The Call of Duty franchise faced its toughest year yet in 2016. While the futuristic Infinite Warfare sold pretty well, it was surpassed by other shooters in nearly every way. Titanfall 2’s slick campaign put it to shame, while Battlefield 1’s 64-player battles in open terrain made the familiar Call of Duty formula feel stale.
In the words of Activision, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare “underperformed expectations”, and fans have been calling for a shake-up of the series for this year’s release. Thankfully, there are early signs that their voices have been heard. Here’s everything we know about this year’s Call of Duty game so far, including a tonne of intriguing rumours.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The yearly instalment to the biggest FPS franchise around
- When it is out? Sometime later this year, probably November
- What platforms? Nothing confirmed, but we'd imagine PS4, Xbox One and the PC will see the game
- Call of Duty 2017 developer: Sledgehammer Games
- Call of Duty 2017 publisher: Activision
- Call of Duty 2017 price: TBA – but likely to be $60/£50/AU$100
Call of Duty 2017 confirmed features
Very few, to be honest.
What we do know is that the game will focus on “traditional combat” – Activision itself said so during a call with investors earlier this year, adding that the game will “take Call of Duty back to its roots”, suggesting a World War II setting (we’ll get into that later). And Sledgehammer Games have chipped in too, with studio head Glen Schofield tweeting that “there are boots and ground and I guess some roots”.
The “roots” bit is bizarre – perhaps pointing to a wooded location? – but the rest suggests that jet-packs are out, and infantry warfare is in. Activision have also said that the space setting of Infinite Warfare “didn’t resonate” with fans – which points even more strongly to a simple run and gun affair.
Other than that, there’s very little to go on. We’ll update this page as soon as we know more.
Call of Duty 2017 rumours – Call of Duty: WWII?
While concrete, confirmed features are thin on the ground, there are plenty of juicy rumours to sink your teeth into. This year, most of the rumours have revolved around the game’s setting.
Call of Duty: Vietnam
World War II seems the most likely setting (we’ll tell you why in a second), but a few months ago the consensus was that Vietnam would be the location for the game. A video on YouTube posted by the *ahem* legitimate-sounding account RaGe Specctr3 purported to show the game in action. The video has since been removed, but it featured a player navigating menus with background images of soldiers from Vietnam.
The fans were flamed when it emerged that Sledgehammer had previously pitched a third-person Call of Duty game set in Vietnam, which Activision rejected. The speculation was that the idea had been reborn in first-person shooter form.
But that rumour has fallen away. Nothing since has backed it up and the video has been derided as fake from many industry insiders.
Call of Duty: WWII
Instead, the prevailing theory is that this year’s call of Duty will be set during World War II. It all started with leaked artwork posted on YouTube channel The Family Video Gamers, depicting a beach invasion, presumably Normandy, the famous D-Day battle. The images, taken from apparent collector’s edition books, featured the title Call of Duty: WWII.
Although Activision and the developers haven’t commented, the official word does back up the idea. Taking Call of Duty “back to its roots” would certainly suggest a World War II game: the first three games were all set between 1939 and 1945, as was the fifth, World at War.
It also matches with what Sledgehammer’s co-founder Michael Condrey said in 2014 about the future of the series. “A next generation game with the latest production values and robustness in a World War II setting like Band of Brothers would be amazing," he said. That was three years ago: and, tellingly, the Call of Duty games follow a three-year development cycle. A World War II setting is looking more likely by the day.
Call of Duty 2017: A November release date?
There’s been no official word on the release date, but judging by past years the game is likely to drop in November. The previous two games have launched in the first week of that month, both on Fridays (presumably so that people can play over the weekend). The same this year would mean a release date of November 3. And that just so happens to be the release date shown on an online leaked poster earlier this month, featuring very similar artwork to the images released by YouTube account The Family Video Gamers. Coincidence?
That same poster also suggested that PS4 players would get early access to DLC for the game. That would be no surprise: Sony had a timed-exclusive deal for Infinite Warfare, meaning their gamers got to play DLC for 30 days before anyone on Xbox or PC was allowed to.
