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Surprising absolutely nobody, Call of Duty is getting another game this year, and as per Activision’s alternating annual release schedule, we’re headed back to the Black Ops side-series.
It’s been too long since we’ve had a chance to use the most accursed of abbreviations, but Cod Blops is back, and possibly now the even more absurd Cod Blops IIII thanks thanks to the series apparently abandoning proper usage of Roman numerals.
The official announcement also confirms that Treyarch are back in the driver’s seat for this one. After finding myself very pleasantly surprised by their previous Blops title, I’m eager to see what they’ve got planned.
No one is surprised that a new Call of Duty will release this year, but the annual tradition of the finer details being leaked hasn't been lost in 2018. This year's rumor suggests that Treyarch is making Black Ops IV, which follows 2015's Black Ops III. But here's the thing: the title will apparently be written as "Black Ops IIII", because Activision does not give a single functional crap about how Roman numerals work.
The news comes via Kotaku, who has reportedly confirmed the rumors. These originated from footage of famous basketball player James Harden wearing the game's logo. Some pointed out that it shared a striking resemblance to the Black Ops 3 logo, only, with an extra "I".
Here's the relevant video:
So it looks like Call of Duty won't follow up its immensely successful historical shooter with yet another: a brave (though given development pipelines, perhaps unavoidable) move. In the meantime, it looks like EA and DICE will follow 2016's Battlefield 1 with... Battlefield V. Because screw numbers, right? Put 'em wherever you want, in whichever order you want, formatted however you wish. It just doesn't matter anymore.
Today I was reminded that Activision Blizzard Studios is not a game-making division of the industry's biggest publisher, but rather a film studio—one that's working on a flick based on Call of Duty. And according to Variety, Sicario 2: Soldado director Stefano Sollima is in negotiations to direct.
The report doesn't specify which Call of Duty, but the trailer for Sicario 2 (which looks quite a bit more action-oriented than the excellent first film, and is apparently a "stand-alone spinoff" rather than a direct sequel) suggests that Sollima has a certain talent for "modern" settings. Not to put too fine a point on it, but let's be honest, you could rename that trailer to "Modern Warfare: The Movie" and your work here would be done.
Whatever it ends up being, Acti-Blizz is aiming very high, for both the film and the studio: In an interview with The Guardian last year, co-presidents Stacey Sheri and Nick van Dyk said their long-term plans included films from different Call of Duty timelines that would ultimate grow into an interconnected, Marvel-style cinematic universe.
First, though, it has to break the videogame movie curse, which despite our endless appetite for summer blockbusters and the obvious fodder for them that CoD provides, will be no small task. Sher has an admirable list of production credits to her name and Sollima has an eye for dramatic poses and cinematic violence, but as we've seen time and again, that's no guarantee of a good movie.
Update: KWCH News has reported that 25-year-old Tyler Barriss of Los Angeles has been arrested in connection with the swatting. This isn't the first such incident in which Barriss has been involved: In October 2015 he was charged with making two fake bomb threats against ABC Studios in Glendale, California. According to Central Track, he may also have been involved in multiple bomb threats made against a Call of Duty: WWII tournament that took place earlier this month in Dallas, Texas. Barriss isn't identified by name, but the report indicates that the Swautistic Twitter account claimed responsibility for "ruining the whole event."
28-year-old Andrew Finch of Wichita, Kansas, was killed last night by police in what appears to have been an incident of "swatting." Deputy police chief Troy Livingston told the Wichita Eagle that police were responding to a report of a murder and hostage situation at Finch's home when he came to the front door and was shot.
The report turned out to be false, however. More than a dozen people "who identified themselves as being in the gaming community" told the Eagle that it arose out of a dispute between two Call of Duty players, Miruhcle and Baperizer, who were actually teammates in a losing match with a $1.50 wager riding on it.
It's not clear what sparked the trouble but at some point in the argument, according to this tweet (via Dexerto), Baperizer enlisted the aid of another player, who goes by the name Swautistic, to actually initiate the swatting. Miruhcle effectively dared him to do it, but provided a false address (but one that was apparently near his own), which led the police to the Finch home.
