There’s an interesting and well-written article over at ComputerandVideoGames.com about why the decision might have been made to set Black Ops 2 in the year 2025. The journalist really was uniquely positioned to analyze events, so the insight is pretty cool. It’s a couple of pages long, so if you don’t have time to read through the whole thing, here’s a summary and our thoughts on the matter. In the distant past, Infinity Ward was working on “a unique new IP,” which was rumored to be a sci-fi game based on concept art which the journalist who wrote the article (the one we just linked to) had glimpsed while visiting Infinity Ward for an interview.
Then there was a court case with Activision, after which Infinity Ward employees Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired for “breaches of contract and insubordination.” West and Zamplella now head Respawn Entertainment, and recently announced that they’ll be making a sci-fi FPS game which will “compete with things like Gears and Halo.” Now, despite not mentioning Call of Duty, it’s easy to see where all of this might have come from and where all of it might be going. Activision may have seen an opportunity to try to beat Respawn to the chase with futuristic FPS games, and therefore handed down the order to set Black Ops 2 in the future.
All of this seems pretty reasonable and may very well be the explanation for the move. Treyarch has done a lot besides just move the setting to inject new life into an old series as well. The only thing that strikes us is the references to Gears and Halo. It’s possible that Respawn was merely being political in deciding not to mention COD, and seized on two other games that took place in the future as reference points.
You have to admit though that Gears and Halo have minimal elements in common with COD—namely they’re all shooting games. Halo takes place in the far future though, not the year 2025 or anything close to our modern era, and Gears of War takes place on another planet. So if Respawn’s new game likewise takes place in a time and place far removed from our own, it seems like it would be less of a direct competitor with COD than it would be with Gears and Halo. It’s also worth mentioning that Gears is a third-person shooter game and not a first-person shooter game, so a slightly different format.
There is no doubt that these games directly compete for some gamers, but other gamers who enjoy shooter games will doubtless continue to play multiple franchises. The experiences offered are unique. Halo tells a distinct storyline about a hypothetical world, whereas Black Ops 2 offers a familiar world arena for combat and a situation closer to real life. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. We’ll let you know when there’s more news on Respawn’s new game.