For well over a decade, the Call of Duty franchise has managed to release a game every single year. From the introduction of new consoles to behind-the-scenes drama like what happened with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the franchise has weathered every storm and managed to keep its release record intact. The Call of Duty series has never taken a skip year, though in 2021, several insiders have made it clear that now would be the time to do so.
However, with Call of Duty having an impressive streak of high-selling yearly releases, it seems unlikely that Activision will ever take a year off from the series. After all, games like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War have proven that even rough-around-the-edges entries in the series can succeed, with patches and updates used to get the game into shape. As such, while there are two scenarios that could play out thanks to Call of Duty 2021’s supposed issues, only one of the two will likely happen — even if the other may be for the best.
Considering that developer Sledgehammer Games was supposed to make Call of Duty 2020, it is not too shocking to learn that the game is still struggling in 2021. Swapped with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War last year, the change of positions can likely be blamed for the rough launch state of the latest Black Ops title. Alongside COVID-19 restrictions, Treyarch needed to rush its game out to fill the void left by Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty being pushed back to 2021. As a result, it lacked the amount of content and polish usually seen in a Call of Duty title. Unfortunately, it sounds like Sledgehammer’s game will still not be ready in time for its new launch window.
Recently, leakers claimed that development for the game was going so poorly that it would need to be canceled — with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Remastered being released to help fill the void. While Activision’s confirmation that Call of Duty 2021 is still happening dispels this portion of the leaks, there is still a chance that the other information about the game is legitimate. A leaker was given a DMCA takedown for a post stating that the game’s main struggles come from an attempt to re-use assets from Call of Duty: WW2.
With Call of Duty’s engine supposedly progressing too far since the 2017 release, this attempt to save time is apparently making development harder. On top of this, reputable leakers like @TheMW2Ghost have warned that Call of Duty 2021 releasing in its current state would be an extremely bad decision. Tom Henderson, another well-known source, backs up this claim. Further, he adds that there is already a recovery roadmap in place, with Activision and Sledgehammer Games both apparently aware of the game’s shortcomings. Henderson has even called the game a “disaster,” saying that its quality will cause many fans to jump over to EA’s Battlefield 6.In a perfect world, Call of Duty would make 2021 a skip year. Instead of releasing a new game, Sledgehammer’s title would be delayed into 2023, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s 2022 release staying on schedule. While this would make 2021 the first year without a Call of Duty release since 2004, it seems as if it would be for the benefit of the franchise and the fans. After all, another rushed Call of Duty release would be devastating, as it could see more gamers than ever before turning on the series.
To fill the void, Call of Duty could continue supporting its active games. Alongside Call of Duty: Warzone content, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War could become the first true two-year game in the series — getting six more Seasons of content to enjoy. This could be hugely beneficial for Zombies fans, ensuring that the wait until Treyarch’s next Zombies mode feels shorter. On top of this, remasters would help as well, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Campaign Remastered releasing to give singleplayer fans something to enjoy. A “new” multiplayer experience could be provided via the long-requested Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered as well.
Unfortunately, despite all these options for alternate content, such a move seems like a pipe dream. Not only have leakers like Tom Henderson assured fans that there will be no 2022 release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Remastered, but Activision’s proper announcement of Call of Duty 2021 seems to make this strategy even less likely. In turn, Call of Duty fans’ best hope is that the reports about the game’s developmental issues are false. Otherwise, it will take some great teamwork on the part of Call of Duty’s active studios to salvage the 2021 game, meaning that the current fan concerns might not be misplaced.
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