What Has Treyarch Done For Call of Duty?

Illustration for article titled What Has Treyarch Done For Call of Duty?

The upcoming Call of Duty title, Call of Duty: Black Ops, was developed by Santa Monica-based studio Treyarch. The studio did not create Call of Duty. Has it done anything for the franchise?

Back in 2003, the Call of Duty franchise was developed and created by Infinity Ward for the PC. Treyarch was brought on board for Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, which, unlike Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 2, focuses on a singular group of soldiers — here, the Big Red One division. The game features narration from Mark Hamill, who starred in Samuel Fuller's war epic The Big Red One, and stock World War II footage.


While Infinity Ward focused on what would become Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Treyarch developed Call of Duty 3. The nuts and bolts of the game were largely similar to Call of Duty 2, with noticeable differences in how campaigns played out in the single player campaign. One new gameplay feature was the addition of hand-to-hand combat. Another was having players drive more vehicles. Online play was reworked as well. Call of Duty 3, however, simply did not have the polish that Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 2 did. That isn't to say Call of Duty 3 is a bad game, because it's not. It's just not Call of Duty 2. Hence the problem.

While Infinity Ward moved on to modern combat for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Treyarch stayed in World War II for Call of Duty: World at War. The game was more violent and grotesque than the previously Call of Duty games. It seemed exploitative, even. Hey, war is really violent and horrible, did you know that? Granted, the Pacific theater of the war had been largely unexplored, so the setting was, for WWII, a good choice at the time.

And the addition of cooperative play was welcomed, and the Nazi Zombies mode, while gimmicky, was enjoyed by players. The rub is that Treyarch didn't exactly push the series forward like Infinity Ward did. Treyarch, instead, seemed content to tinker and tweak, but left the overhauls, like no more endlessly respawning enemies, to Infinity Ward.

Of course, it is entirely possible that Treyarch was never really given the chance to shine and was told to labor in the shadows of Infinity Ward. But now with Infinity Ward a shell of its former self, Treyarch now finds itself in the driver's seat with the Call of Duty games. Treyarch is now the lead studio for the series, having the most experience developing COD games. That isn't to say that Activision won't farm out other Call of Duty sequels to other developers, but rather, that Treyarch does now have the most know-how for making these games.


The studio's previous efforts were admirable and fun — but often seemed to rely on gimmicks than truly compelling gameplay. They just felt slightly "off". That isn't to say all hope is lost — not by a damn sight! The debut trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops is a rapid cut of images, but what it seems to hint out seems fantastic. This is the type of game we should have gotten for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but did not.

Treyarch's most important contributions to Call of Duty could very well be still yet to come.

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We're going inside baseball here. This is going to be long.

Some innovations and other good ideas Treyarch has brought to the COD series:

1) Nazi zombie mode.

2) Extended mag attachments for guns. Used by IW.

3) Reduction of the broken "3x frag" perk down to "2x frag".

4) "Second Chance" revive mechanic.

5) Tossing back grenades. Used by IW.

6) Online website with in-depth stat tracking.

7) Scaling "assist exp" by how much damage you did.

8) Vs. Nemesi k/d ratio tracking.

9) Lobby leaderboards. Handy for finding out the guy on first prestige has played twice as long as the guy on 10th prestige.

10) Sticky grenades. Used by IW.

11) Additional custom classes for doing prestige. Used by IW.

12) Banking killstreaks. You don't lose one if you don't use it before earning the next one. Used by IW.

13) Prevented the cheap practice of chaining one killstreak from a previous life towards earning new killstreaks on the current life. (Cod4 had a major problem with people doing this with airstrikes). Used by IW.

14) Bootcamp playlist. Although proper matchmaking should make this redundant.

15) Local Only match preference option for matchmaking.

16) Free map DLC. (Makin' Day).

17) Deployable LMG stands in console versions.

18) Tracking performance in leaderboards by match type.

19) Scoring points for killing opponents killstreaks. (+3 exp for each dog killed). Which actually counted towards match score. I've won numerous TDM's by killing an opponents attack dog.

20) Option to turn off Aim Assist in online matches.

21) Semi-auto firerate limiter that only kicks in after noticing too many shots too quickly after some amount of time. Better than IW's solution of flatly lowering the firerate because it allows people with quick trigger fingers to enjoy their gift while still rendering modded controllers useless.


Areas Treyarch needs to work on for their next game:

1) Swapping to a pistol should be faster than swapping to a non-pistol. That's the pistol key advantage.

2) More diversity between guns in the same category. The M1911, Nambu, Walther, and the Tokerev pistols were nearly identical to each other functionally. As were the Springfield, Arisaka, Kar, and Mosin Nagant snipers. As well as the rifles SVT and the Gewehr being almost the same except the skins.

3) Shorter killstreaks. Artiliary shellings lasted too long.

4) Better balancing. The MP40+Juggernaut combo was too powerful and never got fully fixed.

5) Mines that could be hidden too well without any giveaway sign and tripped too quickly making them horribly overpowered.

6) Guns unlocked at later levels shouldn't be categorically superior to guns unlocked earlier; which in many ways was the case with the M1A1 in regards to the SVT and the Gewehr by functioning nearly identically except for a larger magazine; and to some degree a problem with the PTRS sniper being superior in every category except the amount of additional rounds carried in your pocket.


My memory isn't as good these days. Please correct me where I'm mistaken.

I have high hopes for Black Ops. I'll be checking for the beginning of pre-orders of a limited edition this time after missing out the last time around. It reallly was "limited".