When Call of Duty became a yearly series, Infinity Ward quickly realized they couldn't pump out a quality title every single year. To provide CoD games on Infinity Ward's off years, Treyarch was given the opportunity to fill in the gaps. They were originally brought into the fold for Call of Duty 2: Big Red One for GameCube. They developed the game with help from the staff from Gray Matter Incorporated, who had previously worked on the United Offensive expansion for the original CoD.
Treyarch stepped out onto their own with Call of Duty 3, which released in 2006. However, CoD 3 wasn't necessarily that great of a game, and to this day is probably still the weakest game in the series.
Infinity Ward struck gold the following year with the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It completely revamped the Call of Duty multiplayer format and signaled a major shift in multiplayer first-person shooters in general. From that point on, the FPS genre would start to be a lot more like the RPG, with a level-up system and upgradable weapons. They also added Killstreaks, allowing players who could score a set amount of consecutive kills with a powerful bonus, like calling in an airstrike or summoning a chopper. It was clear that Infinity Ward was onto something here.
Treyarch followed this up with World at War, which took a lot of cues from Modern Warfare, but it maintained the World War II backdrop that had been a staple of the series before Modern Warfare was released. They made one very important addition: Nazi Zombies. However, even with the more MW-ish level-ups, upgrades, Killstreaks, and perks, World at War fell short in a lot of ways. It wasn't as balanced as Modern Warfare, and it had a lot of bugs. And that's not to mention the Killstreak that allowed players to call in a pack of dogs, which was ridiculously overpowered. World at War simply could not compare to Modern Warfare.
Infinity Ward decided to keep up the whole MW thing and released Modern Warfare 2, which was also somewhat lackluster when compared with the original Modern Warfare. It also suffered from balance issues and bugs, and though some absolutely loved it, many saw it as a step down from the phenomenal Modern Warfare.
And then Treyarch struck back with a game that could finally be seen as a solid answer to Modern Warfare. Black Ops was Treyarch's crowning contribution to the CoD series. It featured some much needed balance tweaks, like introducing Killstreaks that didn't stack, dogs that weren't completely overpowered, and leaving out the game-changing nukes of MW2. It also introduced a brand new setting to the franchise: the Cold War era. Treyarch even added customizable Playercards, which allowed players to make their own icons that would be displayed to other users. And perhaps best of all, Black Ops brought an improved Zombies mode.
Infinity Ward is sticking with what they know for the next CoD game, and they'll be releasing Modern Warfare 3 this November. We're sure to see some improvements to the MW formula, and we have our fingers crossed for a more balanced multiplayer experience and a thrilling conclusion to the story of Soap MacTavish and friends.
It's perhaps a bit early to be thinking this far ahead, but what will Treyarch come out with next year? So far, they've changed up the formula with every iteration they've developed: Big Red One, CoD 3, World at War, and then Black Ops. Will they be changing it up again and bringing a new CoD sub-series? After the success of Black Ops, I highly doubt it. Just as Infinity Ward found its niche with Modern Warfare, I think Treyarch has finally found its place in the Call of Duty world with Black Ops.
My prediction: Treyarch will again be contributing to the Call of Duty series next year. Instead of digging up some new ideas, I strongly believe they will return to Black Ops. It just makes the most sense. Black Ops finally proved that Treyarch was a good fit for the Call of Duty series, and I think they've found a sub-series with some real staying power.
Just as last year saw the release of Modern Warfare 2, 2012 will most likely see the release of Black Ops 2. This could provide longtime fans with brand new maps in the Cold War/Vietnam setting, even more Playercard options, and a heavier focus on Zombies.
Even though I have to admit that I'm looking forward to Modern Warfare 3, I have high hopes for next year's potential Black Ops 2.
CCC Editor/Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*