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New Games with Old Names; On Sequels and Why I Got Back Into Call of Duty

by Riley Halligan on 04/06/15 01:43:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Disclaimer: These are my own private opinions, and I mean no disrespect to the devs who put countless hours into any mentioned game(s). 

I arrived pretty late to the PS3 / Xbox 360 / Wii party. If it helps date it, I snagged this 360 bundle and the God of War HD / 3 PS3 bundle, so I wasn't able to start with game one in a lot of franchises. At my time of purchase, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the biggest game on any system, and I grabbed a copy.

I played this game. I played it a lot. Honestly, my brother and I probably put triple digit hours into split screen local multiplayer because our system couldn't reliably pick up our wifi. Still, my brother and I built classes and learned all the maps just to play some intense 1 v 1 matchups, and like most gamers playing MW2 at the time, we quickly got hooked. 

a brief look into my childhood

This began the long and familiar pattern associated with CoD games: new CoD title gets announced, hype ensues, game launches, feels the same as the previous title, growing disinterest. This continued up until Modern Warfare 3, and after completing the campaign, I really didn't have any more interest in CoD games. 

Fast forward 3 years to today, where I usually play a handful of Advanced Warfare rounds a week, and despite my abysmal skills, thoroughly enjoy myself. Although carrying the same name as previous iterations which I didn't care for as much, I got back into CoD via Advanced Warfare for one simple fact: This is a new game.

Let me explain that claim further, as it's difficult to take at face value with Advanced Warfare being the 11th major title in the Call of Duty franchise. Obviously, there have been CoD games in the past, and will continue to be CoD games, but Advanced Warfare is so drastically different mechanically, it feels and plays like a unique standalone title. 

This is the single greatest tool a franchise has in remaining relevant and successful. Advanced Warfare's design introduces just enough new mechanics, such as threat grenade and exo suit movement, that the game feels new and fresh, while still being grounded in the successes of previous game titles. When you strip the game down to its basics, you still have aim down the sights run and gun gameplay with two grenades and primary / secondary weapon loadout. This allows gamers to feel comfortable and grounded in thier previous experiences which makes the game approachable, yet there are still new mechanics and elements in the design that make the game feel new. 

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes puzzles involved jumping between
light and dark world, as changes in one world would effect the other

Obviously, Call of Duty isn't the only player in the space that understands this practice, and there are several other instances of devs releasing new games with old names. I look at naval combat in Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, light and dark world puzzles in Metroid Prime II: Echoes, and getting on and off the skateboard in Tony Hawks Underground as good (but somewhat dated) examples. 

IPs are great, and every new IP we get helps drive this industry, but sequels aren't going away. However, when designing a sequel, devs need to introduce new gameplay. To equate it to a game example, look at massively popular League of Legends. Buying a skin for a champ doesn't change the game in any way, but buying a new champion altogether releases a new element of gameplay and allows for the game to feel new. The same applies to sequels. Sure you can make a new 'game' but if you don't introduce something new for your players to experience, you're just another reskinned title. 

Next week's topics may include: Amiibos and DLC, 2p vs. 4p board games, the issue with making a perfect game


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