Is Sledgehammer Games a Bad Call of Duty Developer?
Truly, Sledgehammer Games, the development house behind Advanced Warfare and WWII, both part of the Call of Duty franchise, are a competent studio for fishing out some good looking and fun titles, but this isn’t an innovational studio development house, not by a long shot.
Activision, the head honcho and publishing house for the Call of Duty franchise, first hired Sledgehammer Games to help co-develop the third Modern Warfare series instalment, a game titled MW3, and due to creative choosing and clever IP remodelling, hired Sledgehammer Games yet again (*this time around, solo) to be the first development house in the Call of Duty franchise to create a full blown futuristic title, borrowing similar gameplay mechanics from Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall (*starter FPS multiplayer series), titled Advanced Warfare.
In early November, 2014, Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare launched, and it had to have been a hard sell; as the launch trailer for Advanced Warfare was one of the most down-voted video-game trailers of all time (*dislikes in the millions), and Call of Duty gamers simply never got around to buying the game, which blows retail analysts minds, because the game was actually a best-seller title, and gamers for the better part enjoyed the fresh new gameplay mechanics, despite popular negativity over on the internet.
The issue, however, is one that cannot be so easily mended, as it comes to a wide number of open minded opinions in that Sledgehammer Games simply isn’t an iconic franchise continuer, but rather instead a franchise dweller, lurking in the shadows of the overbearing Call of Duty franchise logo. Advanced Warfare was a good game, but what struck a nerve for many, was the pure lacking in Call of Duty persona and identity within the title.
Past Advanced a Warfare, the arguably good (*but not) Call of Duty game, we see Sledgehammer Games take their hand to a more iconic Call of a Duty franchise time-era, that of course being World War 2, and to prevent any confusion for as to where the game will take place, the 2017 SG Call of Duty game is titled Call of Duty: WWII, taking away personality and character, instead replacing it with a movie-standardised copy and paste format.
Sledgehammer Games is a Brilliant Video-Game Developer, But the Lacking in Franchise Sub-Series Starters is of Great Concern, and Leaves An Unanswered Question: Is Sledgehammer Games a Bad COD Developer, Despite Their Ability to Make Fun and Engaging Games?
Advanced Warfare lacked personality, as “Warfare” is a strong Call of Duty associated word with Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare series, so the basic word usage alone could have been a problem. The futuristic game design, weaponry, and gameplay mechanics looked goofy, out of touch with reality, and a bore to consume for long periods of time (*something that has become a hallmark for Call of a Duty games).
The futuristic style of world created by Sledgehammer Games for Advanced Warfare was overzealous with new ideas and inspirations, but blended with the typical game engine, the game design simply didn’t appeal to online gamers in the same way that Black Ops 2 and Modern Warfare 2 did, for instance. The gameplay in Advanced Warfare felt a little like Halo 3, which gives a strong sense that the development house grew up playing the Halo franchise, but this falls into the problematic column, as the Call of a Duty franchise is the enemy of Halo’s past existence.
A successful multiplayer title has to wow gamers from launch day, as otherwise the game will die down in buzz real fast, and WWII Online was a certain buzz-killer from day one, having a dodgy looking main menu, poorly finished HeadQuarters social space, and the multiplayer game modes offered little in terms of never before seen content. War is all new, and unique to WWII Online, but the mode is riddled with minor issues here and there, which has essentially led to discredit for the newest original innovation to the leading FPS franchise.
The BETA rolled out late October last year, showing the multiplayer in all of its glory, and it all seemed great, but because of a ridiculous number of updated changes to gameplay systems, weapon balances, and the rest, the WWII multiplayer mode has lost its magical touch, and still feels broken, as it may always be.
Plus, all creditability goes down the pan when a multiplayer title has no series potential, as despite Treyarch’s similarly World War 2 set World at War title not ever actually releasing a second instalment for the WaW game (*launched back in 2008), there is no doubt in that it had series potential, and what kept the game alive at the time of its release was the edgy opinion that we might get a World at War 2, as if there is anything multiplayer based gamers enjoy, its the continuation of the series they have become accustomed to playing.
2017’s Call of Duty: WWII, as enjoyable and as appealing the game might be for the time being, it has no heavy topic of discussion for future titles basically using WWII as a foundation for something newer and something greater, as WWII Online in less than a years time will be a dead game with very little reason to ever return. A game born to die is a game that will be forever forgotten, and this serves very little purpose for an already struggling FPS franchise, given that Call of Duty survives off of its classic sub-series continuations, and as of now, all hopes leans on the Black Ops series.
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Hand the tools of a thriving Call of Duty franchise to newcomer development houses, such as Sledgehammer Games, and what the studio delivers is amusement and entertainment. But, that isn’t the key to a next level games development, as expectations dip considerably when the game developed is hard to take seriously, and to say World at War was Call of Duty makes a whole lot of sense, but to say WWII is that same well-delivered Call of Duty title is like cheese to a hammer.
Advanced Warfare was a PR disaster, failing to bring in new audiences to the franchise, and was the first of 3 bad futuristic titles in the Call of Duty franchise, and to even out the losses, Sledgehammer Games returns 3 years later with yet another title (*boots on the ground, futuristic - it doesn’t matter), WWII, stomping all over the roots of the Call of a Duty franchise, with a halfway descent single player campaign, a zombies mode that is lacklustre, and a multiplayer mode that has to be updated near daily just to keep the player-base at a stable rate.
The return to World War 2 is not a shock sales booster, as Battlefield 1, a title that released under DICE in 2017, more or less gave us the details we needed to assume that Call of Duty 2017 would be returning to its roots, and sure enough, the fan base got what they were asking for with Call of Duty: WWII, not to put too finer point on it. First mistake, as Treyarch was the legendary developer behind the last WW2 title, World at War, and WWII Online is a tragedy in comparison. 2008’s World at War had a gritty story campaign, a campaign that was replay-able due to the co-op option, and fun quirks like the paintball mode. Not to mention, Nazi Zombies all began in World at War, with a similar feel and emotional set-up to the campaign and multiplayer, except this time around we’re fighting the undead simply to stay alive. World at War’s multiplayer was the best yet, providing much greater scopes in map sizes, fun hideout spots like the bell tower, and the largest maps even included drivable tanks.
WWII Online is a simple copy and paste, forgetting about innovation and replay-ability on all fronts, as the multiplayer is only average for the great and almighty Call of Duty franchise, which still stands as the games big selling point. As for Nazi Zombies, the experience is only just above Infinite Warfare’s trash of a zombies mode, and the single player has precisely no co-op mode, and for that reason alone, there are precisely zero reasons to go beyond the first play-through of the single player campaign mode. WWII Online may be the most over-glorified mess we have seen so far in the Call of Duty franchise, and the single player experience sucks, thoroughly, from front to back.
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