So there it was, blaring away on the big screen at the Microsoft conference. Eyes glazed over, people fiddled with their phones, and millions of users on social networks simultaneously typed 'meh'. But it's not because the game looks bad. Call of Duty games are always fundamentally very decent. Flawed, dumb, and rushed out to meet the brutal deadline, but innately playable.
But gamers today are incredibly demanding, and 'more of the same' is no longer acceptable - especially if a publisher is asking for fifty quid to play their game. Even hardcore fans are beginning to tire of Call of Duty's dearth of imagination, and the record-breaking sales figures won't last forever. At some point, Activision will be forced to come up with something original.
For now, though, they're golden. Complaints from people like me, and other discerning gamers, will go unheard as long as Joe Public keeps buying their sequels every year without question. But it'd be good to one day look at a new Call of Duty announcement and not feel overcome with ennui. I remember how exciting it was getting drawn into the original Modern Warfare's multiplayer, before it had been copied by every developer ever. I want to feel that again.
It's easy to forget that the series used to take risks, at least within the confines of a military shooter. Few games have the balls to kill a main character, let alone force you to watch their blistering, nuclear death through their own eyes. If the series has any hope of evolving in the future, it has to ditch the yearly cycle, forget about making the explosions bigger, and surprise us in a way that doesn't involve blowing up a historical landmark.