Swatting is a "prank" in which an aggrieved gamer calls in a false police report, accusing a rival of violent crimes serious enough to trigger a heavily-armed response. The police show up at the rival's door loaded for bear, everyone gets taken down, it takes hours to sort out, and in some cases it's all livestreamed.
It is also, quite obviously, a wickedly stupid and dangerous thing to do, making it even more appalling that this is something Swautistic known for (which is presumably why he was asking to do it): After reports of the shooting became public, CoD pro ZooMaa of Faze Clan claimed on Twitter that Swautistic has previously swatted, or threatened to swat, multiple other people.
Finch's family said in a separate report that he was unarmed when he went to the door, and that he didn't actually play videogames himself. Livingston said the police are looking into reports that the initial call to police was a false report; the officer who killed Finch for answering his front door has been placed on administrative paid leave.
Note: This article was edited on December 31 to clarify that Swautistic, and not ZooMaa, has previously swatted, or threatened to swat, multiple other people.
World War II has been the backdrop for hundreds of PC games in the time since the Allies declared victory, but not all of them get it right. Stereotypes or absurd action setpieces leave historians shaking their heads, and at this point we've seen the same famous battled played out so many times. What would it look like to cobble together a game made from the best depictions of those moments, spread across years and genres?
These are our favorite representations of key World War II moments and battles. Like the games of our most historically accurate PC games, not all of them would pass muster at an academic conference. But they're all commendable for capturing some element of the conflict in a way that shows a reverent, compelling attention to detail.
While Allied Assault’s graphics don’t hold up flawlessly today, it felt grippingly real in 2002. The developers tried to make us feel like we were in Saving Private Ryan, and they knocked it out of the park. I can still hear the final instructions before being dumped into the surf echo in my mind: “Head for cover and get to the shingle! I’ll see you on the beach!”
I was genuinely tense as the ramp to my transport lowered, putting me directly in the line of German machine gun fire. My heart raced as I watched my fellow soldiers drop like flies all around me. Finally reaching safety was pure euphoria. Many games have tried to recreate that feeling since, and none have truly succeeded in such a gut-wrenching fashion.
It’s easy to forget Call of Duty began as a single-player focused World War II shooter that rose to prominence in an era when it was compared favorably by critics and fans to Medal of Honor and Battlefield. The most memorable mission from the original game (and perhaps in the whole series) was the capstone of the American campaign, “Festung Recogne”. It flips the pacing of Normandy on its head. Rather than a sense of dread at the carnage you know is to come, it lulls you into a false calm before the first wave of Germany’s most infamous counter-attack of the war takes you off-guard.
Infinity Ward did an excellent job of making the assault feel unexpected, and the fight to stabilize the situation frantic and challenging.
Sticking to the Battle of the Bulge, I couldn’t complete this list without mentioning CoH2’s fantastic Ardennes Assault expansion. In addition to introducing very interesting dynamic campaign elements, it gave each of its distinct companies a beating heart—voiced officers who each represented an archetype of the types of people who got caught up in the war. The reactive end mission dialogue made me feel each victory and defeat ever more keenly. I’ll never forget Johnny Vastano lamenting the pointless loss of life after a mission where I’d played fast and loose with my boys to get the job done.
There’s a reason IL-2 is still a darling in the flight sim community all these years later. The meticulous modeling, both visually and mechanically, of the storied Soviet aircraft was enough to set it apart on its own. But it also dialed up the immersion by introducing mechanics like blackout and redout when experiencing extreme g-forces. While most flight sims are content to give you the most immersive experience of a robot flying a plane, not many go out of their way to remind you that you’re playing a flesh-and-blood human being.
Add to this some well-designed missions and wonderfully tense dogfights, and it’s hard to recommend any other game about flying a plane over war-torn Europe more highly.
