developers thought, “You know what shotguns are missing? Fire.” Adding fire to shotguns has to be the worst gameplay decision the developers have made in years.
Now, instead of an automatic one-shot 90% of the time, there’s an added element of flames. If you survive the first shot and kill the annoying shotgun user, you’ll die immediately after from the flame damage. Shotguns were already the leading cause of smashed controllers across the country, but they’re even worse now that they have flames attached to them.
On top of that, flaming shotguns aren’t exactly spewing flames in the World War II era. They had invented flaming rounds, but nobody used them in a shotgun at that time. It seems like the developers thought they’d be overpowered in other guns, so they threw them into the shotgun class.
8. Angering PETA
Call of Duty has come a long way when you consider their efforts to offend people. Now, they’re going out of their way to ruffle as little feathers as possible. Back in Call of Duty’s glory days, though, they were offending people with nearly every release.
One of the first bits of controversy came over something seemingly innocuous. A group of dog-loving players took offense to one of the missions in World at War, where the player kills an army of attack dogs as they come after their character.
PETA even got involved in this controversy. They suggested that “the next Call of Duty game will have you unlock achievements for petting the dogs you encounter and going on walks or playing Frisbee with them.”
7. Fight Against Grenade Spam
The Fight Against Grenade Spam (F.A.G.S) was an attempt at humorous piece of marketing, honing-in on something that gamers truly hate about the CoD multiplayer experience. Getting hit with a random grenade from across the map is infuriating, and has inspired a long list of memes.
This attempt at being edgy utterly failed. Something like this wouldn’t fly in today’s climate. The Fight Against Grenade Spam promo probably didn’t hurt or help sales, but it was a transparent effort to make the game appeal to what the company assumed the “youths” liked.
The real question is: why? Why bother introducing such an offensive joke just to appeal to the player base that is already buying your game? This decision is indicative of a much larger problem with the franchise.
6. Flaming Deaths
It’s no surprise that M-rated shooter games are violent. Gamers usually don’t mind a fair amount of gore, and even find it comical and satisfying when done right. Games like Doom are famous for their bloody kills, which is one reason they’re so popular.
With World War II, Call of Duty seems to have added gore for shock value alone. There’s no reason for it, but they’ve been successful in the past; so why not? One of the primary ways we see this is in the multiplayer fire deaths.
From flamethrowers to the dreaded flaming shotgun, fire seems to be everywhere in World War II.
When someone dies by flames, you can hear them screaming in pain for about 20 seconds after they’ve already watched the “kill cam” and respawned.
5. Fidel Castro
It’s no secret that the US attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro multiple times during the Cold war. They employed a variety of tactics, including rigging a cigar to explode in his mouth. Although the US was unsuccessful in real life Call of Duty brought the assassination to gaming when they released the first Black Ops game.
Although most people in the US didn’t have a problem with the scene, the slow-motion headshot of Fidel Castro made some waves in Cuba. They weren’t too happy with the portrayal of their leader’s death and said that the game glorified the horrific attempts on Castro’s life at the hands of the US.
4. “Shock and Awe”
Call of Duty has never been scared to push the boundaries when it comes to the content of their games. One of the most beloved CoD games in history, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, received some criticism for the nuclear blast mission called “Shock and Awe.”
Part of the reason audiences love CoD is that the games can stun the player with certain missions. In this one, 30,000 US troops were killed, including the main character of the game. This mission highlighted the juxtaposition of the impersonal killing of modern warfare with the harsh reality on the ground.
For a few games after the “Shock and Awe” mission, Call of Duty looked like it was aiming to offend people. There was the infamous “No Russian” mission in Modern Warfare 2 (more on that ahead), and the sequel Modern Warfare 3 didn’t disappoint.
The first shocking detail is that we’re watching from the perspective of a father, whose daughter runs over to a truck, which promptly explodes. If that’s not enough, the scene carried extra weight in the wake of the real-life train bombings that killed 52 people in London.
2. “No Russian”
The “No Russian” mission in Modern Warfare 2 has been called the most controversial mission in the history of gaming. It made Grand Theft Auto look tame by putting you in the driver’s seat as you mow down an airport full of civilians.
The mission was controversial for obvious reasons. It’s not every day that you see a mainstream video game include a terrorist plot involving the game’s main character. There was a lot of outrage surrounding the mission, and Activision eventually added an option to skip it altogether.
In the Russian version of the game, the mission wasn’t even available. In Japan and Germany, the mission would restart if you took part in the massacre. This was back in the day when Call of Duty was in its prime, and while the mission was an interesting take on a false flag operation, it received understandable pushback.
1. Taking Advantage of Fans
Simply put, it doesn’t matter what fans want when it comes to Call of Duty. “Why is that?” you may ask. It’s because they know they’ll come back again and buy the new one next year.
Audiences dared to dream that World War II would take us back to the good old day of Call of Duty. What did we get? A game stripped of innovation that disregarded years of development in the name of “boots on the ground.”
Launch weekend was a complete disaster, with radio silence from their official Twitter account. Will anyone remember this or bring it up when the next CoD is on sale? Almost certainly not.
Call of Duty panders to casual players who only play games a few times a week. The company seeks only to make their money and churn out an unfinished game every November.
Are there any other times that Call of Duty games went too far? Let us know in the comments!
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