Has Call Of Duty finally run out of steam?
This week brought the inevitable announcement of a new Call Of Duty title heading for release in November.
Up until this point all that was known for sure on this year's entry is that Sledgehammer Games are at the helm for the first time and the development has focused on the next-gen consoles.
With a fresh face at the helm for the first time since the lamentable Call Of Duty 3 rumours were abount as to what Sledgehammer were doing with the title. Earlier this week suggestions surface pointing to the game being called Call Of Duty: Patriots with the setting being an alternate verison of the First World War.
Could they finally be taking risks with the franchise to push out in new directions? It's a question well worth answering and folks were right to hope for something new.
Then, yesterday, the pre-announcement announcement came along proclaiming a "new era" in Call Of Duty was upon us. A teaser redirect site ensheathing the Call Of Duty official website with a countdown timer ticking down to Sunday (May 4th).
And there was a new teaser video. This video spoke of PMCs and asking what would be if these independent military organisations became the next dominant military superpower.
Today, Activision released the first trailer for Sledgehammer's new game built entirely of gameplay from the Xbox One and accompanied by a monologue from the man that seems to be the game's chief enemy, voiced by Kevin Spacey.
Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare is set in a near-future world where PMCs are the dominant military force. Any faint hope for something new from the Call Of Duty series was crushed.
The trailer showed plenty of visual promise. There were ample big set-pieces and huge explosions that provide that kind of vapid Michael Bay-style of entertainment that the single player mode has developed since Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare first appeared.
There were cool new toys like climbing gloves clearly borrowed from Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, quadruped tanks borrowed from Ghost In The Shell's TV series Stand Alone Complex and soldiers using powered exo-skeletons bearing the name Atlas (sound familiar Titanfall fans?).
Yes, this was all very cool but, there was nothing truly new to get excited about because these toys were all wrapped up in the same old scripted-looking Call Of Duty bow that seems to become more of a multi-million dollar development shackles these days than the wonderful new FPS playground that it was back in the days of its inception.
We haven't had more details as yet and Sunday seems to be the time that Activision has chosen to allow Sledgehammer to explain their new game and make their case that it is truly a new era for or not.
What we've seen so far does not bode well though. Hideo Kojima has already heavily mined the problems associated with growing power of PMCs very eloquently in the Metal Gear Solid series and Ghost Recon has given us a taste of technologically enhanced soldiers in a near-future setting coupled with the narrative depth of a Tom Clancy story which the Call Of Duty series has struggled to match.
This isn't even really new ground for Call Of Duty. The Black Ops series brought us to a near future to play with all kinds of new toys from wingsuits to drones to motion-sensing gun scopes in Black Ops II. It may not have touched on the PMC angle in any great depth but as I've said already, others have explored it and done a fine job in the process.
It's very hard, in the face of this new trailer for experience FPS fans to see this as any more than Call Of Duty doing what Call Of Duty does best without straying too far off the reservation.
Titanfall's arrival and success in March has already proven that gamers are ready for new multiplayer experiences and with Evolve and Destiny coming in the autumn, both of which offer more truly new next-gen multiplayer experiences beyond the team deathmatch template that Call Of Duty has been flogging for most of the last generation surely it would make sense for Activision to take a risk and allow one of their three Call Of Duty studios to really explore new avenues for the venerable FPS series?
The answer to that seems like a firm "no" and with the slide that Call Of Duty: Ghosts saw last year it looks like what was a leader may now fall further behind the young guns like Titanfall and Destiny and even Battlefield if they continue to refuse to explore new avenues.
In the meantime, the series that originally pioneered multiplayer FPS gameplay has relinquished its crown to much more adventurous titles.