Not many World War II games get into how and why the Allies actually won. Unfortunately for the romantic depictions we’re used to, it wasn’t primarily because of the heroic sacrifices of a few gifted servicemen. It actually had a lot more to do with availability of resources and industrial capacity. These concepts underpin Hearts of Iron IV and challenge you to think about aspects of modern total warfare that most normally wouldn’t give a second thought to. Rather than making it across a beach, your objectives often involve securing key oil fields and developing your industrial heartland.
The Red Orchestra series represents perhaps the best infantry-focused multiplayer shooters centered on the conflict, and Rising Storm in particular shines a light on the oft-overlooked Pacific theater. Like Allied Assault, it does a fantastic job of depicting the pressure of coming under attack from all sides. Battles play out amidst the chaos of mortar fire and shouted warnings. It's all the more impressive that Rising Storm accomplishes this using other players rather than scripted NPCs. The confusion and paranoia of jungle combat is tuned perfectly to create hectic, low-visibility firefights and allow for cunning ambushes.
Existing at a scale just above Company of Heroes but below Hearts of Iron, Steel Division excels at giving you a detailed and plausible sense of commanding combined arms resources to win large battles. Scouting and intelligence are emphasized, gaining air superiority can be decisive, and every weapon on every tank or infantryman models realistic range, accuracy, and penetration. It exists in a great sweet spot in terms of scope and scale to give you the total World War II experience (minus naval combat) in a single match.
You may not know AM General, but you know what it does: It makes the Humvee, the iconic vehicle that replaced US military jeeps back in the '80s. Everywhere the US Army goes, it rides in Humvees: In movies, on the television, and of course in videogames, including the Call of Duty series. According to a recently-filed lawsuit, however, Activision never actually had permission to use it.
"Wrongfully leveraging the goodwill and reputation AM General has developed in these marks, Defendants have used and continue to use AM General’s trademarks and trade dress in advertising and promotion of their Call of Duty videogame franchise; have featured and continue to feature AM General’s trademarks and vehicles bearing the distinctive elements of the AM General Trade Dress prominently in their video games; and have caused and continue to cause the manufacture and sale of collateral toys and books to further derive wrongful profits from AM Genera l’s intellectual property and to further promote Defendants’ infringing video games," the suit (available at SDNY Blog) says.
"Defendants’ videogames have been successful but only at the expense of AM General and consumers who are deceived into believing that AM General licenses the games or is somehow connected with or involved in the creation of the games. Defendants have reaped billions of dollars in revenues from their wrongful acts and, in the process, have irreparably harmed AM General by causing significant confusion, expressly misleading the consuming public, and diluting the goodwill and reputation of AM General’s famous marks."
What's interesting is that AM General has licensed the Humvee for use in a number of other well-known shooters, including Humvee Assault (OK, maybe that's not a great example), Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, Operation Flashpoint: Red River, and Homefront, as well as various toys and models. So it's not as if the company is averse to licensing the vehicle. It just hasn't happened with Call of Duty for some reason.
The suit notes that the Humvee has been used extensively in Modern Warfare 1, 2, 3, Remastered, and Mobilized, as well as Black Ops 2, Ghosts, and Heroes. It also includes screen caps of the machine in various CoD games, descriptions of how they're used, excerpts from the official strategy guide that make reference to the vehicle by the Humvee name, and a photo of real-life Humvees with the Black Ops logo painted on them that were used to promote the game.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction against Activision's use of the Humvee and related properties and marks, and of course money: Compensatory, punitive, and enhanced or treble damages, plus attorney's fees, interest, and whatever else the court "deems just and proper." I've reached out to Activision and AM General for more information (including why the suit is only being filed now, a decade after the first Modern Warfare) and will update if I receive a reply.
Announced last month, CODumentary—Devolver Digital's unofficial behind-the-scenes look at Activision's enduring war shooter series—is out now.
Driven by the off-beat publisher's Films division, CODumentary charts the shooter's "incredible" rise to fame—exploring its place in the early 2000's FPS landscape, through to its juggernaut status today.
