In order to revitalize the franchise, the Call of Duty series should return to its roots as a World War II shooter, as the future warfare angle already feels played out.
Before Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 was revealed to be yet another entry in the series set in the future, the leading rumor was that the game would actually be entitled World at War 2, set during World War II. Personally, I was excited at this prospect, as the once-stale setting of World War II has been all but abandoned by Call of Duty and the first-person shooter genre in general in recent years.
In fact, the last time that a Call of Duty game was entirely set in World War II was Treyarch's World at War, which released in 2008. Since then, the vast majority of first-person shooters have followed Call of Duty's example, abandoning historical backdrops in favor of fictional modern or future armed conflicts.
At this point, the future warfare setting just feels played out. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare managed to feel somewhat fresh thanks to its use of the Exo Suits, but Black Ops 3 just feels like a retread of those same beats. The future warfare setting is feeling as dull and overdone as World War II was a decade ago, and it's time for a change of pace.
Quite frankly, we're overdo for a high budget World War II shooter, especially one powered by new-gen hardware. It would be awesome to see some of World War II's most iconic scenes - such as the storming of the beaches during D-Day - in the full visual splendor that the new-gen hardware can provide. And with a strong push for virtual reality just over the horizon, video games (not just Call of Duty) could potentially take players to the most gripping and realistic depictions of World War II in entertainment history. If Activision absolutely refuses to take Call of Duty back to World War II, maybe Sony could step up and develop a PS4 exclusive World War II shooter that utilizes the PlayStation VR hardware.
And if not World War II, perhaps other historical armed conflicts could be explored by the Call of Duty franchise in future installments. One that comes to mind is the Vietnam War, which has rarely been touched upon in the gaming industry, though it appeared in some levels of Call of Duty: Black Ops.
If Activision wants to explore a Call of Duty set in Vietnam, they could revisit the third-person horror Call of Duty game that Sledgehammer was developing. The switch from FPS to TPS could also silence many of the franchise's detractors, who criticize Call of Duty for being the same experience every year. While I'd still rather see a new World War II-based Call of Duty, Vietnam or any other real world historical conflict would be preferable to "future warfare" at this juncture.
In any case, the new generation of consoles lacks a truly great World War II shooter, and the more powerful hardware means there's certainly an opportunity for a historically accurate game to impress yet again. Hopefully Call of Duty revisits World War II soon; in fact, how about we scrap Ghosts 2 completely and have Infinity Ward get back to their World War II roots, eh? Yeah, that would be absolutely preferable.