Call of Duty… by just saying this title out loud Activision will have made 60 dollars. How many dollar signs does a company need to help change a game and push it to new heights. Activision has taken the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it route”, and just like the titles before it (Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero) eventually it will break down. Activision is treating its properties and those working on the game like a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic, trying to see how many miles it can get out of them without taking the car in for maintenance.
In 2007 when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out no one saw a multiplayer game quite like the class based shooter and Prestige system. It was a brand new element for the online component in multiplayer gaming. The idea of taking some elements of a RPG and throwing them into a FPS was brilliant.
On top of that once players achieved the level cap, they were able to reset the system and start all over again. This expanded the players interest in the game and thus the Prestige system was born. You were able to Prestige a total of 10 different times in the original Modern Warfare. Those who did manage to tackle all 10 prestige levels bear the Golden Cross and got to show it off to the lobby.
Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 has come and gone with no real revolution for the franchise. Including the original Modern Warfare title, the Prestige system has been recycled 6 times. In total, if you were to prestige in all COD 6 games your prestige total would be 86, this is counting both the expanded prestiges in MW3 and the master prestige in Black Ops 2. Should Call of Duty break 100 on the next go around? How many times do gamers need to prestige in order to see this is the same as the last time?
The prestige system is in fact pointless to some gamers. Other than unlocking class slots, a couple of emblems and titles for your call sign going to the next prestige level is well redundant. In fact, the only real enjoyment out of the system is that it takes all of the guns you unlocked away. Which instead of taking a step forward, it takes you all the way back to level one with a tiny logo that doesn’t do jack for you except show everyone in the lobby you play this game too much. Perhaps if the system challenged you and gave you more of an incentive to play this might be a better evolution for the game. For instance, if you were to prestige and the game gave you the option to play with a gun you never used to level up faster. This might be a way to fix the system.
Yet the fact that the developers have just let it be is rather concerning to the franchise and to hardcore gamers alike, it should be something the entire gaming industry puts a microscope under. Because in the last 4 years, Call of Duty was the biggest entertainment launch in history. How many gamers need to play the same game every year in a row? Even though some of the Single Player stories are a blast to play through, everyone that pops the disc in almost immediately jumps onto multiplayer to become a 10th Prestige. Is Call of Duty some sort of drug for gamers, is it Crack or something worse?
The fact that the next-gen consoles are getting ready to shoot out the pipeline by the end of the year should give Activision some incentive to tell its dev teams to change the game up. In fact, Battlefield has taken quite a few gamers away from the COD franchise, myself included. Even games that took some thunder from both titles are getting ready to gear up as well, including Homefront 2 and Rainbow Six: Patriots(not this year). Seriously if these games don’t have an E3 showing forget about them.
Call of Duty was one of the reasons, that brought me back into gaming and to see it become what it is, well its like raising a child to become a meth addict. If anything, Activision’s vision has been to get a great game and totally run it into the ground with the repetitive titles that don’t age very well. Well at least Activision it isn’t driving a 2002 Ford Focus like the one THQ drove, too soon?