If you missed it last month, here's another look at its reveal trailer:
"CODumentary is an independent documentary which tells an incredible story of how the video game Call Of Duty grew into becoming one of the biggest global entertainment blockbuster franchises of all time," reads the film's Steam page blurb. "The film travels back through time and looks at how a single video game gained millions of fans around the world, broke numerous records and battled through the years to establish itself as one of the greatest video games of all time."
"The film looks at how government officials raised their concern over in-game content and what happened when two studio bosses were sensationally fired by their parent company following a long spell of success. The documentary drills down into all areas of Call Of Duty esports—the teams, coaches, professional players, and broadcasters, and looks at what it takes to be become the best in the world.
"CODumentary is told by developers, fans, professional players and numerous experts who describe in rich detail what makes the game so special and why it's been so successful from launch to the present day."
I have never seen a more tragic comments section than the one from a few weeks back when we asked our readers to . Over 200 of you shared stories of despair and woe as hard drives crashed, Uplay cloud saves glitched, or a simple misclick spelled doom for countless hours of gaming.
We've collected the saddest, most heartbreaking stories below so that you can wallow in their misery. And if you didn't get a chance to contribute your own story, do so in the comments.
This one hits hard because the emotional loss is so apparent. It's one thing to fall in love with your Morrowind character and your adventures together, but Bear's story of losing his entire library of collected books in Morrowind because of a virus really stings.
My first Morrowind character. I had made an Argonian and enjoyed the wonders that the game had to offer, discovered mods a number of hours in, got myself a few decent ones, joined House Telvanni to appreciate the irony of being an Argonian and of Telvanni, and progressed very little on the main questline but became deeply infatuated with the world.
I kept telling myself, I'll do the main quest later, and something would come up. When the "something" was the Thieves Guild, I became captivated with in-game theft, and I claimed a home that was empty after I'd murdered the owner as my loot den.
I use the word loot loosely. I was only interested in one type of item to steal: books. I ventured back and forth across the continent stealing every book I could manage, piling stacks of books as high as I could manage in my den of ill-gotten goods, occasionally tossing other stolen things on the floor, but my pride were the hundreds of books stacked taller than my Argonian. The small room would take a good ten minutes to load because of the sheer amount of books. I'd take detours while exploring just to raid places looking for books. Even if I got one book, I was pleased to be able to add it to my collection.
This was the first time I'd pumped so many hours into any game, ever. It was probably 2003 or 2004, and I had a PC that was rough around the edges at best. It was passed to me by my father as a reject for his own uses, no doubt in hopes that I would get my 12 or 13-year-old behind off the family PC with minimal trouble, and it worked. Until my young self made an uneducated choice in my forays on the internet and I picked up a particularly nasty virus while trying to download some free graphics editing software. The PC wouldn't boot. My father refused to help me fix it (apparently he had regrets for giving me my own PC, because my internet usage increased rapidly) and I couldn't figure it out.
My father finally just reformatted the hard drive and when I went to restart Morrowind, my hundreds of hours and couple years of gameplay was lost. I'd just lost the one thing that helped let me escape the troubles of being a bullied, friendless kid so easily before.
Not all of these stories have to do with losing a save file entirely. Some deal with the existential horror of being trapped in one location, never able to escape. Of course, that horror becomes a lot more tangible when there's a giant xenomorph rapping at your chamber door.
Alien: Isolation is a bit mean with the saving system. You have to find what looks like a retro telephone booth and dial a number, making sure that Mr. Alien is not about to skewer you with his tongue or show you his six freaky fingers. You can only go back two save points, so you have to be very careful.
After a month spent hiding in lockers and wetting myself, I'd progressed through the game painfully slowly. I was escaping from the nest and it looked like I was finally getting Amanda off Sevastapol for good. I only had to take a lift up to a safer level. Sadly, I dropped a gun while being chased by the Alien and it got wedged in the door in a very glitchy way. The glitch meant that although I could take the lift, the next level wouldn't load. I was stuck! I couldn't retrieve an early enough save file to avoid the glitching gun. I haven't had the courage to replay the entire game to get to that point, so I'll never know if Amanda made it.
