Black Ops 6’s Announcement Proves Call of Duty Needs to Do Something Different

Please let Call of Duty take a nap.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Call of Duty is a once-a-year franchise, meaning you need a lot of different ideas to make sure the series can keep up. With multiple main and support development teams, Activision has managed to have a new game release every year since 2005, and that’s no small feat. And yet, most of the games have consisted of two core series, Modern Warfare and Black Ops, and that’s especially true in recent years. Microsoft has now confirmed that Black Ops 6 is this year’s entry, and while plenty will be excited, it’s a reminder that Call of Duty is in desperate need of a shake-up, a new setting and idea to breath new life into the franchise. To get there, Activision and Xbox should look no further than the most underrated entry — Infinite Warfare.

Released back in 2016, Infinite Warfare was a huge shift for the franchise, setting the story in 2187 and shifting the action to space. The game was still grounded in that trademark military realism, with a “boots on the ground” style that had you playing soldiers battling on the surface of the moon, aboard massive starships, and even other planets. It was a fascinating take on Call of Duty that managed to spice things up with unique movement mechanics, futuristic loadouts called “combat rigs,” vehicles, and a campaign filled with sidequests and light RPG systems. Even apart from the sci-fi stuff, it managed to bring a fresh perspective on zombies by having maps with different thematic time periods, such as a 1980’s theme park.

In retrospect, Infinite Warfare feels like the boldest entry in the last decade. The last time Call of Duty wasn’t afraid to take chances, with both its setting and gameplay.


At the time, Infinite Warfare felt like to much of a jump for many players, with the sci-fi elements being hard to swallow after the more modern entries of Ghosts and Black Ops 3. But in retrospect, and after seven more entries, Infinite Warfare feels brilliantly different from the rest of the pack.

Since then we’ve seen three rebooted Modern Warfare games leaning even more heavily into gritty realism, Black Ops 4 and 2020’s Black Ops employ pulpy spy thrillers, and two WWII-centric games. The real problem is that it feels like these experiences all blend together, they all start to feel like generic shooters, and the new ideas and improvements for each Call of Duty game seem to diminish with every passing year.

Just look at Modern Warfare 3, the lowest-reviewed and clearly worst-received game in the franchise in years. Just look at the game’s Metacritic, or user reviews anywhere else, and it’s clear to see Modern Warfare 3 just didn’t land like the series usually does, likely down to feeling rushed out the door with an underbaked campaign and multiplayer suite. I worry that Black Ops 6 could suffer the same fate: an entry trying to capitalize on the name Black Ops, without the proper time to evolve, try new ideas, or bring anything meaningfully new to the franchise.

There needs to be a sense that Activision wants this series to continue to be fresh and exciting, not just a cash cow that can release a game with a few new features every year. To that end, a fresh idea and theme like Infinite Warfare could go a long way, reinvigorating interest and shifting the conversation to excitement. While sci-fi could certainly work, especially if you lean even further into futuristic elements, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that. Maybe the answer is a fantasy take that loops in magic, maybe it's a different period of history, going back to some of the major conflicts of the 1800’s.

Since the release of Call of Duty 2 on PS3 and Xbox 360, the franchise has had a new release every single year.


Of course, really attempting something new takes time, and because of that, it feels like Call of Duty also needs to take a year off. It’s been nearly twenty years of constant releases, and it’s been apparent for a while now that the franchise simply needs a break.

Yes, Call of Duty is basically a money-printing machine, but there are ways to get around taking a break now. Put the big focus on Warzone for a year and evolving that, or working on another mode, while a separate team handles a brand-new entry. Simply put, Call of Duty needs to take risks again, and it’s maybe one of the few series that can actually afford to do that these days. People will be there for the name Call of Duty no matter what, but take the time and do something different while that’s still the case.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 will be revealed on June 9 alongside the Xbox Games Showcase.

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