When will we know more?
Very soon. Reveal trailers for the upcoming Call of Duty games typically arrive in late April or early May. Keep your eyes on this site for the latest info as and when it emerges.
Will Call of Duty 2017 come to the Nintendo Switch?
It’s too early to say. Activision have overlooked Nintendo consoles since Call of Duty: Ghosts, which was released on the Wii U. Nintendo’s consoles haven’t had the processing power to cope with the series since, and the second-screen mechanic of the Wii U could have also proved problematic.
The Nintendo Switch has closed the gap on the other consoles and proved popular with gamers. It’s therefore plausible that Activision may want to harness that enthusiasm – and the increased power – for its 2017 title. We’ll have to wait and see.
Call of Duty 2017 wishlist
Away from the rumors, we've got a couple of requests of our own for the new game.
A run-and-gun campaign from multiple perspectives
If Call of Duty is going to go back to its roots this year, it may as well do it properly. Multiplayer has become the game’s core offering, but it wasn’t always that way. The original Call of Duty games impressed because of their branching campaigns, told from multiple perspectives. The first two featured storylines from the American, British, and Soviet armies, while the third added Canadian, French, and Polish heroes into the mix.
We’d love to see the same idea refreshed, with players taking part in set-piece battles across Europe and meeting comrades from across the globe. The sounds from the developers are positive – now they just need to execute.
A female protagonist
Call of Duty characters are traditionally gruff, chisel-jawed types that you wouldn’t want to make eye contact with at a bar. We haven’t yet had a female protagonist, and we’d welcome one this year.
Judging by what Sledghammer’s Condrey said in 2015, we might get our wish. “After speaking with military advisors, strong female characters, strong female military presences are gonna be in the future, and we’re seeing it today, so absolutely, you would expect to see that one day in Call of Duty,” he said. Promising stuff.
The World War II setting would make a female protagonist less likely, given the lack of female soldiers that fought in the real war. However, a fictional lead would be very welcome – or Activision could focus part of the story on notable female soldiers, such as the famous Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a sniper who killed more than 300 Germans while fighting for the Soviet Army.
Limited micro transactions
The series has featured micro transactions since Black Ops 2, but Infinite Warfare took a dangerous step towards a ‘pay to win’ model. It was the first game in the series to feature multiple weapon variants – essentially tiers – with ‘Epic’ being the highest.
You can get those variants by grinding, but it will take you hundreds of hours to build the set you’re after. Or, you can pay for COD points to spend on supply drops for rare items. You’re not guaranteed to get what you want, but spending money gives you a much better chance of getting the deadliest weapons in the game.
It’s an unfair system, and one we hope Activision ditches this year. Let’s level the playing field, rewarding players for playing the game rather than reaching into their wallets, and keep micro transactions for cosmetic items, like weapon skins.
New game modes
You can bet that fans will flock to the next game’s multiplayer modes: expect the usual suspects to return alongside a revamped zombie mode, which fans love.
But if Activision and Sledgehammer truly want to pull the series out of a rut, they’re going to have to try something different. Sledgehammer has talked about it in the past, with co-founder Condrey saying the team have "talked about new ways to play", including "branching story-lines or third person mode or crazy changes to the multiplayer”.
In 2014, he said of the possibility of a WWII setting: "Now, how would it play and how would the multiplayer work after the new movement set in Advanced Warfare? That's a tougher question than I've had to tackle yet.”
We’re envisaging focussed, multiplayer set-piece battles where players have a specific role. Take, say, the Normandy invasion. You could have attacking and defending forces with players assigned specific tasks – push up to a certain point on the beach, man a machine gun, or keep teammates healed up. Those levels could adapt over time – when the Allied forces reach the German trenches, the Germans would have to fall back and hunker down elsewhere, changing the feel of the battle.
It’s just one option – and we can’t wait to see what Sledgehammer has come up with.