She's left forever in that lift with the Alien banging on the door outside.
Listen, people make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes can hurt us, but I'm not sure if I'd ever end a relationship over a lost game save. But I guess The Witcher 3 isn't your average game.
Some time ago, my ex girlfriend wanted to play The Witcher 3 and I shared it from my Steam library with her. One day she played it in my PC, and when I came to play I realized that the save files in The Witcher 3 are the same when you share from your Steam library, and she saved her game in the same slot as mine. I lost my lvl 55 Geralt, my witcher gear and swords—everything. My time in Ard Skellige looking for treasures didn't serve for anything. I broke up with her some time ago and I use this story to explain why she is now my ex hahahaha.
I'm sure parents are equally as responsible for deleted saves as failing hardware. But there's something especially tragic when it all happens because they were trying to do something nice for you.
In the late nineties, my dad surprised me for my birthday with some PC upgrades: a new monitor, bigger hard drive, and new graphics card. Of course, he'd wiped my old hard drive. Ten years of save files, writing, gig upon gig of films and music, all gone.
Commenter Grom Hellscream sums up the tragedy perfectly:
"Happy birthday, son. I formatted your entire childhood."
If you've ever saved immediately before your demise only to find that you're now stuck replaying your death over and over, you can sympathise with Berty Bennish's story.
I was playing the first Call of Duty back when it first came out. I would regularly save my games but in this instance, my last save was a couple of levels before the incident. It was the daylight St. Mere-Eglise level. After destroying the tank that comes out of the wall I ran round the corner heading towards where you would get in the car. I killed a couple of guys and ran a bit further. Game decides to auto save right when a German soldier pops round the corner and blasts me in the head. Instant death.
and so on…
What's hilarious about this particular story is that another one of our commenters had nearly the exact same problem.
When I was playing Call of Duty, way back in the day, there was a tank section. I hadn't saved for the entirety of the (rather long) mission, and contrived to save at the exact moment a shell was fired in my direction, a shell which would wipe me out.
Every time I tried to reload, the shell would fire and I would die. Over and over. I was shattered.
If a psychologist interviews me years from now and asks me why my dreams often have intermittent flashes of light, this is 100 percent the reason. Poor old toddler me.
Parents have unwittingly destroyed thousands of hours of time invested into games, but Zach Fathaigh's story flips the script. I'm assuming his mother had a hard time looking at him for a few days after.
1996's The Realm is a fun proto-MMO that my mom was obsessed with. You get four or five character slots, I can't remember which. My mom let me have one of those slots (thank you, Mom). My older brother asked me what the game was like and I wanted to show him how fun it was to start a new character. So I looked at the list and saw Mom's two really badass characters, my character, and a level 1 naked character. I deleted that one to make room for my brother's character.
The deleted character was a mule with hundreds of hours worth of loot. I forgot about this incident entirely until my mom reminded me of it over the weekend.
We've all had hardware fail. Picking up and starting a game from the ashes of an old save is awful. Having to do it twice? No thanks.
Christmas of 1999, I get the one game I really wanted under the tree. That big, ugly (beautiful?) orange and purple box. Planescape: Torment. From Christmas day until just before New Years, I put about 25-ish hours into the game. I was really into it. Then my hard drive crashed. I was devastated. I had the computer fixed within a week, but it took me another month or two to work up the nerve to start the game over from scratch. I did it, though. Even made some slightly different choices. It was a bit tedious to read ALL that text again, but after a good 15 hours or so, I got back to where I'd been. Played another 20-ish hours and... BAM, another hard drive crash.
Here's a tip, kids: Don't skimp out on your power supply when building a PC. It killed two hard drives before I knew the cause. Anyway, to say it was soul crushing was an understatement. I haven't beaten Planescape: Torment to this day. I've tried going back to it, but I end up losing interest before I ever get back to where I was. Best RPG of all time? Maybe. It's too painful for me to be able to ever know.
