With the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare beta opening today, the franchise has kicked up a lot of chatter. Last month, fans were finally introduced to Kit Harrington's bad guy, who is the leader of the Settlement Defense Force vying to destroy the Earth in favor of Martian dominance. The story line reads more like The Expanse than any previous versions of Call of Duty. Could this futuristic game be the last before the series heads back into more familiar territory?
Call of Duty publisher, Activision, has 3 independent developers that work on the CoD franchise. 2015's Black Ops III was under Treyarch; Infinite Warfare, out November 2016, is under Infinity Ward; and the 2017 game will be from Sledgehammer Games. Three devs may seem like a lot, but with each game on a three-year development cycle, it's Activision's way of making sure there's always something in the pipeline.
Recently, IGN teased that next year's Call of Duty release could be set during the Vietnam War. If the concept sounds familiar, that's because Sledgehammer had been working on something similar back in 2014 called Call of Duty: Fog of War. The project was eventually scrapped and Sledgehammer produced Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare instead. In an interview with IGN a few years ago, Michael Condrey of Sledgehammer Games once dubbed their third person shooter, Vietnam War game as, "Call of Duty with the play style of Uncharted."
Problems at Infinity Ward threatened delays for their Modern Warfare 3 game and Sledgehammer stepped in to assist. Despite having dropped their idea in order to stay on schedule, Condrey has always believed that Fog of War was never truly dead, saying:
“In our hearts, there’s probably a place for that game. You never want to say in absolute terms that you wouldn’t go back to it."
Could 2017 be that chance for Sledgehammer Games? If they can go back and update the game they'd put together a few years ago, it's entirely possible that Call of Duty could be making a return to earlier games in the franchise. If the rumor proves true, inevitable comparisons to Battlefield I going back in time to World War I are sure to be drawn. But if Sledgehammer put the time and resources into Fog of War so long ago, now is as good a time as any to capitalize on it.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare hits PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 4, 2016. There is no date yet for the next game in the Call of Duty franchise.