Speaking of hard drive failures, I can't stress enough how important it is to back up important projects. We had countless stories about people losing game saves, but entire games? Seriously, don't wind up like Matt.
I once made an entire game in RPG maker VX-ACE. It was called the Tower of Trials. It was short and utilized only the assets the game provided. It had some random elements, little story, and was intended for short-runs about 30-40 minutes long. I worked on it for two years, starting on my old laptop and eventually finishing it on my first PC. It was my own little project and only a few of my friends played it. Then I discovered why people told me not to buy cheap HDDs. My hard drive crapped out on me and two years of work was lost. My oldest version of the game was on my old laptop and only had three floors of the tower completed. Needless to say, my current rig is running on a Samsung SSD.
It's one thing to lose a save file, but to lose the ability to play a game altogether? Now that's tragic.
Back in elementary school, 2001 or so, I really liked Harry Potter. Neither me nor my parents could afford a PC or anything to play modern games (had an Atari 130 XE though), so I was very happy when someone left Philosopher's Stone installed at the school's computer lab.
I could only play video games for a limited time after classes, so I only made it to Herbology Class over the course of several months. The game felt amazing to me, probably because I was reading Harry Potter books around the same time.
Once I went to school as usual, but after arriving I noticed it was completely deserted. Normally, entire halls would be filled with sounds of children playing but there was not a single soul in sight. I went upstairs. After walking around for a minute, I was spotted by the principal's assistant who rushed me to the cafeteria.
When we arrived there, I saw that all students were crammed inside. I quickly learned from colleagues that the school was robbed overnight. Robbers broke the window and stole a boombox, whole bunch of chocolate bars from school's kiosk, and every single PC from the lab. I lost not only the save file I worked for what felt like eternity, I lost the ability to play my beloved game in the first place.
Some comments were edited for grammar and clarity.
Offbeat publisher Devolver Digital is known for its eccentricity as much as it is for representing neat indie videogames. Its Films division has now announced CODumentary—"a documentary following a story centered about the blockbuster videogame Call of Duty."
Set to run for 93 minutes, the feature length production explores the war series' rise from popular videogame to "global entertainment franchise", and was filmed over five years around North America, the UK and Europe, including the D-Day beaches. Said to feature developers, fans of the series, pro players and "numerous gaming experts", the behind-the-scenes look is not sponsored by creators Activision, so will hopefully examine both the good and bad tales tied to the game's creation.
Here's the film's trailer:
"One of the biggest challenges making the film was encapsulating a 15 year timeline into 93 minutes," says producer Jonathan Beales in a statement. "I was very fortunate to work with a lot of great people whose input and contribution really helped make this happen. It’s a rich story of evolution told through the eyes of games developers, fans, industry experts and professional players. It’s a big documentary and we wanted to put the fans first so took the opportunity to host two full screenings at DreamHack Atlanta that were a big success.
"It’s been a great five-year journey and even though the documentary is centered on video games, the story is always about the human input and endeavour involved. The rich experiences of developing games, playing them or waiting in line to buy them will always remain center stage."
Purposefully awkward portmanteau aside, CODumentary will premiere worldwide on Steam and VOD on September 19, at 6pm BST/10am PST. Thereafter, those interested can pick it up on iTunes, Google Play, MGo, Playstation, Xbox, TubiTV, Indie Reign, and the Indie Rights Vimeo Channel. Hard copy Blu Ray and DVD launches are planned further down the line again.
It appears that the rumor that Activision's Call of Duty series would return to the Second World War in its next installment was true: A countdown at callofduty.com is leading to the "worldwide reveal livestream" of Call of Duty: WWII in the middle of next week.
The site doesn't reveal anything more than the setting, with an image of an American GI who's clearly seen too much, and that Sledgehammer Games is the developer. An option to sign up to be notified when the livestream begins is also available.
Roughly five days remain on the clock, and in case there was any doubt it's labeled with the time and date of the reveal: April 26, at 10 am PT. We've reached out to Activision for more information, and while we'll probably have to wait for the big moment like everyone else, we'll let you know if we hear more.